“Seeking God”

Does it seem to you that we spend our whole life chasing something?  How many movies have been made about the endless pursuit of “something”?  There are those that are comedies, dramas, adventures, and tragedies — but they all portray man’s pursuit of what they deem to be most important, or what will make them happy.  The Billy Crystal movie, “City Slickers”, where Jack Palance kept reminding him of the “one thing”, is one of the premier examples of that.

It is not just in movies where this pursuit is featured, it is featured in our lives.  There always seems to be something out there, that we think will make our lives a little better.  It seems to start early in our lives:  a place of acceptance in a certain circle of peers, a romantic relationship (with the one that sets our hearts to fluttering), a car (and not just any car, the right car), graduation from high school, college, and a host of other things that attract our attention.  Even as we get older, the “pursuit syndrome” is still there is still there.  We want a loving, lasting relationship; a job that pays well and makes us feel good about ourselves; a house that becomes a home for our safety; and security for the future; and, ultimately, retirement.

Have you ever wondered why we are that way, or at least most of us?  I believe that God intended for us to have this “pursuit syndrome“, and wanted us to focus it on a relationship with Him!  That we recognize, that the most important thing that we pursue in our life, is the relationship with a Holy God!

We have often wondered about “how” the Bible could say that David was a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14).  It certainly was not because of his sinless perfection!  The key word, in my mind, is “after” — that David was “seeking” God, and a relationship with Him.  Regardless of how man times he faltered and fell; he would get up, confess the wrong that he had committed, and begin to seek God again!

When you read the Psalms, there seems to be two ideas that jump off of nearly every page — the steadfast love of the Lord, and the admonition to seek God.  There is a beautiful description of what we are seeking, in Psalm 89:15-18 – – listen closely:

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
     who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
They rejoice in your name all day long;
     they celebrate your righteousness.
For you are their glory and strength,
     and by your favor you exalt our horn.
Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord,
     our king to the Holy One of Israel.
May the “ONE THING” that we pursue be God!  Isn’t that what Jesus said, Seek first his
kingdom and his righteousness, … (Matthew 6:33, NIV).  Peace.
(This was first posted on Facebook, May 12, 2016.  It is being posted here, as one of our “Psalms for Saturday.”  It is our prayer that it will be a blessing to you.  Bill)

 

“Why the World is the Way that it Is”

Math and science are subjects that I was never a very good student.  To be perfectly honest, I struggled to be average.  That’s not something I am really proud to admit, but it is the truth.  Not only am I not very good at those subjects, but I passed that trait along to my youngest son.  When he took the ACT — if they had just used the scores off the math and science parts, no college or university would have ever taken him.  If they had just used the English part, he could have gotten into most schools.  If only the reading section had been used, he probably could have got into any school in the country.

I don’t know why the study of math and science never appealed to me.  Well, I do have a guess as to why math never appealed to me.  In my opinion, it all began about the 8th grade; because up to that point, I had been a pretty good “basic” math student.  It was in the 8th grade that they began to teach what they called “new” math.  The part I remember, was that they began to teach us to how add and subtract using a base 1 and a base 2 system; instead of our normal 0-9 numerals (and I’m not even sure that I am explaining that correctly).  In all of my intellectual prowess as a 13 year old, I decided that was the most worthless information that I ever could have been taught — so, math got marked off the list at that point.  Now, I was told that I would need to know the “new” math to understand algebra, geometry, and calculus; so I didn’t really care about any of those either.  I never did really apply myself to those subjects, because they were never going to be of any value to me.  I wish that I had applied myself to those subjects, because I believe that it set a precedent for me about study, that plagues me to this day.

I really can’t explain my lack of success in science, other than the fact that it just didn’t interest me.  I have some suspicions, but nothing really substantial as to the why.  But, I really was fascinated and interested in history, government, economics, literature, reading, etc.  Now, as I look back on my early education, I wish that I had applied myself to some of the subjects — and, not just the ones that were of interest to me.

