Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Please Pray for Kelly Cooper

Kelly is going to be a senior in high school this year. Last week her liver inexplicably began to fail. Doctors say she is in desperate need of a liver transplant within the next few days. Without it, she won't make it. Please pray that God will step in, and ask everyone you know to do likewise.


*The video was posted to YouTube by a friend of Kelly's.

"And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven." -- James 5:15

Thank you in advance for your prayers.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Tears disappear, but pain remains

It seems hard to imagine that our first summer without Amanda is coming to a close. She was killed in the dead of winter, more than six months ago. She's still on my mind all the time, from the time I rise until my head hits the pillow at night, but I'm better able to function now.

I'll never be whole again. I realize that. A part of me died with her on that cold winter night, a part that I can never revive as long as I walk the Earth. But the damage isn't so noticeable to the outside observer these days. I don't cry as much and I can focus much better on daily tasks.

" 55 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." -- 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

When I first started having "good" days, I felt guilty. I would think to myself, "How can you laugh and smile at anything? You're daughter is dead!" I wondered if I'd ever be able to smile and laugh again without feeling guilty.

I miss Amanda terribly, and I know I always will. I wrote this poem to try to explain this controversy that constantly plays itself out as I move forward.

The world has kept on spinning
And time keeps passing by.
Day and weeks have turned to months.
Tears now, I don't so often cry.

It's not because the pain has left,
Or the hurt has gone away.
I think about, and long for you,
As much as that first day.

Every day I think of you,
And wish that you were here.
But unlike the way it was at first,
Thoughts don't always bring the tears.

Please don't think that it's all better,
That I've gotten over losing you.
Something I know for certain,
Is that's one thing I'll never do.

Each day I think about and thank God
For the years I spent with you.
But every day I also think of
Things together we'll never do.

Maybe that's the reason that
These days I seldom cry.
These two competing thoughts
Switched places by and by.

Usually, in the early days,
The latter controlled my mind.
But now it seems most often
The former ones I find.

While the world keeps spinning,
And time keeps passing by,
Please know I love and miss you,
Though now fewer tears I cry.

There is no way I could have gotten to this point without the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Knowing that He promises I will one day rejoin Amanda, be reunited in a place where pain and suffering are nonexistent, provides the peace that enables me to keep moving forward, in spite of the hurt and pain.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -- John 16:33



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

13 More Weeks Until the Marine Corps Marathon

And it's still crazy hot and humid every day! Today I wanted to go 14 miles, but only got 11. A friend I was running with said it all this morning when he stated, "It doesn't matter how far you go. Right now it all pretty much sucks." But this too shall pass. When the weather cools down, these runs should seem easy. We just have to persevere.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," -- Hebrews 12:1

Even though I didn't go as far as I planned, it was still a good week. My goal from now until the MCM is to average 40 miles a week. This week's total was 41 after this morning's run. So even with the adverse conditions, God is still giving me the strength and will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday6 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday6 miles
Saturday11 miles
SundayRest
Total41 miles

Don't forget that one of our goals is to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. So far our fundraising efforts are going well, but we've hit a sort of plateau. We far surpassed our $1000 goal for St. Jude, but we're still short on our $1000 goals for ACH and Soaring Wings.

In the next 13 weeks, we need to raise at least another $220 for ACH and $573 for Soaring Wings. You can help by clicking the links on the right side of this page and making the most generous donation possible today. All gifts are appreciated, large and small. Please give whatever you can to make a difference in children's lives.

I have to thank God for giving me the strength and determination to keep going and keep training. There is no doubt in my mind I'd have long ago given up if not for Him!



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Parents: Talk to your kids about the dangers of teen substance abuse!

Summer is nearly over and school will start soon. This is a great time for young people to decide NOT to fall prey to the dangers of teen substance abuse, and a great time for parents to sit down with their kids and explain those hazards to them.

If you're not a regular reader of this site, you might not realize that our daughter was a victim of teen substance abuse in January. She was shot and killed by a drunken, stoned 19-year-old kid at a party. Only four days before her 18th birthday, only 15 minutes after texting a friend to say she was "having fun," she was dead on the floor.

That's why part of our mission here is to Reveal the danger of teen substance abuse, to educate parents and kids about the seriousness of this problem. Parents who think it's a stage their kids will grow out of need to realize that not all kids get that chance.

Even if your kid doesn't partake, just being where young, immature kids are drinking and using mind-altering drugs is plenty dangerous. Alcohol and illicit drugs can make the smartest, most mature person become immature and stupid. It should be no surprise that younger and less mature partiers are extremely likely to take risks and make mistakes that too often end in tragedy.

PARENTS: WARN YOUR KIDS!

A survey in the year 2000 revealed 27.5% of kids aged 12-20 had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Almost 20% reported binge drinking in the previous month.1 A 1999 study found that approximately 3500 deaths are caused annually by underage drinkers.2 Almost half of these tragedies, about 1600, are the result of homicides. Another 1400 are caused by drunken youths behind the wheel.

While 3500 deaths represent a tiny fraction (some would say insignificant) of the population of teen drinkers, every single one of those deaths is a tragedy. Young people, 3500 of them, with their entire lives before them won't make it through the next twelve months...because of teenage alcohol abuse.

