YOU

Sunday mornings are early for Tyler and me. No surprise. We arrive well before practice time, not only to finish up some sound and stage preparations, but most importantly to pray over the worship. About a month ago, during pre-practice prayer, I couldn’t get past the word YOU (usually followed up by something like “… have all authority over this service” or “…are so deserving of everything we have to give”). But I was caught on the word. You, You, You, You… You… You.
 
I’m going to have to stop this train of thought for a second to clear off the upcoming track.
 
I’m guessing you have a couple favorite worship songs. All worship is great, of course! But when “Build My Life” or “Way Maker” start up, your heart beats faster and your hands start moving!
 
Different songs have different impacts on different people. This is why my husband, Tyler, can listen to “The More I Seek You” time and again still excited by it every time while he has a harder time sitting through my 8th replay of “Shout of the King.” This is not only due to diverse music style tastes but also to the importance we each attach to certain words in worship, often determined by our personal experiences with that word. If you’ve been believing for miraculous healing, for example, you might feel the words in “Healer” more strongly than the person sitting next to you. Instead, they are praying for comfort after loss and feel the strength of the song “You Restore My Soul.”
 
Wouldn’t it be great if there was one word that took us all straight into worship?
 
Let’s start the train again.
 

There is a word, if we can all understand it. It shows up in just about every contemporary worship song now as worship continues to shift from a third-person perspective of God (God exists but is too almighty for a direct relationship) to a second-person view (God has a personal 1-to-1 relationship with each of us). The word is YOU:

 
 

You have no rival, You have no equal” “This is unfailing love, that You would take my place” “I believe You’re my healer” You restore my soul” You’re a good good Father”

 
 

Perhaps we could all feel every moment of worship if we all really understood the word YOU.

 
 

She’ll be coming around the mountain in a second; one more stop…

 
 

Think about the phrase, “I love you” for a moment. In any sentence, the exact meaning of the word “love” is established by the recipient of that expression (who or what you love). For example, “I love you” means something different to me when I’m talking to my parents versus when I’m talking to my spouse.

 
 

In the case of my parents, “I love YOU” encompasses a twenty-three year history of sacrifices, training, boundaries, and all kinds of proof of their unconditional love. I know well what their love looks and feels like. With Tyler, although the history behind YOU is shorter, the intensity is heavier; there’s a passionate side as well as a conscious “I-chose-you/you-chose-me” side. When I say it to him, it means something different. Even my “I love YOU” to our babies-to-be is different I haven’t seen them or held them yet, but I love them purely by their existence and budding potential. The concept of love is the same across the board, but the variety of love is specific to the context (the YOU).

 
 

So YOU, determining the whole connotation of love, is really the most powerful word in the sentence.

 
 

All aboard!

 
 

So what does YOU mean in the context of worship? Well, that depends on what you know about who God is. It’s probably difficult for you to say, “I love you” to a stranger, not because you don’t understand what love is, but because you don’t understand who they are. In the same way, it’s difficult to express worship if you don’t understand at least a small part of who God is.

 
 

As a new Christian, you can at least recognize God in the context of salvation and forgiveness. To you, YOU (as in GOD) embodies “Savior” and “Redeemer.” When you sing lyrics like, “I will worship You for who You are,” you can easily call to mind those characteristics of God, even without singing those specific words. As you begin to read the Bible, YOU starts to embrace other aspects of God’s character – maybe you start to learn more about His creativity, His mercy, and His power. Even farther down the line, your personal experiences with God multiply healing, freedom, and mental restoration – and worship just keeps getting deeper and deeper as YOU becomes more saturated with meaning! At this point, the worship team doesn’t need to sing “Healer” for you to hear “Healer” in the lyrics or “No Longer Slaves” for you to hear “Father” and “Deliverer.” You hear it in the YOU.

 
This understanding requires effort on your part, of course. God is always ready to reveal Himself as you seek Him (Matthew 7:7-8). The more you read God’s Word, pray, and listen, the more YOU will open up and embrace all He is. Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Provider, Unconditional Love, Passion, Potential everything that you can understand about who God is – it’s all in YOU. You, You, You, You… You… You.
 
