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Friday, October 31, 2014

its all about God...

Tonight is our annual Family Fun Night at Halloween where we partner with the TV station near the church and others.  There will be free hotdogs, popcorn, inflatables, trunk or treat and more.  Volunteers need to arrive at 5pm, and please bring more bags of candy with you.  Thanks to our own Matthew Perdue for helping make this event a huge success.

The Community Fellowship was formed to meet people where they are and demonstrate the love of God to our community while we get their attention.  This event, and all the events we do, is one more way to share Christ.  Come out.  Pass the word.  Let’s make a difference!

"God is not just the starting point of your life; he is the source of it." - Rick Warren

Are you at the end of the rope?  Do you have nowhere else to turn? 

Many people find that those two places are the very ones where they find God.  That’s where we find God in incredible ways.  Yet along the journey we are on through the good and bad times, He has been there.  Too many people, including Christians, have God as their last resort when He ought to be the very first place we go.

Relationships are important, and this is seen by the time, commitment and investment we make in the people we encounter.  If you care about a person, you spend time with them.  If you love them, you invest in their lives and in what they see is important.  From time to time it may be critical to re-evaluate your relationships.  What is important?  What will last?  What needs to be set aside?

It is Halloween!  There are a few people thinking the God kind of thoughts, yet there are many who would rather wrap themselves in the fun of the day. I am not knocking the day and all that happens on it, but God wants to be wrapping Himself around us and living through us. What can we do to let that happen?

The only way to change our thinking is to let God fill our thinking…

“For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen.”

Everything finds it beginning and its continuing in God.  He is our power, and He is the one who loves us so much. 

“But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we exist for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.”

Nothing can change that fact.  We can know this fact and others will know this fact as we allow it to flow through our lives.

“Follow God's example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him.”

Life is all about God.  I have said that before, and I believe it.  You have agreed to that fact or at least questioned it.  That is not a problem. It might even be an open door to share with others, yet do our actions and our beliefs match? Lets turn to God before we get the end of the rope and let our lives be all about God.  Lets help others find God and allow Him to transform their lives as he has our lives!

NOTE: much of this post was shared in October of 2006.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

a great foundation

“The Christian life consists of sitting with Christ, walking by him and standing in him.  We begin our spiritual life by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus.  That rest is the source of our strength or a consistent and unfaltering walk in the world.  And at the end of a grueling warfare with the hosts of darkness we are found standing with him at last in triumphant possession of the field.” – Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk, Stand, page 78

One of the first books I remember reading that impacted my life was a very small and simple book titled Sit, Walk, Stand and was written by Watchman Nee.  You would do well to find this book and ingest the great foundation truths that this man shared.

Watchman Nee lived during the 20th century in China.  He wrote several books, was a Christian leader and was persecuted and even put in prison for his faith.  He spent the last 20 years of his life in prison.  This mans faith looked Communism in the face while expounding on the truth’s God gave us in the Bible

Nee wrote that, “All true spiritual experience begins from rest.” page 28

Psalm 37:7  NASB
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

Resting is a topic that few Christians understand because we live such busy lives.  Add to our busy lives a lack of faith, and you end up with people who are tired and who lack confidence. 

Nee’s thought was that until we can rest in and trust fully in God we will not enjoy the Christian life and be at peace with God.  Resting in God brings success in life.  Resting in God means that God lives through us.  That is pure foundation that the apostle Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20.

Of walking and living in this world Nee wrote, “The all-important rule is not to ‘try’ but to ‘trust,’ not to depend upon our own strength but upon his…  Too many of us are caught acting as Christians.  The life of many Christians today is largely a pretense.  They live a ‘spiritual’ life, talk a ‘spiritual’ language, adopt ‘spiritual’ attitudes, but they are doing the whole thing themselves.” pages 38-9

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

Leadership guru John Maxwell said that if you think you are leading but no body is following that you are just taking a long, lonely walk (oh coarse, I paraphrased this).  The Christian life is meant to be lived as we connect to God and with others.  We will go somewhere and somewhere on purpose as we begin with trusting God and continue listening to God as we walk.

Walking is a big deal.  Another big idea in Christianity is that you are either moving forward or going backwards.  It is next to impossible to stay in one place.  That is where Watchman Nee’s teaching on walking with God comes to life and gives us confidence to live by faith.

