Category Archives: Receiving God’s Intimate Counsel

To Be Known…

When it comes to being open and honest about our lives and about our struggle, there is one thing that comes to mind that keeps people away.  Fear.  A fear of being known.  A fear of being judged.  What will the other people think if I am vulnerable enough to open my heart about my struggle?  I’ll look weak if I allow myself to be open.  Nobody will under understand my struggle and my story.  I’m scared to bring it back to the surface. I’ve worked with someone, or at least tried to work with someone over the course of the last year.  No how much I urge and reassure there is no condemnation and judgement, the fear remains and this person runs.  To this day, remains in stable misery.

There’s something to being known.  To laying all of our junk out there on the table.  Maybe not vomiting it all at one time, but being open to the point where people know who you are.  What I’ve learned with the people I have counseled and ministered to, the openness and vulnerability, leads to something.  It leads to trust.  It opens the door to a commonality that says, “hey, we’ve both jacked it up and have been wounded to some degree.  We’re not perfect, by any means, but can walk together through our struggle.”

One of the things I have pursued to build a round table of men that I trust.  Like-hearted kings who are after the same things, living for the glory of God, and has to fight to through crap to get to it.  Through all of that crap, we can walk with each other through it.  There’s no mask, no figleaf.  With my mens discipleship group, I urge each of them to leave the mask at the door.340e0e0b881756951b75bbb7141dd7db

You see what I am getting at here.  If you want to build any kind of trust among our peers, we have to open and vulnerable.  We have to be known.

3 weeks ago, we left for our Anvil Men’s Boot Camp.  One of the biggest and most freeing things that happens over the course of that week is the time the men spend with their small group of about 4-5 men.  Each with the opportunity to share their story in a safe place and giving permission to the other to speak into their story and even, if necessary, to call BS if needed.  Hearing the feedback of men that this was the most freeing part of their experience in getting to truly know other men is huge.  It allows them to see, if they never have before, that being open and vulnerable to others they can trust brings a greater freedom and removes the weight that they don’t have to hide themselves.

Each Boot Camp, God reveals some theme to us and this time, transparency became the theme for the weekend.

I’ve read snipets Brené Brown and she has come up in conversations recently.  I was watching a talk she gave this morning and she said something that was very profound…

“Faith minus vulnerability and mystery, is extremism. If you’ve got all the answers and there’s nothing, there’s no vulnerability, that’s awesome….but don’t call it faith, period….How can I connect with you, if I can’t see you. How can I lead you, if you don’t know me. I don’t wanna be led by anyone perfect, because I don’t see in your eyes…my story and my struggle. I need you to show up.”

Read that again, and soak it in.

I’m thankful for the church body my family and I get to be a part of.  We have leadership that is absolutely open about themselves, who they are, where they’ve struggled and jacked it up and this openness carries to those that are a part of our family.  As Brené Brown said, “How can I lead you, if you don’t know me.”

2de6cdfa6166bcd201601b77b1985c57-literature-quotes-beautiful-wordsThis is something I carry as well.  I used to be very closed off about myself and people laugh, that didn’t know me before, when I say I am naturally introverted.  I guess that’s how I operated in my false self where my predominent style of relating was to move away from people.  I didn’t want to be known.  Now, I’ve come to realize that transparency is critical.  Being known is crucial to effectively lead and minster to people.  I look at Paul.  If you read through the epistles, you see a man who is very open about where he had been and how much he struggled with where he had been before encountering Christ.

If you’ve never allowed yourself to be known, you have to ask yourself why.  Why do I not want to let anyone in?  We’ve all been through the ringer in some way.  Every man and woman has been wounded.  Everyone of us have lived a life with sin.  As Proverbs 14:4 says, “No cattle, no crops…”  The journey to become good soil requires us to plow through a lot of shit in our lives. That being said, we can’t make that journey and be freed up if we never allow ourselves to be known and let that stuff come surface.