If you don't think it can happen to your kid, think again. The only danger we worried about, really the only thing anyone ever hears of, was drinking and driving. We lectured and lectured Amanda on the dangers of driving under the influence and riding with others who were inebriated. As far as we know, those lectures worked. But we didn't foresee, and we didn't warn her of the danger of some drunk in the room pulling out a gun and shooting her down.

JUST BEING AROUND UNDERAGE DRINKING IS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH!

Our daughter never reached her 18th birthday. She died a victim of a teenage substance abuser. It's been more than six months since we last saw Amanda. We still see her, just like it was yesterday, lying in her coffin at the alter of the church.

Parents: Don't think it can't happen to your son or daughter.

Even if they can "handle it," those around them may not be able to. This year, 3500 young people will die because they or someone they are with has been drinking. We didn't think it could happen to Amanda, but it did. I promise you, you do not want to walk where we walk, you don't want to dream what we dream, you don't want to wonder what we wonder every day.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS and tell them Amanda's story, our story. You just might save their lives.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Help Rick Karampatsos Answer God's Call!

Author, friend, and Christian marathoner, Rick Karampatsos is headed to Kenya in October to run the "26.2 for Jesus" marathon in Nairobi. He and his wife, Donna, will spend three weeks in the East African country traveling to prisons, orphanages, churches, and revivals where they will preach and minister to thousands hungry for the Word of God.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," -- Matthew 28:19

Rick, who ran 66 miles earlier this year on his 66th birthday, has made quite a ministry from his running. He uses every race as an opportunity to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, while he's running the race! And he's run a lot of races, including 62 marathons. His first marathon was in 2001 and seven years later he had completed one in each of the 50 states and Washington, DC. In all of those races, Rick's number one mission was to glorify God and lead others to Christ.

Now he's raising money to carry his ministry across the Atlantic Ocean to the far side of the Dark Continent. It will cost $3000 to fulfill this mission God has laid on his heart and he's asking for your help. If you feel led to give, please send the most generous gift you feel comfortable with to the address below.

Pleasant Grove Assembly of God
7051 S. Turkey Creek Rd
PO Box 278
Durant, FL 33530-0278

*Please note your gift is for the Karampatsos Mission Trip in the memo section of your check.

If you can't give at this time, please pray for Rick and Donna as they "walk by faith, and not by sight" to answer God's call. You can also let your friends know of their upcoming mission and encourage them to help as well.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Training Week, 14 Weeks Until the Marine Corps Marathon

Fourteen weeks until the Marine Corps Marathon! Though I've run three half-marathons, this will be my first time to run the full 26.2 miles. Though I've been training for months, now's the time to get serious.

You can search the web and find a multitude of marathon training plans, most including specific types of runs and various cross-training each week. I'm sure they're all great plans, but my busy schedule demands simplicity. Many hire personal trainers to prepare them for their first marathon, but my budget doesn't contain money for that either. So I'm doing this my way.

My official training regimen started last week. I have a goal to average 40 miles per week for the fifteen weeks before the MCM, including at least one long run (10+ miles) each week. Here are last week's training runs:

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday6 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday12 miles
Saturday4 miles
SundayRest
Total40 miles

With fourteen weeks to go, our fundraising efforts have practically stalled. We've blown through our goal for St. Jude Children's Hospital, but we're still short of our goal for Arkansas Children's Hospital and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. In the next fourteen weeks, we need to raise another $220 for Arkansas Children's Hospital and another $573 for Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch to reach our goal.

We could easily reach these goals if we can raise $40 per week for each. With over 700 Facebook fans and hundreds of readers here, that should be easy to accomplish. Your gift of $40, $20, $10, or even $5 will go a long way to help us reach these goals. Please give what you can to help us accomplish our mission.

The heat and humidity were absolutely atrocious this week and I had to walk a lot more than normal. But I got the miles in and that's what I'm going for right now. During this part of the summer, with the weather like it is, I'll take the miles however I can get them.

According to the weather channel's 10-day forecast, next week may be a little better. Instead of highs in the mid to high 90's, we're going to have highs in the low to mid 90's. Not much of a break, but at least it's an improvement. The important change is in the daily lows. I've been running before daylight and the temps have been in the high 70's when I started. This week the expected lows are about 50 cooler than last week's. That may not sound like much, but I promise it's a big deal. Running will get a lot easier when those lows get down in the high 60's, but for now it's just plain tough!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," -- Hebrews 12:1

It would be easy to just stop training because it's too hot, just like in life it would often be easier to take the easy path. The "sin that so easily entangles" is always tugging on our sleeve, trying to distract us when things get tough, trying to steer us away from loftier goals. Neither this marathon nor the preparation for it will be easy. Just as life is full of challenges, sometimes seemingly insurmountable, adverse weather, aches and pains, other responsibilities, will manifest themselves and attempt to hinder us in our quest to be ready on 30 October. But the race is marked out for us.

To finish in October, we'll have to run with perseverance. Not just the MCM, but all the training miles leading up to it. The same is true in our Christian walk. That race is not a one day event, but a life-long event. The finish line of our Christian life is the day we leave this earthly body and join Jesus in Heaven. Until that time, every day we're running the training miles and it's our duty to run them with perseverance. Our task is to continue running even in the face of adversity, through the tough times, the ups and downs, the ins and outs.

