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Guest Stories

Julia’s Story

She suffered years of abuse at the hands of people she was close to, but when God finally freed her and gave her the courage to leave, she found herself a brand-new woman, ready to step out in faith and to trust His plan for her life. She experienced salvation as a teenager but didn’t always walk with the Lord the way she knew He wanted her to. After she had finally had enough at home and realized that her life depended on her leaving, she felt the Lord guiding her, saying that it was her time to go. Without a place to stay though, a good Samaritan brought her here to Gospel Rescue Mission, where she is picking up the pieces and choosing to move forward.

Now that she is free from the shackles of her former life, Julia is focusing on her mental health and working through the traumas that she has endured in her past. While her journey to life after abuse is only just beginning, she is already feeling more at peace and closer to the Lord, and the hope of a brighter tomorrow is evident in every word she speaks. Coming in to our meeting today, she shared with me an incredible dream she had that God was speaking to her and telling her simply to obey. She felt so overwhelmed with this peaceful spirit when she woke up that she just had to share it with me.

Despite her bruises, she’s always been a hard worker with a background in waiting tables, sales, office administration, management, food services, housekeeping, and she was even a tax agent for a season. She’s not sure which direction God will point her in for employment this time around, but rather than chasing dollars and coming up feeling spiritually frustrated, she’s asking for His guidance as she beings the hunt for a new job. “Listening to God is so important. If He says don’t go here or don’t hang around certain people, it’s because he’s protecting you.”

Her faith is carrying her through this next chapter of her life, and we’re so glad that we get to be a part of her healing process. It’s so refreshing to talk with someone so on fire for God, despite their past, despite their current circumstances, and to see that glimmer of hope as they tell you about their hopes for the future. It goes to show, there is life after abuse. Julia is proof.

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Guest Stories

“Nicole’s” Story

Imagine being over 2,000 miles away from your family, single, and with a baby. Now imagine that you are about to be evicted. What do you? Where do you go? For Nicole, she had no choice but to return home to a hostile living situation with her older brother and ailing mom. As she made the long journey back home, she wondered, would it better this time around? She was on her way to find out.

Her brother was several years older than she was, and since he had stayed home to care for their mother, who was suffering from several medical conditions, he was granted power of attorney over their mom’s estate. He controlled all the finances, and it was his responsibility to see to it that the funds were put in the right place and all the bills were paid. Since Nicole didn’t have the best relationship with her brother, she knew that she wouldn’t be able to get any financial assistance from her family. At least her and her son would have a safe place to sleep and food to eat until she got back on her feet though.

It wasn’t long after when her mom went in for what should’ve been a fairly simple surgery, however, she wasn’t entirely stable on the hospital bed. She fell over the side and hit her head on the floor. She suffered a triple brain bleed and had to endure more surgeries just to keep her alive. When she was finally stable enough, she had to be put into a nursing home because her condition was beyond what the two siblings could care for on their own. It was at this point that Nicole started to get suspicious of her mother’s financial state, and she decided to investigate.

She got other agencies involved, along with some other family members, to launch a formal investigation, and that’s when everything hit the fan. Accusations were flying back and forth like daggers, until her brother threw one of the most terrible accusations possible: child abuse. She had never laid a hand on him, never left a mark, and no reason to think she ever would. She knew it would be best with everything going on to send her son back to Oklahoma to live with his father. It was just in time too, because the allegations of child abuse against Nicole, and embezzlement against her brother, were starting to catch fire, and it was burning their family down with it.

The investigation against her brother brought to light tens of thousands of dollars that had been fraudulently taken from their mother. Charges were brought against him and the case is still ongoing to this day. In the meantime, the case with DHS against Nicole was ramping up quickly, and she decided it would be best to distance herself from all the drama and return to Oklahoma to be closer to her son.

Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, her mother succumbed to her injuries and passed away. Nicole was crushed at the loss of their family matriarch. And in the midst of this sadness, the ongoing DHS investigation has prevented her from seeing her son in over two months. Right now, Nicole’s focus is to find a lawyer to help her with the DHS issues, and to pick herself up and put herself back together. She has been struggling with mental health because of her situation, but she is not going to let it get her down. She is committed to getting help for herself so that when all this is behind her, she can be best mom that she can possibly be.

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Guest Stories

Allen’s Story

Allen was living the life. He had everything he needed plus a job most people could only ever dream of. He was a chef for an NBA basketball team, which allowed him to converse with some of the most well-known players of our time. Previously, he worked as a stagehand and camera man for the WWE, rubbing elbows with several of the big names in the wrestling arena, as well as event centers in Oklahoma City and Nashville. Yes, life was going well for Allen, and he had the house, the car, and the girlfriend to prove it. However, that star-studded life afforded him many inside secrets, especially in the NBA, and the old adage about “loose lips sink ships” proved true for him, costing him his incredible culinary opportunity.

He was quick to rebound though, and he and his girlfriend moved from the big city to quaint little Checotah, OK, where he found a job cooking at a local bar and grill. A far cry from his former lavish lifestyle, things were holding together pretty well considering. Then came the coronavirus. A deadly killer, not just of people, but of the economy, forcing shutdowns of even the smallest towns. The grill closed down and Allen was left without a job and in the middle of a nation-wide crisis where opportunities to work were few and far between. And working at a small-time bar and grill didn’t give him too much of a safety net. After barely making it through their last crisis, they were sure this one would do them in.

It was an entire month before the restaurant re-opened, and he could go back to work, however, they were able to keep everything afloat until his paychecks started coming back in. Tired of the lock down and ready to get back to his normally active social life, he started hanging out with his co-workers. One night, they were out way too late at the casino and ended up getting pulled over. Police searched the vehicle and discovered drugs. The owner of the drugs refused to fess up, so all 4 men were arrested. This was extremely difficult for Allen because as a recovering addict who had been sober for years, and still is, this was the worst way for him to go down.

He served a 6-month sentence, but upon his release, he discovered that he had lost his job, his girlfriend, his home, his car, and she took all of their earthly possessions. He had nothing and nowhere to go. The only thing he could think to do was call on a church for help, but he was turned away. Out on the streets trying to just make it through the next day, our first major cold snap hit and Allen became desperate for help. He went out walking, hoping to find a better shelter for the night, but the cold was sinking deeper and deeper into him until he couldn’t even walk anymore, and crawling became his only option. Then he saw it. A carwash. He knew if he could just make it there, the cover of the stall would give him better protection from the 30-degree temperatures and high wind.

But God had a different plan for him than huddling up in that car wash. He sent an angel-in-disguise, a woman, who saw him desperately crawling through the cold damp parking lot of the car wash and could see that he was in a life-threatening state of crisis. She immediately called 911, and just in the nick of time. His health was so deteriorated that he was hospitalized in Muskogee for a week. Upon his release, with nowhere to go, the hospital brought him here, to Gospel Rescue Mission. Despite how far he had sank, he felt hope as he checked in. Hope for a brighter tomorrow, and the hope that one day he would be able to find his way back to the event centers, serving as a stagehand to the stars.

This Christmas might not be the extravagant ones of his past, but it will be one he, and our other guests, will never forget. As 2020 is finally winding down, the year that will live on in infamy for most of us, this Christmas truly represents hope. It represents a year that saw walking sharks, murder hornets, facemasks, toilet paper shortages, mail-in ballots, and an election for the history books, but it also represents resiliency. We survived. Our guests survived. And if we can make it through all of this, we can make it through whatever 2021 has in store. All we have to do is set our eyes on Jesus. When we focus on God, and not the craziness around us, we can stay focused and stay hopeful. So, this Christmas, let’s not worry about all the madness. Instead, let’s put our eyes on Jesus, and just keep walking forward in His blessings. God bless each of you, because of you GRM is able to give Allen and others new opportunities. Because of you Opportunity is Guaranteed.

