The Castle

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I walked the land for days. I was told if I could find the castle I would find the Kingdom. Not many I came across had ever heard of the castle, let alone know how to find it. That did not deter me from searching. I heard it calling.

I continued my journey. Desperately looking for anyone who could tell me how to get to the castle. I entered a forest and saw the child. He was looking at me and had a smile on his face.

I asked the child if he knew where the castle was. He looked at me quizzicality and asked, “Where have you looked?”

I started to answer but he continued, “you look but you do not see. The thing you search for is right in front of you.”

This child did not know anything about a castle.  “If it is right in front of me then why am I still searching?”

He again said, “because you look but do not see.” He then scurried off into the forest.

I scratched my head, perplexed at that conversation but continued my journey. It had been several days when I came upon another child.

“Hello, can you tell me how to get to the castle?” I asked.

“Where have you searched?” asked the child.

“I have been on so many roads, so many trails, so many paths that I have lost count,” I answered.

“Have any of those roads brought you closer to the castle?”

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I thought, what kind of question is that? Isn’t it obvious the answer is no since I am asking you where it is?  “I do not believe so. I have not found many people who have even heard of it, let alone know where it is.”   What is wrong with the children in this kingdom? I silently thought.

“Many have been on this journey you are on.   Some have succeeded in finding the castle. Some have never been on the right path. Others have quit searching when they were only steps away.”

“Why would they quit searching when they were steps away? Couldn’t they see it?” I asked.

“The evil one put scales over their eyes. He does not want anyone finding the castle and he will do whatever it takes to make you turn away and quit searching.”

With that, he left me with only more questions than answers.   Who was this evil one?  Why would anyone quit searching for something so grand?  Why would they not want to live in the castle and the kingdom? None of this was making sense to me.

I continued on the path I was on. I was hoping that I would find someone who could lead me to the castle. It had been months since I saw the last child but I was on a journey and I was not going to stop until I found it.

I was rounding a corner when I saw a man sitting beside the road.  “Where ya goin’?” he asked.

“I’m not really sure,” I responded. “I am searching for the castle in the kingdom but I have not been able to find it yet.”

“Oh, I see,” he said. “Mind if I tag along?”

“Not to be disrespectful but I prefer not. This is a journey I must take alone,” I answered.

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“Why don’t you go down this way?” he said as he pointed to the left of me.  “I have heard down that road will be all the money you could ever want.”

“Thanks, but I have had money and it did not bring me the peace I search for.”

“Why not go down this road?” he said as he pointed to the right. “I have heard there all the women you could ever desire down that road.”

“Thanks, but I have had my share of women and they did not fill the hole in my heart,” I replied.

“Why not turn around and go back to where you were?  Surely it is a lot easier than searching for a mythical castle that you will never find.”

“You must be the evil one the child told me about. I will not listen to your serpents tongue. I will be on my way now.”

With that, I bid him farewell and was on my way again.

It seemed like another year had passed but I knew it could have only been days. I was getting frustrated. Why could I not find this castle?

I crested a hill and saw the two children again.  “Hello again, will you continue to talk in riddles or will you show me the way to the castle?”

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“The castle is located where you will never expect it to be. You will find it when you can cross the moat between your mind and your heart. You must understand, through faith, that what is seen was not made from the visible. You must have faith in what you do not see.”

Do what?  Are these children serious?  Moat, mind, heart, invisible, visible?

“You must lower the drawbridge and connect what you believe to be the truth and what you know to be the truth. When your heart and your mind are one you will find the castle. When you find the truth you will find the castle for the castle is the truth.”

“Keep searching. Walk in faith. You are on the right path.”

As perplexed as I was,  I felt a peace that I had not felt before. Somehow, what they said was making sense. I knew I had not found the castle yet but I knew I was close. I knew I was heading in the right direction. One step at a time, one minute at a time, I will keep on walking.

