Category Archives: Musings

Fresh and seasoned thoughts about the practice of Sabbath.

A Memorial Day Offering

So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. “Far be it from me, LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.
2 Samuel 23:16-17

Do you remember King David’s Mighty Men? They were fearless in battle. Their feats are legendary.

The Bible records the exploits of the Mighty Men who gathered around King David. We are given vignettes of their adventures to memorialize them.

In a moment of nostalgia, while his force was under siege, David lamented about how he longed for some of the water from Bethlehem, his hometown. David’s enemy, the Philistines, were gathered there in strength.

Lesser men would have heard David’s lament and joined him in pining for the comforts of home. But there were extraordinary men present. Three of them placed their own lives in extreme peril to satisfy the thirst of their king.

When the three Mighty Men returned from breaking through the Philistine line and offered David the water he longed for, he could not drink it. David was so moved by their courage that he offered the water to the Lord. When David considered the risk they bore, he felt unworthy of their offering.

Today, on Memorial Day, we remember the Mighty Men and Women who gave their lives in battle for this country. As David poured out his water to God as a memorial to the blood of his Mighty Men, we join Americans across this land in lifting up prayers to God for our Mighty Men and Women.

We Honor Commitment

We pause today to honor the commitment of our fallen soldiers. Sacrifice begins with commitment: Commitment to our country, Commitment to the cause of freedom, Commitment to convictions.

We Honor Courage

Our freedom hangs upon a thread of courage. May the strength of our courage always rise in the face of danger.

We Honor Sacrifice

Our liberties are not only the result of Patriot Dreams, but of soldiers’ blood. Hallowed is the ground that receives the blood of freedom’s martyrs. Blessed are the people who live because of the sacrifice of others.


O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

The Good News about the Bad News

Bad news sells papers.

Consider this bit of bad news I found in last week’s Houston Chronicle:

And guess what: the bad news only got worse as I continued through Section 1 of the newspaper.

Oh My Gosh!

Christians disappearing from America!

Sea levels rising!

Pictures of polar bears in peril!

I don’t know if I can take any more bad news.

I had to throw the paper away after I saw the Rangers were 8.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West. The world just doesn’t feel right.

I think that feeling must be a clue to something bigger.

You can’t trust feelings. Feelings, especially the kinds of feelings you get from reading bad news, leave you desperate and exhausted. Feelings distort reality. Feelings are fickle. Feelings, particularly negative feelings, make me fret and worry.

I can’t control the news, but I can control how I respond to it. I can wallow in pity or I can choose to respond with hope.

Granted, changing the way I feel doesn’t change the facts. But overcoming my feelings helps me to engage the world, and the bad news, in ways that give witness to what I believe.

I don’t believe the world needs more people to say they are Christian. I believe the world needs more people to live like they are Christian. 

There are plenty of Nominal Christians living like Non-Christians to give Committed Christians a bad name. If the dwindling number of Identified Christians would live up to their confessed faith, the entirety of Christianity would improve.

I believe these are exceptional times for Christians to share their faith, values and hopes. 

Christian forgiveness stands out in stark contrast to carnal vengence.

Pleas for peace are heard among calls for violence.

Self Sacrifice is a sharp rebuke to a culture that promotes selfishness.

I believe Christians have to learn to swim in uncharted waters. 

Since the sea is rising, the edges of the map are changing. The world is shrinking. Polar bears are going to invade South America.

Interestingly, the Social Waters we navigate are changing the Landscape of our culture as well. Rather than escaping the rising tide (like I hope the  polar bears do) we must grow where we are planted.

Swimming is not an option!

On a final note….

We are one step closer to Cuban cigars coming back to the USA.

That has very little to do with the previous information, but I took a picture of the headline anyway. I’m trying to make a connection, but every attempt has failed. I may have to publish a follow up post as soon as inspiration strikes.

The sad thing is….as good as this news about the normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S. might be for cigar aficionados, I can’t seem to force myself to care. I’m too consumed with my plans for a future “polar bear Christian dude ranch.” It’s not a real thing right now. But times are a’changing.


God’s Family Tree

After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
NIV Romans 11:24

God Likes Trees.

I like trees, too.

There are things that I didn’t know you could do with trees until just this week. I hope God likes YouTube, because I had to refer to YouTube to find out about Tree Grafting.

Tree Grafting is not a typical biblical subject. In fact, the word for Graft or Grafted only occurs 6 times in the Bible. All of those occurrences are found in Romans 11. I thought this was interesting, so I tracked down further information.

