Southside's Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.


“Insufficient funds” – what an ominous phrase! In the great gallery of famous phrases, “insufficient funds” hangs in the same hallway with “the IRS will audit your account,” “a root canal is necessary,” and “let’s stop dating and just be friends.”

You’re overdrawn. You gave more than you had to give. You spent more than you had to spend. And guess who has to cough up some cash? What do you do if you don’t have any money? What do you do if you have nothing to deposit but an honest apology and good intentions? You pray that some wealthy soul will make a huge deposit in your account.

If you’re talking about your financial debt, that’s not likely to happen. But if you’re talking about your spiritual debt, it already has. Your heavenly Father has covered your shortfall. In God’s house you’re covered by the roof of his grace!

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Every day God prepares for us a plate of experiences. Some days are “three cookie days.” Many are not. Sometimes our plate has nothing but vegetables, twenty-four hours of celery, carrots, and squash. Apparently God knows we need some strength, and though the portion may be hard to swallow, isn’t it for our own good? All are important, and all come from God. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him.”

So the next time your plate has a portion you find hard to swallow, talk to God about it. Jesus did. In the garden of Gethsemane his Father handed him a cup of suffering so sour, so vile, that Jesus handed it back to heaven. “My Father,” he prayed, “if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

From Mike: In addition to the fact that I really enjoyed Max's devotional this morning, I had to share some humor. When I was a kid, my Mother and I had a constant battle over green beans.  Every time she made them, I had to try them again.  I strongly objected.

When I was in rehab in 2015 for a major stroke, I could only swallow liquid and had to be careful with that. For the first ten days I lived on soup and Ensure. The day finally came when they switched me to pureed food. Breakfast was a scrambled egg and pureed biscuit. That might have been the best biscuit I've ever eaten. I looked forward to lunch with anticipation. The offering was some kind of brown meat pureed, mashed potatoes, and a giant scoop of evil-looking green mass. Yep, they pureed green beans. I could see the giant smile on Mother's face up in heaven. Pureeing them does not make them better!







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“Give us this day our daily bread.” What a statement of trust!

Some days the plate runs over. God keeps bringing out more food, and we keep loosening up our belt. A promotion. A privilege. A friendship. A gift. A lifetime of grace. An eternity of joy. The Psalmist said, “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup fills with blessing” (Psalm 23:5 MSG).

And then there are those days when, well, we have to eat our broccoli. Our daily bread could be tears or sorrow or discipline. Our portion may include adversity as well as opportunity.

So the next time your plate has more broccoli than apple pie, just remember who prepared the meal. Even Jesus was given a portion he found hard to swallow. But with God’s help, he did. And with God’s help, you can too.

From Mike: There is always a request for prayers for those going through adversity in the Southside bulletin. The vast majority of the requests are because of health. Wonder how many people are struggling with something other than illness? Marriage problems, children problems, work problems, or other problems with living life. Most of us don't open up about the different struggles in life. The next time you pray for the members at Southside, ask for God's help swallowing the broccoli, whatever it may be.!

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Characteristics of Resilient Disciples

We are commanded by Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) to "go and make disciples". As we can see from the Book of Acts, the early disciples took this direction seriously and taught people about Jesus, how to get forgiveness through Him, and how to live for Him daily to change other people's lives. Yet, throughout the last 2000 years of the Church's existence, we have often watered down what true discipleship is and made it simply to show up for worship occasionally. That is not healthy and it is not Biblical. There is more to being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes these words to Titus, as recorded in Titus 2:11-14:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock, in their excellent book, Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon, discuss 5 key characteristics of resilient disciples in the 18-28 age range. I will just list them here and come back and write about each one in separate blog posts.

  1. They have an intimate relationship with Jesus.
  2. They have developed the muscles of cultural discernment.
  3. They have forged meaningful, intergenerational relationships (in the Church).
  4. They have trained (and they practice) vocational discipleship.
  5. They have curbed self-centered tendencies and engage in countercultural mission.

I should ask myself if I have these characteristics. Am I a resilient disciple of Jesus?

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"You and I live in a loud world. To get someone’s attention is no easy task. But when someone’s willing to silence everything else so he can hear us clearly, it’s a privilege. A rare privilege indeed!"

"You can talk to God because he listens. Your voice matters in heaven. He takes you very seriously. No need to fear you’ll be ignored. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God—and he listens. Intently, carefully. Your prayer on earth activates God’s power in heaven."