He closed his little book encouraging believers like you and me to take a stand for Christ.  “Today we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory…  When you fight to get the victory, then you have lost the battle at the outset…  Because victory is His, therefore it is ours.” pages 55-6

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

Victory really is ours.  Victory is not about our personal success or accumulating stuff.  Real and sustained victory comes from our connection with Christ.

For me victory comes when I get to share with others and lead them to begin walking or continue walking with Christ on a daily basis.  God desires that our lives count for something.  It is a fact that the further we get from spending time with God that we begin to stand on our own, walk alone and get very tired pretty quick.

God’s intention for us is to live life trusting Him and taking a stand for what really matters.  This book, Sit, Walk, Stand, would be a great addition to your daily time with God and reading His word.  Faith grows as we stay connected to God!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

volunteer of the week JONATHAN NORMAN

This week The Community Fellowship’s “volunteer of the week” is Jonathan Norman!!!


Jonathan Norman, his wife Angie and their family have been part of The Community Fellowship family since its beginning.


During our back2school Ministry Jonathan volunteers in the Shoe Area making sure the right shoes are selected for each child that is blessed through this event.


Jonathan is a Diesel Mechanic and is instrumental in using his skills in our Mother’s Day Car Care Ministry where many women are blessed to be able bring their cars to the church and receive a free oil change and engine diagnostics. 


Angie Norman, Jonathan’s wife, describes him as a “Certified Brainiac” when it comes to trucks and equipment.  We are indeed blessed that he uses these gifts to bless our church family as well as others!


Our church recently was part of Raceway Ministries, and Jonathan makes a point of always being on hand to set up and take down chairs, serve coffee and minister to others while he’s there.


Jonathan has gone on Mission Trips with the church and also spends much of his time at our new campus using his skills as a mechanic as well as doing the work necessary to prepare for us to be able to move in soon.


Having found victory in the Lord over and over, Jonathan strives to lead his family in praying together regularly and watching Jesus work 100% of the time, no matter the circumstance.


In his spare time Jonathan loves to spend time with his dad, Larry Norman.  He also enjoys spinning wheels and being a dirt bike mechanic for his sons, John-John 11 and Hayden 8.  Jonathan and his wife have been married for 13 years and have never been on a honeymoon and are very happy to be able to take a trip to the beach this next month to celebrate. 


Jonathan’s favorite Bible verse is Joshua 24:15 “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve.  Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates?  Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live?  But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”


We are indeed honored to recognize Jonathan Norman as The Community’s volunteer of the week!  Thank you, Jonathan, for striving to show the love of God to our community through your generous service to others.  



*** for more information about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center call 276-647-8231 or email  To give online click on this link  ***

inspiration from Phillip Keller

Romans 15:5-7 PHILLIPS
May the God who inspires men to endure, and gives them a Father’s care, give you a mind united towards one another because of your common loyalty to Jesus Christ. And then, as one man, you will sing from the heart the praises of God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So open your hearts to one another as Christ has opened his heart to you, and God will be glorified.

Inspiration comes from many places, and some of those places may surprise us.  Recently I was in a counseling sessions with a young person from our community, and in that short time God spoke in a sweet way.  Another time recently I was walking through a hallway of a local church and saw a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time.  The conversation inspired me.  One of my favorite places to be inspired is sitting quietly in my office before anyone else comes in to church and reading a book as God uses sentences and concepts to inspire my heart.

There are many places and many people who inspire me, and what I must be careful of is to make sure that inspiration leads me to the Father and no where else.  One author that has inspired me through the years is Phillip Keller who has written many amazing books.  I’d like to use today’s devotion to share some of His inspiration with you.

“Contentment should be the hallmark of my life, as I put my affairs in the hands of God.” ― W. Phillip Keller

“We are identified and known by the sort of fruit, the quantity of fruit, and the quality of fruit borne out in our daily conversation, conduct, and character. There is no greater criterion for Christians. It is the paramount gauge of God's people.” ― W. Phillip Keller

“It is there that I will discover He only can really satisfy me.  It is He who makes sense and purpose and meaning come out of situations which otherwise could be but a mockery to me.  Suddenly life starts to have significance.  I discover I am the object of His special care and attention.  Dignity and direction come into the events of my life, and I see them sorting themselves out into a definite pattern of usefulness.  All of this is refreshing, stimulating, invigorating.  My thirst for reality in life is assuaged, and I discover that I have found that satisfaction in my Master.”  ― W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at The 23rd Psalm

