Saturday, January 31, 2009

True Greatness

“Your dreams and visions for the future don’t matter. Only God’s will for you does.” Ronald was a soccer star at Northwest. He introduced himself to fellow alumni at the reunion lunch. Bluntly, he told us how his students dreams of recognition and up-front leadership had never come true. Instead, he serves the neediest members of society. He spent six years among the poor in the jungles of the Philippines before working with the homeless at a mission in downtown Seattle.

“I had to leave my own dreams behind to do what God would ask of me. God has led in ways I did not expect or seek out.” He has gained no recognition or fame. He hasn’t become wealthy or powerful. But he is happy and making a difference for those without power or fame themselves.

That is true greatness.

Read more:
*Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave. Psalm 86:11-13 NIV

*"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30 NLT

*For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 NIV

Sacrifice that goes ahead

This is another morning after… the morning after our university reunions. I have a happy headache—probably from not drinking enough water during the ebb and flow of the past week. For an alumni director with only a student assistant, it’s a great relief to be on the other side of an all-day series of events. That one student worker checked off item after item on her January to-do list. (Thanks, dear Kristi!) Our volunteers and board members rolled up their sleeves and worked hard. I am grateful.

The alumni who attended yesterday run non-profits, teach school, work in banks, real estate, and churches. They raise families, volunteer in their communities, and travel widely to serve. They have integrity, the respect of their peers, and wide influence. I was thrilled to hear what God has done in and through them.

As I listened to those who showed up for the wrap-up evening reception, I thought of the sacrifices that paid their education. Who were the people who recognized the value of training raw, young, and sometimes unruly students in past decades? Who saw the potential in kids with shaky spiritual foundations, no career direction, and few clear plans?

I have friends who steadily shape the future. They pray, but they also practice their faith by investing money in young people, not knowing the outcome. They trust God to use their sacrificial investments to make the world of the future better.

If you want to support world-changers, please donate at Or log on at your own alma mater to sacrifice for what lies ahead. Any amount is welcome and appreciated.

Read more:
*(David)"'And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple. . . . Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the LORD today?' Then the family leaders, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the generals and captains of the army, and the king's administrative officers all gave willingly.

The people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD, and King David was filled with joy." 1 Chronicles 29:3, 5-6, 9 NLT

*The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29

*Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 NIV

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The morning after

Yesterday, all around the world, people were praying for our daughter who has arthritis. She wrote last night, "I'm going to continue praying about my knee before I go to bed, but regardless of the physical outcome, please let everyone who prayed for me know that this HAS changed something, and it means even more to me than a change in my body would. This week (and this day especially) have made me feel like I can finally see that I really am loved and provided for by God, which is so much better than just knowing that it must be true. Reading through the e-mails you've forwarded has made me feel like I'm completely surrounded by family, no matter how far away I live." She updated this morning, "My joints are the same, but I trust that God knows what he's doing..."

It’s the morning after the euphoria of God’s presence yesterday. Some of us are really looking forward to breakfast after a day of fasting. Hopefully, most of you will continue to pray for Kirsten, and we want you to know how much we appreciate each prayer. Something has shifted in our daughter and in us. We are asking God that physical healing and restoration is part of that change.

Solomon’s prayers were not for what God would do externally, but that his glory would be shown in the wisdom and understanding of God’s servant. What joy we have in seeking the “Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” and the “daily bread” from a loving Father’s rich supply.

Read more:
*"That night God appeared to Solomon and said, 'What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!' …

"'O LORD God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?'

God said to Solomon, 'Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people—I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!'" 2 Chronicles 1:7, 9–12 NLT

*Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Cry out, "Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name, that we may glory in Your praise." Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all of the people said, "Amen" and "Praise the Lord." 1 Chronicles 16:34-36 NIV

*"Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction." Mark 5:34 NIV

*I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles…

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Philippians 4:10-14, 19-20 NIV

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Appealing to God

Today we're joined by many others to pray for our daughter Kirsten as she goes to doctor appointments. She's struggled with arthritis for twelve years and is facing another possible joint replacement.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," says a proverb. But sometime challenges seem so harsh or prolonged that we die to peripheral things, to anything that isn't necessary for survival. The cost for inner strength and spiritual stamina is excruciatingly high. Those we love and pray for may go through hardships of finances, health, and relationships. Many of you readers have swum deep waters and walked through the fire.