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Kingdom by David Dunn – 

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 – 

Walk By Faith by Jeremy Camp –  

Sing In The Valley by The Perrys – 

 

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The Stained Glass Window 

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I heard the doors open and shut. Another person walking into church late.

Seriously?

C’mon lady, the church is half empty and you come and sit right beside me.  Hello? Have you not heard of personal space?

She gave me a weak smile, and I gave her one back.  Not my first thought to do but we were in church.

A few minutes later tears started to stream down her face.

Oh no God, not today. I do not want to deal with this today. I just came to worship you, not talk to someone else. 

Ask her if she is okay!

No God! I told you I did not want to do this today. 

Reach out for her hand!

Are you serious?  I will not do that.  She will probably think I am hitting on her or something.  From the way she is crying that is the last thing she needs. 

That is what she needs.  She needs a friend. She needs you. 

God, in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have any friends. I’m not exactly the kind of friend people want. I don’t have time for people in my life. 

Offer her a tissue!

I don’t have one on me.

There are some in front of the church!

You want me to get up and walk to the front of the church, right in middle of the sermon?

Yes!

I exhaled softly. Maybe it was loudly.

“Excuse me, let me go get you a tissue.”

“Thank you but you don’t have to.”

If only.  “Yes, I do. God is telling me to go get you a tissue.”

She looked at me weird. I could hear her thoughts. This guy is crazy, thinking God is talking to him. 

I came back and gave her the tissue.

We listened to the rest of the sermon. At the end of the service I sat there, waiting for her to get up.  She didn’t.

C’mon God.  Seriously, I have so much to do today. 

Nothing more important than my daughter! 

I looked at her and could tell she had a lot on her mind. Tears started to flow again.

“Are you okay?”  Duh. Of course she isn’t okay. 

I reached out and touched her hand and she looked at me with such sadness.

She started to talk. Opening up more and more as the minutes past. Everyone else had left the church and it was just her and myself.  Well, and God.

She talked about her mistakes and her pain. Tears would come and go.  I listened and tried to lighten the mood when the opportunity arose.   I tried to offer encouragement where I could. The more I listened, the more I realized she was a lot like me. I forgot about all I needed to get done and just sat there and listened.

That’s when I heard God tell me to look up. I did and that’s when I saw the light shining through the stained glass window. How had I never noticed the stained glass window before?  Maybe I had and just let it slide to the back of my mind. If I had noticed it before, I do not remember it being so beautiful.

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That’s when I remembered something I had read about how stained glass windows were made.

I asked the woman to look up.

“Look at the stained glass window. See how beautiful it is. It’s beautiful, just like you.  Just like me. In order for it to be made,  it has to be broken.  All the broken pieces are put together just so by its maker.  You can’t see how all the broken pieces will turn out, just like you can’t see what next year or even what tomorrow will be. Then one day, presto.  You see this beautiful, completed work of art.  One day you and I will be a completed work of art.  We just have to keep picking up the broken pieces and putting them together until we are complete.”

It was like a light went off behind her eyes.

She thanked me and got up and ran out of the church. I never even got her name.

She came back the next Sunday and we talked more and wouldn’t you know it, we became good friends.  So good, in fact, that we are now married.

Our stained glass window is not complete. God is still putting more broken pieces together but I can see the picture. I can see how all the past mistakes, all the broken pieces are making a beautiful window.  It would not look how it looks without all the broken pieces of glass. One day, our window will be complete and it will be more amazing than I could ever imagine.

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Stained Glass by Jon Guerra- 

Broken Things by Matthew West- 

O Come To The Altar by Elevation Worship – 

Pieces by Rob Thomas – 

Broken Places by Plumb- 

The First Bud Of Spring- A Love Story

Happy Valentine’s Day, and hopefully an early spring.

My God, My Music, My Life

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It was a long, cold, dark winter. One that she didn’t think would ever end. There was snow, rain, and sleet. A couple of times there was enough ice to nearly break the branches on the trees. The little girl held on. She waited for the warmer weather, the better times, the warmth of the sun. She knew it would come, it was just a matter of time. As she waited patiently, she would say her prayers, she would thank God for protecting her and her mommy and daddy during these cold, dark, winter nights.

