SIMPLE TRUTH

NativityAs we approach another Christmas, and many of us are caught up in a flurry of activity, in addition to carrying concerns for church and nation, we do well to remember that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago is a powerful statement of the premium God places on simplicity.

I was considering our pre-Christmas service in Golden Valley Church and I kept hearing the words “simplicity” and “simple.” I knew that Holy Spirit is wanting to impress this upon me – on us all.

In life we generally overlook the simple in favour of the complicated. The world mocks simple things, and ever looks for more sophistication. Our lack of simplicity breeds fear, control, pride, anxiety, strife, and unrest. But we actually miss much of what God has for us, because it is contained in the simple. He hides Himself; He hides our blessings – maybe our breakthroughs – in simple places. The sophisticated and cluttered minds will often miss Him there, just as they did in Bethlehem all those years ago.

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Modern lives are so full of noise, clutter, surplus, and overload. Conveniences and technology which are supposed to make life easier and simpler can end up increasing the demands with which we find ourselves juggling. Simplicity is ever-illusive, and no less so at Christmastime when the plethora of competing demands – many of them completely unnecessary  – shout loudly for attention. Even in modern church it’s easy to fall into living by a set of tick-boxes in our desire to grow and become all that God wants us to be. For example: “Four keys to this…”, “Seven steps to freedom…”, “do this course”, “attend this conference”, “read this book”, “master this truth”, “pray for this and that need”, etc. And so the plates continue to spin in overcomplicated lives.

The dictionary definitions of “simplicity” include, “the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded; freedom from pretence or guile; restraint in ornamentation.” I like the “restraint in ornamentation” which is so apt in a modern Christmas where the true meaning is obscured – even obliterated – by the overload of lights, sounds, and Santa Claus.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1 that God has made the wisdom of this world to turn out as foolishness. He says, referring to Jesus and His cross, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men,”  and, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…” The ‘foolish simplicity’ of a baby laid to sleep in an animal feeding trough in a small out-of-the-way town is where God hides Himself, and where most people walk on by unknowingly.

The simple life – a life of walking daily with God and receiving everything from His hand – was stolen from mankind through deception, in the Garden in Eden, right in the beginning time of the Adamic race. But both the divine Baby in the manger and the divine man upon the cross are the wisdom of heaven to restore simplicity to us.

Last January Pope Francis tweeted the following: “In the simplicity of the nativity scene we encounter the tenderness of God which reveals itself in the Baby Jesus.” Tenderness. I think it is impossible to truly experience tenderness without – even for a moment – withdrawing from the overload, and finding a simple space.

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I have a friend who recently proposed to his girlfriend in city centre Paris. In the midst of the bustle, the sights, the lights, the sounds, the traffic, and the masses going about their business, he knelt down and found tenderness to engage with the one he loves. It was an age-old simple act, yet totally new and fresh; full of power, purpose, and long-term promise. Tenderness and simplicity go hand in hand. And that soil of the heart is poignant with hope.

This Christmas the Vatican has taken their understanding of the simplicity of the nativity one step further. More than 700 pounds of sand were brought into St Peter’s Square in lorries for a chosen group of artists to create a beautiful 52 foot representation of the nativity scene – in sand. Pope Francis commenting on the symbolism is quoted as saying, “The sand recalls the simplicity, the smallness with which God showed Himself at the birth of Jesus, in the precariousness of Bethlehem.” This is the unspoken message of their 2018 nativity scene.

It takes humility to embrace simplicity. Jesus chose to humble Himself to a level beyond our ability to humanly comprehend. From the Throne of Heaven he made the decision of love to become a baby in a manger in Roman-era Israel. His was outrageous humility! When we are proud – where we are proud – it is impossible to be simple. Pride by nature needs to exalt itself and seeks to impress by its accumulations.

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Nativity Sculpture in Sand at the Vatican 2018

It also takes trust to embrace simplicity. Jesus had to trust His Father in order to become that baby. He also had to trust His Father as He hung on the cross. On both occasions He stepped into trust that His Abba would come through for Him, would watch over Him and never let Him down. He was no longer in control. Simplicity demands that we stop trying to control everything and everyone, and rest in the Love by which we are held.