We never come through unscathed. As we are tested, weaknesses are exposed and strengths are reinforced. If we allow God free access during those times of trouble, he takes us – broken and undone – and reworks his image into clarity and usefulness within us.

I don't know what God has for Kirsten today. I do know that our prayers are effective because I've watched her mature under his wise care. Our prayer is for her complete healing. But now we wait to see what God will do. In her and in us.

Read more:
*Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. Psalm 68:19, 20 NIV

*Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26 NIV

*The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful." Jeremiah 31:3, 4 NIV

*Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14 NLT

*But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 NIV

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Feeding the ministry

Clink. The fork comes to rest on my plate, and I hear whole grains grinding between my teeth. Dark brussels sprouts nestle beside rice and vegetable curry. It doesn’t look much like the cheesy mashed potatoes, steak, and salad slathered in dressing that I love.

A few years ago, I struggled with every obligation, ready to quit ministry. I dragged myself out of bed to feed our four kids, set them up for homeschool, and attended affairs that couldn’t be canceled. The children cleaned up after meals and had weekly chores so the house looked fine. They had good manners, did well in school, and were learning to run a household.

Inside, I was dying. My family felt like a burden. I couldn’t stand going to church. Weddings and other “happy” events were agony. The minute we could politely leave, I would catch my husband’s attention and bolt for home. Then in one month, I gained five pounds, on top of the ten of the previous year… while constantly ravenous. I wondered if my depression was related to food. It seemed absurd.

Compared to three previous winters spent mostly in bed, eight weeks seemed a reasonable trial period for a food experiment. I cut salt, sugar, and everything animal. Meat, cheese, milk, honey, eggs. Gone. “What are you eating?” friends wondered in dismay. Grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, soybean and grain meat substitutes… it was surprising how many choices I had.

Within a week, my weight began to shed. My appetite stabilized. And amazingly, I began to wake from depression. My energy returned, a smile lit my eyes and face, and I was out of bed more than in it. After eight weeks, I was at my college weight, alert, and whole-heartedly back in ministry and life. I was suddenly a vegan, but for health rather than religious reasons.

Of course, I miss meat and dairy. So I sometimes experiment to see if it is “all in my head” or temporary. “She’s not making this up!” my husband tells people who think I’m an attention-seeker. “I can see the light go out of her eyes within ten minutes.” Not to mention the immediate relapse to dark anger, hostility towards others, and withdrawal.

What have I learned?
1. Treat constraints as spiritual disciplines. Restrictions (time, family, health, energy, finances, or even food) can be offered back to God as a sacrifice of worship. To serve God at home and church, I eat vegan because my body requires it.

2. Thank God for what we have instead of focusing on what we lack. Rather than complaining about a restricted diet, I can appreciate the beautiful colors of food, the rich textures and tastes, and God’s generosity in a land of abundance.

3. Build in safe “cheats” for when the discipline becomes overwhelming. Maybe you’ll plan a mini-vacation from the kids or set aside a few dollars for a trip to Value Village or Half Price Books. I eat ‘everything’ at Christmas when I can crash during time off.

4. Be sensitive to others who need our experience and encouragement. A formerly bubbly pastor’s daughter, planning for missions in India, recently cried in my office. She exactly described my symptoms, the faking of emotional health, that she could barely get up in the morning, and how she hated to be around people. Now she’s coming back to life… as a vegan. Who knew! Except for our wonderful God, who loves and knows us completely.

5. No one is immune to challenges. “Your cross is shaped for your back,” my mom once told me. “Don’t wish for another’s.” Let us lead by example, as we carry our own cross willingly in the power and victory of Christ.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Single cell memory

A single brain cell can capture part of a memory, according to a recent study by the University of Texas Southwestern. Many cells functioning together retain a full picture of events and tasks and stave off neurological damage like Alzheimer’s. Looking at the study’s data, a UK scientist concluded, "If you've got no short term memory, you've got no chance of long-term memories."

