The Scariest Thing……

The Scariest Thing……

The scariest thing about Halloween this year, will not be the Ghost and Goblins running around town or even the Zombies for that matter. No! The scariest thing is what is in the heart of men and women everywhere. Last Saturday an armed gunman walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh PA  screamed anti-Semitic slurs and began shooting, killing 11 innocence people and wounding 6

What does it take for that kind of hate to be in someone’s heart? It has been said that the problem with our world is not the presence of darkness but the absence of light. Many respond to this and other tragedies like it, by believing we need tougher gun laws. But I don’t believe the problem is the lack of laws. I just believe we have failed to follow the most important law given to us many years ago when Jesus told us “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  

If we would all follow that one simple law there wouldn’t be a need for any others. What has happened to a society that will turn on it’s own kind? The problem isn’t gun laws the problem is a matter of the heart. Our hearts are broken, from a deterioration of a society that has turned its back on its creator and now believes it is it’s own God.

Like the children of Israel who cried out for a king to worship, we have become such an idolized society that we worship ourselves. We now live in a world where there is no absolutes, no right, no wrongs, if it feels good do it. Some of the newest phrases around are “You be You Boo” which is often said in innocence but at the same time is subconsciously telling us we don’t have to follow any laws, that there is no right or wrongs we can just be who we want to be and do what we want to do.

And where is the church in all this? Have we set silent so long that satan now has taken over, or is it totally the opposite that we have pushed this generation to where it is, because of the years of our own self-righteous attitudes or our own cynicism or perhaps it is even both. For so long and in some cases still today, we in the church judge people for what they wear, how they look, who they hang out with, in some places Jesus himself would not of been welcome in our churches because, he didn’t hang out with the right crowd or wear the right clothes. (after all he did walk around in a robe) all the while we sit in our self-righteous pews judging others for what they have done, and forgetting what we have been forgiven of. We are no different from the people in the bible days who stoned people to death, today we just use our words and our rejection of them and then wonder why they don’t want to serve God.  

It is this kind of attitude that I am afraid as pushed people away from the church looking for their own God which has then in turn cause them to look to themselves and thus we have become our own idols. So we don’t want any gender laws or anything that remotely states marriage is between one man and one woman, we don’t want anyone taking away our rights to choose, unless of course it is to defend ourselves then we have no right to that because defending ourselves means that we are standing up for what we believe, whether it be on social media or with a gun in our hands we have no rights to opinions only the right to follow the crowd but yet look where the crowd is taking us. We are headed to a Godless sin filled nation like in the day of Sodom and Gomorrah,  We have mayors and other government officials calling out begging for us to become a socialist nation that would take away our guns and pretty much any right to govern ourselves because we are looking for a savior. Like the children of Israel who cried out to Moses “Give us something we can worship” and while he turned his back and climbed a mountain to get the 10 commandments, they built themselves and idol of a graven image. We in America are crying out for a saviour and yet we reject the one who has already come. Why? Because we don’t want a God we serve, we want a God that serves us and if we don’t get what we want we reject Him.

No the scariest thing this Halloween is not what will be walking around in costume it will be what is walking around in the hearts of those in costume. Because we are raising a generation of children that are being trained to worship themselves, like an army of little sinners, we have defined direction, and absolutes as offenses and unlawful acts. We no longer direct our children to the Savior we allow them to roam free condoning their selfish desires to be the god in their own lives.

What will it take for all of this to change? Only one thing, that most important law that Jesus told us all those years ago to follow. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ That means that we put Him first. We put Him and His ways, above what we want, what we feel, and what we think and until we do that, I don’t care how much you say you love Him, or how many times you sit in the pew. If you haven’t done these things you can’t say you are His child and expect to get to heaven one day. It is an absolute and I don’t care how many times you say it or want to deny the fact, that absolute is for all time and will never change. Our idea may change of it, but we can never change what it means because the one true and only living God makes it a fact.