The first church was known by its lifestyle of simplicity of heart [Acts 2:46]. The Apostle Paul’s testimony of His team’s conduct was that they had conducted themselves in simplicity and godly sincerity [2 Cor. 1:12]. And writing to the same church again in chapter 11, verse 3, he expresses his deep concern that the same serpent that had deceived Eve was continuing his fraudulent schemes and beguiling them from a life of simple devotion to Christ. Sometimes spiritual warfare comes to us in the form of clutter, distractions, and deceitful feelings that we have to occupy ourselves with any number of seemingly important enterprises. There is always a battle on against divine simplicity.

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In the simple we hear Him; that ‘still small voice’. Elijah was unable to engage with God in the blast of the fire, the swirling of the winds, or the noise of the earthquake. He had to pass through these to the place of simple stillness.

Those who managed to find the manger in Bethlehem found the Messiah. Those who stooped to enter the cave, met with the Saviour. In locating the place of heavenly simplicity, they found hidden treasure.

As we again approach Christmas, it’s important for us to dial down on the clutter, the noise, and the assumed demands. Let’s focus in on the Babe in the manger – the simply powerful and powerfully simple birth of the Man from Heaven. Stop to savour ordinary moments, quiet times, and that Still Small Voice. Reflect again on Love come down to us. And somewhere as you savour it – Him – ask Him to help you embrace His simplicity in your life.

In Psalm 131 David testifies how he has simplified his posture from being overly concerned with too many things, to resting in God as a young child would on its mother’s lap. He has chosen to resist pride and arrogance. He has decided to stop looking at others with contempt and judgement. He has quietened his mind and heart, and focused on one thing – the simple child-parent relationship he has with God. From this place hope has risen in his life. He is able to encourage others to hope, because he has found the simple place where it grows, and where fear and anxiety die.

Jesus, for His whole life, lived from this same stance, beginning with the manger. And wherever He went hope grew. Love sprung forth. And faith began to return. Simple.

Let’s find the tender simplicity of His heart this Christmas as we find Him off the beaten track lying in the manger.

Wes Boxall

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ABSALOM SPIRIT

One of the things I was hearing as I was awakening today was, “Spirit of Absalom”. I heard it clearly.

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I was aware of some of what it meant, and having spent yesterday’s preaching in GVC talking about the battles of moving into a new season, I am reflecting on how this spirit works to attempt to bring division and fragmentation to churches [and organisations and workplaces], and I think it’s especially so, as God is about to move in fresh outpouring, and the shift emerges.

Absalom was David’s son, but he became inwardly bitter and jealous where he felt he had been overlooked, and he used his position in the king’s family combined with his good looks and likeableness (natural and spiritual giftings), to undermine the rightful rule of his father via stealth. He went out of his way to recruit people to his cause so that he could influence the direction of the palace in the way he wanted, and in his case overthrow his father’s rule.

This kind of behaviour is very common in the world we live in, and I believe, undermines many churches in their Divine Mandate; their unique “raison d’être”. We are all potentially prey to it. Yet it often becomes the operating ground of a spirit that is intent on division and destruction, and which seeks to derail new things that God is doing. It may promote a soulish attachment to things that belonged to a past-season, or to a particular style of doing things, but which are no longer relevant in the main scheme of where God is moving now. Or it focuses on a pet-area of life in a previous church which an individual has carried with them into a new situation, and which they want to see happening again. It will raise a discontentment or dissatisfaction with something in a church or organisation – what isn’t happening and ‘should be’ – and it will look for those who ‘agree’. It may be true that ‘so and so’ is not happening, but it may also be true that God hasn’t asked the appointed leader(s) to do this ‘so and so’ but to focus on something else. The point is, it appeals to ‘soul’ rather than the true spiritual. Gossip, a party spirit, and subtle (or not so subtle) forms of attempted manipulation ensue. At its heart is an authority-wound that has led to pride and mistrust, and ultimately rebellion and lawlessness. As we move forward may we truly have grace to flush it out of our hearts and lifestyles.