"As Scripture says, “Thy will is done on earth as it is done in heaven.” The prayers are honored as precious jewels. You may not understand the mystery of prayer; you don’t need to. But this much is clear: actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. What an amazing thought!"

From Mike: An article online this week encouraged parents not to teach their children about religion. The author believes that religion puts too much pressure on them maintain certain standards. Heaven forbid that we expect people to live up to God's standards!! We need to take Max's comment to heart and pray: "But this much is clear: actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. 

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Please join us this Sunday at Southside!

The clocks turn back this weekend and we will get an extra hour of sleep. It is a chance to start something new that will impact your life forever for the good. I am talking about coming to a Sunday School class and then staying for worship at the Southside Church of Christ in Shelbyville, TN. 

We have new classes starting for all ages this Sunday, including a new Young Adult class for those who are 18-25 years old. We have Sunday School at 9 AM and Worship at 10 AM. We would love to see you and get to know you!

Please come!




Tim Gunnells, Minister

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In 1890 Francis Thompson, a Roman Catholic poet, described God as “The Hound of Heaven.” He wrote:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him,…”

Thompson speaks of Jesus as “this tremendous Lover” who pursues us “with un-hurrying chase, an unperturbed pace, deliberate speed, and majestic instancy.”

Would you open your heart to this possibility? God is wooing you, pursuing you, romancing you. Refuse him if you wish. Ignore him if you desire. But he will not give up. Did he not promise to lead you home? And has he ever broken a promise? Not on your life.

This is the message of God, the aggressive promise of grace. Trust it.

From Mike: Max makes it sound so easy and inviting and it is. There's one huge problem. Satan does everything in his bag of tricks to prevent our relationship with God. Satan doesn't love us but only wants to make sure we wind in hell suffering with him. So, be thankful that God is patient and continues to woo us. Ask Him to continue and not give up. If He does all would be lost.


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Talking with God

Some of us view prayer as a chore. We don’t enjoy doing it, but we do it anyway to keep the air clear. We assume that God will be satisfied if we go through an occasional prayer ritual. However, prayer should be the combination that unlocks the door to all the riches of the kingdom of God. Lack of understanding about the purpose of prayer and failure to pray are barriers that keep that door shut. On the other hand, the consistent practice of prayer will open wide the door of God’s work in our lives.

I want to share some things that might help us:  1) The Purpose of Prayer, 2) The Motivation for Prayer, 3) God’s Answers to Prayer, 4) The Promises of Prayer, and 5) Different Aspects of Prayer.


  • Through prayer, we learn to converse with God.
  • As we talk with Him, we get to know Him more personally.
  • Soon we will discover that we have the power we need to do whatever God asks of us.
  • What kind of power results from prayer? John 14:12-14
  • What is a major reason for not receiving answers to prayer? John 16:24
  • Sometimes we don’t even bother to ask God for the things we want, and then we complain when we don’t get them. In an average week, how much time do you spend in personal prayer?
  • Do you feel like you are spending enough time in prayer, or would you like to spend more?


  • Why should we pray? For what should we ask? Are there conditions that you must meet to obtain an answer?  What are the results of prayer? 
  • Until we answer some of these basic questions, we may not be motivated to pray. Here are some Scriptures that help answer these questions:

John 15:7-11

James 5:13-16

2 Chronicles 7:14

Matthew 6:5-13

Matthew 26:41


  • God wants to give us the things we need as we pray for them. But prayer is not like a quarter spent in a vending machine to automatically get what we want. God wants us to have what will be best for us. 
  • Prayer involves: 1) Putting ourselves in the position to know God, 2) receiving what God has to give us, and 3) doing what He wants us to do.
  • When we ask God for something, He will respond to our request in one of three ways:
    1. He might say Yes.
      1. When we pray for something according to God’s will He promises an affirmative answer. He loves us and wants to answer yes to our requests.
      2. 1 John 5:14-15
    2. He might say Wait.
      1. God always has a good reason for not giving us what we ask for right away. We may not always understand why He chooses to let us wait, but we can be sure that He is doing what is best for us.
      2. James 1:2-4 gives one reason God might have us to wait.
      3. Psalm 27:13-14 tells us what our attitude should be while we wait.
    3. He might say No.
      • Just as good parents must sometimes say no to their children’s requests, God must also refuse our prayer requests from time to time.
      • God told David no when He asked to build the temple because David had shed too much blood in his lifetime (2 Chronicles 22:7-10).
      • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 -- God said no to Paul.
      • James 1:6-8 gives one reason that God sometimes says no.