With the church likened to the Body of Christ, scripture affirms the importance of each cell. Paul warns, “Don’t say you’re not important because you’re not an eye or a hand or a foot – no one can say to the others, I don’t need you. Or you don’t need me. Each member is vital, and everyone has their own job to do.” (my loose paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

My concern is that many of us may not be fully functioning. We play hand for a while. Then we try being the foot, or the eye, or the colon – digesting bits of incoming food. When we get tired, bored, or worn out, we visit another congregation where we reinvent ourselves. Many of us become the sitting part of the body. Of course, padding is important, and fat has its function. And a whole contingent of cells transfer out entirely, never reconnecting to the Body.

Playing the tourist or jumping ship when the going gets tough means short-term memory of what God does in and through us doesn’t get shared within a community. Our contribution drifts away, never to become part of a long-term heritage of faith. Pastors can't get to know the congregation. Preachers communicate to a revolving door audience which is eager for fads rather than solid food. Our children get a year here or there of Bible stories or songs. And worse yet, parents get frustrated and stay home from church during the critical formative years of our children. The kids leave for college without learning the value of commitment to a local church. The meta-narrative (or big story) of God’s relationship with us becomes twisted rather than holistic. Without community interaction and accountability to those who really know us, our faith remains weak and incomplete.

Be an active cell. Share your memory and your gifts where God has put you. And if he moves you to a sister congregation through work or calling, gather both long- and short-term cell members around you to give you the whole picture. God at work among us. Where every cell matters.

Read more:
*(Solomon) “Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!" 1 Chronicles 29:12–13 NLT
*(Jesus) "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34 NIV
*The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 NIV

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today is a special day for the USA. Many people have hopes and dreams riding on their new president. Some of the expectations sound messianic, and cannot be fulfilled except by God. I'm praying for peace for the country and for the safety and success of the Obamas, both as presidential family and personally.

Meanwhile, I arrived at work with a headache from interrupted sleep. When I rebooted my computer, a verse popped up on the screen that matches my prayers for the nation as well as for the alumni events of next week. Once again, there's no way of knowing how many alums will show up at the university for reunions. I tend to get a rough estimate in my head – 100 this time around – and just trust, pray, and plan for that. Numbers for such occasions are hard to predict: more showing up is stressful in case we are short of resources, but less is disappointing. The reunion checklist is long, we are still short a few volunteers, and enews for Friday has to be written today because the editor sometimes takes a few days to get it back.

But God's faithfulness, confirmed by scripture and the prophecy of a dear friend this weekend, are soothing and relaxing the clenching of my jaw muscles. He's proved himself over and over, and no matter what is ahead – for you or for me – we can rest assured of his presence and provision.

Read more:
*"And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work." 1 Chronicles 28:9–10 NLT

*Then David continued, 'Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the LORD is finished correctly. The various divisions of priests and Levites will serve in the Temple of God. Others with skills of every kind will volunteer, and the officials and the entire nation are at your command.' 1 Chronicles 28:20–21 NLT

*Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. Psalm 94:2-13 NLT

*Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thank you, Dr. King

What a week it’s been for our kids and us. Kirsten called Sunday to ask for prayer for her arthritic knee, which is beginning to scrape bone on bone. We’re asking God to heal and/or postpone her replacement surgery. Monday, Jono started classes as a Junior at Northwest. Thursday, Jeremy and Rebekah got engaged to marry in May. Friday, Timothy and Melissa resigned from being youth pastors.

Thursday, I sent the project I have been working on for months to the committee that reviews conference papers. I don’t have to present it until March. So it’s onward-ho to the next paper and a take-home exam due this week. I’m hoping for good progress tomorrow. W bought the grout for the master bath shower he’s been building since September. I bought material with integral loops for the shower curtain and eagerly anticipate the curtain rod being moved from floor storage to ceiling mount.