-Catherine Lexvold

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Finding your Purpose

Happy New Year, High Point Family!

 
With the start of the new year, it is a good time to talk about finding your purpose. Why is it important to discover your purpose? I believe one of the main reasons is that if you don’t know your life’s purpose, you won’t know what you’re aiming at. “If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time,” as the saying goes. Not having any target in life is the equivalent to a hunter going in the woods and shooting off a bunch of random gunshots through the trees and saying, “wow, I sure hope something good runs into that.”
 
 
We need to discover our purpose, and we also need to help our children work towards discovering theirs. Sometimes parents tell their kids, “Honey, you can be anything you want to be.” That statement isn’t really accurate—If it was, many boys and girls would grow up to be pro athletes. A more accurate statement would be, “Honey, you can do great things in life. God has a wonderful plan for you, and I know you can fulfill it with His help.” So how do we find our purpose and help our kids find theirs? A major key is in Joshua 1:8. It says, “Study this book of instruction (meaning the Bible) continually, meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” How do you do this? How do you meditate The Word of God until it starts directing you from the inside out, so that you prosper in the plan God has for your life? I found that God will illuminate certain scriptures to people based on what their calling is, and there will be different scriptures that God illuminates at different key points in your life. I believe there are certain scriptures we are to meditate on in different seasons of life.
 
 
When I first gave my life to Christ, I used to struggle a lot with fear. The first scripture that the Lord started illuminating to me was 2 Timothy 1:7 that says, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” I would read that scripture often and think about it whenever I went to bed, meditating on it at night. Overcoming fear was the first key for me being able to fulfill my destiny, so that’s where God started with me.
 
 
Then during my latter years of college, Jeremiah 29:11 stood out to me So I kept it before my eyes, thinking about it often and meditating, “I know the plans that I have for you says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” At that time in my life I met my husband Shaun, and I still wasn’t completely sure what God was calling me to in my future, but that scripture started directing me into the plans of God.
 
 
In the next season of our life, Shaun and I were in a training period and it wasn’t easy. We barely had enough money at times to get by. We prayed much and learned to believe God for our basic needs to be met, which wasn’t always easy. In that season, I sensed a strong pull towards Isaiah 55 and I read that scripture multiple times every day. I especially meditated on Isaiah 55:1-3 which says, “You who thirst come to the waters and you who have no money come buy and eat, yes, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good, and your soul shall delight itself in abundance.” I just kept meditating these scriptures, believing even though we were lacking monetary means, God would supernaturally provide for us as we let our souls delight in His goodness and abundance; that He would supernaturally get the provision to us, and He definitely did.
 
 
Then in the next season of our life, God was preparing us for our calling of marriage and family ministry as well as preparation for pastoring a church one day. During that time, Ephesians 3:20 was strong in our hearts to meditate. It says, “Now to him, who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all, much more than we could ask or think, according to His power at work in us, be glory forever through Christ Jesus.” Through meditating this together daily, Shaun and I experienced many miraculous breakthroughs, including knowing where and how to start the church that we now pastor. We had a miraculous breakthrough for finding a house when we were moving back to Minnesota, and the house that we found to rent, through the total grace of God, was two and a half times bigger and better than our prior house and half the price. It was an absolute miracle! We also had a miraculous connection to amazing babysitters, which we were praying to find for our kids and had a phenomenal breakthrough when we found a place to rent for starting our new church. We experienced miracle after miracle for everything we needed by putting God first and meditating the scripture God had put on our hearts. 
 
 
 
As scriptures strongly stand out to us, we focus on them and God uses these scriptures to direct us in the right direction in our life, and He will do the exact same thing for you! As we focus our attention on these scriptures—targeting them—at certain seasons in our life, the meditation of  these scriptures bring wisdom and revelation on the inside of us. This wisdom and revelation then produces the outward result of prospering us in our life and calling.
 