So I will close with this.  What a great feeling it is to be known.  To live a life knowing I don’t have to where a mask.  In reference to John Lynch and his book, “The Cure,” I don’t need to stay in the room of good intentions where I am just trying to get along.  I can be in the room of grace knowing who I am in Christ Jesus.  He knows us more than anyone in this world ever will, including our spouses and closest friends.  Yet in spite of all of that, we are loved just the same through all of that.  He knows us without condemnation or judgement, so why should we worry about condemnation or judgement from anyone else.

To be known brings with it a greater freedom…

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Letting God Forge the Way – The Anvil

I have been very quiet on this site this year as this will be my first post since the new year.  This year started off with a bang as I began my counseling internship in the final phase of my Masters program with Liberty University.  It has been a huge experience so far.  Needless to say, I’ve been a little busy with that.

AnvilThe big thing that has been going on however, is about take place tomorrow.  What began as a conversation over breakfast many months ago has led to the development and now launch of our first Wild at Heart modeled Boot Camp, called The Anvil Men’s Boot Camp.  God put it on my heart well over a year ago, that it was my turn to begin seeking and rescuing the hearts of men.  As time has gone by and as I began to counsel with people, I realized that so many of the problems within families stem from the father in some way, whether he is abusive, completely absent, or present but not present. This pattern is destroying marriages left and right and wounding children by the score.

The need was there, but what would I do about it.  In counseling, many of my clients are women, so getting men to come sit down one-on-one is going to be a challenge.  I realized how huge it was for me to step out of my element and go the Wild at Heart Boot Camp in Colorado a couple of years ago.  We were encouraged to take this message back home.  In the last year, I got to know a few other men who had a similar desire.  2 sages and a peer.

The conversations began.  My peer, friend, and brother, Matt and I started small with a men’s small group where we began to lead men through the Wild at Heart message.  It became evident that something bigger was needed.  I met a man named Butch just by happenstance, and we decided to have breakfast and the conversation began. He is a sage who has a huge passion for men’s ministry as well.  The idea was born.

I pulled in another brother and sage, Steve, who also attended Wild at Heart and is immersed in their ministry as well.  Conversations began to happen and we decided that it was something we had to do, sooner, rather than later.  Only way to learn how was to dive in and give it try.

So that’s where we stood. We knew what we wanted to do, we found the site, and now we needed the men.  Conversations with my friend and pastor, Tim, brought me to begin leading some of our men’s Wednesday night Bible studies.  Again, all of this is out of my element, but I jumped in.

I have to admit, we were skeptics at first.  We knew we would start small and opened it to just 12 attendees. There was skepticism as to whether we would get 6 or 8.  A few weeks later, I’m calling Butch and saying telling him we need a 2nd cabin.  Now with a day to go, we have a 19 men heading to Upstate South Carolina for 4 days with God.  Unreal the response we’ve had and we have more waiting in the wings for next time.

So these last few months in 2017 have been all about planning this event out.  Writing content and coordinating everything.  To see it all come together has been so huge.  I can tell God has been at work in this and we’ve made it a point to surrender it all over to Him and not let this become about any of one us.  We know that if a group a men get together like this, God is certain to show up and He already is.

I knew there would be opposition, but the Enemy has been relentless in his attacks, which tell us even more that we are moving in the right direction.  My family has been attacked relentlessly in the recent weeks.  Stating with physical problems from a baseball to my face, a concussion one week and then a diabetic seizure for one my sons, a large allergic reaction for my daughter, and a stomach bug that hit my oldest son.  All of this has put a huge strain on my bride’s heart and mine as well.  We spent a lot of time holding each other and just letting the tears flow.  We knew what it was though.  Satan was trying to use all of this take us out…to stop this weekend from happening.

We have flipped it on him and surrendered it all to God.  The suffering is hard, but nothing in comparison to Christ and we know this.  We just turned to prayer and have had an army of prayer around us, which has pulled us through all of that in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

southeastern-expeditionsSo now we’re ready.  All the content is written.  Final details are being nailed down and tomorrow we head to the mountains.  We’ll have some great times of learning and fellowship and times of one-on-one with God, and some adventure on the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, yes where they filmed Deliverance.  Hopefully no banjos on the shoreline.  Just kidding.