“It is actually He (the shepherd) who makes it possible for them (the sheep) to lie down, to rest, to relax, to be content and quiet and flourishing.” ― W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at The 23rd Psalm

“The greatest delusion any man or woman can ever come under is the idea that it is a "drag" to do God's will. Just the opposite is true! Yet our old natures, our strong, selfish, self-interests, our sensual society, our arch-foe Satan - all endeavor to deceive us into believing that it is a bore and bondage to serve the Master, to carry out His commands in glad-hearted cooperation.”  ― W. Phillip Keller, Lessons from a Sheepdog

“We then move on to the position where we sense and detect His will being expressed to us by the providential handling of our lives. We actually begin "to look for God's hand" in all the details and events of our days. We become acutely sensitive to His presence. We find our minds, spirits and emotions concentrated on Christ, eager to do His bidding.” ― W. Phillip Keller, Lessons from a Sheepdog

“Love in a Scriptural sense is not a soft, sentimental emotion. It is a deliberate act of my will. It means that I am willing to lay down my life, lay myself out, put myself out on behalf of another.” ― W. Phillip Keller

I pray that God will inspire us in whatever way He must that gets our attention and gets us looking toward and longing for His way.  And may our lives be set in a direction of obedience and excitement for the will of God above everything and anything we can do a part from Him. 

Go forth.  Be inspired.  Inspire others.  God is in the business of inspiring people to pursue Him and to change the world!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

what's so amazing about grace?

There are many topics within the confines of the Bible that we don't even get close to examining in all their glory.  One of those is the GRACE of God, and this Grace stands out as the one thing that we need, the one thing we can rely on and in turn it is also the one thing we get wrong.

Yes.  I said we get it wrong.  That is because we do what an old saying or thought that goes like this, “pray like it all depends on God and work like it depends on you.”  That is a great statement in theory, but it seems to teach us that we have something to do with the receiving of God’s grace.  That could not be further from the truth.

What is so amazing about grace?  As we get closer to God the sweeter and more complex His grace gets.  The further we are from God the more confusing His grace gets, and it even gets a little clouded.  Or in churchy terms it is veiled where it is hard to see.

God desires His grace to be easy to see, understand and to get.  If we were to ask each of us to give a definition of grace, we would come up with lots of different thoughts.  Most will have wonderful facets or parts of the outcomes of grace, but few will contain the heart of God for His grace… it is… The unmerited, undeserved, unearned kindness and favor of God.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

These verses I hear quoted often.  We are reminded of many things.  The grace of God is a truly amazing thing.  The more I know Him, the more amazed I am.

Grace is all about God and not about me or us.  He did everything for us that we cannot do for ourselves.  Our lives went from headed to hell covered in death to heaven bound and given fresh, new and abundant life.  That is the essence of the results of results of grace.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

The change that the grace of God brought us gave us life in the family of God.  We were alienated without Him.  Now we are family with Him.  Sin keeps us in a place and with a destination that we cannot do anything about on our own.  That makes God’s grace that much more precious. 

We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

Sin infected us.  Grace impacts us and affects us with healing and forgiveness.  Literally there is nothing we can trust to give us what God can give us.  Many people try to work their way to faith or heaven.  Some think that their goodness or their diplomas or their possessions can take the place of what God can do.  That could not be further from the truth.

Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

I recently listened to a message from Pastor Robert Morris about grace, and it was truly amazing.  Not necessarily the sermon, but the content of Scripture truth captivated me.  You can find the podcast for yourself.  His description and teaching on the cultural and origin of the word grace was awesome.

Grace is a free gift given to people who don’t deserve it.  That is you and me.

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.

Morris shared this about grace from “Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible”… grace is the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless.

Grace is the “inexhaustible capacity” of God.  As humans we cannot duplicate it or even understand it.  That is why grace is so amazing.  May we allow ourselves to get lost in the overflow of God’s grace and help others experience it like never before.  We serve an awesome God who offers us amazing grace!

Monday, October 27, 2014

how to say "thank you"

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

This past weekend was one of my favorite events in our year.  It is when the world comes to our community through the racing world, and we get to be part of Raceway Ministries work dealing with race fans, sharing our testimonies and serving.  It was a good weekend although it brought some challenges our way too.

It takes me back to remember almost 13 years ago when I met Ron Pegram from Motor Racing Outreach.  He asked for a person from our ministry to share a Bible study with people who work in the media area.  That was a great experience.  A year or so later our Raceway Ministry group celebrated the years of our work, and Ron was one of our special guests at that event.