Without Jesus, I'm certain I would have already thrown in the towel. I'd have never made the 40 miles this week and I might have given up hope for the MCM. I mean, it's tough to run in this weather. But Jesus is the one who motivates me to crawl out of bed at 4:00 am and hit the road before the heat gets too bad. Jesus is the one who keeps me pushing forward until I finish the miles I need each day, just like Jesus is the reason I was able to keep going in the face of the worst possible tragedy when I lost my daughter.

There's no way I'd still be going without Him as Lord of my life. You can have that strength too, the strength to face down the greatest challenges Satan throws at you, the strength to persevere while others tell you they couldn't, the strength to keep pushing forward when others would fall flat on their face. If you want that strength, if you want the peace that comes with knowing you can make it through anything, you can have it. Jesus is waiting for you. He wants you to come to Him!



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Monday, July 18, 2011

103 Days to the Marine Corps Marathon

That's right! Our main event for 2011 is only 103 days away. I'll be running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC on October 30. This will be my first full marathon, but I'll be running with our mission in mind: to Reveal the dangers of teen substance abuse, to Reach people for Jesus, to Raise money for charity, and to Remember our beautiful daughter, Amanda Marie Allison.

I'm setting a goal now to average running at least 40 miles per week from now until the race. This might be tough with the heat and humidity we've been enduring, but I'm confident God will get us through. Today I made a 6 mile run to kick off these next few months and plan on running 6 a day M-F each week, then a long run on Saturdays. I can use your prayers to help keep me motivated and healthy!

We started this project with a goal of raising $1000 each for St. Jude Children's Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. You, our supporters, have been amazing! Though we still have a way to go to reach our goals for ACH and Soaring Wings, we've more than doubled our fundraising goal for St. Jude! That doesn't mean we've stopped raising money for St. Jude. In fact, anyone can still give as much as they want through our fundraising page.

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" -- Matthew 25:40

But we really need you to help us reach our goals for ACH and Soaring Wings by giving if you can. But even if you can't give right now, please share our page with your contacts via email, Facebook, Twitter, and any other networks you may have. Let them know what we're doing here and give them the opportunity to help too.

You can also help us reach more people by reading our blog and commenting on our posts. Doing this helps us get a higher ranking with Google and a better chance of showing up on the first page of internet searches. "Like"-ing and commenting on our posts on Facebook gives us a better chance of showing up in our fans' news feeds to give us more exposure too.

Thanks so much for your generous gifts to these charities, your prayers, and support of our cause. Every time I see the totals rise it motivates me to get out and hit the road. Every time a prayer is said on our behalf and every time the number of followers increases on our sites it reminds me that God can make good come from the worst of situations and motivates me to keep moving forward.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Great Day at the River City 5K

Oh it was hot, really hot, and humid. But the weather couldn't turn things sour at Burns Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas this morning at the River City 5K. Braving the sultry conditions, 282 runners, walkers, and wheelchair participants covered the 3.1 miles to benefit River City Ministries, a Christian organization working central Arkansas' inner city to spread the Gospel and to provide for those in need. We were happy to be a part.

It took my wife and I a little longer than normal to cover the distance, but the adverse weather kept that from bothering us. When it's this warm and muggy, just finishing is a victory. I just praise God for giving us the strength, will, and motivation to get out there and run to bring glory to Him and honor Amanda's memory.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28

We were blessed to participate in this race with an old friend of mine from high school and her husband. They, with their 8-year-old son completed the 5K and we had a wonderful visit with them before and after the race.

I was also presented the opportunity to tell Amanda's story when another runner asked what happened to her. For the next quarter of a mile we ran together and I shared our story and what we hope to accomplish at Running with Amanda. He explained that he and his wife had a young child with Down Syndrome and he was looking to do something like we do here to raise awareness and fund treatment and education programs about Down Syndrome.

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I am so thankful that God has graced us with the opportunity to honor Amanda's memory and glorify Him through our efforts. Thanks also to all of those who follow us and support our efforts. Without you, we could never have the same impact.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Expanding our Mission

Today marks six months since Amanda was murdered by a 19-year-old who had been drinking and smoking marijuana. Though I can't go into details until after the trial, I can tell you everything I've heard about the events that night lead me to believe Amanda would still be alive if that man had not been impaired by drugs and alcohol. Therefore, our expanded mission will include a goal to educate parents and teens about the dangers of teenage substance abuse.

Before Amanda's murder, I badly underestimated those dangers myself. I never condoned her drinking and punished her the couple of times I she was caught imbibing, but I didn't see the danger as long as she wasn't drinking and driving. That was my biggest fear, that she would drive under the influence and have an accident.

Unfortunately, I believe there are many other parents in the same boat. They know their kids are drinking, but as long as don't drink and drive it will be okay. I know so many people, including myself, who went through that "stage." We made it through and I always thought Amanda would grow out of it too, but she didn't.

Amanda never got the chance to grow out of it. She never got the chance because she fell prey to a danger that I didn't foresee. The thought that she would be shot and killed at a party never entered my head. The thought that someone else would be so drunk, stoned, and stupid to pull a gun out, point it at my daughter, and fire it was something I never imagined.