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This is such a crucial issue in remaining on track as we come closer to the return of Jesus. He Himself warned that in the last days lawlessness will abound and the result will be a cooling off of genuine love. We cannot afford cold-love. We cannot afford lawlessness. The Kingdom of God operates with precise order and authority, which is rooted in perfect love. This is the only Kingdom the Holy Spirit will promote and release. I pray we can all align more with Him in His assignment.

We can see the working of this spirit in Judas Iscariot, who most likely was offended in some way with the direction Jesus’s ministry had taken, AND who had heart issues of greed that were not dealt with, even in the intimate Presence of Jesus. Both Absalom and Judas ended up hanging from trees, which indicates that they were cursed in this which they pursued.

The origin of ‘Absalom behaviour’ is seen in Lucifer himself, who became obsessed with his own gifting, image, and wisdom – not realising they were given to him to function effectively within strict parameters of ministry. These same three are potential stumbling blocks for us all:

  1. My giftings and skills. I can be deceived by ‘how good I am’ or ‘how good other people say I am’ and pride subtly slithers into my heart.
  2. My image, or looks. We step over into ‘how did I perform?’ We become too aware of what we look like, rather than what HE is looking like through us – or of being equally content – and with no change of behaviour – when we are not ‘performing’ or are unnoticed.
  3. My wisdom. If I have a particular understanding or revelation, it’s because God lovingly gave it to me. It’s not so I can show it off, or use it to compete with another. Humanly, we love to parade our revelations. I’ve done that myself before now! But it leads to pride, and living for the approval of men. Any ‘wisdom’ that ceases to walk in honour, godly submission, and true humility, isn’t actually wisdom, but foolishness. James says, it is sourced in the flesh, the world, and the demonic.

If you are a leader in pastoral care or mercy ministry for a group of people, or in some kind of music ministry, especially beware of this spirit. It wants to take you out. If you’ve been offended by a senior leader as well, be doubly aware! Deal with the heart issues. Forgiveness, humility, and patient honour are the keys. You have to go ‘down’ in order to go ‘up’.

If you are a senior leader, take stock of anywhere you have not listened to or followed-through on promises to others who are serving with you. If you can, humbly address the issues now, and remove what you are able to of the landing ground for this spirit. Repent and seek reconcilliation. However, you should never ultimately compromise the divine mandate you have been given on account of someone else’s (soulish) preferences. Ultimately, you’re the one who has to give account to the One Who has commissioned you.

All of us, let’s continually go to God for more healing of our hearts, and more of His softening and renewing Presence. Let’s learn to repent and to forgive really quickly, as a lifestyle. Let’s not allow any bitter roots to take up ground in our lives. Let’s walk securely knowing we are loved and beloved by the Father. We have no need to perform but can live at rest in that love.

Wes Boxall


There is a helpful  list of “eight signs you are under the influence of an Absalom spirit” by John Burton.
Also, the late and dear John Paul Jackson talked about this spirit to Joni Lamb on Daystar TV.
It’s really worth checking them out and reflecting on them – and repenting, and renouncing these traits, anywhere we find them. May you blessed as you wholly follow the Lamb.

LOOKING AT NEGATIVES

A few days ago I had one of those brief but memorable one-scene visions in a dream. I saw a roll of old film negatives hanging suspended. And I heard the words, “You’re looking at the negatives!” I knew God was speaking clearly and powerfully to me.

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There was a rich play on words again. The reality was I had been focused more on my challenges and the things I couldn’t see happening – the ‘negatives’ in my life – than I had on God’s character and promises.

It’s easy to do that in a time of pressure, or, as we’ve talked about before, during a ‘season change’ where the grey of winter is hanging on. I thought about the greys and blacks of old monochrome film negatives, and realised I was living with the same kind of approach to certain areas of life. Some of the time I had been focusing on what wasn’t happening, and what seemed to be going in the wrong or a challenging direction. I was conscious of negatives.