Finally the day had come. The first bud of spring appeared out of the ground. The bud peeked out of her shoot and could feel the warmth surround her. She was filled with so much joy that. At first,  she didn’t notice she was the only bud sprouting. After basking in the warmth of the…

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The Last Leaf

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painting by John Edwards

 

I watched her clinging to life. The last leaf on the tree.  I didn’t know if I should feel sad for her or if I should admire her.

Should I feel sad for her? I mean, she is the last leaf. All the other leaves are gone. Her husband, her kids, her close friends, her distant relatives. All of them were gone. Why was she still clinging to life?  Why would she want to hang on?

It was then that I thought I should admire her.  She was strong. She had more to say. Yes, she longed to be with her friends and family but she wasn’t done with this life yet.

She gave me hope.  She gave me a reason to continue. The cold winds blew, she held on.  The rains came, she held on. The snow came, she held on. I knew if she could do it that I could do it too. There wasn’t anything that could take me down. I had a story to tell. I had a reason to hold on.

Every day I looked at that leaf. I wondered how she could do it. Some days were worse than others.  At least that’s how I felt. I swear that she smiled at me. Even in the worst conditions I felt like she was smiling. I wondered what she was up to. I wondered what did she know that I didn’t know.  Where did she find her joy?

Winter faded to spring. The warmer weather brought the green buds to life. The leaf held on. The new leaves overtook the tree.  I had to look hard to find her but she was still there.

Then one day she was gone. I saw her on the ground.  I imagined she stayed long enough to teach the new leaves what she knew. I could see her looking around with a smile on her face. I could see her saying it’s okay. I could see her saying it is now my time and then letting go of the branch.

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I had to pick her up and take her home. I put her in my scrapbook along with the picture of my grandma. She reminded me a lot of my grandma.  Tenacious, stubborn, lived longer than most of the people she knew, and she passed down her words of wisdom. She passed down her Bible, with all her underlined and highlighted passages. Words that spoke to her.

I know it may be silly, since she was just a leaf, but she taught me a lot. She helped me to remember a lot. She helped me to be thankful for what I have. She taught me to cling to life.  It is precious.

I am thankful for that leaf. I am thankful for my grandmas and grandpas. I am thankful for my parents. I am thankful for my teachers. I am thankful for all the military. I am thankful for all those that have come before me, that have paved the way for me.  The ones who gave me words of wisdom and taught me lessons. The ones that encouraged me, that gave me life, that gave my dreams life. To all of you I say thank you.

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If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it.

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In The Time That You Gave Me by Bradley Walker feat Joey Feek – 

My Last Breath Here (Joey’s Song) by JK Nick Nichols – 

Tears Of Joy by Phil Wickham – 

See You There by Joey Feek – 

To Say Goodbye by Joey & Rory – 

Live On by Olivia Newton John – 

After You’re Gone by Iris Dement – 

Love, Me by Collin Raye – 

Sing Me To Heaven by Bradley Walker – 

The Last Leaf by Blackmore’s Night – 

Last Leaf by Tom Waits – 

Last Leaf by Ok Go – 

Last Leaf On The Tree poem spoken by Dr. James Dobson – 

 

My Name Is Legend

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My name is Legend. I am a warrior. I fight the demons of this world. I fight your demons. Ones you never saw attacking you, ones that you fight each day. I stand with you.

 

I have to admit one thing that tears at the very depth of all that I am is loving my enemies. The same enemies I fight every day. I pray they will change. I pray they will find love instead of hate. The devil has them in a stranglehold.  Another dies as their blood drips from the end of my sword. As their lifeless body lays at my feet I pray for them. I do not gloat or take pride in what I have done. It pains me greatly. It scars me more on the inside than the scars visible to you.