The rest is almost what you would call history.  My path kept crossing with Ron’s, and I even got to know his wife, Jackie.  Along the way Ron changed jobs moving further in to the racing the world and finally working with a ministry that provides shoes to people in need.  Ron Pegram introduced me to Samaritan’s Feet who is one of our greatest ministry partners in our back2school outreach.  Ron and Jackie are incredible friends, and I even have the honor to serving on the national Raceway Ministry board with Ron.

Fast forward to this past spring.  The Pegrams has since moved to Florida to work with a church, but much of their family was in North Carolina.  While fishing at a lake about an hour south of where I live Ron’s son and a friend had some kind of accident while fishing.  Both men died and it took several months to find their bodies after they presumably drowned. 

This was a horrible event for Ron and Jackie as you can imagine.  You might even remember that I shared in the prayer requests of the e-devotion and shared on my Facebook page about this happening.  Many, many volunteers helped to search for their son, but they were unable to find him.  A month later his body was found.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I arrived at the speedway after our worship service at The Community and spent some time with a friend.  We went looking for Ron and Jackie Pegram as we knew they had come to the race in Martinsville.  We found them sitting about 20 rows up in the front grandstand between the finish line and turn one.  But they were not alone.  Ron and Jackie brought about 20 people with them to the speedway.  These were the people from the fire departments and rescue squads who helped search for their son.

Ron and Jackie said thank you to these great people in a tangible way.  They brought them to a race, spent time with them, looked them in the eyes several times through the day saying “thank you”.  Jackie told me that these rescue workers said that few people return to say thank you.

As I sat with Ron and Jackie for a few minutes and talked about life and ministry and family I was overcome with the reality of all that was going on.  We sat among a crowd of thousands and thousands of people about to watch a loud and fast auto race (Dale Earnhardt Jr won, by the way).  This group of people, a sweet family and their rescue workers, enjoy a few hours together, and the presence of friends and their gratitude was so precious.

Do we know how to say “thank you”?  Are those just words that roll across our lips without meaning, and do they come from the heart full of honor and sincerity?  The Pegrams were not only sincere in their thanks, but they were living out the kindness of our Savior.

That is how to say thank you.  Mean what you say, put your heart in to it and connect with people.  Remember that Ron and Jackie’s son died.  This was a tragic and painful loss to them, but these rescue workers put their lives on hold to search for a precious son.  It was fitting as well as kind for them to go out of their way to be grateful to those who had served them.

We need to learn to be thankful and to express to others with deep sincerity our hearts of gratitude.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.

Friday, October 24, 2014

stay in the race

Raceway Ministry tent at Martinsville Speedway

Twice a year the world comes to our city through the world of NASCAR racing, and it is an honor to be part of this event through Raceway Ministries.  Almost 100 volunteers from several churches come together to serve race fans and have conversations about Jesus.

I’d like to share with you a portion of a devotion I wrote in the spring of 2008.  I pray that God will help each one of us stay in the race of life and find the abundance God offers…

43 drivers started the race, but only one of them was the winner.  Does that mean that 42 of them lost?  You have to answer that for yourself.  Yet I have some thoughts for you as the race traffic heads toward Martinsville, Virginia.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Thousands of people are said to show up in Martinsville on race weekend.  Not sure about the exact numbers, but I am sure that each one wants their driver to win.  It is tough competition.  Fans wear their driver's number with pride, put it on their car or tent, on their clothes or even spelled out in tattoos and the like.  This can be a strange world.  The fans are committed, passionate and watching.  It really is kind of like that great cloud of witnesses.  What do you think?

They love a good race, and so do I.  Close finishes are amazing with all the race happenings and wrecks.  Doesn't help much when you see the enemy (or the driver you don't like leading) out in front for too many. 

Are the 42 drivers who didn't win losers?  I don't think so.  Some people say they are.  Not because of who they are but because of how they finished, behind the winner of this particular race, whoever it may be on Sunday.  Yet I think all of them are winners.  It takes drive to keep on and to even get in the race.

If in life we have an attitude or think that only one person could win or only a few people could win, I would be so depressed (and many people are every day).  God tells us what winners do.  Think about it:

Winners get in the race

Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Winners stay in the race

So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.