Romans 11 isn’t the only place arboreal terms are used to describe the Family of God. Jesus was somewhat of a dendrologist (thank the thesaurus for that word).

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”
John 15:1

God used a metaphor of a tree to foretell Jesus’ birth and reign as Messiah

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Isaiah 11:1

So what does this mean for us?

We are part of God’s Family Tree through God’s work of Grafting. This is a powerful image to consider.

  • We were broken. God picked us up.
  • We were lifeless. God gave us new life.
  • We were hopeless. God connected us to a source of undying hope.
  • We were fruitless. God’s Grafting makes us fruitful.

    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
    John 15:5

When we come into the Family of God, we are not joining a club, or becoming part of an organization. We are connecting to a living body, a dynamic organism, a life sustaining system. God attaches us to his Family to care for us, nurture us, and bless us.

This weekend at FBC Nederland, we’re reflecting on our place in God’s Family Tree. We’re remembering God’s work of grafting that brought us into the family. And we are celebrating the vitality we have in the Spirit of God that flows through us.

Remember the words of the 1st Psalm as it talks about the man who delights in the law of the Lord:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
NIV Psalm 1:3

7 Little Gifts for Mom

Mother’s Day is upon us!

You did get the flowers ordered, didn’t you?

You picked up the card on the way home from work, didn’t you?

You went to the jewelry store and bought the just-right piece of bling that says “You Are The Most Awesome Mom In The Universe,” right?

It may be too late for those kinds of gifts, if they are not already in hand.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on impressing Mom on Mother’s Day. Moms love their kids more than the stuff their kids get them. Stuff isn’t important.

Did you know that it’s in the Bible that you have to take your Mom to church on Mother’s Day? I didn’t know that either.

As I was studying for the Mother’s Day message, I came across this verse from the book of Leviticus.

Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.
NIV Leviticus 19:3

…Respect Mom (and Dad, too)…and Observe my Sabbaths…

…Mother’s and Sabbath Day…

…Take Mom to Church on Mother’s Day…Mother’s Day just so happens to be the Lord’s Day when Christians practice Sabbath.

It’s a No Brainer. You have to take Mom to church on Mother’s Day, if you can.

Whether or not you’ve bought that special gift for Mom yet, or whether you are taking her to church or not, here are some ideas for Little Gifts for Mom. If you adhere to this list, you’re going to score some major Mother’s Day points!

Here’s what All Mom’s want on Mother’s Day:

A Little Respect

Go ahead and plan for extravagant respect. It is Mother’s Day after all. If you will up your respect game just a little, the rewards will be tremendous.

A Little Gratitude

This should come easily. I bet you can make a list a page long in the next 5 minutes of things that mom does that don’t often elicit thanksgiving. Moms are professionals at doing the little things that make our lives easier.

 Her children arise and call her blessed…NIV Proverbs 31:28 

A Little Consideration

Sometimes it’s not just the stuff mom does that is overlooked. Sometimes Mom is overlooked. That doesn’t go over well on Mother’s Day. Mom deserves to be front and center in our thinking on Mother’s Day. Don’t do anything that doesn’t involve her in some way.

A Little Time

Did you know that more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year? Would mom prefer you be there in person? Sure. But if you can’t be there with her, at least give her some of your time with a phone call, Skype, or Facetime chat.

Big warning:::Text Don’t Count on Mother’s Day (Unless you have lost your voice and you lives a thousand miles away from your special Mom ladies).

A Little Grace

Moms make mistakes, too. Moms aren’t perfect. Give Mom a little Grace on Mother’s Day of all days!

A Little Prayer

Take a moment to honor Mom through prayer. Ask God to bless her in a special way. Thank God for the blessings that have come to you through your Mom. You don’t even have to tell Mom you prayed for her. Just do it. And keep on doing it regularly. You’ll find many benefits from praying for Mom and all the other important people in your life.

A Little Encouragement

Moms need a pat on the back just like the rest of us. Brag on her. Show her your support. Ramp up the kindness. Go all out. It’s Mother’s Day for crying out loud!


Everyone gets a carnation on Mother’s Day at FBC Nederland. Come by and celebrate the blessings of God that come through mothers as we gather for worship this Sunday.


A Novice Foodie Blog: The Green Molly

You know I can’t pass up a food truck when Kristi and I are out and about. Same is true for a food trailer. And you can include food carts, food buggies, and food tents. 

But now you can add a more exotic food purveyor to your list of things I can’t pass up: A Food Trolly!

I’ve never seen a food trolly until today. 

