If you have ever been the victim of a deep betrayal, you can understand and describe the pain with vivid imagery. I believe that these same gut wrenching human emotion pierced Jesus’ heart when one of His very own betrayed Him. You see, Judas,  for a lowly amount of coins, betrayed the forever King. It makes no sense, yet we are all at some point in our lives betrayers. We all make decisions that sacrifice the ultimate worth of Christ’s love for cheap pleasures.

I can think back to moments when metaphorical coins seemed a desirable trade for choosing my fleshly desires over my spiritual ones. In simple terms,  I was choosing sin over Jesus,  I was Judas in those betraying moments. Has this ever described you? It’s perhaps not the most pleasant thought to dig deep into, but can you name your offenses? Can you list your sins? For some, it might be easier than others and I want you to know that when Jesus becomes your Lord and Savior, there is no more condemnation – Jesus removes your sins as far as the east is from the west. Yet, the point in which I am trying to highlight is that without recognizing and repenting of our betrayals, we can never truly see the fulfillment that comes when grace is presented. There is a Scripture in 2 Timothy 11- 13 that hit me pretty hard when I read it and I would like to share it with you,

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself.

Did you notice how the beginning lines all have the opposite outcomes? Dying means life, suffering means ruling and, later on in the verse, faithlessness is remarkably met with faithfulness. Jesus was always using radical ideas to describe His Kingdom. In fact, The Beatitudes are a great example of this as well. Yet, will He call us His if we do not call Him ours? The answer is no. We cannot expect to live a life of betrayal towards God (even if we speak Him with our lips, but not without our entire being), and claim to be His. God’s sovereign name does not allow this injustice. We may pretend by doing all the things that look ‘right’ on the surface and still, Jesus can respond by saying, “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

Thus, repentance and a true relationship with Him is necessary. Betrayal is simply not an option when it comes to belonging. We must recognize that this makes God a good God, unchanging and unwavering in all of His ways. Yet, there is good news for us who are weak…this does not mean we are perfect. In fact, we can screw up! We can lack faith and fall short (like Paul so often spoke about in the New Testament) and God is still faithful. Why? He cannot show betrayal to those who are marked His. Jesus’ costly bloodshed will not allow God to turn us away when we are sealed by His precious covering that occurred on the cross. He cannot deny Himself. We can be Peter, at times, sinking in an ocean deep even though we can hear God saying “come” and He will never disown us for we are His. He will keep reaching His hand towards us. However what we cannot survive is to live as Judas. We cannot kiss Him, yet deny Him. We must make sure that we are pursuing His will (and not our own) or we are living in a way that breaks His heart.

I hope that as you are dying to your flesh daily, remembering that in the end you are truly gaining. I hope that you also remember that when you endure, you will someday reign. And, when you fall short, I hope that you never forget that He is still faithful. So, I’ll end by proposing the same thought I began with slightly modified: have you ever been the cause of a deep betrayal? Was this offense towards the One who wants to call you His and capture you heart forever? I believe that these gut wrenching and human emotions of betrayal pierce Jesus’ heart when one of His decides to choose to betray.

Good Friday

Good Friday: How Love Wins

To any of you who have not purchased what is in my opinion one of the greatest Christian albums of all time, buy yourself this precious gift. The CD is called “Music Inspired By The Story” and it features some of the top Christian artists singing songs from many different Bible characters perspectives. The way in which Nicole Nordman, the lyricist, and Bernie Herms, the composer, express humanity and God’s love in this musical composition is nothing short of an inspired masterpiece. Yes, I am this passionate about it and the dozens of people I have convinced to purchase this album have agreed with me! If you own this CD, you know I am right and please leave a comment as to which is your favorite song (mine changes constantly).