Friday, W submitted suggested revisions for a denominational doctrine committee. Yesterday, I ventured down the basement steps to find 50 things to toss – two bags, one box, and about 80 things later, I came back upstairs having made barely a dent. Kids leave a lot of debris when they move out, and we have been packrats for years. “Recovering Packrats Anonymous,” please include W and me in your next meeting! Before 9pm last night, as he was falling asleep, W mumbled, “I can’t figure out why I’m so tired.” Fortunately, the human body is self-limiting. We can push, but the boundaries of endurance are set.

This long weekend honoring Martin Luther King Junior is a time to think about one person’s influence on a nation’s accomplishments, dreams, and realignment with God’s work among us. I’m happy for the day off, and am going to be reflecting, resting, and writing. How about you?

Read more:
*And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah's womb. … He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. Romans 4:19, 21NLT

*The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 NIV

*(Jesus) "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." Matthew 12:50 NIV

* Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10 NIV

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Smile on my face

W hands the phone over. We’re in the car, driving home with grout for the new shower tiles. “Who is it?” I ask.

“Jeremy, he says, glancing at the screen as he slides the IPhone bar to ‘on.’

“Hi Mom.” In his low-key way, with just a hint of excitement in his voice, we get the good news that our eldest is engaged to his best friend Rebekah, a wonderful Christian woman. We’ve known her since she was a young girl, picking through songs on the piano keys in my studio. We've watched her grow through her teens into a lovely gal who loves God… and loves our son. Besides, her mom and dad are some of our best friends.

When we pray for our kids, we offer their life choices to God. As far as possible, we send them into the world with no strings attached but the reassurance of our love and prayers. What careers will our children choose? Will they live close by or move away? Who will come into their lives to join their family to ours? When our children respond to God’s leading, we can trust them. Release them with open arms and warm hugs.

All the years of prayer come together in these special phone calls, in these moments of new beginnings. As I pray for Jeremy and Rebekah, there’s a big smile on my face. Glory to God!

Read more:
*Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name." Psalm 66:1-4 NIV

*For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

*For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 1 Peter 2:12-13 NLT

*In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:10-11 NLT

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snow and ice

For the first time in eleven years, Holland canals are completely frozen over. The government gave its employees the day off to go skating, and a half-million people strapped on skates and hit the ice. "It's a lot faster to skate across the canals to visit family," exulted one skater.

North Dakota and Minnesota have blizzards and the minus forty temperatures I remember from growing up in Winnipeg, home of the frozen chosen. Meanwhile the snow has melted off the slopes and Seattle streets. I even got to cycle in to work last week. Makes me glad we live on the coast.

As the evergreen boughs sway outside my window, the sun goes down behind the forest, and another work day is almost done. During the day, one alum asks about wedding venues at Northwest; someone else wants to find old friends; another lost his diploma and needs a new one. There's a reunion looming in two weeks and alums are starting to confirm their attendance. There's always work to be done.

As college business is wrapped up, I get back to The Paper. I think I can finish formatting it tonight and send it on its way. So what if I have four more Big Papers waiting to be written, comps coming up, and several courses to assemble for a teaching trip overseas in April? All I can think is, "Thanks be to God for all our blessings, whether a warm house, books to read, people to love, or ice-skates."

Read more:
*God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3 NIV

*O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. Psalm 63:1-4 NKJV

*I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you with all joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:3-6 NKJV

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy New Year

The first post of the New Year is overdue. Readers have asked if I am still writing, after almost two weeks of silence. Of course I am writing. I write every day.

But there are limited words in a day, and mine have been going into a monster paper that needs hacking down to size and wrestling into the ground. It's blocking everything else on my plate. If nothing else, this year has confirmed that big projects can be milestones or just millstones around the neck of progress.

The end of the year brings evaluation, often forgotten before new resolutions are made. I am reading the writing of four women missionaries from the early C20. Their stamina, humanity, and frailty mix in poignant words of grace, love for others, and despair of survival.

I feel like a spiritual dwarf, peering in through the keyhole of giants. May God be with each of us this coming year, to do with all our hearts what he has designed for us. May he be pleased with us, should he give us time to look back a year from now.

Read more:
*But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:8 NIV

*he LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Moses said to the LORD, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." Exodus 33:11-13 NIV

*And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52 NIV

*As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 2 Corinthians 6:1-3 NIV