We’re just so pumped about this.  About the men willing to take the risk to head into the wilderness and we sit in eager anticipation and expectation of God’s goodness.  I know He is up to something big here and can’t wait to see what happens in the lives of these men, who range from 20 to their 60s, and then how their families, our church family, and community is impacted.  It’s all about God and He gets all of the glory here.

As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Takes Time To Master

I often find myself trying rush into things.  I come into something new, a new job, a new task, something, and I feel like I have to hit the ground running.  When I’ve been on job interviews in the past, one of the things always asked for is needing someone to hit the ground running.  When I make the decision to move into counseling and ministry, I felt like I had to consume as much as possible and get rolling as quickly as possible.  Then I realized something this year, while out west, mastery of anything takes time.  It’s going to take time to learn the best way to counsel and minister to people.  I can’t just go right into it and know it all.  When I started my current job 10 years ago, it’s taken time and trial and error to figure out what works best and the learning continues.

Morgan Snyder reminded me of this in his teachings when he quoted author Malcolm Gladwell.  Gladwell stated that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.  10,000 hours, that’s 416 days.  Divided to 2.5 hours a day brings us to about 10 years.  It’s a lot of time, but I’ve come to realize that anything we devote to will always take time to learn and master.

I’m not just talking about work skills.  What I really wanted to focus on here is spiritual disciplines and practices in the faith.  There are many that think, “I’m good…I was saved, baptized…I pray (occasionally)…I go to church on Sunday, etc.”  The list can go on.  But let’s think about real practice of a real and deep intimate relationship with the Father. It takes time.  As I’ve come to learn, there is a way things work and the only way to grow is through learning to develop a life that gives time to Father.  A.W. Tozer said, “The man who would know God, must give time to Him.

Through Jesus, the Father desires to restore us to a life in Him.  The way to life in Jesus is a vigorous journey and it’s one, if we truly want to come alive, requires our total attention.  It’s never instantaneous, though.  There are not any shortcuts through this journey.

For many years, I’ve lived a life of shortcuts.  Trying to find the quickest way to get to where I needed, whether that was through schooling, in my work, and in my spiritual growth in the last few years.  It’s taken a long time to learn that I have allow for time.  It will truly take a decade of working, of trial and error, to fully build a life of real authentic disciplines that is fully invested in the Father day after day.

Don’t compromise a piece of the journey.  Make the choice to fully invest in time grow into an exercise of real mastery, no matter what you invest into.  Most importantly, choose to invest in a life of real mastery in your walk with God, day after day.  I’m in the early parts of this journey.  Come along.  Think about your life and where your trying to take shortcuts.  Ask the Father to reveal where you’ve taken shortcuts in your growth.

I’m so thankful that I’ve come across a ministry of men that has helped me to learn this and know that I need to begin to inventory my life and begin to develop real habits in the life I live with God, habits of self care, the way I care for and walk with my wife, the way I father my own children in leading them to the real Father, and in the investments I make others around me.  In that order, by the way.

It all takes time.  The journey can’t be rushed, and I’m so excited to see the fruit that comes from this decade.  As Morgan Snyder reminded us at Become Good Soil, “Live in the day…Measure in the decade.

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A New Adventure In The Works

Two months from now I will be hitting the road on a new adventure as I drive across the country for the first time in route to Bear Trap Ranch just outside Colorado Springs.  I’m so excited for this journey as I was accepted and have the opportunity to attend the Become Good Soil Intensive event with Ransomed Heart Ministries.  I am so humbled and honored that the Lord has afforded me this opportunity.  As I have written about extensively over the last year, I attended my first Ransomed Heart event last year at the Wild at Heart Boot Camp.  That was 4 days packed with tremendous spiritual growth, unplugged from the matrix and getting to have some good sound fellowship with other godly men and time alone with God like I had not experienced before.  I surrendered my life on that journey to Jesus, as I quit tiptoeing in the shallow end and dove into the deep end.maxresdefault

This time around, I am looking forward to even more spiritual growth.  Whereas Wild at Heart had over 400 other men there, this Intensive is a more intimate setting with only 48 men accepted through a lengthy application process.  I gained so much at Wild at Heart, I can only imagine what the Lord will have in store for me on this adventure.