As I shift gears, I personally have been inspired by one of the songs on the CD called “This is How Love Wins.” The words leave me in tears every time. As we approach Good Friday, I’d like to reflect on Jesus’ death through the eyes of a very unlikely man. You see, the word “Cavalry” makes me emotional. For those of you who read these articles each day, you can refer to my “Love at First Sight” article to further understand my connection to, and passion for, the streets I walked in Jerusalem that led to a deeper understanding of God’s great love and the personal song it inspired called, “He Gave Calvary.” This passion is understandable because this is where Jesus began the journey to win us back. We were nothing more than common criminals, thieves, who had robbed God of so much love and repaid Him with constant disobedience.

We were just like Joe. Who is Joe, you are probably wondering? I am glad you asked! Joe was a kid who was always getting into trouble and from a young age had a bit of a mean streak. He tried hard to please his parents while in elementary school, but after his many attempts to win their love had failed, Joe decided he would capture other people’s attention by being the neighborhood troublemaker. Joe was a small kid who always boasted scuffed up knees and smelt of rotten eggs. By middle school, Joe embraced his evil by causing other people pain in any way he possibly could. He would throw rocks and break windows, bully other children, and disrespect adults. Needless to say, school was mostly spent in detention and the principal’s waiting room. It wasn’t long before Joe’s family split and his now single-mother had to take another job to pay the bills. This resulted in Joe living out his nights home alone. Joe knew he was abandoned, unloved, and a mistake. In fact, deep down he wished he could change who he was, but he had established his identity as a hoodlum and he was committed to be something, even if that something was a no-good teenage boy. As Joe grew up, fathers kept their daughters far from Joe and Joe became increasingly lonely. Joe had no friends, no one who loved him, and he had no education or promise of a future. After dropping out of school his sophomore year, his time was spent drinking, smoking and trying to experience new ‘highs.’ By the time he was nineteen, he was out of juvie and back in jail a year later for car theft. There seemed no hope for Joe. Many years later, Joe found himself on death row for murdering four girls who were all teenagers. No one would be sad to see Joe pay for his sins and no one would ever love Joe. Yet, this is not what happened in Joe’s story next.

Here are some of the words to the song “This is How Love Wins,” will you pretend with me for a moment that this was Joe’s voice singing these words?

My life began like any other man held beneath a mother’s loving gaze
Somewhere between now and then I lost the man I could have been
Took everything that wasn’t mine to take but love believes that it is not too late
Only one of us deserves this cross, a suffering that should belong to me
Deep within this man I hang beside is the place where shame and grace collide
And it’s beautiful agony that He believes it’s not too late for me

This is how love wins, every single time
Climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die
This is how love heals, the deepest part of you
Letting Himself bleed into the middle of your wounds
This is what love says, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
Silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how love wins

We now see that Joe, this fictional, no-good character, did one remarkable life changing thing – he allowed God’s love in. He surrendered to Jesus and called Him Savior – repenting of all his sins. Joe’s story could have been similar to the nameless thief on the cross who accepted Christ just moments from his last breath and who is now in Heaven with our Lord. Joe could be countless little boys who are growing up right now, unloved, unwanted and yet, they also still have one final hope: redemption through Jesus. Even if you see yourself as a pretty good person, there is probably a part of Joe that is a part of you. We are all sinful, lost, hopeless, people without one truth: Good Friday. Good Friday and Jesus’ decision to embrace Calvary that allowed all the average and horrific Joes, who could never be good enough in their own right, to become royal children of a King. This is how love wins, every single time.

If you need to be freed from guilt and sin, Good Friday makes this possible. It’s a beautiful gift and one where love wins. The following is a Scripture that allows you to change your story. If you are a Joe, the good, bad, or ugly version, I challenge you to allow love in,

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  (Romans 10:9-10)

If this was your fist time truly believing these words, please send us an e-mail so that we can begin to help you on this amazing journey. If you are a believer already, please don’t forget to intentionally seek after other ‘Joes.’ You have truth that they need and Good Friday is a perfect time to start allowing love to win.

Die To Yourself

What Does It Mean To Die To Yourself?