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As I reflected on this mini-dream it became apparent that the old film negatives are actually the very reverse of the real picture! When the negatives are processed into photographs everything is turned around the other way. The negative simply represents the opposite of the finished article!

I began to see that God was speaking here; that the negatives in our lives and circumstances are not the real picture but are the reverse of what He is going to produce in finality.

In the short words, “You’re looking at the negatives” was firstly an encouragement to see beyond the grey, secondly, an exhortation to recognise that the problems were not the end of the story, and thirdly, a promise that the opposite of the negative was being lined up in some way by our Loving Heavenly Father.

If you are focused on negatives, put them into Jesus’s loving hands. Ask Him to process them until they transition into the true picture. Ultimately His plans are to prosper us and to do us good; to give us a future and a hope. He has already written the books and ‘made the films’ of our lives in advance for those who love Him.

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Bless you loads.

Wes

 

BATTLE OF SEASONS

I believe we are in a seriously challenging season-change. What we see in the natural world right now – a kind-of battle between winter and spring as to which remains – is a reflection of something much deeper and far more powerful which is going on globally in the spiritual realm.

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At times of pressure – or unclear season change – where we can’t see what is yet to happen, it is easy to make Esau-type decisions. We react emotionally out of our limited grasp on what is going on, and we sacrifice the important for the unimportant; the long-term for the short-term pain relief; our birthright for [what we perceive are our] current ‘rights’.

Things to come are often shrouded by mist. Some of the methods of perception which we learned in a previous season, don’t seem to work the same. Our past experiences don’t provide enough wisdom for the next stage. It’s a Joshua 3 situation. The waters are in flood and threaten to sweep us away. Friends and family are trudging through mud. There’s a lot of noise, and a lot of fear around. And the promises of the new look like they are about to drown.

But God says He has earmarked this very time and place as a crossing-over point! And He says that we haven’t been this way before, so we can’t expect to rely on our experiences so far. Instead we must position ourselves so that we can see where He is moving and what He is doing next.

Our experience of the outward shifts are often dependent on corresponding inward shifts. Our mindsets have to change. Our stubbornness has to go to the cross. Our, “I did it my way” – which is lawlessness – and causes love to grow cold – has to yield to HIS way, which actually might be coming to us wrapped up in “someone else’s way”. We go lower, to go higher. We stop for the one. We bless and give even if it hurts to do so. We ‘bind the sacrifice with cords to the altar’ so that it – I – can’t get off. Ultimately the fire will come.

In House of Prayer today we prayed that we wouldn’t make decisions now which would take us out of line, down the line. I so need this myself.

So much has yet to break open. Season shifts sound great when you prophesy them, but as they work out in you it can be a different story! Let’s ask for grace to stay in a place of steadfastness. Like the watchman, keep your eyes on the glimmers of morning sunrise. God hasn’t forgotten you, but He’s going deeper in your heart, so that you can carry more of Him in the season ahead. He fully intends your crossing over – your shift – your season change.

Wes

CHOICES, DISTRACTIONS, AND DOORS

I’m attempting to take time to prepare sessions for next week’s School of the Heart in Golden Valley Church, but I’m feeling very stirred prophetically about a few things, which I feel the need to put on paper.

I am aware right now of the word I shared a couple of months back in GVC, that it was a “Year of Change” – that May 17 to May 18 was that year. Much change would happen or could happen. But there was an emphasis on “MAY” [which was interesting as it was also the name of the Prime Minister, who at that time was standing for re-election]. This is a play on words. It’s about choice and it’s about giving God permission to do what He is wanting.

Even in this nation, as the ruling name is ‘May’ I believe there is an unprecedented season of choice before us.

Even in this nation, as the ruling name is ‘May’ I believe there is an unprecedented season of choice before us. It is obvious in a way with issues like Brexit being negotiated, but I think it is more subtle than that as well. There is much that God is asking the church to lay hold of, to intercede over, to declare and to decree.