I’m telling you all of this, so that you will know that there are some things that I believe; that I can’t begin to explain, that I just accept by faith.  That is probably true for most of us, regardless of our academic achievements.  But my thoughts this morning are going to cause some people to say, “It’s obvious that you don’t know what you are talking about.  If you had more education in the sciences, you would not accept that.”  Well, I’m not sure that is right, because I know some really educated people in the sciences that share the same views.  But, I can understand “why” you would say that about me.

In my reading this morning, this passage stood out:

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.  He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.  Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world serve him.  For he spoke and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm.  (Psalm 33:6-9, NIV)

I believe that with all of my heart.  I believe that by His Word, God spoke into existence all that there is.  I would not attempt to get into a scientific discussion about it, but I know that I believe it.  What I do understand about God, gives me the faith to believe what I do not understand.  There are believers, that can engage the scientific evidence and  explain what they believe and why — I’m just well-versed enough in those fields to be able to do that.

But I do understand, that once man reaches the point that he thinks that he does not need the existence of God to explain how everything (man, earth, universe) came to be — he does not need God for anything.  When we begin to explain our existence on our terms, then everything else is left up to our wants, desires, and discretion.  Without God as the creator, I am not responsible to answering to Him about anything!

David describes this condition:

…There is no fear of God before his eyes.  For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.  (Psalm 36:1-2, NIV)

If you are unhappy with the direction of our country, and of the world in general; recognize that it barrelled downhill, when we decided that we did not need God to explain how we got here.  Peace.

 

(This is a revised post that first appeared on Facebook, April 30, 2016.  It is being shared here as a part of our “Psalms for Saturday.”  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you.  Bill)

“Why Do I Have to do THAT?”

Have you ever been done wrong?  I mean, really wrong?  Someone told a lie about you, and it ruined your reputation, or it cost you your job.  You got fired from a job without any reason, warning, or explanation; at absolutely the wrong time in your life.  There are horror stories that can be told about the way that preachers have treated.  From getting caught in a power struggle between people, blamed for something that is not their fault, or any number of other things that could be mentioned.  If I wanted to, I could tell you about instances about things that happened, and there was absolutely no regard for the feelings of me or my family.  But preachers are not the only ones, every profession can tell the stories of how they have been done wrong.  Regardless of our walk in life, there have been those times when we have been mistreated.

The truth of the matter is, that in the grand scheme of things, all of those are just minor.  When you compare those to physical attacks, violent crime, drunk driving accidents … well, you begin to get the picture.  The hurt and anger is magnified, when these kinds of things happen to people that we love.

This morning, as a part of my reading, these words of Jesus became very powerful to me:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Matthew 6:14-15, ESV)

When we have been wronged, mistreated – forgiveness is usually the last thing we want to talk about.  Our grief, anger, and desire for retribution takes over; and forgiveness is the last thing on our mind.  Depending on the level of our hurt, we scream on the inside “Why”; and, dear God, why would you want me to forgive them.

This morning, as I read the Matthew 6 passage, that is the thought that ran through my mind – “Why does God want me to forgive”; and “Why is my forgiveness tied to it”?  Generally, I have reasoned that the Father knows that feelings of anger and revenge will corrupt my spirit.  Or that if I allow grudges and retribution to control my personality, I will not be able to act in such a way to adorn my life to make the gospel attractive.

Then this thought raced through my mind:  what if God placed this “burden” of forgiveness on me, so that I could understand how difficult, and costly, forgiveness really is.  Now, I believe that God is a God of love, mercy, and grace – and that He desires for our response, so that He can forgive.  But I’m not so sure that He sees the cost of forgiveness as being easy, dispensing forgiveness like a vending machine.  I believe that it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer that described that concept as “cheap grace”.

Forgiveness is not cheap, grace is not cheap, and it does not come easy.  I believe that it was Bonhoeffer that said something like, “There was a cross at Calvary that forever dispels the myth of a cheap grace.”  So when I struggle to forgive someone, or ask God to forgive me; I need to remember, how much it cost Him for me to be forgiven.  Peace.