One of the biggest things I have learned on my walk over the last year is the importance of walking through life with other men in the faith.  I have especially learned the importance of walking with men who have journeyed through life longer and garnered a great amount of wisdom and experience, like Timothy walking with Paul.  I have made that a priority for my life to do just that with who I have surrounded myself with at my round table.  At this event, I will get a chance to do this as well, completely unplugged from the matrix of this world.  As the event information states, it is in the company of wise, older men…those out in front already.

mostimportant-01Any chance I get to gain something new in my walk with God, I will take advantage of.  Something that I have learned to be so valuable also is that we all, men and women, need opportunities to escape the stresses of life.  Unplugged from life.  I believe this is important, not just with event like this, but to find time to get away , at least once a year.  No phones, no work, no distractions.  Your soul needs this.  As I have shared time and again, why do you think Jesus always escaped to the wilderness.  He knew he needed to get away from the chaos in order to walk more intimately with the Father.

Look, I have suffered and lived long enough to know that I don’t have all the answers and never will in this life.  We need the wisdom of others and need to be able do disconnect to allow ourselves to connect with the Father on a deeper level.  It can be so easy to be lost in a sea of chaos out of control, but in the process, you can lose who you are.  Don’t let that happen to your life.  Find a way to unplug and also lean into others you can glean godly wisdom from.

I am very much looking forward to this adventure.  Last time I flew, but this time, I decided to load up my F-150 and make it a road trip.  I look forward to the solitude on the road as well as I prepare for the event. I’ve never driven that long on my own, and I am so excited to have this opportunity and to have a wife that is so supportive of this huge growth opportunity.  It will definitely be an adventure and I will certainly share about it more as I prepare and of course after the event.  It’s going to be an amazing adventure and I look forward to what God has in store for me this time around.

Humility So Genuine

Humility.  This is a word that has been on my heart for a number of days now.  As we started the New Year, I’ve continued to dive deeper into Scripture and working hard at walking with God deeper with scripture, prayer, and journaling my thoughts as I role through the morning.  On Saturday, as I continued my read through Philippians.  Something big stood out to me from Philippians 2.  The humility of Jesus.  Paul tells us to be humble, thinking of others over ourselves. In verse 5 that he writes that we must have the attitude that Jesus had.  Verses 6-8 from the NLT read:humility

“Though He was God, he did not think of equality with as something to cling to.  Instead, He gave up his divine privileges (emptied himself); He took the humble position of a slave and He was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

This thought has crossed my mind before, but God really spoke this into my heart this week.  Humility.  The true humility of Jesus is something that we should look to have in our own lives.  I just found this so powerful to think about.  Here is Jesus.  As Paul writes, He is God, yet, Jesus came as fully man.  In his book, Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge, lays it out this way…

“The eternal Son of God, ‘Light of Light, Very God of Very God…one substance with the Father, spent nine months developing in Mary’s uterus.  Jesus passed through her birth canal. He had to learn to walk. The Word of God had to learn talk.  He who calls the stars by name had to learn the names of everything, just as you did. ‘This is a cup. Can you say cup? Cuuup.'”

It’s so fascinating to think about how this man, Jesus, humbled himself so much to walk on even playing field.  But think about it.  In order to open the way for us all, He needed to.  We were lost before Jesus, but the Father had us in mind from before the foundations of the earth and has been pursuing us since.  Jesus walking as the perfect lamb of God, fully human, although He was God showed us what we were always meant to be as God’s sons and daughters.  Our story did not begin at the Fall.  It goes way before that, to what we were created to be, inheriting a kingdom created and set aside for us.  Jesus came to restore us, so that we could once again claim that inheritance if we choose to follow Him.washing-feet-statue-2

As this was on my heart, it was very cool to hear the teaching Sunday morning, which went into John 13.  When I learned we were going there, I was floored, I knew God was really speaking this to me.  Here, Jesus gives us an example of his humility as he washes the feet of his disciples including Judas, even though Jesus knew he would betray Him.  Jesus humbled himself to serve others in this manner.  He says in verse 14 and 15, “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to was each other’s feet. I have give you an example to follow.  Do as I have done to you.”  Jesus is showing us the humility that we should have in our lives.  Not putting ourselves above others.  Not striving for position or title, but rather living as who we are in Christ.