Unfortunately, we learned the hardest way there is to learn the dangers. There are reasons for laws against underage drinking, and there are reasons drugs are illegal. Alcohol and illegal drugs make the smartest of people do stupid things. Their effects on the brain remove inhibitions and impair the judgment of all who partake.

Teenagers are psychologically predisposed to taking risks. It's a trait that comes with seeking independence and attempting to prove they are ready to take on the world. Even so, sober their judgement gives them the ability to calculate and measure those risks. Introduce mind-altering substances, and the judgment disappears. Under the influence they take risks and do things they would never do sober.

Sober, my daughter's murderer may have foreseen being charged with murder and spending most of his life in prison. Sober, Amanda may have recognized the danger of a drunken fool with a gun in his hand. He may have never fired the shot, and she may have left before he had a chance to. But neither was sober. He was drinking and smoking marijuana, she was drinking.

Now she's dead and he's in jail awaiting trial on 2nd degree murder charges. Now we've been without our beautiful daughter for six months.

The dangers are real. Teens and parents need to know them, to be educated about them. That's why I'm starting the process today to turn Running with Amanda into a non-profit organization. We will seek donations, grants, and other funding sources to run ad campaigns to make others aware of the dangers of teen substance abuse. I will make myself available to travel to and speak with church, civic, and other groups in an effort to educate as many as possible.

Please pray for our success in this new branch of our mission.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

River City 5K This Weekend

Well we're back home from vacation and I'm trying to get back into running. We came back to heat indices over 100 degrees and high humidity. Yesterday I went 9 miles and today 7 miles after the two weeks off. I had to walk more than usual, but with the adverse weather conditions following the time off, that's okay with me. Only 107 days until the Marine Corps Marathon, so I've got to keep hitting the road, regardless of the weather.

My wife and I are still running a race every month and this month it's the River City 5K in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The race is hosted by River City Ministries, a Christian organization working in the inner city to spread the Gospel and help those in need.


About River City Ministries

"RCM is a faith-based ministry. Our mission is to reach the hearts of people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To aid our mission we provide food to the hungry, clothing to those who need them, medical care to those that do not have access to medical insurance, help for children, and jobs for those who want to work."

It's going to be hot and muggy, but we want to keep running to Reach people for Jesus, Raise money for charity, and Remember Amanda.

"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. " --2 Corinthians 9:7

You can help by donating to one of the children's charities we support through our fundraising pages. We started in March with a goal to raise $1000 each for St. Jude Children's Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. Thanks to our generous donors we've blown through our goal for St. Jude with almost $2500 donated. We still have a way to go for ACH and Soaring Wings. Any donations to any of these three charities is greatly appreciated, regardless of the size of the gift. Please choose one of these great children's charities and make whatever donation you feel comfortable with.

You can also help us by becoming a fan of our Facebook page and letting your friends know about us. Interacting with our Facebook page with comments and "Likes" does even more to make us more visible to others and helping us accomplish our mission.

Thanks in advance for your donation to one of our supported charities, and may God richly bless you!



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Questioning Salvation


I was recently contacted by someone who had several questions about salvation. It gave me the opportunity to search the Bible to support the answers I did know, and to find the answers I didn't. When we finished, I asked if it was okay to post the questions and my answers here for any others who might be wondering the same or similar things. What follows is our exchange with references to this individual removed.



Question

The first time I felt conviction was when I was 8 but I was too embarrassed to say anything. When I was ten and thirteen I came forward to get saved but I didn't know how so it never actually happened. I've struggled with it for so long. I finally understood what salvation is this year, and I was so scared that I had missed my chance. Now I'm worried that I took fear as conviction, and I know you have to be called by God to be saved. (I have a lot more questions after this)

Answer

"1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." -- 1 Timothy 2:1-4

I don't believe it's possible to "miss your chance." I believe Jesus wants to save us all, that He is waiting for each and every one of us to come to Him. I agree we have to be called to be saved, but I believe we are ALL called. The verse below is from the Great Commission in Matthew and doesn't appear to exclude anyone.

"Therefore go and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"--Matthew 28:19

Jesus came to the Earth, died and was resurrected in order to save us. It was God's will that we all be saved and He realized that most of us were incapable of adhering to the Law well enough to be qualified to go to Heaven. So He sent His Son, His flesh and blood, as a sacrifice for us ALL.

"17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 WHOEVER believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."--John 3:17-18

"WHOEVER believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them."--John 3:36

We're all called, but we all have to make the conscious effort to accept the gift, the salvation that Jesus came to give us. It's not something we have to work for, or earn. Salvation is waiting for each of us to accept, but there is a catch. That catch is faith. We have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We have to believe He came to save us from eternal damnation, and we have to believe He died, was resurrected, and now resides in Heaven.

"Through him we received grace and apostleship to call ALL the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake."--Romans 1:5

Once we have faith, we must then let others know we believe. We can't keep it a secret. Our faith qualifies us to be saved. Public profession of that faith seals the deal. Once we make that leap, we are saved.