 

(This is the 3rd post that I every did on this blog.  Of course, that was only about 6 months ago.  I have an early morning appointment, and then that is followed by a visitation and funeral a little later in the day.  So, I decided to go back and share these thoughts with you.  I hope that it is a blessing to you.  Bill)

“Record of our Ancestors”

Within 6 months after my mother’s passing, her surviving 2 brothers and sister had also passed away.  We lost a whole generation of our family in a really short period of time.  One of those who passed away was my uncle, Jerry.  Jerry was my uncle, but he was more like an older brother.  From the time I was about 8, until I was about 13, Jerry lived with my family; when he was not on the road working as a welder on the pipeline.

What we remember about a man, or a woman, is the stories of their life.  You see, the very fabric of our lives are the stories that make them.  My uncle was a man of stories, and I never realized that more, than when my sister and I went to visit him about 2 weeks before he died.  He told us that “every time an old man dies, his stories die with him.”  Well, we lost a lot of stories with Jerry.  Even in his weakened and painful condition, he fascinated us with stories of our ancestry, his family, and his life.  I did not know it, but in the last few years Jerry had become interested in the genealogy of our family; and had done some research into the family history.

One of the more interesting stories that he told was about the first family member to come to the colonies from Europe.  He came as a part of a Hessian army that had been hired by England to fight against the colonies.  The story goes that when he got here, he deserted from the Hessians (and the English) and joined the colonial forces in the rebellion.

Jerry, and his stories of our family, came to my mind this morning as I was reading in Matthew 1.  You probably already know that Matthew 1 is the chapter that traces the ancestry of Jesus back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people.  This morning, as I read this chapter, I thought how interesting it would have been to hear some of the stories about this “family tree.”  But there were four (verses and people) that I would love to have heard the proud Jewish father explain to his children.

Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar).  (Matthew 1:3, NLT).

Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).  (Matthew 1:5. NLT).

Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).  (Matthew 1:5, NLT).

David was the father of Solomon (whose mother Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).  (Matthew 1:6, NLT).

Other than Mary, the woman who gave birth to Jesus, these are the only four women that are mentioned by Matthew in the ancestry of Jesus.  Have you noticed any thing about those four women?  All four of them have a somewhat “checkered” past.  For what was the royal lineage (the house of David), these were some that might have been considered “black sheep.”

First, Tamar, the mother of Perez and Zerah, was not the wife of Judah — she was his daughter-in-law!  Judah had not done what he said he would do for Tamar, after her two husbands (and his sons) had died (as far as providing a husband for her); so, she tricked him into have sexual relations with her, and she became pregnant with the twins.

Secondly, Rahab, the mother of Boaz, would not have had a sterling reputation among the people of Israel.  Sure, she had the faith to hide the spies that were in the city of Jericho, and ask that her and her family be spared when the city was conquered; but she would forever live with the reputation …of a prostitute named Rahab … (Joshua 2:1, NLT).

Next, Ruth, the mother of Obed, was not an Israelite (in fact, I don’t think any of these four women were Israelites).  Her husband, Boaz, was the son of Rahab, which might explain his willingness to marry the Moabite widow.  What makes this especially interesting, that means that King David’s grandmother was a Moabite; one of the repeated enemies of Israel.

Finally, we don’t even need to tell the story of Bathsheba, and the adultery that was committed by her and David; because it is one of those stories that we have all heard.

Do you think the proud Jewish father, as he talked about the lineage of King David, might have glossed over those stories, just a little bit?  Would it have raised questions from his children, that he might rather not answer?  Why would God include these women, and their stories, in the most important genealogy ever recorded?

Well, far be it from me to attempt to speak for God; but I do see some lessons that we can learn.

  1. God’s plan does not require “perfect” people.  This plan, the redemption of man through Jesus, and through the lineage of King David, was planned from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5), and it included “flawed” individuals.  We can be encouraged by this, and not despair because of our own “flaws”.
  2. God’s plan was never limited just to the Jews.  These four women are illustrations that our God has always been concerned about all people.  If God’s concern had been just for the Jews, do you really think God would have included these women in the most important family tree ever?