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Guest Stories

John’s Story

It was a different time. Post war, the baby boom was in full swing. With a surplus of babies, both planned and unplanned, illegal selling of children on the black market to parents unable to conceive, became a dark and hidden stain on America’s timeline. If this surprises you, imagine how John’s parents felt when a doctor who was brokering these shady deals, actually sought them out and offered them $500 to part with their new son. Of course, they said no. Despite rejecting the doctor’s offer though, John’s mother had a lot on her plate on top of a newborn.

A mother of eight, she did her best to be the disciplinarian in place of her often-overseas merchant marine husband, on top of all her regular duties as “mom.” Again, it was a different time, and expectations of a mother were much different than today. Having a seven year old daughter who was fascinated by the sight of her little brother, their mom gave her John as a birthday present. Big sis started caring for John like he was her own personal doll to feed, change, rock to sleep, and to care for. From that point forward, his sister became the nurturing “mother,” while his mother took the harder authoritarian role of “father,” driving fear into the hearts of her children when it came time for punishments.

At the age of six, John experienced something that in 2020 would warrant a child services call, but again, these were different times. It was Christmas morning, and his dad was able to be home for Christmas that year. John and his brothers and sisters had woken at 3am with their mother and started opening their presents, while their dad still slept. Pulling out a wind up choo choo train, he was so delighted, he just had to show it off to his brother. But his excitement woke his father, causing him to send six-year-old John to sleep out in the outhouse—in December. His mother quickly brought him a blanket, and she said that everything would be alright in the morning. It’s a wonder he didn’t freeze to death that night. It was then that he realized the most powerful thing he’d ever learned. God alone was his Father, and his “pop” was just the man who sired him. At that point, he developed a true father-son relationship with Jesus. He devoted every waking moment to learning more about the man who died on Calvary and about God who promises to always be there to hold us, even in our darkest moments. That passion for the Lord never failed him, and it continues to this day. In fact, his legal name is incredibly John Saint Divine.  

While John’s dad was away working on oil tankers, his mother started losing her grasp on reality. It started with small things, but eventually it escalated to the point where the older kids couldn’t keep her reality in check anymore. One day, their mother started saying that she would hurt the children. John’s oldest brother heard her deranged rantings, as she was asking for a shot gun so she could kill them all. He cleverly deceived her into thinking that he was looking for the gun, while another sibling worked to get all the other children to safety and alert the authorities. He was still a very young child when he and all his siblings were removed from the home and scattered among various family members. Ultimately most of the children landed in an orphanage with authorities unable to reach their father and having sent their mother to an institution. Again, it was different times back then.

Within a year, John’s father returned, and reclaimed the children. The damage had been done though. Being shuffled around, suffering mental and physical abuse, plus the children’s mental state to have their own mother try to kill them, and then be sent into an orphanage, must’ve weighed heavy on them all.

At age 17, John joined the Navy where he served for two years before being honorably discharged. After leaving the Navy, he felt no real course for his life other than his passion for God. Feeling called to a greater purpose, rather than work till he died and achieve no great thing, he preferred life on the streets, where his time was his, and he could spend all his time learning and growing in his faith and witnessing to the other homeless people that he surrounded himself with. Despite being on the streets for most of his adult life, he did have a home from time to time, and during one of these times, God gave him a vision. In his vision, God told him, “If you follow me, you will play as good as the masters.” John became a musician and talented pianist. So in between studying the Bible and spreading the message of the Gospel, he also studied and practiced music.

In spite of his relationship with God, he came out of the Navy with a drinking problem. While he had periods of sobriety, he fell back into his addiction in 1988 when a trauma hit him very hard, and he ended up back on the streets again. He moved from Oregon to Oklahoma, back to Oregon, and places in between. In 2017, he was able to get off the streets through a veterans program while he was in Oregon. It was during this time that he learned that his youngest sister had terminal cancer. He invited her to visit, but she stayed, living out the rest of her days with him. He cared for her all the way up until she passed. And then he was back on the streets again.