Kristi and I went to Winnie to shop around at Larry’s Old Time Trade Days. You can find just about anything under the sun there. We loved walking among the vendors, sifting through mounds of antiques and chatting with folks from all over this part of the country. 

The biggest attraction for us, though, was stumbling across this beauty of a Food Trolly. 



She’s called The Green Molly. 


The Redwines of Nederland bought her some time back and equipped her to deliver deliciousness. 

Pat and Trisha Redwine invited us in to see their setup and let us watch as they crafted our feast. 


The Green Molly has an eclectic feel. She started out on the streets of San Fransico years ago. She made her way by stages to South East Texas. 

The heart of their menu is the panini sandwich. 


Now let me be honest with you, when I hear of a shop selling paninis, I usually pass on by. I like paninis, but they usually leave me hungry for more. What is it with panini shops that serve undersized sandwiches? 

Put any misgivings about paninis aside when you cross paths with The Green Molly. Pat was putting together the sandwiches today. I ordered a ham and turkey on whole wheat and Krisit got the same, but on sourdough. Pat started with THICK cut bread. The sourdough was pre-cut and the whole wheat she cut herself. I could have made a meal of just the bread she put together for our sandwiches. 

My eyes really got big when she started putting together the insides of the panini. Pat piles on layers of American and Mozzarella cheese. Then  came generous portions of turkey and ham. The panini grill was begging for mercy when she placed those two sandwiches in the cooker. 



When Pat served up the paninis, the cheese was soft and warm, but not runny. The meat steamed just a little as I pried the halves apart. The panini grill puts a nice crust on the bread. 

Did I mention that they were serving these magnificent paninis with fresh made tomato basil soup? 

These paninis were perfect for dipping. The bread was substantial enough to soak in great draughts of creamy awesomeness. This was comfort food on steroids. 

After eating 90% of my sandwich and 25% of Kristi’s, I was about to pop. 

I forgot to mention one other little detail: Trisha was working the smoothie machine today. She served us up cups of Strawberry, Piña Colada, and Vanilla Ice Cream Smoothies. We tried some of all of them in addition to a Chocolate Ice Cream smoothie you can see me enjoying here. 


Kristi’s Take on The Green Molly

Jason has blog-hogged leaving only the desserts to be talked about, but I can TALK about the desserts. He got a head start while I changed into my elastic shorts to be comfortable enough to write. Our lunch experience was that serious.  

 Key Lime Pie 

 I’ve accused Jason of loving coconut pie the best because the rest of the family doesn’t…..which means that even if there’s a whole pie, he doesn’t have to share.  That’s the way I feel about key lime pie. I had a slice today. It was smooth and creamy and perfectly tart served with fresh blueberries and strawberries. I sigh just thinking about it. I was good and shared with Jason. It was easy because Trisha was standing in front of me with a slice of chocolate explosion.  

 Chocolate Explosion 

 This slice of love is a crushed Oreo crust topped high with cool chocolate mousse with surprise bites of MORE chocolate. My words are inadequate. Just trust me. The chocolate explosion was an experience.  

 S’mores Panini 

 I’ve saved the best for last. When they mentioned “a chocolate sandwich” I was skeptical. But as soon as the scent of warm cinnamon bread wafted my way, I was a believer. 

The S’mores Panini is two slices of crusty cinnamon bread sheltering a delicious chocolate spread, crushed Oreos and melted marshmallows. I would come closest by describing it as a designer brownie, but I’ve never had anything like it.  

 I know what you’re thinking. We had three desserts today.  It’s really much worse if you count the ice cream drinks we had. But the heart wants what the heart wants…..and my elastic shorts are forgiving. 

In Conclusion

I love eating food served by friendly people in a festive atmosphere. The Trade Days over in Winnie occur every first weekend that follows the first Monday of a month. That sounds a little confusing, but you can click on the link in the top of this post to see their full schedule and find out valuable information. 

Tell the Redwines we said Hi when you go by. They are sweet people and you’ll love the food. 

You never know what you are going going to come home with when you go to a trades day event. Here’s a picture of me and my new friend. I’m thinking she would look good in my yard. What do you think?


Death Gives Way To Victory, But First We Must Deal With Death

The Sunday before Easter gives us an opportunity to deal with the dark themes related to our faith.

In order to deal with salvation, we MUST deal with death.

Jesus told his first followers about his death three times before it occurred. Three time he also shared about his resurrection on the third day. Three times they heard him but never believed the resurrection part. Resurrection sounded too good to be true.