It is only when we learn the first part of that law then we can fulfill the second part which is “And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”, Because we can’t love anyone else until we love God, it is in the love we find it God we realize the worth we really have and in that, we can love someone else, as we love ourselves and that is when the light will negate the darkness in this world. And there will be an absence of darkness in all the light and that is something that even the 10 commandments or any law we put into place can’t do. It is only in the Love of Jesus Christ we will change this world. So what do you plan on wearing in your heart this Halloween season?

 

 

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Worst Parenting Fear!

Worst Parenting Fear!

Being a parent can be one of the scariest things anyone can do. You hope to you are doing it right. You don’t want to miss your kids up to bad, because you know you, yourself, aren’t perfect, and well let’s face it we all think we are a little messed up and our biggest prayer as parents is “God just don’t let me mess up my kids”.

I remember one particular time this was heavy on my heart as a young mom. My oldest had to be in about 1st grade. We were associate pastors in charge of children’s ministries in Iola Kansas. Our children’s ministry there ran about 80-100 kids each Sunday.  We had a bus ministry of 3 buses that drove around town every Sunday, picking up kids to bring them to church. To assure the kids would come, we would go around door to door every Saturday and knock on the doors of homes in the area reminding the parents we would be coming by tomorrow to pick up their children.

Often Jeff would take our son, Lee with him on those trips. In fact pretty much every part of our ministry Lee as well as all our children have tagged along and been a part of it with us. Lee however was our only child at this time in our life so not only was our weekly canvasing the neighborhoods part of his weekly agenda, so was summer church camps. For several years we spent a month at kids and junior camps in the summer not even coming home on the weekend in between camps. Because we were Children’s Pastors, Jeff and I were counselors each week and Lee got to tag along with his dad in the boys cabins.

Wheat State Camp is 4 weeks in the summer that kids from Assembly of God churches all over Kansas come together in Augusta at our district camp ground where a different age group comes each week to play games and sporting events, have fellowship with other believers and all go to church services together in the evening. It was one of those evenings I was down at the altar crying out to God because my heart was so heavy. I felt as if I was ruining my kid’s life. I was probably about week 3 of being at camp for us and I was believing all the negative thoughts satan was running through my head that said “Lee is going to hate church” or “You are pushing our religion down his throat by keeping him here”. “What kind of mother are you?”.

As I was pouring out my heart to God that evening, with young girls from my cabin,  praying all around me. I felt God say, Looked up over to the boys side of the altar area. There I saw Lee standing with his arms raised to his Savior, tears streaming down his face. It was as if God was saying,” He is okay.” Because God knows, more than anything I want my kids to serve Him.

That kid is now 33 years old and running for a seat in the Oklahoma House as State Representatives for District 68. He was telling me the other day of how his campaigning was going. You see every evening after he gets off work and on Saturdays, he goes canvassing door to door the neighborhoods of his district.

He was actually canvassing with another candidate recently when the candidate of the same party said  “Man you are good at this!, Have you done this before?” To which my son responded “Sure have, but not for political purposes”.  See, it was all those years ago, that Lee walked with his daddy canvassing the neighborhood for the churches bus ministry that taught him how to handle himself and approach people in that type of situation. But we didn’t take Lee out canvassing with the idea that this is going to be a lesson, or with any thought that he would use it later on in life, and we never had any idea he would actually run for a political office at that age. But, it was a lesson that gave him confidence where another person might have been hesitate to knock on a stranger’s door without it.

All this got me thinking…….  Deuteronomy 11:18 – says “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds,…….. 19 Teach them to your children, speaking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your houses and gates,… “.  In essence, it is saying teach your children about God as you go about your everyday responsibilities. All too often we expect the church to teach our children or we think I’ll just wait until they are older and let them decide for themselves what kind of faith they want to accept. But that isn’t what God tells us to do.  

Proverbs also tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents] Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6 Amp) How do you train up a child, if you wait till they are older and let them decide? You don’t, this makes it plain that parents are instructed to teach their child in His ways. As a minister my dad use to say, it is better to build boys and girls for Jesus then rebuild broken down men and women for Christ. You may ask why is it better to teach them when they are young? Because we are creatures of habit. We get in good habits or we get into bad habits but either way they are habits and old habits are hard to break. I don’t know a better habit then going to church every week, reading your bibles, and praying every day.