 
If you’ve never meditated scripture before, or if you haven’t been doing this regularly, I’d encourage you to start doing this daily. When you are patient and consistent with meditation, it does bring about major wonderful results. The key is to not just do this for a week or a month, but instead to stay focused; day after day, month after month—you will see consistent results. Also, ask the Lord to give you a verse to meditate over each one of your kids. Then print it or write it and place it up on their wall so that you remember to pray it over them each night before they go to bed, so they hear you saying it. There may be times when the Lord adds another verse for your kids based on their season in life. You can be creative with this and have someone who’s a great artist paint that scripture for their wall or print it with a nice graphic design behind it and frame it for their wall.
 
 
Remember, the key for you, as well as your kids, for prospering in the life God has called you to is to meditate the specific verses God puts in your heart, like a target you are pointing your arrows at. When you do, you will begin to move forward in your life’s purpose like never before.
 
 
May this year be your most prolific,
Pastors Shaun & Amy
 

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Wrapping Compliments 101

Merry Christmas, High Point Church!

As you’re checking off your shopping lists this year, it’s important to remember that you have more to offer those around you than what your bank account shows. In fact, some of the best gifts I’ve ever received never had a price tag.
 

“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24 NLT

 
Currently my office shelves are full of notes, letters, and cards from youth students who seem to know the perfect time to give encouragements. Those are some of my most treasured gifts. Why? Because our youth students know how to give a good compliment!
 
Have you ever received a gift wrapped hastily in old newspaper? Or stuffed in a crinkled paper bag? Maybe the state of the wrapping didn’t make a difference to you! Until you received another gift, wrapped with obvious care, a large bow and silk ribbon, and quality wrapping paper. That’s the kind of gift that makes its way on Instagram and is remembered for a long time to come!
 
We can do the same thing with our compliments either wrap them nicely or stuff them in a crinkly Star Tribune sports section. This is what I’ve learned from our students
 
So, here are 3 tips that I hope will help you give some well-wrapped compliments this season!
 
  1. Be Genuine
 
The ultimate worth of a compliment can be determined by the amount of sincerity behind it. Little does its extravagance matter if it’s not given out of a sincere heart.
 
The “wrapping” for a genuine compliment happens beyond the words. How much thought went into your encouragement? Did you look beyond the obvious to find something really meaningful? Did you take a moment to look the person in the eye when you said it?
 
A quick “you’re amazing” or “I love that sweater” are nice to hear, but they don’t in themselves demonstrate a lot of genuine thought. Those kinds of passing encouragements can start to seem especially insincere when added up over time, like socks gifted every Christmas (C’mon, Aunt Karen, where’s the love?).
 
Here’s my experience if you could easily say it about a plate of food (i.e. “This burger is wonderful” or “That is some beautiful cheesecake”), it’s not a memorable compliment. We use those kinds of phrases all the time for just about anything. I know your friends and family are more important to you than your food!
 
Perhaps the easiest way to start the process for a genuine compliment is to find something you genuinely appreciate about the person. Are they peaceful around you when your life is hectic? Do they treat your kids with unconditional kindness? Do they demonstrate leadership skills that you’ve learned from? What do you sincerely love about them?
 
Let them know, sincerely, right out of your heart.
 

COMPARE

  • “You are such a great person.”
  • “You are such a great example of selflessness to me and the rest of this family.”
 
 
  1. Be Specific
 
I tried to hold out, but I can’t hide my love for what I do, so here comes the worship analogy! What I’ve noticed since joining the High Point worship team is that the songs that really seem to ‘pop’ in the congregation are the songs that dig beneath the surface to describe a specific aspect or outcome of God’s character.
 
Let’s take “What a Beautiful Name” for instance. What a great song! Brooke Ligertwood’s worship hit actually rated #1 in CCLI’s top 100 songs for the last two years, and for good reason. It’s theologically rich, catchy, touching, intimate, upward-focused… and it’s specific.
 
Every chorus of “What a Beautiful Name” repeats a simple line, “What a beautiful / wonderful / powerful name it is,” but each line is preceded by the reason for its truth a background that gives the simple line its deep impact:
 
“You were the Word at the beginning / One with God the Lord Most High / Your hidden glory in creation now revealed in You our Christ. . . . What a beautiful name it is.”
 
“You didn’t want heaven without us / so Jesus You brought heaven down / My sin was great but Your love was greater / What could separate us now? . . . What a wonderful name it is.”
 