Let’s learn from the stories of our own family tree, and from the family tree of Jesus.  Let’s realize that God can use all kinds of people to accomplish his purposes, if we are willing to be used.  Let’s resolve today, to be the kind of people that God can use.  Peace.

“Who Do You Want to Please”

Those of us that are people of faith believe that there is a God; and that He is living and active in our world, and in our lives.  We also believe, that as the Creator and Sustainer of all that there is  — He know us, and everything about us.  Psalm 147:4 says that He determines how many stars there are, and gives names to all of them.  You know, even taking all of that into consideration, I have never been concerned about the workload being too much for Him; or even thinking that He might be stressed trying to get everything done.

Toward the end of the Psalms, there are a couple of passages that just jumped off the page at me:

but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.  (Psalm 147:11, ESV)

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.  (Psalm 1494, ESV)

With all that the Lord knows, and all that He does — He takes the time to take pleasure in those who are his people, who fear Him, and place their hope in His steadfast love.  Not only that, He “adorns the humble with salvation.”  What an overwhelming thought, that the One that created, and sustains, everything that there is, CARES ABOUT ME!!!

My ultimate goal for this life is — (1) to have a very reverent respect for the God who made me (and everything around me); and, (2) to place my hope in His steadfast love (and not in my own efforts).  You see, I want the Almighty God to take pleasure in me!  Peace.

 

(This is a revised version of a devotional that was first posted on Facebook, February 29, 2016.  There will be another week or so of this “chaos” in my life, and then I look forward to getting back on a more regular schedule.  Look for a post later this evening, when I will tell some of what is happening, why it is happening, and what changes that it may bring.  Bill)

“Seeking God and What’s Good for You”

If you could have anything you wanted — what would it be?  Health, healing for a loved one, bigger house, better job, more money, healed relationships, life for a loved one that is gone, faithfulness for someone close to you, …  Most all of us might have different answers, depending on the time, situation and circumstances in our life.  A lot of it might depend on our spiritual maturity at the time.

…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.  (Psalm 34:10, ESV)

That seems a little difficult to comprehend, doesn’t it.  Have you read that, and thought I’m seeking God, and I don’t have all the good things I want, or even need!  It may be that I don’t know what is good, or what is good for me.  I’m thankful that the Creator of all that is, makes that decision as I seek Him.  May He give me faith to trust Him and His decisions more.  Peace.

 

(This devotional was first posted on Facebook on March 5, 2016.  It is reposted today, because it is something that I need to be reminded of continually.  It is my prayer that it will bless your life.  Bill)

“Do You Know Who You are Talking To”

The Lord has blessed my life in so many ways; ways that I did not understand, appreciate, or deserve while they were happening.  One of the ways is by the good people that I have had the opportunity to know, and who have touched and influenced my life.

In my reading this morning I was reminded of a couple of men, that you may not know (or remember), but were a blessing to a lot of people.  These two men are A. R. Hill, Sr. and Tab Hatler.  These are the only two men, that after they had led a public prayer, someone remarked to me — “You can tell they know who they are talking to.”  There are a lot of men who will tell you that leading a public prayer is one of the most difficult things that they are ever asked to do.  So, what a wonderful thought and expression, to know that the prayers that were led blessed the people that heard them.

This morning, I want to encourage you to read Psalm 142 and Psalm 143.  Don’t necessarily try to understand what David says — but just FEEL the relationship that he has with God by what he says.  Let me mention just a couple of lines:

With my voice I cry to the Lord; with my voice I make supplication to the Lord.  I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.  (Psalm 142:1-2, NRSV)

I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.  (Psalm 143:6, NRSV)

My prayer is that I may continue to develop that kind of relationship with Jehovah.  I believe that I would rather have people know by my prayers, that I know WHO I am talking to, than compliment me on a good sermon.  Peace.