As parents often times I think we negate the reality that our children are always watching and learning from everything we do and say. It is important that we keep in mind children learn what we live. I don’t care how old they are, they are like little sponges absorbing everything we say and do. So the question is what are we teaching are kids? It wasn’t our intention to be teaching Lee anything, on the days we canvass the neighborhood but we did. I also believe he has learned how to follow God by our example (habits) of going to church, reading our bibles and praying with our kids. Lee developed a relationship with Jesus Christ all his own and that has given him the foundation he needs to make good choices and why he cares enough to try to make a difference in this country.

Does he have some ideas that I have wondered about? Sure!  But the truth is we probably taught him that too. Oh! Not the exact ideas, but I believe his father and I taught him to not just go with the crowd. We have lived a life of entrepreneurship and pioneering new ideas since he was born. From being the first homeschoolers in Graham County, to deciding to start a church with absolutely no support except knowing God has called us. We have taught him to judge whatever you do to the word of God and in this day and age when there is more people just following the crowd of what has always been done or what everyone else is doing. It is not surprising, he choose to be in the libertarian party because he sees the present parties in place are not making any difference. Lee isn’t afraid to pioneer down a new path of politics and I am completely confident he will pave his own way down that path as well.  

So the question is, what are you instilling in your children and grandchildren?  What are you talking about as you drive around in the car, sit in your homes? What messages are you sending to them? The fact is, whatever you are teaching them, they will take it to the next level. They will push the limit of whatever you are doing, good or bad. Do you want your kid to do more of what you do? What legacy are you leaving?  

 

Who gets the Victory in your Life?

One of the first things I remember being a preacher’s daughter was my mom telling me, I couldn’t bring my baby doll to church with me on Sunday nights anymore. I was probably in kindergarten or first grade and being that services typically went long on Sunday nights. I always enjoyed  bringing my baby doll with me. I am sure it kept me occupied during the long night and I probably ended up cuddling with it and falling asleep at some point. I really don’t remember, but one thing I do remember is sitting next to the daughter of the deacon that night who had told my daddy I couldn’t bring my baby doll anymore to church. I sat there and watched as she played with her doll, wondering why the rules were different for her than me.

 

That would not be the last time I would be singled out as the preachers daughter and be expected to keep a standard higher than others around me,  but it will forever be embedded in my memory. I still deal with fighting bitterness and anger from that incident. Especially since I still have contact with the daughter and see how she now gets to care for her parents. I am not going to lie, I have wondered, why would God allow someone that was so mean to my father,  still get to live and why would a God that loves me take my daddy instead, and at such a young age. My daddy has been gone since I was 23 years old. He hasn’t gotten to be a part of my kids lives nor see his great grandchildren or see what kind of a woman I have grown into. My husband has missed the mentoring that my father could of provided to his ministry that would of been so useful especially in the early years.

 

But one thing is not different about me, I am still expected by God to forgive. Just like anyone else in this world. You may ask “Well what is expected of us”.  The bible says If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20) Then Matthew reminds us “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

 

Oh! That isn’t the only hurt in the church that has happened to me, in fact I am pretty certain satan has instigated many opportunities for me to be bitter and angry at God’s people. It’s not important I share all the details of the opportunities for offence I have had. See,  I am not alone in this. Satan has been using these tricks to discourage believers since the beginning of time. Just look at the story of Job in the bible. We are told that satan and God are having a conversation. When God says “Have you considered my friend Job” In the conversation God basically tells satan, you can do anything you want to Job except take his life, and he will not turn his back on me”. So satan goes after Job, he ends up taking everything Job has expect his complaining and nagging wife, which if you read the story you realize, she was probably working for satan. Even in all that Job lost, his children, his home, Job refused to turn away from God. Job tells us that even if he dies, he will not stop trusting in God. I guess that is what I would have to say too.