Winners know that God is the only real official in the race

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Winners enjoy each and every part of the race

The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Last, winners finish the race well

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

Whether you win or come in dead last in whatever race you enter, remember that life is all about God.  He has called us to enjoy life, to live it to the fullest and to know and crave His purpose each day.  That means we have to get in the race (know and love God), stay in the race (even when it is tough), glorify God (even when that is not the most popular thing to do), enjoy life and finish well.

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Community's volunteer of the week KATHY CLEMENTS

This week The Community’s volunteer of the week is Kathy Clements!!!

Kathy Clements has been attending The Community Fellowship for over a year and became a member of the church about 3 months ago.

She and her boyfriend, Greg Reyes, own a lawn care business and began donating their services of mowing the lawn at our new campus almost as soon as they started attending worship with us.  They also generously purchased and donated a beautiful sign for our new property.

Kathy is a Leader of REACH Ministry and is instrumental in showing the love of Jesus to those she ministers to with the free meal at the Martinsville Hotel. 

During back2school Kathy volunteered in the Pack the Bus Ministry and is also on hand to count and sort the donations we receive as well as filling the book bags with school supplies to be given to the children blessed during this event.

Kathy is a regular volunteer at our Fall Festival and will be actively serving others at this year’s activity on October 31st from 6pm till 9pm in the parking lot of The Community Fellowship.

Last year Kathy used her creative gifts to design a float to represent our church in the Christmas parade and hopes to do that again this year’s parade.

Kathy is gifted with a true servant’s heart and volunteers much of her time to serving and blessing the elderly in our area.  In April she regularly organizes a party for senior citizens in the Community Room at Spruce Village with live music and cloggers for entertainment.  She is now busily preparing a Costume party for them where she will be dressed as Raggedy Ann.  Kathy speaks before each party and strives to spend time with each person there telling them about Jesus and building a relationship with them.  She also joins in by calling the numbers at their Bingo games.

During the week Kathy volunteers her time to running errands, cleaning homes and taking elderly friends to Dr.’s appointments and to the grocery store.

In Kathy’s spare time she enjoys being outside, walking her little dogs, praying for her church family and spending time with her grandchildren, Armin 4, Malachi 9, and Lily 3. 

Kathy’s favorite Bible verse is John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”

We are indeed honored to recognize and celebrate Kathy Clements as our Volunteer of the Week!  Kathy, you exemplify our motto of demonstrating the love of God to our community with your selfless acts of kindness and through your generosity of freely giving of your time and talents to family, church family and community.  Thank you!

*** for more information about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center call 276-647-8231 or email  To give online click on this link  ***

the Word of God

God’s greatest gift to us was His son, and near to it is the Bible.  The word of God is an incredible part of what we have in our weapons.  It is even mentioned in Ephesians 6 where God tells us about the armor that we can put on.  I’ve been taught ever since I can remember that the Bible is the only offensive weapon we need.

I heard John MacArthur years ago share the following Scripture as the most insightful part of the Bible about the Bible:

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.  The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.  The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.  They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

Look at the things that is says about the Bible, the word given to us by God.  It took a part the various aspects of the Bible and said they have great value.  These words have stuck with me and undergirded what I read, study and hold about the Bible.

The instruction God gives us in the Bible dig deep in to our souls bringing life by reviving us.  Remember that for something to be revived it had to have life before.  Therefore God brings refreshing, strengthening and powerful truth to stir what is already in us.

The decrees God gives us brings wisdom to us.  It gives wisdom to anyone who will go after the nuggets of the Word of God.

God’s commandments bring us joy.  That is right.  The commandments are right and will turn us from wrong to right and bring a sense of satisfaction or peace that is evidenced by joy.

What clears things up for us in a great way are the commands God gives us which help us live a good life.  Maybe you have lived in a fog at times as I have.  It is awesome when literal fog is removed by better weather or by something being cleaned.  Our lives and path clears as we believe and claim and live by God’s commands.

To honor God brings purity in to our lives.  Purity keeps us from attaching ourselves to wrong, to sin and to even deeper issues that take us the wrong direction.  Purity will take us further than we can get with self-righteousness.

The laws of our God are fair.  They point to the fact that all of us have failed in one point or another, but these laws level the playing field for everyone.

These verses leave us with the reminder that the Word of God is a big deal.  This truth is desirable for any one that wants to live well and to follow God.  They give us warning and direction.

I pray that we will fall in love more and more with the Word of God which will give us a great desire to follow our Savior.