“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’” – Luke 9:23

What does it mean to die to yourself? There is something startlingly subjective about this edict Jesus gives to His disciples upon their final realization that He is the Messiah.  While it’s more common for Jesus to speak in universal terms regarding belief and behavior, the above verse speaks directly to the individual would-be-follower.  Jesus is saying to each individual subject, “If you want to follow Me, then you must take up your cross and follow.”  This leads me to believe that while the principles for following Jesus are mostly universal to all and commonly applicable, the ways each of us will have to daily pick up our individual crosses and follow will differ person to person and situation to situation.

There is no one way to pick up your cross, and when Paul tells the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all men so that by all means I might save some” the practicality of what it means to deny yourself daily becomes clearer.

While I could provide what I think Jesus meant by calling His disciples to deny themselves daily and what Paul meant by attesting to his willingness to accommodate anyone for the cause of the gospel, in actuality I can only provide a testimony of what this has meant for me. When I hear my Jesus telling me to pick up my cross daily, only I can know what that cross is.  My hope, in sharing what I deny myself in order to follow Jesus, is that it would be an encouragement for you to explore your cross and the ways He is calling you to do the same.

For me, in my life, I must die to my desire to be right all of the time.  I have seen in my behavior, and in my ministry experience, a fatal unwillingness to be wrong, whether within Christian contexts or outside of them.  As Christians I think we feel a certain sense of intellectual superiority because of our access to Jesus who Himself claimed to be the embodiment of Truth itself (John 14:6), however our relationship to Jesus (who is Truth) does not guarantee our absolute rightness; in fact, that relationship more calls our wisdom foolishness and our intellect inferior (1 Corinthians 1:27).  God is omniscient (all knowing) and I am not.  To deny myself the need to be right has meant for me a level of compassion and understanding for people from all walks of life for whom God has called me to be all things in order that they might possibly be saved by Him.

What is your cross?  What is Jesus calling you to deny daily in order to follow Him more closely?  Please share your testimony below in order that we all might benefit from our shared openness about the radically different way Jesus has called us to be His disciples in this world.


Healing The Pain: The Real Woman at the Well

A girl once was born in a tiny town, in the desert north of Jerusalem.  Some today call her Photine, but her name really isn’t important; in fact, from the moment she was old enough to understand, she was told exactly that: you are unimportant.  She had to remain a virgin, she could not marry whomever she liked (that would be decided for her), nor could she divorce once married.  She could not leave the house without a male escorting her, she could not work, her testimony wouldn’t hold up in court, and she certainly could not participate in politics of any kind.  About the only thing she was allowed to do with relative independence was gather water from an ancient well outside of her dusty little town with the other women each morning. 

Her father, being an enterprising man, found a suitable husband for Photine, and married her off as soon as a dowry was agreed upon.  But this husband, as the ancient law allowed, “found something displeasing about her” (Deuteronomy 24), gave her a certificate of divorce, and was on his merry way to marry another, leaving Photine in disgrace.  No longer a virgin, and therefore unacceptable to decent men, she took any man who would marry her.  They too left.  Five husbands came and went, destroying whatever shred of dignity and communal respect Photine ever had.  Desperate, she moved in with another man for need of basic protection and provision.  And even the one activity which used to bring her pleasure, the drawing of water from the well with the other women who could commiserate with her (for they too could be married and left in a moment), had been taken away.  Too ashamed to face the others, she would wait until later to get water for herself.

One evening at the well, around 6 o’clock, a weary looking man, a Jewish traveler by what she could tell, sat down next to Photine and asked for some water.  At first she pretended not to hear him; her people didn’t talk with his people and single women, especially ones as disgraced as she, wouldn’t dare address a single man.  But something about him disarmed her for a second.  Maybe the sheer loneliness and the years of being thrown away by others allowed her to ask him why he would even talk with her.  Their conversation turned to the well itself.

Photine over the years had come to like this well very much.  It was called Jacob’s well and, as the place where she felt some independence and camaraderie, she would soak up stories about Jacob and his family that settled there.  She was especially fond of Genesis 34 – the part about how just after Jacob’s family settled in this spot and dug this well. You see, Jacob’s daughter Dinah was horrifically raped, but her brothers wouldn’t stand for it.  They found the men responsible and took their lives in defense of their sister’s dignity and chastity.  Hearing these stories, Photine would dream of finding a man like that – someone who would stand up for her; someone who wouldn’t leave again; someone who could right the wrongs of her fractured life.