 

See, my family has failed me, my friends has failed me, my church has failed me, my denomination has failed me, but one thing I can say is my God has never failed me. Oh! I lived in a season of my life in bitterness and anger and all it did was hurt me and the people around me.  And you know what? The people that hurt me so much and who I was so angry at continued on with their lives as if, nothing had happened. I was the only one hurt. I was letting my bitterness and anger hold me captive while the one that I wanted so badly to hurt went on with their lives.

 

I was a prisoner in my own world, a world I had created of bitterness, isolation and anger. I didn’t realize that I was angry at the wrong people. I, like all of us, needs to focus on the real enemy and that is satan. I,  like all of us also, needs to realize that with every opportunity for bitterness,unforgiveness and anger that comes my way, I need to remember that this also, like Job, maybe a test, Perhaps God has put so much faith and trust in me, He has told satan, “Go ahead, see what you can do to her”. Like a coach who puts his best player out in the time of the game that is critical to the team, he is depending on you to make that finial point for the team to win the game.

 

When we come to look at every opportunity for offence as an opportunity to rise above and be the shining star on God’s team. We will then let Christ’s love in us shine through and overshadow any root of bitterness. When we realize every opportunity of unforgiveness is just a trick from the enemy. We will begin to see a whole lot less opportunities for unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. Because satan soon leaves stops using tricks that don’t work. It is important that we realize we are not a war against people but satan, its just that satan often uses people as his ploys. We can see from the beginning of time, satan as only used those things to slip us up and keep us from the life that God has called us. But Jesus died for us to live.

 

Christ doesn’t desire for us to just have life here on this earth but He desires for us to live an abundant life John 10:10 tells us that satan comes to steal our joy, kill our hope  and destroy our faith in God. But Christ came that we would have that abundant life, not just an ordinary life but an abundant life that is full of joy and peace, that is a comfort for those who are in need and a peace to those who are troubled. One of the ways we can receive that abundant life is the choice we make when we are tempted to refuse to forgive and live in unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment.

 

Make no mistake we always have a choice how we respond and that choice either glorifies God, or glorifies satan. So the question is, who are you living for? Who do you want your life to glorify? It isn’t the people that hurt us or our families we need to be angry out, it is satan himself and the sooner we realize that,  the best defense to his skeem is to not play in his hand. Because as long as we live in unforgiveness and bitterness satan wins and I for one refuse to allow him to have any victory in my life. What about you?

 

Wedding Elopement Turns into Fiasco

Wedding Elopement Turns into Fiasco

I did a little research project the other day. Oh! It didn’t start out as a research project but it certainly turned into one. See,  I love a party! I love planning parties and I especially love planning weddings. My love for all this started when I was just a teenager, I was coordinating weddings, by the time I was 16. In fact I almost went into the wedding business for my career.  Because of this, it might not come as a surprise to you that I am in several wedding groups on Facebook. Some resale things, others are just for support or advice. It is a lot of fun to see people’s joy and excitement, it is also a great resource to keep up on current trends and at the same time perhaps, share some of my experiences that might keep a disaster from happening at someone’s wedding.

 

In the wedding biz there has been a new phenomena happening, some might just call it a trend, but I think its a real, phenomena and it is that, couples are going away from their home and in some cases even families to get married instead of staying closer to home to have their wedding, they sort of take a vacation and get married at the same time. They are calling it an elopement, but that word confused me, because when these young ladies are describing their weddings, they are talking about their family having showers for them before they “elope”. Some are even having big parties before they go with their friends. As you might imagine, when they use the term elope or elopement to describe their wedding in this scenario. I was confused, I mean I know I am a little old school in some things, but when I started coordinating weddings all those years ago for someone to elope met that they secretly went away from their families and got married then came back and “SURPRISE” they were married.  