The homeless in Corvallis, Oregon had changed though since his last experience with homelessness. They were somehow meaner, and it was more dangerous to be on the streets. It was recently when another homeless person came up from behind him and hit him in the back of the head, inadvertently breaking his neck. All his things were stolen, and he was left for dead, but thanks to the grace of God, he pulled through. He moved back to Idabel to be near family and friends, sensing that the end was near because of his injury. He drank for 3 days straight and no longer wished to live. Concerned for him, the Idabel police department brought him to Saint Francis in Muskogee, the nearest facility providing psychiatric help. After he became stable, they referred him to us, here at Gospel Rescue Mission.

Being a faith-based facility, we are the perfect place for John. It gives him an opportunity to spend time with God in a safe environment that encourages a relationship with the Lord. Our guests might currently be without a home, but that’s not who they are. That is just their current situation. It may have felt to John at times during his 35 years living on the street, that being homeless was a permanent status. But, these are different times.

A final thought he left us with as the interview concluded is that “there is a blessing in everything.” There is a blessing in sleeping in the cold because it can inspire you to better yourself. There is a blessing in going hungry because it drives you to make changes in your behavior so that you don’t go through that again. And there is a blessing when you find a place to lay your head at night, even if it’s a temporary bed at the Gospel Rescue Mission, because instead of just finding food, clothing, and shelter, you’ve found hope, peace, and the love of Christ.

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Guest Stories

Christy’s Story

“I’m just so lucky to be here,” she stated repeatedly during her Gospel Rescue Mission interview. She wasn’t lucky to be here at GRM. She meant lucky to be here. On earth. Alive and breathing. She had been close enough to Heaven’s door that she could nearly see the Pearly Gates, but Jesus wasn’t ready for her to come Home just yet. He had a chain of events that He wanted her to experience that would ultimately drive her to her greater purpose. These events would be difficult, at times more than she could bear. But He would be with her every step of the way, this much she knew. This is the story of Christy.

It was five years ago when she was diagnosed with a condition called diverticulitis. In most cases, diverticulitis is mild and something that can be easily managed. In Christy’s case, it was severe, debilitating, and life-threatening. She underwent several surgeries before her last, which nearly took her life. She flatlined seven times during that final surgery, but God had a better plan for Christy. A hundred staples later, she made it through, to the joy of her children and ailing husband. It was truly a miracle. This was just one part of her story though, so let’s start at the beginning.

Her husband, 31 years older than his petite wife Christy, enjoyed traveling. It was one of his greatest passions. They went on cruises and took several trips to Disney World, deep sea diving, and other incredible experiences that most of us could only dream of. He loved his family and wanted to give them the world. Owner of a lucrative water-treatment company, he had opened a few offices across the US, and when he decided to retire, he sold them, and they were able to travel even more. Health issues started to plague the sweet adventurous man though, and soon he was in the hospital battling for his life. He was a decorated Vietnam veteran who had received many accolades and awards to his credit for his service in the United States Air Force. So, when his health started to decline, he picked his favorite VA hospital in Fayetteville to handle his treatment.

It was around that time that Christy started experiencing health issues. Her medical expenses and surgeries proved bank-breaking, and eventually they had to make some difficult decisions about their financial and living arrangements. Because he was a veteran and would receive the best care at the facility there in Fayetteville, he remained put with family nearby to help care for him and the children. For Christy, her Native American heritage would help solve a lot of their financial burdens if she could be closer to tribal health care available in Tahlequah. Being from the small college town in Oklahoma, it was like coming home for her, and she was pleasantly surprised to discover that she still had many friends in the area. So, despite having to leave her family behind, she was looking forward to the future and the adventure that was in front of her. Despite all the positivity that the couple tried to look at in their situation, the inevitable can’t be stopped.

It was July 2020 when her dear husband took his last breath. Christy and the children were absolutely devastated. In the midst of her own health issues and her inability to travel because of it, the family wasn’t able to have the glorious Arlington Funeral with 21-gun salute that Christy and her husband had been planning for years. Because he was so much older than her, his passing was something that her and the children had discussed and had been mentally preparing for their whole lives together. What they hadn’t been planning was for Christy’s health crisis that came out of nowhere, draining their savings, and making her too unstable to travel far. The family decided to cremate him and wanted to do a more proper funeral once Christy’s health was more stable.