I have a confession to make. I am tired. More than that, I am worn out. Darkness is everywhere. I am only one man. I only have so much fight in me. I have more scars than freckles. I am on my knees begging God for help. Send me help God! Help me get off my knees and pick up my sword to fight again. 

God’s answer was to go to His people. Here is my plea:

As I mentioned before, I am worn out. Yet, I pick myself up, grab my sword and head into the night to fight another battle.  I fight your battles. It’s time for you to stand up. As I have prayed to God, I will ask of you the same.  I need help. I need your help!

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Make no mistake the devil knows your name. He keeps track of all the demons you let in. He knows when to send more. You have to put on your armor and  you have draw you sword. Even then the devil will not stop. You have to be tenacious. You have to never give up.

The devil tells you to yell at your husband for forgetting to go to the store on his way home from work. Knock that demon on his butt and smile at your husband, be thankful he arrived home safe.

The devil tempts you with that new attractive coworker who is flirting with you. Take your sword and cut that demon in half.  Look at that picture of you spouse and children on your desk. Be thankful for your family.

The devil tells you to yell at your child for spilling her milk at the dinner table. Destroy that demon with kind words and forgiveness. It take only a few seconds to clean up the milk, harsh words will be remembered forever. Be thankful you have a child. Many want one who can’t have one. Look in her eyes and tell her it’s okay. Tell her how much you love her.

These are just a few examples where you can help me. These are what I call the front line demons.  The little ones that try to ruin your life. The little ones that open the doors to the big ones. The generals, the lieutenants, the corporals.  You can not give in to them. You can not give in to the addictions, the temptations, the struggles that will rip your life to pieces. The ones that once they sink their teeth in are hard to defeat.

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To paraphrase John F. Kennedy ask not what God can do for you but what can you do for God. Ask not what people can do for you, ask what can you do for people. You can help me, you can help others fight the demons. Will you be God’s light in this dark world. Will you fight with me? Will you help me destroy these demons that attack you and other people?

I will fight them with you. I will stand by your side, sword drawn, ready to attack. Are you with me?

Tonight, as you get ready to sleep, drop to your knees and thank God for getting you through another day. Thank God for helping you defeat some demons today. Look deep into your heart and tell God everything you are thankful for. Then I want you to raise your head, lift your hands to God and let God hold your hands for this next thing. I then want you to look the devil in the eye and tell him to leave your life.  He has no place in your life. I want you to say devil, do you not know who I am?  I am a child of God. My name is —— and I am a warrior.

I am worn out but I will not quit. I see a light at the end of the darkness.  I see hope. I see you. I see you picking up your sword. I see the demons on the ground, laying at your feet. I see me on your left. I see God on your right. We will win this fight!

My name is Legend. I am a warrior. I have renewed strength. I will never give up fighting the darkness of this world.

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Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.

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Legends by The Afters – 

Centuries by Fall Out Boy – 

Warrior by Steven Curtis Chapman – 

Warriors by Papa Roach – 

Run Devil Run by Crowder – 

Live Like Legends by Ruelle – 

Strength by Jonathan and Melissa Helser – 

Move by TobyMac – 

Battles by The Afters – 

Live Like A Warrior by Matisyahu – 

The Lord Is A Warrior by Matt Papa – 

The Battle

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It wasn’t a good night. Alone again. Alone  with my thoughts. Alone with my doubts. Alone with my past regrets. That’s when I realized I wasn’t alone. Something, or someone was there with me. I could feel it. I would rather face off against Freddie Krueger.

I could feel it before I could see it. I looked around but I was the only one here.  Fear crept in.  The only sound was the sound of my too loud beating heart. Evil lurked. Looking for a place to land. It only needed a small opening and it waited patiently.  I wasn’t going to let it in, but it waited. Evil is patient, waiting for its opportunity.

I fought the invisible evil.  It wasn’t going to win. Doubts would sink in. At times I believed the lies. I was stronger than this. I had a power inside of me. I often forgot about this power. I often forgot about the strength it gave me. I wasn’t going to forget this time.  I also knew I couldn’t do it alone.  I yelled out to God.