  • God’s Word provides hundreds of promises about prayer. But they won’t mean much to us if we don’t apply them to specific areas of our life. As we look quickly at 4 scriptures, think about how they apply to you.

Matthew 7:7-8

James 1:5

Philippians 4:19

Philippians 4:6-7


5 basic types of prayer:

  1. Praise—Hebrews 13:15
  2. Thanksgiving—Psalm 118:1
  3. Confession—Proverbs 28:13
  4. Petition—John 16:23-24
  5. Intercession—1 Timothy 2:1-2

I would be happy to talk more with you about any of these things. You can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Devotional thoughts from Max Lucado

These are two of Max Lucado’s recent devotionals. Some valuable thoughts1


“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV).

What voices seduce you? Distract you? Lure you away from your destiny? To be clear, if you have the gift of Christ in your heart, you are set for life. Sin cannot destroy you. But it can trip you, ensnare you, entangle you. It cannot take your salvation, but it can take your joy, peace of mind, and rest.

Jacob learned this lesson. He got out of Shechem. He realized that if they stayed, the Canaanites, who were much larger in number, would retaliate and kill his entire household. He pulled up stakes, loaded his camels, and turned toward Bethel. And to the degree that Shechem was sordid, Bethel was beautiful. But Jacob had to make a change. Do likewise. Don’t stop in Shechem when the blessing is in Bethel.


Jacob’s season at Shechem was a toxic wasteland. Jacob forgot who he was and what God had commanded. His disobedience resulted in a devastated family. Rape. Carnage. Sacrilege. Genesis 34 is the darkest chapter in the Jacob story. It’s not that God was not present, it’s that God was not sought. Jacob once again lived life by his own terms and paid a high price for doing so. What a sorry excuse for a patriarch. God will surely abandon him.

But that’s not what happens. “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God,…'” (Genesis 35:1 NIV). Instead of giving up on Jacob, God spoke to him. God took the initiative. God came to Jacob. And Jacob came to his senses. God never gave up on him, and he’ll never give up on you.

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Psalm 36:1 reads, “Sin lurks deep in the hearts of the wicked, forever urging them on to evil deeds” (TLB).

The human heart is a dark place. When God is not sought, when society submits to no one higher than self, the result is chaos. We become savages. We victimize the vulnerable. We break hearts, homes, covenants, and promises.

We create a poisoned system where people suppress their better selves and rise on the backs of others. It awards power and force and downplays kindness and grace.

To be clear, in the Christian calculus, humanity is treasured, priceless, and destined for glory. We are created in God’s image. But we have squandered our inheritance by seeking to be God. Yet there is hope! And his name is Jesus. He came to rescue us from ourselves.

From Mike: This was Max’s devotional from a couple of weeks ago. I’ve read it several times. It strikes me that he is writing about the USA. Maybe that was his intention.

We have reached an all-time low in the USA. Christians are not in favor with a  large segment of society. I’ve not experienced this directly, however, the internet and news media have labeled Christians as cruel and mean-spirited. Now I have known some Christians who do fit that label.

Homosexuality, living together outside of marriage, having children outside of marriage, and a number of similar situations are acceptable in our society. We dare not to speak against any of these situations as being sinful less we are labeled as mean-spirited.

As Christians what are we to do? Matthew 10:32: "Stand up for me against world opinion and I'll stand up for you before my Father in heaven.” This is what God wants! He never promised us an easy way!

Quote from the internet: “I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.”


Mike -  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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We all struggle with an unseen, yet fatal, virus. Not of the body, but of the soul. Not COVID, but sin. We’ve all tested positive. We’re all infected. Left untreated, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 NIV). It ruptures our relationship with God. Rather than seek him, we deny him. Rather than love his children, we hurt them.

But there is a treatment! Jesus took on our sin, our COVID-19 of the soul. He, the only virus-free being in human history, allowed himself to be infected with the human condition. In order to treat our sin, our Good Father infused and infuses us with the purest life. “It is no longer I who live,” Paul proclaimed, “but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT). Coursing through the vein of the saint is the sinless, disease-blocking, life-giving transfusion of Christ.