 

So in my curiosity of it all I decided to look it up. After all, if the definition had changed I wanted to know so I wouldn’t sound uneducated about this subject. I went to Webster’s Dictionary which is the absolute truth on definitions of words. It is where we all go to understand what any word means. It is a guide we can all use to direct us in our vocabulary. So, guess what I found out when I looked up the word elopement? I found out I was right, Webster says “to run away secretly with the intention of getting married usually without parental consent”  

 

So then I got curious as to what was defined as a Destination Wedding, which in my mind was what most of these brides were explaining on this site, but yet they called it an elopement or they were eloping. Guess what that definition was? Google said (and I had to ask google because Webster doesn’t define phrases) “A destination wedding is defined as marrying 100 or more miles from where they live. A destination wedding is a different way for couples to choose a beautiful place to celebrate marriage away from their home.”

 

After all my research I thought, well I will post this on one of these sites, just so people will start using the correct verbiage. To my amazement, this is where the research project began. Several brides got upset with my information. One commented “Then why does my venue call it an elopement?” As if by a venue naming something it, made it so. To which I responded, “perhaps they didn’t look up the definition or don’t know you are going to tell everyone you know?”

 

Another found information on the internet saying that eloping was a new trend and by posting this thought it refuted that fact of what the word elopement met by the dictionary. Yet, another was down right nasty to me and accused me of trying to steal these brides joy. To which I responded, “I didn’t write the dictionary, I am just making people aware of the correct terminology to use.” I was seriously flabbergasted at the amount of argument and energy put in to trying to refute the fact that the book says, that is what it means. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how many times brides use this word incorrectly, it doesn’t change the meaning of the word. It still means what Webster says and Webster is still the leading dictionary and guide to our english vocabulary.

 

All this got me thinking…. Isn’t that what we do, we decide that just because everyone is doing it, it suddenly justifies what we do even if the bible says it is wrong. We call living together okay while God calls it sin, simply because everyone else it doing it. Perhaps you hang out with a crowd that it’s popular to get drunk on the weekend, so it’s okay even though God’s word says drunkenness is a sin. Maybe you take office supplies from work because everyone else does, but the bible still says stealing is a sin. Maybe, you think you are a good person because you think your better than other people you know.

 

We have become a society that runs more by popular opinion then the absolute of God’s word. We have people running around with high anxiety, panic attacks, all because they are trying to meet the expectations of others. Instead of going to God’s word and judging our life, and ourselves by what God says we need to do and be. We refuse to realize what God word says about us and walk in it that with confidence.

 

It’s time we stop living by popular opinion and start living by the word of God, the absolute truth of what He has called us to do and we only learn that by being guided by the word of God. Because the fact is, when we walk into those pearly gates, we are not going to be judged by a group of our peers, God isn’t gonna say “Well, everyone else was doing it, so it is okay, I will let you slide” NO! He is gonna say one of two things, either “Depart from me I never knew you” or if you lived by His word and followed what He said in it, He will say “ Well done, good and faithful servant enter into your eternal reward” God has given us His word the Bible to guide us and He  His body the church to help us understand and encourage us.

2 Timothy 3:16 says “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” You know what that word righteousness means, in short it means right living. That is what God’s word is. Some may ask “Well what makes God’s word the ultimate authority?” Truth is, when you are the creator of the Universe, you get to tell your creation how to live. The maker is the designer and there is a lot of things we do, that God never intended for us to do that is why we have so many troubles and issues in this life, not because He is punishing us, but because it is the consequences of our choices. So how about this week we stop letting other people’s opinions drive our actions and feelings and let’s follow what God says and know that in Him we are enough, remember that in the long run, that is where it counts, it only matters what God says no one else.  Alesa Lewis Miller is the Pastor’s wife of Lighthouse Worship Center, Greensburg Kansas, Mom, Mimi, Speaker, & Columnist. Find more of her stories at www.behindtheparsonagewalls.com

Driving Ms Alesa

Driving Ms Alesa

If you know me very well, you know that when there is an option to drive or let someone else do it , I normally opt for letting someone else drive. My husband Jeff is typically my chauffeur, I have often teased my children if their father dies before I do, they will need to hire me a new chauffeur and Jeff often teases he is “Driving Ms Alesa”.  Now don’t get me wrong, I will drive if I need to and have often offered to on long trips with Jeff, but he always responds the say way “ I got it dear”. I am not for sure if he always drives because he doesn’t trust my driving or because he just likes to drive, but either way I am happy with our arrangement.