"9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."--Romans 10:9-10

In the end, everyone will face Jesus and be judged. Everyone will know that He is Lord.

"that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,"--Philippians 2:10

Those who accepted His gift of salvation will be ushered into Heaven. Those who refused will be cast into Hell.

"Jesus answered him [thief on the cross], 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.' "--Luke 23:43

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."--John 3:18

I hope this helps. My understanding is that anyone, even the worst of sinners (remember Paul spent his life persecuting and killing Christians before he was saved) can get to Heaven if they repent, believe in Jesus, and make their faith public.

I don't believe it's ever too late. And as for fear being your motivation instead of conviction, I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive. I think fear of condemnation can be a motivator that leads to conviction.

Question

What you said about it not being something we earn, that's what took me so long to understand. Okay, I don't remember if I repented of my sins. Or asked for forgiveness. I was alone when praying and I did the best I could do but I just can't remember. Would that be a deal breaker?

Answer

I think you may be confusing confession with repentance here. This is something I struggled with when I was really young. I was born in a family of Catholics. In Catholic churches, you're supposed to go to confession. As an elementary student, I was marched into confession and told to confess all my sins. At the time, I didn't really understand the concept of sin, and I certainly didn't keep a tally of those I committed. So I remember going into the confessional booth with a list I'd compiled of sins that I "must" have committed, even though I couldn't remember them. I lied, disobeyed, was mean to my sister, etc. I always thought that confession was an act of repentance, the required act for forgiveness. But to confess does not mean to repent.

To repent means to feel guilty or upset for having done something. In my opinion, it's impossible to truly believe in Jesus, to admit that He died to save us from sin, and to accept His gift of salvation without repenting. To accept Jesus as your Savior from sin, you must first admit to yourself there is something you need to be saved from. That, in and of itself, tells me that any time a person honestly accepts Jesus as their Savior, they necessarily must feel contrition for the sins they have committed.

Effectively, repentance automatically comes before we ask Jesus to save us. It's important to understand though, that not everyone you've ever seen walk down the aisle and be baptized is saved. I, when I was 13 or 14, walked down the aisle and was baptized, but not saved then. My problem was that I was just going through the motions of what was expected of me. I didn't turn from sin. I didn't feel bad about sinning. I basically did it just to get people off my back. That's not being saved.

It was much later, when I was 35, that I realized I wasn't really saved. I was driving down a dirt road in a flat bed farm truck when I was "really" saved, when I sincerely asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. Interestingly, that's when the idea to go back to school and be a teacher hit me, right after I became saved.

You may have doubts cross your mind at times, but that's understandable. God himself called Job a righteous man, but even he had doubts at the height of his suffering. If your faith is sincere, I have no doubt in my mind that you've repented and continue to repent.

Repentance is a continuous process because we never stop being sinners. That's why God found it necessary to sacrifice His Son, because we humans weren't capable of righteousness. As long as sin makes you feel contrite, you are repenting.

I'm sure you're safe on this one.

Question

I'm really glad I decided to talk to you about this.

Right after I asked Him to save me, I felt scared again, like it didn't work. I thought it might have been because I had struggled with it so long, Satan was taking advantage of my weakness. However, I have always heard of a big relief, a burden being lifted. I didn't feel that. I still felt scared. Before I was saved, I tricked myself into a false assurance. I have felt peace recently, but it's usually followed by doubts. I can't tell the difference between doubting salvation and feeling guilty for not reading, praying, etc. They're usually intertwined. Do you ever need assurance?

Answer

I'm glad you did too. Going through, looking for scripture to back up what I've always believed, has helped me too in our discourse.

Satan always works on us, on me, you, and everyone else. The best way I've found to keep from doubting my salvation is to read the Bible regularly and systematically. Honestly, I didn't ever do that before Amanda died. Since she died, I've set aside time and developed a system for reading that has made it easier to keep it up. But God's word is the best way I've found to maintain your assurance and defeat doubts.

It sounds to me more like you may be doubting your salvation because you think you're falling short on the reading, praying, etc. Like maybe you think, "If I was really saved I'd be doing these things." Just remember, none of us are perfect, Christians and non-Christians alike.

"10 As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one"--Romans 3:10-12

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"--Romans 3:23

Now, every morning I read two chapters in the Bible. I just finished going through Paul's letters and have started on the Gospels. It gives me a manageable schedule to keep and also makes it easy to pick up if for some reason I miss a day.

Sometimes the reading leads to questions, but those are just opportunities to go deeper. Most of the time, those few minutes spent studying affirm what I believe and make it easier to get through the day. Even at that, I still fall short some days and let concerns of the world get in the way.

Your struggles are normal, for all Christians. But your faith in Jesus is the most important part. It's the safe harbor you should always seek when you find yourself doubting, or troubled in any way. If He's your rock that you seek and cling to in times like those, you're in good shape and you're secure in your salvation. Because if you weren't, you'd look for satisfaction or relief in other places.

Question

Do you have to be baptized to be saved? Ive always heard you don't but look at mark 16:16. It seems really straight forward.

Answer

There are people who say you do, and others who say you don't. The best argument I've heard says that you don't. The thief on the cross beside Jesus was not baptized when Jesus promised him that he was going to Heaven. He was saved.