He is constantly saying “May I… Will you let Me do this or that? Will you give Me this decision? Will you allow Me to change this thing or that thing in your life; to take you where I have chosen.

I think it’s a time which has echoes of Jesus’s words to Peter, “Another will clothe you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Peter was no doubt freaked out by that ‘promise’, but he came round to making it his own choice. In effect he said to Jesus, “Yes, You MAY do that with me [because I love You, I trust You, and I believe that the greater glory will follow].”

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So I feel to gently challenge us not to treat lightly the choices that are before us, even those which are seemingly minor or insignificant, or those which have no emotional thrill attached. He is saying over and over, “What do you choose? Will you choose Me? Will you choose My Presence over your pleasures? Will you choose to listen attentively to what I am saying to you? Will you seek it out until you understand it, even if at first it mystifies you?”

The last few days, I keep seeing the equation, “DISTRACTION = DESTRUCTION”. This is serious, yet my soul doesn’t get it like it should! My natural reasoning tends to measure distractions by their perceived ‘size’ – just five minutes, etc. Yet, increasingly I think, some of the deposits of heavenly gold are destined for that ‘just five minutes’.

I keep seeing the equation, “DISTRACTION = DESTRUCTION”

What are we being distracted with? Ultimately we need to wise up that our enemy will literally stack up the distractions. They will stand like a queue of visitors outside our door, and we will have to choose over and over to say, “You know what, you can all wait outside the door right now!”

Why do these distractions come? To destroy! We see momentary ‘buzz’ but the devil sees longer term destruction. Sure, we remain saved. We’ll go to heaven…and to church again next Sunday. We’ll even pick up our Bible again the next day. But if something is a distraction, it has been assigned to us to destroy something. It’s the “little foxes” that creep in under the hedge and look so cute we can’t bear to shoot them! But they eat the grapes, or they knock them off the vine in their rough and tumble playtime. And when it comes to new wine time, we don’t have any, because the distractions came in and destroyed the wine before it could be fermented.

What is the obvious result? We have to go round another set of seasons to grow some more. Our destiny is delayed. Maybe when we are younger that doesn’t seem so bad as the years stretch ahead of us. But the reality is for all of us older or younger, there is something about right now being the accepted time – Heaven’s choice time. May it be ours. The nations are on a precipice. Political scenarios could go in either direction. There is a great harvest out there to be gathered in. Waves of revival are poised over the planet. And over and over, there is a call to us to “Come up higher”; to enter into heavenly realms and rooms where we have never or rarely been.

Take times when you tell Facebook to ‘split’! That is get in God’s FACE and get in His BOOK!

Connected to this is another element  that is in my atmosphere right now. It’s that of closing doors. I think Holy Spirit is gently – maybe not so gently – blowing on some of the parts of our present lives to close them off. This is because their time is over. They belonged to a previous season, but not to the next one. They were good then, but if allowed to remain into the next season they will become stale, and eventually disgustingly mouldy. Their staleness would permeate everything in the next season if He allows them to remain. But of course, again, there is a divine, “MAY I? Will you let me close this one off now?” And we can say ‘yes’ or we can say ’no’. But be assured, so much hangs on those little words.

Holy Spirit is blowing on some of the parts of our present lives to close them off

I’ve been spending a bit of time in Acts 16 recently. This is partly due to our own involvement in Macedonian Greece, and my desire to understand the initial wells which were dug in the Spirit two millennia ago. But one of the issues that is tugging at me again is that Paul and team HAD TO go through a period of CLOSED DOORS. It was in God’s plan for them. He set them up to encounter things that didn’t happen like they assumed they would. But He was using the closed doors to reposition a complete shift in their focus. They were looking one way, He was looking in the opposite direction. So I feel strongly to encourage us not to despise the shutting of doors, even if it seems like that season is more prolonged than you would like it to be. We must ‘GET it’. God shuts doors. God shuts things down. Within the sphere of earth, God works in seasons. Leaves which were luscious have to dry up and fall off.