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Jesus Redeemed Us to Give us Purpose

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Titus 2:11-14


The Apostle Paul gives instruction to the Christian disciple here that we must take to heart and apply to our daily living. Grace brings salvation to us, but we must receive it, and in receiving it, we must be different than we were before our salvation. How so?

  • We must reject worldly desires.
  • We must embrace the righteousness of God.
  • We must use our minds to make good choices.
  • We must embrace the ways of Jesus.
  • We must realize that we belong to Jesus.
  • We must decide to do good things (godly things) each and every day.

Jesus saved us to live different lives now to make a difference in the lives of people. He sure has made a difference in mine!





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Scripture is straightforward about the ugly underbelly of human nature. Left to our own devices, the human heart is a wicked thing. And because it is, history bears witness to dreadful events like the slaughter at Shechem.

It’s a jagged-edged story. The warning is hard to miss: Don’t settle for Shechem when the blessing is in Bethel. The command God gave Jacob was clear. “I want you to leave here and go back to the land where you were born” (Genesis 31:13). The itinerary was singular – journey to Bethel.

Shechem was only twenty miles from Bethel. Jacob was within eyeshot of his goal. Jacob and his nomadic clan, weary from travel, decided to pitch their tents. They met some Shechemites. They made a few friends. They bought land. Jacob lived to regret each choice. What about you? Make it your aim to obey God. Blessing follows obedience.


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Learning to Study the Bible on Your Own

I have been preaching a series of lessons on Growing Closer to God. Last week, I talked about "Learning the Word" and in the bulletin, I shared information from Barry St. Clair that I have found useful.


Tim Gunnells

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Creating a Bible Response Sheet in Your Journal


  1. Passage:
  1. Title:
  1. Key Verse:
  1. Summary:
  1. Personal Application:

2 Steps to Making a Personal Application (Barry St. Clair)


Step 1 -- Look For:

  1. Promises to claim.
  2. Attitudes to change.
  3. Challenges to accept.
  4. Sins to confess.
  5. Commands to obey.
  6. Actions to take.
  7. Examples to follow.
  8. Skills to learn.

Step 2 – Answer these questions with specifics:

  • How can I make this passage personal?
  • How can I make it practical?
  • How can I make it measurable?
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Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men” (Genesis 33:1). Israel—the exhausted, God-struck patriarch—had no choice but to trust. He prostrated himself like a vassal before a royal in an ancient court. And all of a sudden “Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him,…and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

They wept for relief. They wept with forgiveness. They wept at the possibility of a new start, a fresh beginning. Esau wept because his brother was home. Israel wept because he’d come face-to-face with his past, only to find that his past held no power over his life.

God had gone ahead of him. God had kept the promise he had made in Bethel. “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land” (Genesis 28:15). He will do the same with you my friend. God never gives up on you.

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Got some stains on your past? Moses had blood on his hands. Abraham was a bald-faced liar. Elijah was, at times, a coward. Jacob was a liar and a cheat. Esther kept her faith a secret. Peter was a betrayer. Paul was a murderer. Yet, God used them all. They chose to trust God with their futures, and because they did, their pasts no longer had a hold on them.

God is not put off by our ugly chapters. With his help, we can soon say what Paul came to say. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV).

God never gives up on you!

From Mike: Max's words in this devotion comfort me when I reflect on my past. I still remember some of my history. It's not that I dwell on my sins, but I believe the memories help me not to repeat them. If you still have memories, do not let them weigh you down, thinking God does not love you because of your history.  Even Paul struggled! What he wrote God inspired! I hope you take Philippians to heart.

Read what Paul said: Romans 7:15-20

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How Far Do You Want God To Go?

Our greatest need in life, regardless of anything else is to be in a loving relationship with God. If we are not in a loving bond with Him, it’s our fault, not God’s fault. He wants to be number one, so we must examine our lives and may need to make changes.

How far do you want God to go to get your attention concerning your relationship with Him? The writer of the question asked if we were willing to ask God for suffering, sickness, adversity, anguish, trials, tribulations, and heartaches to remain in or return to a good relationship with Him. It seems we must have gone haywire for these types of attention-getters to be needed. He loves us and is willing to do whatever is necessary to bring us closer to Him and save us, but will we readily accept His actions?