When I look back on my life, there was a time when I was all about striving for my own successes.  Making it to those high positions.  Striving for higher success and thinking that this was what mattered in life.  More degrees, greater position, higher salary, etc.  I have been humbled so much though in realizing that all of that led me to nothing.  This is because none of my efforts were done with the motives of serving Jesus and serving others, other than my own success and supporting my family.

God has shown me another way and is leading me in a way to serve others, serve Him, and seek the lost for His kingdom.  How humbling that all becomes.  I was reading and journaling yesterday morning and I came up with this.  “A life of self-reliance leads to emptiness and death. A life reliant on Jesus leads to a life of freedom, breakthrough, restoration, and coming fully alive.”  If we put our own self-centered ambitions above everything else, we will be humbled very quickly in the end and will be left with nothing.

I think God put this on my heart to remind me that I all I am doing needs to be done with Him as my motive.  Helping me to remember to not put myself above others. As Tim shared on Sunday, to seek God, not titles or position.  Even as a developing counselor and with the work God is leading me toward, it can be so easy to exalt myself in that and seek position, whether in a counseling practice, church, or wherever simply to make myself standout.  God’s reminding me that my efforts need to be only to seek His glory and advance His kingdom, not my own.

I’m grateful for this reminder God gave me.  I pray that it helps you as well.  Look at the humility of Jesus.  He is the example to follow.  Don’t think yourself above others.  None of us are are greater than the other.  We are all fallen. We are all sinners given a chance to be restored in through the finished works of Jesus Christ.

“The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.” – Augustine

A Thankful Heart

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I pondered this post for a few days.  Thinking exactly where I would focus as we draw closer to Thanksgiving.  When I look over my life and all that is around me, it fills me with a thankful heart.  I have been blessed with such a beautiful wife that is such a beautiful soul.  A true Proverbs 31 woman in my life.  We’ve been blessed with 3 beautiful kids.  They are our pride and joy.  My boys are the apple of my eye and my daughter is my delight.  Proud of all 3 of them.  We’ve gone through a lot together as a family and we’ve made it through storms together.  I’m very thankful to the Lord for having each of them in my life.

There are so many other things I can call out to be thankful for.  The biggest thing above all things, however has to be full and complete transformation.  I can stand here today and say that 2015 has been a year of complete transformation, not just for me, but for my family.  Jesus took a hold of my life this year like I had never imagined possible and boy oh boy, this is just the beginning of what I can tell already will be an exciting life of following Him and leading the lost to Him.

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Through all of this transformation, through all of this change, there are so many things, just in this short period of time that I can point to and that am very thankful for.  I am thankful for my church family at The Cross Loganville.  My pastor, Tim Cash, and the rest of the team, our men’s ministry, the awesome small group Amber and I joined, and all the connections and friendships we have made so far.  Truly blessed to be walking with such an awesome body of believers.  They’ve welcomed us in and have been very instrumental to our lives.

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I’m thankful for Ransomed Heart Ministries, led by John Eldredge, and the opportunity to attend the Wild At Heart Boot Camp in Colorado.  This was the pivotal life changing moment for me.  One that God was prepping me for through many encounters right up to the day I left and I knew He was really leading me to, because of the spiritual warfare I dealt with before I left.  When I made it there, however, I was able to let go.  My life completely surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as I stood in those mountains and I knew I would never be the same.

I’m thankful for the change of my heart to know I needed to follow Jesus into the unknown.  To live the unscripted life and follow Him to wherever He is leading.  I’ve always lived a life with a plan about where I was headed.  I can no longer do that and since then, there is so much freedom in knowing God is now leading the way, not me.  I go myself out of the way and stopped trying to control things that were not in my control and let Him take control.