“Death could not hold You / The veil tore before you. . . . The heavens are roaring the praise of Your glory. . . . Yours is the name above all names. . . . What a powerful name it is.”
 
If this song was originally released with only those three main lines, it’s not like it would have been inaccurate. No one could argue the truth of God’s beauty, wonder, and power, right? But those lines likely wouldn’t have been as impactful as they are without the specific references to why His name is beautiful, wonderful, and powerful.
 
The same goes for the compliments we give to each other. I could say you’re great, but what does that mean? Why are you great? What did you do that made me notice your greatness?
 
I’m not going to downplay the time this takes. It takes attention and thought, but even the simplest lines will be impactful if you can back them up with specific examples.
 

COMPARE

  • “You are amazing!”
  • “When I passed by Kids Club earlier I saw you teaching and noticed that all of the kids were captivated by the funny voices you used to tell the story. You are amazing with children!”
 
 
  1. Be Generous
 

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” – Proverbs 12:25 ESV

 
If you think of it, say it.
 
Often God puts thoughts in our heads that are exactly what someone else needs to hear. If you feel something kind to say sitting in your heart, don’t let it decay there! Let the person know. Something the youth students are especially good at is noticing when another student or leader is having a difficult day, and doing what they can with their words to turn that day around.
 
I’ll never forget one of the nights when I was really contemplating whether I was the right person for the job. I received a homemade art piece from one of the youth with a handwritten thank you on the back, specifically referring to some messages I had given that had helped them grow spiritually. That artwork has a proud place in my office and still encourages me to this day.
 
There’s never a bad time to encourage someone. Many of us need it, even if we don’t show the need. What Happens When a Compliment is Well Wrapped?
 
Before I learned these compliment wrapping techniques from the students, my encouragements to them would look something like, “You’re really a great student. I’m glad to have you on my team!” Certainly the compliments would lighten their faces for a moment, but they didn’t seem to stick. Self-esteem was still low, youth teams were falling apart, and I could see that a lot of students were still going home as discouraged as when they arrived.
 
After the encouragement notes and cards began coming in, I started to format my compliments more like the youth did. Instead of saying, “You’re a really great student” I would be more genuine about what I really appreciated: “You have been such an incredible help to me cleaning up after youth group is over.” Instead of saying, “I’m glad to have you on my team,” I would be more specific about their value on the team: “You have been one of my best greeters. Last week I watched you talk to one of the students who has been most shy as soon as they walked in the door, and even this week that student spoke up in small groups. You are so good at helping other students feel like they fit in!”
 
What happens when a compliment is well wrapped? Suddenly the youth greeting team grew. Suddenly students wanted to start using their creative talents on the media team. Suddenly students became more vocal about their desire to be worship leaders. I didn’t pay a penny. The youth leaders just started to take the time to give genuine, specific, and generous compliments!
 
I know this is a busy season for many of you. And the busyness tends to strip away our ability to deal sensitively with hyper kids, opinionated parents, or equally occupied spouses. Please remember that your gift giving doesn’t need to wait until Christmas! Start now. Wrap your compliments well and watch the difference it makes with your friends and family. “Compliment Christmas” can go on all year at your house, at your job, or in your school. It won’t cost you a thing, and it will enrich the lives of everyone around you!
 
-Catherine Lexvold, Worship & Youth Director 

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God’s Glory Restored in Us

…For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
 
I remember when one of my Bible college professors opened our first class of the year with a glass jar in his hands. He told the class that the jar was symbolic of the glory of God. He began to describe in great detail how perfect things were at the beginning in the Garden of Eden. The class was completely quiet as we heard him elaborate on the glorious beginning Adam and Eve experienced. Suddenly, he picked up a hammer and shattered the glass. He then described with deep compassion how the glory of God was shattered from mankind. He asked, “Have you ever met someone who is a little rough around the edge?” as he pointed to the sharp glass fragment sill in his hand. Then he picked up more pieces off the floor and remarked, “Have you ever met someone who is edgy and impatient with people? Or have you known someone who cuts others down with their words, always finding things to ridicule?”
 