In the meantime, the friends that she had been able to house sit for while she was undergoing treatments eventually returned, and having nowhere else to go, and needing to be as close to Native American health care as she could, she resorted to come to Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee while she gets her and her late husband’s financial affairs in order. “I’m just so lucky to be here,” she said again. So grateful for a safe place to lay her head, and more importantly grateful for the air she is able to breath, and grateful for the life the Lord has given her. Christy is working towards getting better, getting her own apartment here, and getting her and her late husband’s benefits lined back out, so that she can one day live independently.

We want to take a moment to thank our donors, for helping to make Christy’s transition easier. While we do have many stories of the addicted or those that haven’t made the best life choices and are working on righting their wrongs, there are many people who find themselves temporarily without a home simply because of a snowball of unfortunate circumstances. If it weren’t for the generosity of those who give, people like Christy would be out on the streets right now, hungry, trying to keep their feet dry and their bodies warm as the cold rain pelts them, much like life has. It must feel so defeating. But here there is hope and direction and a sense of purpose here at GRM. And it’s because of our donors and sponsors that Christy has a warm safe place to lay her head. Thank you! You ARE making a difference!

If you would like to donate, donate at https://grmmuskogee.networkforgood.com/projects/78864-investing-in-life-change. If you would like to be a part of the action, volunteer! Contact Charolette at Charolette.sanders@grmmuskogee.org.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit 5

Judges 11:29 New International Version

Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.

 The Holy Spirit is our only consistently accurate guide for all things in our life.  He will take us on a journey that is filled with adventure, passion and blessing.  That is if we will trust in Him.  He is our leader and our friend.  Listen to His voice, do what He says and things will go better for you.  The Holy Spirit does not always offer a life of comfort.  Remember that the Holy Spirit is the one that drove Jesus into the desert for forty days of fasting and prayer.  Do not glamorize that event.  That was difficult.  Jesus was obedient to the leading though it was uncomfortable.  From time to time, the Holy Spirit will do the same for you.  One of the things that the Holy Spirit focuses on is to get you in the right frame of mind, in the right place at the right time.  Trust in His guidance.  His leadership will not always make sense, look beyond logic.  Remember that His ways are not our ways.  His ways are always better.  Surrender to Him today.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 15

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 5:27-30

    Earlier we had looked at the first of Jesus’ Ten Commandment upgrades regarding murder.  We learned that in the Old Testament if I did not take a life from another human being, I was not considered to have broken the commandment.  However, Jesus tells us that if we so much as call someone a fool or in other words use life sucking words about someone than we have committed murder. 

Now we have Jesus’s second upgrade.  In the Old Testament as long as I never have sex with another woman I am generally seen as having not broken the adultery commandment.  Now Jesus goes to meddling with that simplistic interpretation.  He says if you lust you are committing adultery.  Consider what that means. 

If you look at pornography you have committed adultery.  If you fantasize about a woman that is not your spouse, you have committed adultery.  Any time that you dehumanize a woman and degrade her even in your mind you have committed adultery. 

Again, we come to the concept, you must guard your thoughts.  It is easy for our mind to wander to cleavage or short skirts.  I hate to even mention it in fear that it will cause some of you to stumble but silence also has it s power.  When you find yourself struggling, when temptation is calling out to you.  Call out to Jesus. 

If the image is on a screen, shut it down, but I know that it is already seared into your brain, so call out to Jesus.  Consider this, Jesus loves that woman, purely.  Consider this, that is someone’s daughter.  If she is a Christian woman, she is God’s daughter.  Do you really want to fantasize about the daughter of God?  Ask Jesus to help you think purely.  Acknowledge that He has made beauty and cherish that beauty.  Protect it, do not allow others to degrade her with coarse jokes or comments. Rise up.