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I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend Liberty University to pursue a Masters in Counseling.  Something I never thought I would do, but somehow, I feel as if God has been leading me here for many years through the many encounters I’ve had and the moments of counsel that I have given to others.  I never recognized it until this year, but once did, He put me on the fast track.  I’ve been blessed with great teaching, great fellowship when getting to go on campus, and great Christ centered learning and development.  Truly excited to see what the Lord is going to do with my life through all of this.

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I could honestly go on and on and on here.  All of this points to what the Lord has done in my life since I surrendered completely to Him.  He’s been leading me back to Him for the last few years and this was the year He decided it was time to unleash.  The transformation for my life has transformed my home.  Seeing my kids light up, but most of all seeing my bride light up.  Now watching her day after day getting into the Word on her own and journaling.  Seeing her build up the courage to break out of her shyness to fellowship and know others in our church family and building the courage to share what is a very powerful story.  She just glows in it as I see her eagerness to grow and know God.  Of that I am also very thankful.

2015 has been the Lords year for me and family.  He’s taken the reigns and is leading us into the unknown.  It’s no longer about living the good, comfortable, content, and ‘successful’ life.  It’s about living the unscripted life that follows where we are led.  My heart is very thankful for this transformation and where He takes us from here.

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I want to wish every one of you a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Discerning Truth and Growing

We had a powerful teaching at church yesterday regarding the subject of discernment and being able to tell what is truth from what is false.  For so many, this is a difficulty.  There are so many twisted teachings out there and compromised Scripture.  We see it on TV with those teaching the prosperity gospel and then in our local churches as well.  I wrote on this recently that there are so many attempts to compromise Scripture in order to make it fit into our social norms and cultural post-modern thinking that has become so prevalent today.

Our job as followers of Christ is to be able to learn and know what Truth is.  To be able to use Scripture as the testing block of all that we do and all that is thrown our way.  1 John 4:1 calls for us to test the spirit of everything.  Again, that’s everything.  It doesn’t matter where the teaching comes from.  We have a responsibility to be able to know and understand the Truth ourselves and not just trust someones word at face value.

When talking with my pastor and some guys last week about this coming teaching, a revelation hit me regarding the subject of discernment.  One point that was made is that discernment is essential for spiritual growth.  Years before I knew about Jesus, but didn’t know Him.  I knew what He did to save us, but didn’t really understand the full scope of His works.  I didn’t know God the Father and I didn’t know the Holy Spirit.  I never took time to really dive into God’s Word.  My level of knowledge was on surface level teachings from Sunday School growing up or things I saw on TV.  Essentially there was no growth in my life.

As into adulthood, with no significant backdrop in the faith and not real knowledge of discerning Truth, I easily swayed with the wind.  If there was a new teaching or some new enlightenment, it would be easy for me to almost believe, depending on what it was.  I didn’t know the Word and I didn’t know real Truth.

4 years ago, I began reading Scripture for the first time in my life.  Not for significant study, but to just read through it.  To know the stories of the Bible and learn a deeper understanding of what I now see as a 66 book love story laid out for us.

Since that time, I began to start studying deeper.  Reading through 3 times straight and them changing things up to get a deeper understanding and begin to connect prophecy to fulfillment and more.  Essentially, I was starting to understand and starting to discern Truth.  For the first time in my life, I now have a greater understanding and ability to stand on the Truth of the Scriptures and be able to test the spirits of things I hear.

As I said, discernment is essential for spiritual growth.  I could have easily spent a life of just spinning my wheels and not knowing Truth.  All this does is lead to death.  I was reading through something I wrote many months ago and am reminded of the journey God now has me on.  I can’t not be all in and not grow in Truth and intimacy with God.  Knowing Truth and being able to speak the Truth enables a closer relationship with God.  Because of this growth, I now know Jesus and have a deeper understanding of His works.  I know God the Father as my Father who through Christ has now called me son,  and I know the Holy Spirit and call on Him for guidance and counsel now every single day.

Once you know the Truth of God and what He has revealed in His Word, there is no way you can’t not be all in.  I thankful that God has blessed me with discernment and I pray for this to continue each day.  I pray that for each one of you to know the Truth for yourselves and then once you do, don’t compromise it for the sake of this world.