Since sin entered the world with the fall of man, it doesn’t take long to look and see what this professor was illustrating. The more someone has experienced sin, the more they develop a sharpness and anger toward people. Whether a person is watching sin through media or experiencing it personally, it is like someone is taking that person’s heart each time and pouring sludge into it. The more sludge the heart is filled with, the more the enemy is able to work through a person to try to destroy them and those around them.
 
Even though God’s holiness, His glory, and His perfection were all shattered in the life of man through sin, Jesus came and made a way for God’s glory to be completely restored in us when we choose to accept Him and walk in His ways. His ways are clearly laid out for us in Scripture. 1 Peter 1:16 tells us, “Be holy for I am holy.” Since we still live in a fallen world, how do we walk in this holiness and love others from a pure heart as Christ loves us?
 
This is a question many have had, even in the church. Occasionally when we are sharing the love of God with someone and invite him or her to pray the prayer of salvation, they may say something like, “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m too sinful. I could never live my life right, the way I would have to in order to be a Christian.” Or they may say, “I think God is mad at me. He wouldn’t want me after all I’ve done.” What these people are really saying is, “I know God is holy and I also know that in my own strength and ability I have some major imperfections. Therefore, I don’t think He would want anything to do with me.” 
 
The truth is, God gets great pleasure and glory from taking someone the world has considered a failure and making them into a great success! He enjoys showing Himself strong in the life of anyone who will look to Him and ask for help, because He is no respecter of people. He desires to help everyone, whether they are rich or poor, tall or short, black or white. It makes no difference to Him, but He is a gentleman. He doesn’t force Himself or His ways on anyone. He always waits for an invitation. When He gets an invitation, He always shows up immediately. He is always ready and waiting to freely impart His life, love and holiness into anyone’s life that will call upon his name. Let us look at how we are able to partake of His holiness in our own life, which includes loving others with His love. 
 
One of the descriptions we found when we looked up holiness was, “The holy people of God are called to holy living precisely because they have been made holy in Christ. Not as a means to that holiness.” Therefore, holiness is not something we can earn. The Bible tells us God alone is holy (see Revelation 15:4). Therefore, we can only be holy as He is holy though having a covenant with Him and receiving His holiness in us. 
 
When we enter into that covenant through repentance of our sins, accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we freely become partakers of His holiness. In other words, He made us holy through Christ when He came to abide in our heart. As a result of His holiness living in us, we then have the power to daily make the choice to walk a life of purity for His glory. 
 
-In love, Pastors Shaun & Amy 

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(Un)qualified

I recall one Sunday afternoon when my family was about to go on a drive. We were all loaded up in the car when Dad realized he had forgotten something inside. So he pulled up to the front door of the apartment complex and ran inside. “I’ll be quick,” he promised, leaving the car running. What a mistake that was! When he came back outside, there was a woman paused on the sidewalk between the car and our front door, ready to give him a piece of her mind about the environmental damage we were causing by leaving our car running. What she yelled was something along the lines of “You stupid Americans are coming over here unwelcome, ruining our environment and our country. Leave Switzerland to the people. You’re not qualified to be here.”
 
Fair. Ish. It was our bad leaving the car running… but to call us unqualified seemed a little far. By the time Dad got back inside the car, he was chuckling. Confused, we asked Why are you laughing? That was so rude of her! … “My company,” he replied, “only hires people from outside of Switzerland if they can’t find someone within the country qualified to do the job,” He said. “If someone else was as qualified as I am for my position, I wouldn’t be here. I’m here because I’m the most qualified to be here.”
 
God would not have put you in the world if you were not the most qualified person for your calling.
 
My next point might seem paradoxical, but hear me out…
 
You are unqualified and here’s why:
 
God has a Word to get out. A few words, actually: Power. Love. Peace. Jesus Christ. Salvation. Abundance. Restoration. Healing. Everything He is and does, He wants creation to know. e is getting that word out through people, partnering with His creation. I can think of two major reasons why 1. to build a relationship (working with us) and 2. to demonstrate His glory (working through us).
 
Isaiah 43:7 states, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (NKJV, emphasis added).
 