The evil was gone. A peace overcame me. I stopped shaking. My heart calmed. I wasn’t naive though. I knew the evil would be back. It doesn’t give up easily.  More importantly, I knew neither did God.

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I had to get out of the house.

I liked walking on the beach. The wind coming off the ocean, the smell of it. The way the moon and stars shined their light off the waves.  I could walk for miles. It was relaxing but there were no stars to light my way tonight. Only the light of a full moon, and it didn’t seem to be as bright as it should have been.

I walked along the beach. Even the waves didn’t sound the same. Like they were whispering to me.  There was definitely a thickness in the air.

Something just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Was something in the house with me? Was it just my imagination? I couldn’t quite shake the feeling.

That’s when I saw him. Well, I guess I should say it. I couldn’t quite make out the form in the darkness but something was definitely there. He, or it, was hiding in the darkness under the pier.

My heart was starting to beat fast. Stop it, I said to myself. This is just your imagination acting up. There is nothing to fear.

I was getting closer to the pier.  Maybe 30 feet away. I took a deep breath. My mind was playing tennis. Volley to the left, it’s going to be okay. Volley to the right, be prepared. It’s going to be you or him. Volley left, volley right. That’s when he stepped out and I could see it in his eyes. Volley right it is.

I had no weapon. Or at least I thought I had no weapon. God, be with me. I heard the scream, I saw the light.  That’s when I fell to the ground.

Did someone sneak up behind me and hit me in the head? What was that light? I quickly did a self check and realized I wasn’t hurt. I  looked up looking for the man but he was nowhere to be found. What just happened?

Add that to my list of weird things happening tonight. The list would be getting longer.

I know what you are thinking. I should turn around and just go back home. Lock myself in my room and say goodnight.  I could not do that.  I should’ve done that but something was telling me to keep moving forward.

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I heard the screams.  I ran to them. I know you are yelling for me to run away from them. I was thinking the same thing!  I couldn’t do it. I am not a hero but I had to see if there was anything I could do.

They were huddled together at the dead end of a one way street. The look of terror on their faces is something I can never forget. They were looking upward. I followed their eyes and then I saw them. There had to be at least twenty, maybe more, of them. The legion of demons were hideous. They were attacking relentlessly.  They disgusted me.

At one time or another they were all a part of my life.  I am a sinner and I knew them all by name. There was greed, lust, fear, addiction, hopelessness, negative, pride, envy. I knew them well. There was also wrath, sloth, doubt, low self-esteem, failure, sorrow, gossip and hate. Many more I will not name  but they were all following their leader Baal. I was actually surprised to see him. They usually let their minions do the work and don’t show their faces. With him here, I knew this was going to be a long battle.

That’s when I saw the glow. I looked down and I was shining like a light. I wasn’t alone. I looked around and there were many others with me. We had been brought together for this moment. We are the light of the world and now was the time to defeat the darkness.

We lit up the dark night. Many of the demons ran when they saw the light. Many others chose to fight. The light was their enemy. The truth was their adversary. Hope was their opponent. We were their prosecutors.

After a long, bloody, hard fought battle we were victorious.  There was sadness in our victory. We lost some friends in the battle but they will forever be remembered as heroes. We will fight the good fight. Where there are demons, so will we be. We will honor the truth and defend it with our lives.

They will be back.  We will be here when they return.

We are the light of the world and we will shine victorious.

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Good Fight by Unspoken – 

Soldier On by Sidewalk Prophets – 

Never Burn Out by Stars Go Dim –

Same Power by Jeremy Camp – 

Independence Day by Union Of Sinners and Saints – 

Soldiers by Martin Smith – 

Onward Christian Soldiers by Petra – 

I’m Just Another Soldier by The Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi – 

Children Of The Light by Lecrae – 

Where The Light Is by Dan Bremnes – 

I’ll Be The Light by Colton Dixon – 

 

 

Hermie The Hermit Crab

“Come on in friend. I was just reminiscing on my younger days. Looking at all these old pictures brings back memories.”