(This was first posted on Facebook, April 22, 2016.  I am reposting it here, as a part of the Psalms on Saturdays.  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you.  Bill)

Psalm 66 — “You Said You Would Do What”

There was time during the 1970’s, when any movie with Burt Reynolds was almost guaranteed to be a financial success.  His comedic style, and care free attitude, attracted people to the theaters in droves.  In my opinion, he got to the point that he believed he could star in anything, and it would be successful.  He moved away from what made him, and gradually sank into years of oblivion.  It seemed that he forgot what, and who, made him successful.

In 1978, he made a black comedy called “The End”.  It was about a shady salesman, Sonny Lawson, that got the news that he had a rare, incurable, and fatal blood disease.  Most of the movie consists of him, and his crazy friend (Dom Deluise), trying, and failing, to find a way for him to painlessly commit suicide.  Finally, he decides to swim out into the ocean — so far that he can’t get back.  When he starts to struggle, he realizes that he really doesn’t want to die!  So he starts swimming back, AND begins to negotiate with God.  As part of that negotiation, he begins to make all kinds of promises about the kind of life, and what he will do, if God will help him make it back to the shore.  As he gets closer to the shore, he begins to renegotiate those promises; and by the time he walks up on the shore, he has taken back all the promises that he has made to God.

As I was reading in the Psalms, I was reminded of that movie, and in particular that scene.  It seems that the psalmist has a completely different attitude about the promises you make to God (in any situation), than the character Burt Reynolds played.  Listen to what the psalmist says:

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;   I will pay you my vows, those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.  (Psalm 66:12-14, NRSV).

Have you ever been in a really difficult situation (family, financial, health, etc.), and asked God to help you through it?  As part of you asking, did you promise God that you would react to His help with a difference in attitude and action?  I don’t believe that you have to negotiate with God, in fact (in spite of what the psalmist says) I don’t think that you should.  If there are changes that need to be made, you do that — regardless of what He does.  But, if you have made promises to God, have you kept them?  As I read those verses from Psalm 66, that is the thought that went through my mind.  What did you think?  Peace.

(This devotional was first posted on Facebook on April 9, 2016.  It is being re-posted here, as a part of our “Psalms for Saturdays”.  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you.)

John 13-14 — “What’s Going to Happen Now”

Recently, I have started reading legal-thrillers by a new author, and I have really been enjoying the stories that he tells.  Of course, when you write about crime, the people that commit crime, the solving of a crime, and the people that solve the crimes; you will deal with some unsavory people and situations.  The first couple of novels that I read were not too bad, but the next two have been a little more vulgar and graphic; and a lot of that may have to do with the subject matter of the particular crimes.  Anyway, I am wrestling with the dilemma, do I continue to read — or, do I move on to something else.  BUT, that is not what I am thinking about this morning!  What made think of this writer is that he is a remarkable storyteller, and although he does get a little wordy at time, he keeps me involved until the very end.  His stories have so many twists and turns, that I usually figure out how it is going to end, 8 to 10 times before I am finished.  So far, the majority have ended with a twist that I had not anticipated.  I like that in a book.

There are a lot of things in life where I don’t like for that to happen.  From the very beginning, I want to know what is going to happen, and to be able to anticipate how it is going to affect my life.  Basically, I don’t like surprises.  If you were to ask my children, they would tell you that the one sure way to get me to not do something, or to allow them to do it, is to surprise me at the last moment with the request.  I want time to think about, and then to make a decision.

This morning, as I was reading in The Gospel of John, it occurred to me; how the life and ministry of Jesus kept taking twists and turns — that they did not anticipate.  What they thought Jesus was doing, really wasn’t He was doing.  When certain events happend, they often  were either afraid or amazed.  They never did quite understand His view of greatness and leadership; and that the Messiah that He was, was a polar opposite of what they had been taught.  This morning, I was reading in John 13-14, there are a couple of passages, where He says you will understand it shortly,  Listen to what He says:

I am tell you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.  (John 13:19, NIV).  It appears that Jesus is talking about the fact that one of the 12 is going to betray Him, and they will know that He knew it was going to happen.