"Jesus answered him [thief on the cross], 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.' "--Luke 23:43

The Bible speaks of baptism in the sense of John the Baptist, by water. But it also mentions baptism by the Holy Spirit, and by fire.

"John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.' "--Luke 3:16

Today, Christians not only argue over the necessity of baptism for salvation, but they disagree on what actually constitutes a baptism. To join a Baptist church baptism by immersion is a requirement, but Baptists are quick to say baptism is not necessary for salvation. Catholics, on the other hand, consider baptism so necessary to get to Heaven that they perform the ceremony as quickly after birth as possible. But for them, sprinkling with water is considered enough.

John the Baptist baptized people by immersion, and Jesus was baptized in this manner. But the Greek word from which the English "baptize" originates means "to immerse or submerge." I tend to think of the ceremony of baptism as symbolic of death and resurrection. I believe John baptized in this manner to emphasize the fact that his followers were dead to the old covenant and reborn to a new life under different rules.

If, instead of dunking them in the water, he had covered them with a sheet or buried them in the ground then uncovered them to symbolize the same thing, we would probably have a different word in English to represent the act.

The point I'm trying to make is that the act itself is less significant, perhaps not significant at all, than what it represents. I believe that when you are saved you are baptized by the Holy Spirit, immersed in it, covered by it. The Holy Spirit buries the old you, a slave to sin, who was condemned and brings forth the new you, free by the grace of Jesus Christ, who is guaranteed eternal life.

Look closely at this next verse, including the verse you mentioned. It's Jesus talking to His disciples.

"15 He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.' "--Mark 16:15-16

He did say whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. But he DIDN'T say whoever is not baptized will be condemned. I believe that's because baptism by the Holy Spirit occurs when we truly believe, at that instant when we're saved.

It's my interpretation that baptism by water is not necessary to be saved. Jesus was baptized, and as a symbol of following Him, it's a good thing to do. I believe that. But just like the thief on the cross wasn't baptized by water, I don't think it's necessary for us either.



It's important to point out these are my personal views on the subject of salvation and baptism. I am not an ordained minister and have no formal education on theology. I'm just a man who reads the Bible and interprets it the best I can. I pray God will let this will help others struggling with these issues.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

I think about you every day...

I've been in contact with a lot of people who have lost children since Amanda was killed. I correspond with several and I read the thoughts of others posted online. Though the grieving process isn't uniform, there seem to be certain aspects we have in common. Many of us have been told that we should "get over it" after a period of time, but we don't and we won't. Ever.

This poem came to me today as I was thinking about Amanda. Every day something reminds me of her. Even the happy memories that make me smile bring with them the pain of knowing that I'll never see her again, knowing that she'll never have the chance to get a job, get married, have kids, or any other number of things.

I think about you every day...

The song from your funeral
Played again the other day.
It takes me back each time
To the day you went away.

It's been quite a while now.
Six months have nearly passed.
I've thought about you every day
Since I saw you last.

The tears don't come as often
As they did six months ago.
Not because the hurt is less,
But it's now a pain I know.

Some believe I should be healed,
The hurt should all be gone.
They just cannot understand
Why the pain still carries on.

I see things every day
That make me remember you.
Sometimes they make me laugh,
Sometimes they make me blue.

To God I am so grateful
For the years together that we had,
And I'll be forever thankful
He gave me the chance to be your Dad.

Even though I know that one day
We'll be together in the end,
I wish you were still with us,
To hug and kiss you once again.

Every day I think of you
And every day it hurts.
To forget would take the pain away
But that would be much worse.

I am extremely thankful, and extremely blessed to have a wonderful wife and daughter still here with me, but the pain of always knowing we should be a family of four will never leave. The promise that I will see her again in Heaven makes the pain bearable, but it doesn't take it away. These are the reasons I can continue to move forward, in spite of the pain.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Life is too short to put things off

Too short to put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Amanda's death taught me that.

Every year we travel to North Carolina to see my wife's family. We have since 2006, when we sold our farm and I started teaching. One of my best friends of all time, whom I served with in the Marine Corps, who was in my wedding, whose wedding I would have been in if the Corps hadn't had other plans for me that weekend, whom I spent six months aboard a Navy ship with, lives just outside of Charlotte. Yesterday was the first time I made the trip to see him since we got out of the Marines in 1995.

I remember when he met his wife, but yesterday was the first time I saw her since we left the service. They have three kids, the oldest 17, and yesterday was the first time I met them. Wonderful people, wonderful friends, more like family really, but for 16 years I couldn't take the time, or make the time to visit.

But yesterday, Courtney and I made the trip from Jacksonville, NC to their home and spent the afternoon with them. We were truly blessed. We've been missing out, and I wish more than anything that I had made the time to visit while Amanda was still alive so she could have met them too. I never thought I had the time, and I thought there would always be tomorrow.

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." -- Proverbs 27:1

Pat was one of two friends from the Corps who dropped everything and came to Arkansas when Amanda died, friends I had not seen in 16 years. I told them both, while they were at my house, I didn't think I would have done the same for them. They were willing to put their lives on hold to be there for a friend who they had not seen in 16 years, but I knew myself well enough that I knew I would not have done the same.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28

I'm a different person now. Amanda's death taught me that life is too short to put important things off. We're neither guaranteed another tomorrow nor even another breath, and good friends are far too important.