Jesus takes this command very seriously as He directs us to pluck eyes, rip off hands in other words to take extreme measures.  Do whatever it takes to make your thoughts pure.  Seek counsel, find friends who also struggle and confide in them.  This is a battle.  Be free or be dead in hell.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Part 4

 Judges 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.

Are you trying to decide if someone is filled and led by the Holy Spirit?  Are believers drawn to them?  The Holy Spirit calls out to itself within the lives of others of like faith to come together.  I do not believe in unity at all costs, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit brings together men and women of God.  Even if they disagree on certain topics, they discover that they can work together for the causes of the Kingdom of God.  Even those that are normally opposed will feel compelled to join the effort given by the Holy Spirit.  I desire to see this Spirit more and more each day.  Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might see Your church united and lead our community to love and serve You more.  Help us to be a light to the lost.  Let us share the hope that can only be found in You.

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Guest Stories

“George’s” Story

Did you know that the state of Oklahoma holds the country’s second highest divorce rate? George, and a lot of our guests, are no strangers to this fact. Finding love seemed to be no challenge for George, it was the lasting love that he seemed to struggle with. He met the woman that he thought would be the love of his life, but after 5 years, the relationship went sour. While they were never officially married, she filed for a common-law divorce since they had lived together for over 5 years. The judge awarded the land and property to her, and he was out the door.

Quick to bounce back though, George worked hard to get back on his feet. His work experience was full of various skills: Heavy machine operator, certified welder, he even landed a high-paying desirous job working for Cadillac building car frames. It wasn’t long after that he got wind that his land had been sold. Back in a position where he could do something about it, he bought the land back from the new owner. Unfortunately, the love bug bit again, and he let a woman rent from him who refused to pay her part, and once again, the land was lost.

Feeling incapable of picking up the pieces for a heart-wrenching second time, he turned to drugs and eventually suicide to eliminate the constant stress and worry. Three rehabs and a stint to the Green Country Crisis Unit later, George found himself being driven to Gospel Rescue Mission by a Crisis Unit employee for orientation with us. Right away, he felt better and more at peace with himself.

A bull rider and rodeo roadie for his younger years, he’s banged up, but he’s still going strong. Broken bones didn’t stop him, divorce didn’t stop him, and addiction is definitely not stopping him either. While he’s on the job hunt for any kind of meaningful employment right now, his ultimate goal is to work on a ranch, out in the open air with the animals. That’s when he feels free. “I’m here,” he said confidently. “I’m trying to make a better life for myself.” He’s doing amazing at working our program, he’s realized some of his mistakes, and even when he moves on from us, he’ll be taking with him the love of his new GRM family and the loving spirit of God.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 14

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:22-26

   Peace.  I offer you peace.  But peace does not happen accidentally.  It requires effort.  Our natural bent is to put it off because it is simply too painful, to uncomfortable to engage in the conversations needed.  “Settle matters quickly.” We make excuses as to why we should wait.

We avoid healthy conflict, but no face mask can prevent the damage that can be done through this practice.  Research shows us that avoiding the conflict leads to a whole host of physical health issues.  Families are destroyed because we don’t address the issues that are in our faces.  Our minds become warped by our thoughts of revenge.  But the most damaging is to our spirit.

Remember we were designed for a perfect life in the garden.  Peace should be surrounding us.  Contentment is in our wiring.  However, sin came in and broke that peace.  Our sin was a declaration of war against God.  When we live in conflict with our brothers and sisters we are in conflict with God.

How often have I been in church, nursing a grudge?  I feel angry and embittered over some slight real or imagined.  In the darkness of my mind I have contemplated evil against my enemy, maybe even while I am there in church.  While you are at the altar.  While I am worshipping and recognize this anger welling up within me, I must go make things right. 

Make peace.  Sometimes you will be wronged, forgive anyway.  Go make things right and then return to church and worship in Spirit and in Truth.

GRM offers a webinar on Restoring Peace where you can learn to become a peacemaker.  Peacemaker is a role that our world needs today more than ever.