“The water from this well cannot satisfy you forever,” said the traveling teacher, “but if you believe in me, you can have water in you that will never dry up, a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

“Sir, please give this water to me so I won’t have to come here any more,” Photine replied.

“Call your husband to come here with us,” Jesus said.

There it was.

Photine hung her head in shame.  Her mind raced thinking of the five men who had left her and the other she’d been living with; the disgrace of being discarded and the humiliation of her entire life leading up to this point.  She could only muster “I have no husband” under her breath the same way she had done many times before.  No tears.  No emotion.  Just the cold reality that she was a piece of floating debris tossed in the wake of men passing by.

Jesus smiled.  “I know,” he said.  “You have had five husbands and the man you’re living with now is not your husband.”

“How could this be?” Photine wondered, taken aback.  “How could this stranger, this Jewish teacher who talks about eternal life and living water, see my deepest wounds and speak of them with understanding?  With compassion?  When others find out what has happened in my life they turn away with judgment and condemnation in their eyes, but not this man.  Not this man.”

With a growing interest Photine started asking questions.  “I think you’re a prophet sir, please give me some answers.  I have listened to all the stories I could take in about God and worship and even a Messiah who will come knowing everything.  How should I worship God?”

“Daughter, believe me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we Jews worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But an hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth…  I who speak to you am the Messiah.”

Unable to contain her excitement that here, right in front of her, was someone who heard her, saw her, listened to her, and gave her hope that she might not have to carry around the pain of her life forever, Photine raced back to the city to tell the others.  She didn’t care what they thought of her anymore, but ran right up to some of the men of the town (possibly some of her ex-husbands) and cried out “Come!  See a man who told me all the things I have done!  This could be the Christ!”

In John chapter 4 where this story is found, verse 34 says “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.”

So often we hear this story told and Jesus comes off sounding like he’s saying to this woman, “Ha!  Caught‘cha!  I know you’re a sinner and just you wait.”  But that’s not true to Jesus’s character or mission.  In the chapter just before this story, in John 3, Jesus says in verse 17 “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  Jesus looks at this woman and rather sees the part that needs saving, healing, restoring.  He tells her everything she ever did, and, in a way, everything that was ever done to her, because it is God’s desire that all might be healed of their deepest hurts through His great love.

That is God’s desire for you too.  God sees that part of you that you don’t want to talk about with other people; that part that keeps you hiding, going to the well alone.  But He doesn’t point to that part of you in anger or judgment; He points lovingly and says “That.  That’s the part I want to fix.”  What I learn from the woman at the well is if I let Jesus into that part of my life the way she did, He can begin to heal it.  When I stop hiding from God the pain that I have inflicted on myself or that others have inflicted on me, when I let Him into my life, His living water can flow through me to life everlasting.  With the woman at the well I cry out to you “Come!  See this Jesus who told me everything I ever did.”  He knows you, He loves you, and He wants to restore your life through an eternal relationship with Him.



Guilt, Sin, and Forgiveness

It’s a gloomy day and the room feels claustrophobic. Heavy breathing can be contrasted to wide eyed stares as the jury and the judge claim a certain amount of ownership for the reading that is about to transpire. A verdict has been reached and the reality is, at this very moment in time, what is about to take place can never be un-done. These next few sentences prepare a man for either a life of freedom or an almost certain death.

I hope that you never find yourself in a physical courtroom awaiting such a fate but to escape guilt is indeed a problematic thing. Guilt is a powerful weapon that keeps a person confined to living in the cycles of limitation within their own nervous mind. How do I know this….because we were all born with a verdict of guilt. The hospital room that heard our newborn cries and wrapped us in warm blankets didn’t see the fate we were destined for, the birth certificate didn’t read ‘guilty offender’ and our parents didn’t see our horrific crime but make no mistake about it, we were born in a metaphorical courtroom where our verdict was a guilty one.