Thank you, Amanda, for teaching me that, and thank You, Jesus, for giving me the opportunity to visit my dear friends.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We're Running the River City 5K on July 16

We're registered for our next race, the River City 5K, on July 16 at Burns Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas. For those who don't know, we try to run at least one endurance race a month in an effort to Reach, Raise, and Remember--Reach people for Jesus, Raise money for charity, and Remember our beautiful daughter, Amanda Marie Allison.

Though we actively raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Ranch, we try to help other worthwhile charities by carefully choosing the races we participate in. Many races are held with proceeds directly benefiting specific charities. When we can participate in these, our entry fees also go to help others.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."--Romans 12:1

The River City 5K is a race held annually to benefit River City Ministries in North Little Rock, a Christian organization working the inner city to spread the gospel and provide for those in need.

"RCM is a faith-based ministry. Our mission is to reach the hearts of people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To aid our mission we provide food to the hungry, clothing to those who need them, medical care to those that do not have access to medical insurance, help for children, and jobs for those who want to work."

If you're looking for a race to run this month, come join us on the 16th to help this fantastic organization. If you can't run with us, please donate to RCM or one of the charities we support!

Thank you and God bless you!

"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. " --2 Corinthians 9:7



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Monday, July 4, 2011

A Fourth of July Prayer

God, thank you for the blessing of being born in this wonderful country where freedom abounds. It's only because of You, and the fact that our founders placed the fate of this great nation in your hands, that the United States of America became the most powerful nation on Earth in such a short period. Though we sinners, like all humans, deserve neither your blessings, you have blessed us with much.

Thank You for blessing us with freedoms that did not exist for the people of any country prior to the formation of our nation. Thank You, Jesus, for the men and women who have stood on the front lines to defend this country, many paying the ultimate price to protect what You have given us. Thank You for blessing our country with a standard of living so great that even the poorest among us is rich when compared to 90%+ of the world's population. Thank You, Lord, for giving our forefathers the foresight to write into our Constitution a vehicle to correct our mistakes, so we could keep what was already good and correct that which needed fixing. Thank You, Jesus, for giving our founders the recognition that our freedoms are granted by You and You alone, not by any government or human being.

Dear Lord, I ask that you soften the hearts of those who have forgotten that You are the reason this nation is considered great around the world. Soften the hearts of those who refuse to recognize that, as our nation has distanced itself from You, we have been in a state of decay. Alexis de Tocqueville once said, "America is great because America is good." The goodness of which he spoke stemmed from our people's belief in You, Lord.

"the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God." -- Jeremiah 11:4

Jesus, please strengthen the hearts of those who still believe. Give them the courage to stand up for what is right, to stand up for You. Place the words in their mouths that are necessary to convince others to turn to you for peace and strength in these troubled times. Please help bring us back to our former state, not for our own glory, or the glory of our nation, but for Your glory, so that the world may see, recognize, and understand that a nation that turns to God will be the "shining city on a hill" that we once were.

I pray, dear Lord, that the time will come again that the world will see You when they look upon our shores. I pray that our people will once again seek the opportunity to become the lantern through which Your light shines. I pray that You will continue to bless the United States of America, and the United States of America will again become a beacon to the world that draws people, not only to her shores, but to salvation through the Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Have a Happy, and Safe, Fourth of July!

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, our Independence Day. It's a day that's often celebrated with cookouts, fireworks, and partying. We wish you all a happy 4th, and a safe one.

That means, if you're underage, NO DRINKING!

I'm one who always underestimated the dangers of teen alcohol and drug abuse. Oh, I knew it was wrong and always discouraged it, but I never recognized the severity of the danger it posed. Until January 15, 2011.

My beautiful daughter was at a "party" where several underage kids were drinking and getting high. One 19-year-old idiot, drunken and stoned, became angry at Amanda, pulled out a gun, shot and killed her. One minute, she was a lively, beautiful teenager with her entire life ahead of her. The next, she lay lifeless in a pool of her own blood on the floor.

Alcohol and drugs lead even the smartest of people to do stupid things. Amanda had no idea when she arrived at that "party" that she would never walk out. She didn't recognize the risk, didn't foresee the danger. Now she's dead.

Part of my goal now is to educate teens and their parents of the dangers of teenage substance abuse. People often say alcohol and drugs don't hurt anyone but the person doing them. WRONG!

Amanda is dead, and I can't even count the number of people it hurt. Countless other mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends around the world have faced similar tragedy--losing their teenaged loved ones to the poor decisions and unsound judgment resulting from alcohol and drug abuse. I hear from a lot of their parents and siblings who tell me their stories of lost children, brothers, and sisters.

The following video was sent to me from a mother in Ireland who lost her 17-year-old daughter to a drunk driver in 2002. It's a television ad she hopes will save lives. "She had been drinking earlier and then took a chance to go for a short drive in a car driven by a known dangerous driver. The rest is history literally, she didn't come home. Oh! how I have begged and pleaded with so many young people since then to be more careful," the mother wrote me in her email.