Because Jesus’ disciples didn’t know what to make of his talk about resurrection, they were all the more surprised on the first Easter Sunday morning, bright and early, when the women came to report that Jesus was gone from the tomb.

Surprise turns into worship. When God reveals he is greater than death, we can’t help but to worship.

We don’t have the luxury of being surprised like the first followers were. But we can walk through the themes they had to wade through in order to get to that glorious first Easter.

They had to deal with Jesus’ death: the dark theme that is our focus for the Sunday before Easter.

What To Expect

  • We’ve done some elaborate things on the Sunday before Easter in years’ past, but not this year. I want us to give all of our attention to the words of Christ.
  • We are wrapping up our sermon series, “I Dare You To Believe,” this Sunday. I dare you to believe this statement: God is Greater Than Death.
  • We’re reading from John 12, with a focus for the teaching part of the service coming from verses 23-33.
  • We’ll have some special scripture reading times included in Sunday’s worship. The Gospel of John devotes about a third of his book to the last week of Jesus’ life. I think that’s good counsel for us to give more time to reading about the meaning of Christ’s cross.

How To Prepare

  • Be Present–There are some blessing you can only know through participation. Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, makes Easter Sunday better just as the Dark before the Dawn makes the sunlight seem brighter. To experience the contrast between these two Sundays is what makes us appreciate, all the more, what Jesus did for us.
  • Be Prayerful–Our hearts are the target for God’s message. When we’ve dressed our hearts through prayer, we are made fit to be addressed by God in worship. You know the difference between those Sundays when you came into the Lord’s House, prayed up and tuned into what God might reveal to you, and those other Sundays where the distractions of the world and the worries of this life divided your attention. Prayer that seeks to connect us to God makes being present to God a powerful resource for our lives.
  • Be Reverent–There is an enigmatic saying in the the book of Ecclesiastes: It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. The somber times are the fertile soil for the salvation we celebrate. If every day were a festival day, then no day would seem festive at all. We willingly walk through the sad moments, with Christ, to be delivered to the glorious moments. Reverence is the best attire for the Sunday we deal with Jesus’ death.
  • Share–We shouldn’t keep Christ’s sacrifice a secret. Learning about what his death means might be the key to understanding all that Christianity means for someone on the outside. I hope you’ll find someone to share an invitation with.

The reason we are able to deal with death this Sunday is because we believe “Death Gives Way To Victory…. Because He Lives“. Death is our last and ultimate enemy, but it has been defeated. Remembering how Christ conquered the grave by surrendering to it helps us to celebrate our salvation.

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!


I sure hope you can join us, but if you can’t, follow along here to keep in touch with what’s going on during this season of Resurrection.

What Do You Really Believe About Jesus? Was He A Good Man, A Moral Teacher, Or Was He Who He Said He Was: The Son Of God?

Jesus made statements that demand to be accepted or rejected, but they cannot be ignored. 

Take this one from a passage we looking at this weekend:

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  (‭John‬ ‭10‬:‭18‬ NIV)

Every one of us can lay our lives down, or have our lives taken from us. But who can say, “I have authority to take it up again?”

Not me!

I love reading C.S. Lewis and I trust you’ll appreciate the quote below.  He says what I’m thinking, but much more eloquently:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.

I think I’ll choose the Falling At His Feet part. Mere Christianity is a wonderful book full of quotes such as the one above. It’s a great book to help get your mind and heart ready for Easter. 

Check it out here. 

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So What Makes For A Great Pastor’s Wife?

The month of March is Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month. I had no idea until a few hours ago.

I appreciate my wife. I wouldn’t be much of a pastor without her. 

Funny thing about my wife: She wanted to be a pastor’s wife before I wanted to be a pastor. 

Pastors’ wives have a calling of their own.  It’s a rare woman whose heart can carry the load that a minister’s wife must carry. 

A great pastor’s wife knows about blowing bubbles. 

As a pastor, I deal with pain and loss and depression on a daily basis. The things around us have a way of becoming the trouble within us. 

As a pastor helps a family through a time of mourning, or prays with an anxious soul at the hospital, or counsels with a broken brother, he is taxed. 

  • His emotions are taxed by being emotionally present to emotional people.
  • He is spiritually taxed as he guides others through moral minefields. 
  • He is physically taxed when the program of the church keeps him going from dawn till dusk and then a little more. 

Pastors get deflated. Life and work and ministry bursts their bubble. 

A pastor’s wife knows how to keep them going and how to restore their joy and energy. A great pastor’s wife knows how to repair burst bubbles. 