You were created for God’s glory. This means that the main purpose for your life is to point back to God and say He deserves the glory. Your existence, your talents, your job, your family, etc. All of it should be evidence of God’s existence and power.
 
Wouldn’t it follow, then, that one of your most useful qualities to God is that you don’t have “what it takes”?  Think about David and Goliath. If God had sent a 9-foot trained-from-birth warrior to represent the Israelites, who would have been praised for the victory? It would have been easy to look at the warrior’s physical strength and training as the explanation for his success. David, on the other hand, is the youngest man in his family. He has never been trained for battle, he isn’t part of the Israelite army, and he doesn’t even have armor. David’s victory, the victory of the “unqualified”, is a straight arrow to God.
 
God uses the same approach through Gideon (insecure > mighty warrior), Peter (unstable > rock on which the church was built), Paul (brutal persecutor > 1 Corinthians 13), etc. His existence and power is evident through the success of the unqualified. And if His purpose for us is to demonstrate His glory, as stated in Isaiah, then the least qualified will be the most qualified to fulfill that purpose.
 
The less qualified you are, the more qualified you are.
 
I wrote a little bit about my husband in my last blog “No Filter Needed”, but I want to go a little deeper into Tyler’s life right now. It’s a rather good story.
 
Tyler was born on March 1, 1994 with little chance of making it out of the hospital. Three months premature and just a little over two pounds, he was small enough to fit inside his dad’s hand. His vitals were dismal and his brain was flooded, to the point that the doctor started preparing his parents to say their goodbyes. God miraculously kept Tyler alive through weeks of medical complications, but the brain flooding still affected his early learning. A major speech impediment, difficulty concentrating, and a constant struggle to retain new concepts landed Tyler in special education classes throughout elementary and middle school. A simple math problem would take him two hours to complete, with help.
 
By the time he was a senior in high school, teachers didn’t have an observable “reason” to believe in his academic ability. In fact, many teachers told Tyler and his parents that the time and fees involved in college applications would be a waste; he shouldn’t bother because he wouldn’t make it in. Despite the discouragements, Tyler applied.
 
He had just sent in his application for RCTC when an someone influential in his life sent him a letter, the contents of which boiled down to, “Remember how difficult high school was for you? Remember how many times you failed? College will take a lot more work than you realize. I don’t want you to disappoint yourself by getting your hopes too high.”
 
The enemy’s plan is to convince you that you’ll never be qualified, and he’ll use any avenue he can find to do that. He’ll use other people’s comments: Don’t you have to be really smart to be a doctor?… What makes you think you’re good enough for her?… Applying for that scholarship is a waste of your time. Those comments may come from so many directions that they start to echo in your own voice: I’m not creative enough to write music… I’ll never be smart enough for grad school… How could I be happily married when my family has a history of bad relationships?
 
That may be what the enemy says, but God says something different.
 
Tyler got straight A’s his first semester of college, in case you’re curious. He has made it on the Dean’s List multiple semesters and graduates this spring with a well-earned degree in aviation. He moved forward despite his early struggle. He moved in faith despite the letter.
 
If our ultimate purpose is to bring God glory, then the people you’ll see doing it best are those who knew they weren’t qualified but did it anyway
 
I’m not saying that if you have a particular gifting, God’s not going to use it. God gave you your natural talents in the first place. I’m not going to stop using my voice just because it’s a good one. My voice fits within my calling. But I’m called to go way beyond what a good voice qualifies me to do, and that’s the place where God’s glory is coming through visual, tangible evidence that God exists. God is powerful. God qualifies me.
 

You can’t know what you’re qualified to do until you let God do it through you. If you don’t know what your calling is yet, I can tell you with 100% confidence that it’s much bigger than what you’re qualified to do. That means not saying no to a job opportunity because you think you’re not equipped, not dismissing college because you think you’re not smart enough, not giving up on good relationships because you think you’re incapable of keeping one. You are here in your life, in your family, in your position because you are the most qualified to be here. You are the most qualified to show God’s glory through your life. Show the world how impressive God is by moving forward in faith. Don’t use your (un)qualifications as an excuse. God will not let His glory go unnoticed.

 
-Catherine Lexvold

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