In the Gospel of John, we receive extra information about Jesus and the many lessons He taught. Unlike the three synoptic Gospels, the Gospel according to John tells us a compelling story about guilt. I love this story because it is the way in which Jesus sees us all. Please read along with me,

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.” (John 8:3-6a)

It’s a sitcom drama plot for sure; a traditional conservative Jewish woman is having a foolish daytime affair with an unknown lover. Now, notice that this woman is caught in the act of adultery and dragged to Jesus. I imagine this woman’s shame as she is ripped from her bed and pulled through the streets recognizing neighbors and seeing people point and whisper at her expense. It’s a terrible way for religious leaders to behave and their motive was of course, wrong. Here, this woman is brought to the Temple. There was only one Temple for Jewish followers and to them; it would have been the most sacred place to go, so this in and of itself was a hugely embarrassing moment as she clearly wasn’t wearing her best. All of these Scriptures set the stage for her dramatic courtroom appearance where she is about to meet the judge in garments of shame. Now, Jesus was in a bit of a predicament-should He disobey the Law of Moses or keep it and have this women killed? The true Judge needs no other authority to claim but that of being God Himself, whatever He decides next is rightful justified:

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.” (John 8:6b-8)

I imagine the woman’s shocked expression. I imagine the religious leader’s faces turning bright red as the ground becomes what I would guess is a laundry list of sins detailing their own crimes. What was written…their affairs, hidden murders, betrayal of each other? Who knows? Whatever it was, it was no doubt detailed as the oldest to the youngest began to cowardly walk away. It is important to remember that in Jewish culture, elders were respected and therefore, once they began to leave it was appropriate and a given that the young would skirt away also. However, my favorite part of the story is about to be brought to the surface. Jesus and a still very guilty woman are left starring at each other. What can she say knowing that she should be trying to dodge shards of rock against her skin? Her blood should be splattered across the dirt as she slowly died a miserable guilty death. Jesus lovingly looks at her and asks her where her accusers have gone. Is no one left to punish her rightfully? Jesus is the only person who could have allowed her to pay for her sins but He knew more about her past and her future than she could ever comprehend. He leaves her with this one statement about her verdict, “I do not condemn you, Go now and leave your life of sin.”

This is a powerful story and it is meant for Christians, the religious people, just as much as those who are currently far from and God living in both guilt and shame.Depending on your background it is possible you feel you are the woman in this story. You may have met the Healer, the true Judge, the one who has forgiven and set you free but you have encountered Jesus and walked away from that moment still living in a perpetual state of guilt. The truth is that you were born into guilt….so it is not entirely your fault. Additionally, the devil can’t change your verdict of an innocent fate due to the blood of Jesus but he can still make you believe that you are your own prisoner. If you find yourself raising your hand week after week to accept Christ or constantly asking for forgiveness beating yourself up for always falling short and always feeling tied to your sins, you are forgetting the courtroom moment where your verdict was metaphorically read. When Jesus said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do,” God honored the sacrifice that was being made. For centuries, lambs were slaughtered day after day to atone for guilt. The Temple wasn’t a pristine marble building where angels sang on cathedral ceilings, it was a bloodbath! It was a constant place where sacrifice occurred to pay for guilt. However, when Jesus split his blood, the perfect Lamb of God took our guilty sentence and proclaimed, “It is finished,” and this means that the guilt ended. Perhaps, this has never fully sunk in before. My prayer is at this very moment… would.

Fast forward with me for a moment… It was gloomy day and the outdoor air felt claustrophobic. Heavy breathing by a perfect man could be contrasted to wide eyed stares as the people took a certain amount of ownership for the death that was about to transpire. A verdict had been reached, “the King of Kings….guilty.” The reality was, at that very moment in time, what was about to take place could never be un-done. These next few sentences prepared our Lord for either a life of freedom or a certain death. Jesus whispers, “It is finished.”