A Great pastor’s wife is strong

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭17‬ NIV)

Kristi is strong. She’s incredibly strong, but she’s not going to tell you. She’s not one to brag. 

Though she isn’t physically strong enough to open a jar of pickles, her heart is as strong as an elephant. 

It takes a strong heart to suffer with the suffering. 

It takes a strong heart to wait with the anxious. 

It takes a strong heart to believe God for the impossible.

A pastor’s wife’s heart must do all of that, and so much more. 

Without a doubt, a great pastor’s wife makes a mediocre pastor look really good!

Do I even need I say any more?

God knew I would need someone strong and wise and loving for the ministry journey. So he gave me a great pastor’s wife to so that someday I might become a good pastor. 


Hiding From Death

I’m hiding from death.

HIding in the hay

Hiding On The Exercise Bike

Part of that hiding is going to the gym while it’s still dark. The dark really has nothing to do with it. It’s purely coincidental that the sun hasn’t come up yet at the time I choose to hang out with the sweaty masses.

I don’t even go to the gym that often. Just to be honest, I missed February!  My pocketbook was faithful, but my behind wasn’t.

Hiding With The Doctor

My doctor suggested I up my hiding-from-death game through pharmaceuticals. It seems that as you get older you have to pay attention to numbers   He did some blood work, wrote me a prescription, and said come back and see me in 6 months and we’ll check your numbers. I never knew a person could have so many numbers!

Hiding In The Car

When I’m driving along and see a police cruiser I’m reminded that I’m legally obligated to hide from death. With the steering wheel in one hand, I reach across my shoulder with the other hand to grab the unfastened seatbelt, all the while trying not to swerve into oncoming traffic. I should do better. Don’t judge.

Is There Purpose In Death

I’m not delusional. Death finds us all, no matter how many miles we jog, pills we take, or accidents we avoid.

Our precautions might extend life, but they do nothing to stave off our last enemy.

Apart from death there is no life. All previous life has contributed to the humus that feeds and nurtures us.

Plants and trees and bugs have fallen so that we might have fertile soil.

Theologians, philosophers, and educators have penned their thoughts and passed along to us their wisdom.

Great hearts have shown us how to love.

Brave souls have shown us how to sacrifice.

Jesus summed it up best as he said:

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

He’s speaking of course of his own death. His death lends purpose our deaths.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15‬:‭22‬ NIV)

Life in spite of death is what Christ offers. Life beyond death is what he gives to us. Life unconquered by death and its effects is what he’s won for us.

… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭37-39‬ NIV)

I’ll still be hiding from death, so to speak, at the gym, at the clinic, and with my seatbelt on. But my hiding will be accompanied by believing: Believing that this life doesn’t end when our bodies quit.

I hope you’ll follow along this week as we continue to Dare to Believe. These articles find their culmination in what we share on Sunday morning.  Until then, I Dare You To Believe God’s Gift In Christ Is Greater Than Death.


You Are the Apple of Your Father’s Eye

If God loves us, then God cares for us. 

Love is not an abstraction. It’s an action. 

The greater the love, the greater the care. 

With God, love is not emotion.  It’s affection and attention and compassion and concern. 

There is a wonderful verse in the Psalms that tells us about the depth of God’s love and concern for us. It teaches us how to pray to a God who watches vigilantly over us. 

Protect me as you would protect the pupil of your eye! Hide me in the shadow of your wings! (Psalm 17:8 NET)

The Apple Of His Eye

The eye is the most sensitive part of the face. We flinch when anything comes close to our eyes and we feel great pain with every speck of dust that gets into our eyes.

God is always mindful of us. You can’t misplace an eye. It goes everywhere you go. And as soon as it’s threatened, it’s covered up and protected. 

His Beloved Brood

He also hides us in the shadow of his wings. 

I remember raising chickens growing up. On a couple of occasions a hen hatched a brood of chicks. They don’t stay chicks long. In just a month they are cranky, ugly, adolescent chickens. But it takes a lot of work on the hen’s part to get them to that cranky adolescent chicken stage. 

While they are very little, they all travel in a tight group, always huddling around their mother.  When a big scary human walks up, or a dog comes sniffing around, all the chicks retreat to the safety of the hen’s wings. The hen will open up her wings, stretch out her opinions, and provide a safe shelter for her family. 

It’s a beautiful picture of care. The Psalms point to this picture as an example of how God cares for us. 

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:4 NIV)

Chicks and Pupils. There is no end to the ways we can try to describe God’s great love and care for each and every one of us.