 

On those rare occasions that I do drive with Jeff in the car. It isn’t uncommon for me to ask him directions. See, because he normally drives I don’t pay much attention to how we get there. I might be busy reading a book, scrolling through my phone or writing a story for the paper.  My other excuse for not knowing where I am going is Jeff rarely takes the same route to a destination twice. So ultimately. I just trust him to take me where I need to be.

 

All this got me thinking, Isn’t that a lot like us in life?  We often don’t pay attention to where our life is headed spiritually.  We allow the distractions of this life to weigh us down. From being occupied with working to pay the bills,  to self gratification of whatever we feel like we want that day.

 

We soon, stop reading our bibles, taking time to worship everyday throughout the day. We often neglect our time with other believers, who can encourage us,  by skipping church. If we are not intentional in living our life for Christ we will soon just slide into complacency and one day we will look up and realize we don’t know where we are spiritually, just as I have many times riding in the passenger seat of the car with Jeff. I will look up and think “ Where are we?”

 

Once we trust God with our lives, we need to allow Him to guide us and direct us. But we won’t know the direction we are suppose to go, if we don’t follow what the map (His word) says and if we don’t stay in a constant precute of Him we will soon lose our way. Although, He is our invisible friend who is always there,  he will not intervene in any part of our life, if we don’t invite Him in. .

 

Our lives don’t just automatically steer into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Just like our cars don’t just automatically steer in the direction we are going without someone taking the wheel and turning it. It’s up to us to intentionally make Christ a priority in our lives and it isn’t good enough to say “I believe in God or I love God” God created us for a personal relationship with Him. One where we are in constant contact with Him everyday, like you would a best friend. Satan wants to do everything he can to keep us from doing that. Satan wants to be that roadblock in our lives to distract and discourage us from what is really important.

 

I mean have you ever know anyone that said “ I don’t know how my life got here?”, or “ I don’t understand what went wrong?” It is almost as if they wake up from a daze and suddenly realize something isn’t right. Except they were the common denominator in their whole story. They were there all the time, but because they weren’t intentional in their relationship with God, they didn’t keep their eyes on the only real GPS, for our life (Christ) suddenly they have found they are lost and don’t know what to do.

 

The bible warns us in John 10:10,  that “Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy but Christ comes that you might have life and have it abundantly” . Are lives are a battlefield and it isn’t one of this world. We are told in Ephesians 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Our battle is with satan and all his demons, and the only way we can can defeat him is by allowing Jesus Christ to rule our lives, then with the same power that rose Jesus from the dead will live in us and we can overcome satan.

 

But God tells us to put on the full armor of God. If we continue reading on verse 13 says  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, stand” . He tells us to be buckled with the truth, carry the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace,  take up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

I believe in everyday language that means,  Follow the Truth, by living right and following God’s Word, we then have the Peace God,   through our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us Salvation, by His promises in the Word of God.

 

But none of that just happens, it doesn’t happen just by saying you believe in God, it doesn’t happen by saying you love God, it happens by initially taking the wheel of your life and following hard after God. In Matthew 7:21, we are warned that not everyone who says they love God is going to make it to heaven. God warns us that, those people were saying “ We love God” But their hearts were not following after Him because He didn’t even know them, He wasn’t their best friend. They kept living life for themselves and only had a surface relationship with Him, when it was in the “in crowd” thing to do or perhaps just when they needed help. .

 

But let me challenge you today, if the people you hang out with don’t realize that there is something different about you. If you are so comfortable around people who you know aren’t living a life pleasing to God, that you never even think about it.  Then you probably need to pay more attention to where you are going in your spiritual life. Because God tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:17 to come out and be different, and I don’t think God is talking about your hair, or what you wear, I think He is talking about your heart and your passion for Him. That is what He is most concern with.

 

Is He just an afterthought of yours or is He the center or your attention?  

God wants our attention, He wants us to focus on Him. Because that is the only way we will get down this road of life.