“Take a look at this one. I was just a baby. My first shell.”

“I still relied on my parents a lot. They taught me what was going to happen as I got older. They taught me how to be polite and how to treat my friends, as well as strangers. One of my favorite things my parents taught me was to be kind to everyone. Treat others as you would want them to treat you. You never know when you are going to need someone to help you and they won’t if you are mean all the time.”

“Oops. You weren’t supposed to see that one. My mom took it in between shells. She embarrassed me so many times by showing that one to my friends.  Moooommmmm!!!!!!”

 

“Here is me as a teenager. That shell was a little too small for me. I thought I knew it all then. I forgot how my parents told me how important it was to get the right shell. Too small and I will have to move again soon.  Too big and I would have to carry that weight around until I could fill it.”

“That didn’t keep me from getting this shell as a young adult. Look how big it is.”

” I got it shortly after I left the care of my parents. I was going to take on the world. I didn’t need anything or anyone except me. I was growing so fast I was constantly changing shells. I was invincible.  I ran over anyone who stood in my way.”

“Then I needed someone. Everyone just walked around me. That’s when I remembered what my parents had taught me.  I was being terribly mean to everyone around me. It’s no excuse but it wasn’t easy for me to change shells. Every time I got comfortable and things were going my way I would grow a little more and have to leave my comfortable home. ”

“All I wanted was to have things stay the same. I liked many a shell and had to leave them. Some of my friends didn’t grow like I did and were able to settle into their shells for far longer times. Some even stayed in the same shell their entire lives.  They were too scared to leave and to grow into a new shell. Can you believe that? ”

“I, however, changed each time I changed my shell. Not all of those changes were good but, looking back, I can see how they all helped me become who I am today. I have become wiser , kinder, and more giving. You see , as I moved out of a shell that left a shell for someone else to move into. A younger version of me if you think about it. I could mentor them and teach them what I have been taught.”

“Life isn’t always sunshine on a beach. Sometimes you get these big waves, and sometimes the small ones too, that knock you on your back.  You have to fight to get back on your feet. Fight for what you believe in. Become a stronger, better crab.”

“Have you ever had someone be there for you every time you needed them? I didn’t think I did either but I did. And I do.”

“You see, one day I was just getting into a new shell when some humans were walking by. I heard them talking about God. How he made the sunrises and the sunsets I see every day. They were telling their children about how much he loved them. How he is always with them. When they are tired he can carry them. When they struggle he can help them overcome. They told them about his grace and how he forgives them for their mistakes. They even told them about who they are in him. That no matter what happens in this world, they are his children and they are loved and cherished by him. He even gave his one and only son to them and let him die on a cross  to show how much he loved them. ”

“I wish I would’ve heard about God a lot sooner in my life. Maybe I wouldn’t have made a lot of the mistakes I did. I would’ve known that I didn’t have to live with those mistakes. I could live guilt and shame free and be forgiven.”

“I will also tell you God has a plan for me, and for you. Even in times of struggle, stay true to Him and His promises. Some of the hardest times in my life turned out to be blessings. I learned so much about who I am when I had to leave one shell for another. The moments when I was vulnerable and felt unprotected. The times when the shell didn’t fit just right but I had to hold on and wait for a better day. Those are the the times I remember the most.”

“Now that I have told you about what I know about God will you go tell your friends.  Let’s learn more about Him together. Let’s go treat others like we want to be treated. It’ll be hard and some will reject what we have to say but we have to stay steadfast. Stay true my friend, stay true.”

Save Me by Jason Lancaster – 

Everything Comes Alive by We Are The Messengers – 

Say The Word by Hillsong United – 

Thy Will by Hillary Scott –  

Greater Is He by  Blanca –  

Diamonds by Hawk Nelson –  

The God I Know by Love and the Outcome –  

Live It Well by Switchfoot –  

Blessings by Laura Story –