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For Paul and team, the season of closed doors led them to a higher level encounter, which led to an open door into Macedonia, Greece, and Europe. The gospel hit our continent because of closed doors in the opposite direction! We don’t usually appreciate the ramifications of God closing doors and opening others. But in heaven’s purposes they are far reaching and often set up a legacy for others to experience, or be influenced by.

We are the DOORKEEPERS of our doors. What we open and shut affects everyone and everything on the other side of the particular door. Jesus said He was the ‘door’, and the ‘door of the sheep’. As the unique Saviour of the world He opened up a door for us which only He could do. He was and is our (only) door into salvation, redemption, and the Mountain of God. However, as a leadership principle, we are all ‘doors of the sheep’ wherever we are called to lead or pioneer (family, church, business, missions, community, etc.). What we are; what we allow; what we open and shut affects more people and more situations than we realise.

Often when there is a seasonal shift, the doors carry far more weight to them. And often there is a challenge to choose something that is beyond – maybe way outside – our comfort zone or the sphere of familiarity. But it it in those places – when they are ordained by God – that our true destiny is discovered, and a legacy is set up that stretches far beyond what our own eyes can see.

Wes Boxall

MY HEART IS BEING DEEPENED

On Saturday we came to the end of this series of “Deeper Heart Days”. We truly thank God for all that He has achieved during these three Saturdays. Many have testified to fresh revelation, greater freedom, and real heart changes taking place.

We passionately believe that our hearts are the centre and source of all we are, say, and do. They determine what we long for, what we pursue, and what we hold back or hide from. Prov. 4:23 tells us to keep watch over our hearts above everything else we do, because all of life comes from them. God told the prophet Samuel that He doesn’t focus on outward appearances like human beings do, but He looks into what is going on in the inside; in the heart of a person. Jesus told a story explaining four types of heart condition. He said to His followers that unless they grasped the meaning of this story, none of the others would make sense to them.

Let’s continue to allow God to probe our hearts, and then to heal, soften, and clean them up. We all need this, whoever we might think we are.

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

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Peter Jackson from Toronto, shared with us a wonderful encounter where he found himself looking into the eyes of God his father. He saw Gods eyes gazing at him with such inexpressible delight and unconditional love that astounded him and totally ‘undid’ him. This experience has transformed his life entirely. He has never been the same again and he now longs for the body of Christ to realise their full inheritance and walk as true sons and daughters of God on this earth. Peter carries one message from God. In his own words, he plays a one string guitar, and it’s always in tune!

Peter reminded us that our father delights in each one of us just as we are. His love is unconditional because all of the conditions were met by Jesus. He loves the worst of the worst in a wild and reckless love and we can allow ourselves to be wrecked by His love. Wow! How do we do this? So often we live under the law of sin and death, comparing and competing with one another and finding we fall short. This is shame based. We are either living out of a blessing or a curse. Galatians says we are one in Jesus. This is the truth but do we believe it? It’s easier to believe the bad stuff about ourselves. We cannot live out of two opinions as this is double-mindedness. Only God’s opinion is the truth and good news has to be freely received.

God wants to work in us from the inside out and turn us upside down. We are His church and are not our own as we’ve been bought with a great price and God is only interested in our complete transformation. Religion is working from the outside in. Christianity is working from the inside out. Peter admonished us to let God out!

God wants to give us His power to glorify Him in this world but he can only give it through humble hearts. Power is dangerous in the hands of an orphan. Humility is the currency of the kingdom of Heaven and Heaven is a kingdom of honour. Jesus prayed that “all of them may be one” He went to the cross to give us redemption, but not just redemption but also adoption and placed as an older son to the father. He has brought us ALL of the way in. We are co-heirs with Christ! It’s not adoption papers but a bonding – the spirit of adoption.

We are so thankful for the truth that has been brought to our hearts over the weekend. Peter has urged us to be as vulnerable as we are able so that we become all who we are called to be. We must remember that God never allows us to be tested more that we can bear. We can let an avalanche of grace comes down the mountain to surround us. Lets step out in faith and risk it. Open up the gates of Heaven so that the King of Glory will come in!