Dealing with Failure

I am always amazed at how much one must give of themselves in order to possibly have the satisfaction of achieving their dreams. This is heightened when you talk about people with dreams like winning an Olympic medal. What must all these athletes think about when training day after day? How do they stay motivated? How do they spend years rehearsing for a three minute moment to prove that they are better than all the other just as talented and adequate contenders? These are just a few of my many questions. The more I ponder the joy of winning, the more I see the equal and opposite possibilities of losing. Can you imagine making team USA and achieving your lifelong dream as a figure skater only to fall down as the whole world watches? The very routine that you had practiced tirelessly, for hours on end, will never be seen….just a tumble on solid ice will be remembered when people recall your name. The reality is that we have all been devastated by failure. It can haunt a person like an old record player set on repeat.

Yet, God has something very special to say about your failures and He doesn’t see them through our human eyes.

The Israelites were great at failing. God’s chosen people were constantly failing and achieving the ultimate disappointment, not a lack of a gold medal, but of God’s heart. In fact, I came across the most beautiful reminder of how God sees failure and I would like to share it with you. However, first I need you to close your eyes and envision your biggest failure. The more specific you are…the better. This memory should bring un-caged emotions within you that cannot be tamed. Label the failure whatever you choose – by the date, name, event, person, dream, sin or regret. Once you have the failure engraved in your mind, set it aside with me for a moment.

In order to see the beauty within the pain of failing, we must study an old sacred chest.

The Ark of the Covenant wasn’t just any gold treasure-looking chest – it was the single most important item in the Jewish faith throughout the Old Testament. Why? It carried the presence of God. Everything about the design, dimensions and quality of this long rectangular gold box (carried on four massive poles) had to be done with precision. The Lord was very clear when this was being built (just read several chapters in Numbers to learn more) as it took special men of God to humbly carry this house of scared worship. If it were up to you, what would you think should belong in such a precious box….a crown, a beautiful love letter, or maybe nothing at all could be worthy enough. Ironically, what was placed inside of the box was nothing short of the idea we all hate, “moments of human failure.” Let me explain, inside this precious container, apart from the word of God (Torah), were only three items:

The broken tablets that Moses received from God (10 Commandments)
Aaron’s Rod

These all signified moments of great failures in Israel’s history which could only be redeemed by God. The tablets, for instance, were broken because of the anger Moses felt when after spending time on the mountain with God only to find his followers worshiping a golden calf. The manna, while a miracle from Heaven, was given each day to the Israelites as a punishment for their spirit of ingratitude towards God’s provision. And Aaron’s rod, while it symbolized his God given approval to lead, also budded with almonds after God had to once again straighten out the Israelites disobedient actions resulting from a rebellion that had taken place which ended in thousands of people losing their lives. The reality is, apart from God’s word, none of these items had stories of success surrounding them for a human perceptive. The amazing part is that these items were chosen by God to be placed in the same place where He would dwell on earth prior to Jesus’ arrival.

Why place devastating moments of Israel’s failure with the perfection of the Most High God?

As you ponder that question, I would ask you to go back to the thing you set aside and marked as your biggest failure. Imagine putting it inside God’s hand, allowing His presence to fill the abundant shortcomings that you feel when you associate yourself with this thing. And now, let me continue the beautiful story.

While items of failure on man’s behalf may have been put inside a holy vessel, there was something placed on the top of our failures as God’s beloved people. So I ask again, why place moments of Israel’s failure with the perfection of the Most High God? The answer is that there is always something that is placed over our failures and in this case, for the Israelites and for those who believe, the costly price has not changed…it is Jesus blood. The atonement cover, the mercy seat of God was placed on the very top of this chest made of acacia wood.

God’s mercy is always over our shortcomings and failures. God can take even the most gut wrenching moments of our failed lives and when mercy is covering it, all that can be seen is God’s victory.

So I encourage you to take the failures you feel, the Olympic sized moments of disappointment that you hold onto hoping to forget, and place them under God’s covering. In this position, you are no longer holding a burden, but a gift. God’s presence will show you that in all things, even in broken battles, you are a fighter and a winner through the mercy He has given to you.