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.  I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming.   He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.  (John 14:29-31, NIV).  Jesus is talking about His coming departure from this life, and that He is going to be with the Father.  He has been telling them He was going to be put to death by the Pharisees; and it either went right over their heads, or they chose not to hear it; or, like Peter, they didn’t want Him to talk about such things.  Now, He says “you don’t get it yet, but you will; and then you will know that I was doing just exactly what My Father told Me to do.”

It would be nice to think that we are better than the disciples of the first century, but we still worry about the same kinds of things.  There  are those things that Scripture does not reveal exactly HOW God is going to do something; and we speculate, fuss, fight, and divide over what we do not know.  I wonder, if God looks at us and just shakes His head, thinking trust Me, love Me, love each other, and be the kind of people that make the Gospel attractive — and leave the rest to Me.  I want to quit worrying about how God is going to do what He is going to do, and just … seek first His kingdom and His righteousness … (Matthew 6:33, NIV). Peace.

My Heroes have always been …

Waylon Jennings recorded “My Heroes have always been Cowboys” in 1976, and then Willie Nelson took it to greater popularity in 1980 as part of the soundtrack to the movie The Electric Horseman.  I would suppose that any young boy that grew up in the 1950’s could have “cowboys” as their heroes.  We watched lots of westerns on television, and there were many great movies with the western motif.  Men with names like Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, Cheyenne Bodie, Matt Dillon, Jess Harper, Wyatt Earp, Rowdy Yates, Josh Randall, Jim Hardie, and that list could go on, and on.  So, I suppose, it was just natural that we would “idolize” those cowboys as our heroes.

As we got a little older, our “heroes” changed as we did.  I remember one of my first heroes that was an athlete — Lance Alworth.  When I was about 10, or 11, years old, my next door neighbor played baseball with a “semi-pro” team called the Fort Smith Collegians.  There are lots of names that I remember from that team, but the one that stood out to this young boy (that was an Arkansas Razorback football fan) was Lance Alworth.  On a couple of occasions, my neighbor took me to the game — and I got to sit by the dugout, and listen to the players and see them up close and personal, including LANCE ALWORTH!  He played centerfield, and I really believed that anything that was hit in the air, he could catch it.  From that point on, my heroes were generally from the realm of professional sports Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and many, many others.  I’m pretty sure that I was not that different than many other boys that came to maturity in that generation.

This morning, as I was studying some of the “psalms of ascent” (Psalms 133-139) for my Tuesday morning Bible class, the idea went through my mind; we need to teach our young children to have the same awe and respect for God, that I did for Lance Alworth.  I understand that I am not the first one to have that thought.  I understand that others have tried to do that very thing.  I understand that it is not easy to do, because of the media emphasis on athletes, super-heroes, cowboys, and rock stars.  But, as I read these psalms this morning, I recognize just how much we have to be grateful for, to stand in awe of, and praise God because of.  Somewhere along the way, we have made our children afraid of God, and His all-seeing eye, and created a barrier between God and them.

What I want to do this morning, is just share some of the passages that caught my eye, and my heart, this morning:

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;  celebrate his lovely name with music.  (Psalm 135:3, NLT)

Your name, O Lord, endures forever; your fame, O Lord, is known to every generation.  For the Lord will give justice to his people and have compassion on his servants.  (Psalm 135:13-14, NLT)

I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.  I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed all the honor of your name.  (Psalm 138:2, NLT)

Yes, they will sing about the Lord’s ways, for the glory of the Lord is very great.  (Psalm 138:5, NLT)

The Lord will work out his plans for my life — for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. … (Psalm 138:8, NLT)

If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  (Psalm 139:9-10, NLT)

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God, they cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of the sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!  (Psalm 139:17-18, NLT)

Now, I recognize that I may be the only one that ever grew up afraid that God was just watching to catch me do something wrong — but I doubt it.  Somewhere along the way, we have to convince them that God only wants what is best for them, and that has an unfailing love for them!  Peace.