When I pray for my and other people's relationship with God, I find it very difficult to ask Him to do whatever it takes to make the necessary improvements especially if it appears just a momentary lapse. My prayers usually ask for positive events and virtuous people in our lives to encourage us. Maybe a devotional reading and prayer or just an encouraging word from someone. I would not care to hear from someone  that I’m hell bound. No harsh judgments, but rather show love and kindness as you encourage me to repair my relationship with Him.

When I’m struggling, the spiritual side says to ask for whatever will work but the human says you can do it yourself without any drastic actions from God. After all, I am not in that bad enough shape. Am I? Maybe we need a tune-up. Most of the time, when I recognize that my attitude is not what it should be a request to God for improvement usually works. What if I get completely off the track? I hope I dare to request God to do whatever to get my attention.

It is difficult to request the bad things for someone else. Most people I’ve worked with in CASA are already experiencing a difficult life. Parents in jail, on drugs, and too many don’t care about their children. Several of those children are now of age and are using drugs, in jail, and headed in the wrong direction just like their parents. It seems some positive experiences with God might help more. If you are praying about others’ relationship with God, it seems wise to admit that you are unsure what to ask for and leave it in God’s hands.

God doesn’t always use negative experiences to get our attention. Kay and I were experiencing some negativity with the church during college, so we drifted away. In our third year of marriage, we were blessed with Chad, our son. We both were raised in the church, so raising a heathen child was not an option. We found a church and became members. God used a joyous event to get our attention. God knew what to do!

To understand what to ask God to do, be completely honest in evaluating your relationship with Him. Discuss it with your minister, an elder, or maybe a friend or relative you trust in their advice and love for you. Remember we are talking about your soul!

Before you do anything, ask yourself if you are a positive influencer for others. Be honest because you are now dealing with someone else’s soul.



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The most dramatic night of Jacob’s life took place on the River Jabbok. He feared the encounter he was about to have with his brother Esau. At some point during the night, someone grabbed Jacob around the neck and threw him to the ground. On and on through the night, they wrestled. Who was this stranger? Jacob would later say, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared” (Genesis 32:30 NLT).

God let Jacob fight until it appeared that Jacob was in control. And then, with one touch, God dislocated his hip. Jacob fell to the ground, broken and humbled. The hip is the largest weight-bearing joint, and it engages some of the strongest muscles. Yet it was putty at the touch of the Stranger. The message of the dislocation? “You aren’t as strong as you think. Rely on me.” Is that a message for you?


Mike: Last three sentences Two excellent comments and question



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God Delivers Through Brokenness - Max Lucado

"Other people hang calendars and favorite quotes; I have a framed X-ray. The picture is an axial view of a decimated hip. A jarring car crash left it broken in two places. The breakage was just one of several the victim suffered. Doctors feared for her life, and they feared for the life of her child. An unborn, seven-month-old infant occupies center stage of the X-ray, floating blissfully unaware of the breakage around him."

"Dr. Michael Wirth, who gave me the image, said, “We wondered, ‘Can both mother and child survive? If not, do we take the mother and lose the child? Lose the mother and save the child?’” They never had to make the choice. The mother lived, the baby was delivered, and Michael kept the X-ray as a reminder: God delivers life through brokenness. Broken families, hearts, dreams—even broken people."

From Mike: Most of us know of stories like this. You may have a similar personal story. Some call it a miracle. There may be someone who reads this and says but God did not save my family. TELL ME WHY? 

I don't believe there is an answer that will instantly wipe away their hurt! Ask them to focus on the following verses over a period time and let them know you will pray for them. These verses require a faith in God to have any understanding and will not provide instant comfort.

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says 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.

Proverbs 3:5-6 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

If you have thoughts on this let me know!

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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BOUNCE BACK - Max Lucado

Jacob’s rap sheet included words like cheater, deceiver, trickster, grifterliar. He was a bit of a mess. Aren’t we all? Like him, our spiritual walk follows a crooked path. And we wonder, does God have a place for us? Well the answer through Jacob is “yes.” God uses flawed folks. He doesn’t cast us out when we deserve it.

He does, however, let us reap what we sow. Evil rebounds. So does good. Jesus summed up the bounce-back principle when he said, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2 NIV). Do you want God to disperse mercy upon you with a bucket? Then use a bucket as you disperse mercy to others.  Would you want him to use a teaspoon? Well, you get the point. God never gives up on you.


From Mike: Good thoughts to reflect on. Good yard stick to measure by.

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