It's important for teens to recognize (and for parents to explain to their children) that being under the influence not only puts you at the mercy of your own bad decisions, but even being in the vicinity of others who are drunk and stoned puts you at risk of becoming victims of their poor judgment. You can't trust anyone who's been drinking or doing drugs to behave rationally, or safely.

Regardless what others may tell you, you don't have to drink or do drugs to have a good time. In fact, drinking and drugs can turn what seems like a good time into a tragedy in an instant, without warning. Anyone who tells you alcohol and drugs can't hurt you, or can only hurt the person using them, is a liar!

I know. First hand. My daughter, Amanda Marie Allison, died at 17 years of age, murdered by a drunken, stoned fool.

If you're a teenager, please avoid alcohol and drugs. Avoid even being around others doing them. If you're a parent of a teenager, sit them down and talk to them. Tell them about the dangers, not just of abusing alcohol and drugs themselves, but the danger of being around others getting drunk and stoned.

Have a happy, and SAFE, Fourth of July tomorrow. I pray that God will bless you and keep you safe.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Fourth of July Amanda

Here comes another first. We've passed the first Valentine's Day, the first Easter, the first Memorial Day, the first Mother's Day, the first Father's Day, and all of our first birthdays since you were killed. Monday will mark the first Fourth of July since you've been gone.

While most people are purchasing fireworks and planning their parties to celebrate our country's independence, I'm thinking about you and all the times we watched and set off fireworks together. How you loved to light the fuses and run for safety, turning then to watch the screaming, flying, showering, exploding sparks light up the sky! The last couple of years we didn't buy any, but went to watch Cabot's fireworks show at the church. You were a little frustrated that you couldn't light them, but you always enjoyed the show.

This year, however we celebrate, I won't have the opportunity to see your face light up as you watch the shower of colored sparks explode in the night sky. It won't be the same.

Though I miss you and think about you every day, the holidays all seem to be the toughest to make it through. Maybe that's because there are so many special memories associated with them, because they're days we celebrated every year. The other days don't stand out with so many special memories. We don't remember specifically where we were or what we were doing on July 1, but its easy to remember the time we went and watched the fireworks on the lake.

Where ever we are when we watch the fireworks this year, I'll be missing you. Every OOOH and AAAAH of the crowd will bring back a Fourth of July memory from days gone by, days when you were there, days when the expression on your face as you watched the night sky light up brought a smile to my own lips.

I love you and miss you Amanda, always, every day. Even though the fireworks will bring tears to my eyes this Fourth of July, I thank God for the years He gave me to spend with you, the years we made those memories. One day, we'll get to watch them together again.

Happy Fourth of July dear daughter. I love and miss you always. I hope from your spot in the clouds you can see all the fireworks exploding across the country, and that they're especially beautiful when viewed from Heaven.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm a Father of Two...Forever

Last Saturday was the last day of the two-week long Arkansas ESL Academy. For 13 days, from 8:45 am to 8:00 pm, I and 75 or so other Arkansas teachers were listening to presenters teach us how to better teach English Language Learners in the schools. It was a great experience and I look forward to implementing a lot of the ideas in my classroom this fall.

The one exception to the long days was Father's Day, when we didn't have to come in until 12:30 pm. To make coming in on Father's Day palatable, the folks from Henderson State University who were administering the program called all the fathers to the front of the room to honor us. A paper crown was placed upon our heads and we were adorned with a sash bearing flattering praise for fathers. Then we were handed a microphone and asked to tell everyone about our children.

As you can imagine, the last part was kind of tough for me. There were only four of us standing at the front to take turns at the microphone. My place in the line would make me next to last to share. As the first two told their stories, I heard nothing but an incomprehensible buzz. My mind was racing with how to handle this unexpected opportunity to share.

When the microphone passed to me, I passed it on to the last man in line. It caught him by surprise, but I told him, "You don't want to go after me." He went with it, not understanding, but still going ahead. As he described his children, I still didn't hear a word. When he finished, the microphone was again passed to me. The time had come.

I started by telling them all about Courtney, my 17-year-old daughter who will graduate next year, she works at Sonic, and how proud I am of her. Then I told them about Amanda, my daughter who will forever be 17. I told them when and how she died. Explaining that ever since she died, I've thought about the best way to handle when someone asks about my kids.

Is it best to tell them about Amanda, even though it brings others down and makes some uncomfortable? Should I only tell them about Courtney, and not mention Amanda at all?

After the little Father's Day ceremony was over, we took a short break during which several teachers came up to me and thanked me for telling them. One lady apologized for a comment about teenagers she made earlier in the week, a comment that I didn't even remember. I explained there was no need for an apology. I don't want people to walk on eggshells around me, wondering if they should say this or they shouldn't say that.

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."-- 2 Timothy 1:7

I decided that day to tell them about Amanda, a crowd of people, most of whom I didn't know and didn't know me. I explained to them the dilemma I face in deciding whether or not to tell Amanda's story. "But I cannot deny her," I said in closing.

Though she may be gone from this world, though I won't see her again in this life, Amanda will always be my daughter, and I'll always tell people about her when they ask about my kids. I want to thank Christine for the opportunity to tell everyone about Amanda, and thank all of my colleagues for listening.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.