Friday, June 25, 2010

Street Ministry 6-24-10






















What a pleasant evening it was last night. The recent storms have washed the air of the stifling humidity. I was surprised at how quiet the evening was. Not many people were out on their porches. It was not an evening of burning bushes, miracles and fiery chariots, but last night was more a peaceful walk with the Lord in the cool of the day. . .

A couple of observations. . .

I do not remember seeing clover so filled with bees as I did last night, since my childhood. Between Middlebury Street and the tracks at the street's headwaters, is a large patch of clover and it was noticeably filled with busy honeybees. Other spots of clover along the street were likewise being heavily worked by bees. Even in my own yard, with a bee hive only yards away, the clover is not so full of bees as what I saw last night. That gladdened my heart. Maybe feral bee colonies are making a comeback. . . I know my bees are laying down honey at a rate that I've not seen before. They are really filling the hives with honey. . .

Something else I noticed, the economic recovery must be indeed coming to Elkhart. Numbers of houses, recently unoccupied on Middlebury Street, now have families living in them. Many of these families are Hispanic. They seem to take great pride in their houses. Yards were being worked on, things being scrubbed, weeds whacked, etc. There was a hum of activity that has been missing for some time. This is a quite dramatic contrast to the past year or so, and this change has newly occurred in the last week or two.

Prayed for the third time with a gentleman. Norman is his name. I saw him at the grocery store as I bought my water and again later in the apartments. This time he requested prayer of me. I was just going to pray for him as I walked, but noticing his downcast eyes as I began to walk away, I realized he wanted to be anointed. I poured the oil on his hands and in my mine. I took his hands in mine as we sent a prayer up to God for a blessing on Norman's life. No longer shy of being prayed for, Norman in these last several weeks has gone from being skeptical of prayer to seeking it. . .Thank you Lord.

Chatted with a fellow on the street, working on his car. Offered him a third hand to assist in replacing his alternator. We had a nice talk.

Talked again with Freddie, the fellow I gave the anointing oil to last time I was out. He still hears unidentified voices in his apartment, but they no longer give him fear. He did pray for God's protection over his home and he did anoint some of the walls since we last met. He was alone at the picnic table in the apartments. Usually it is filled with people, many drinking beer. He and I also had a nice talk. He was grateful to be alone for a change in the peaceful evening.

Life Line is having their VBS this week, which probably explains why the apartments were noticeably quieter than normal. There were only a few children out.

One lady motioned to me through the window to come to the back door. Something was on her mind. . . She did not open up. She is greatly pregnant. Her eyes were dark wells of need. . .She took my flier and profusely. . .emotionally thanked me for my prayers. . . I do not know. . .There is some great need in her. . .fear. . .hopelessness. . .I don't know. . .I pray for her. . .

I met the Muslim lady and her children at the store who used to be over at the little store on Marion Street. It was very nice to see the children. We caught up on happenings of the neighborhood, both Middlebury and Marion. . .It was very nice to see her and to say hey to her sweet children.

Like I said, a quiet evening. A different evening. . . An evening of planting seeds. . .

Thank you Lord. . .

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

To Hell with repentance. . .just gimme another Prozac. . .

The following is an excerpt from a current news item about the convicted thief Bernie Madoff, who is in prison for swindling people out 65 billion dollars of retirement money, etc.:


The inmate, who has witnessed the arch swindler's daily routine, also detailed how Madoff began attending sessions with a female prison psychiatrist last year after becoming depressed about a tell-all published in August by his former mistress, Sheryl Weinstein.

"He was having problems with his wife [Ruth]" over the book's revelations, the inmate said.

"He felt she might leave him."

The book, "Madoff's Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me, " details Weinstein's sexcapades with Madoff and how he screwed her out of her life savings.

The shrink prescribed Madoff antidepressants, the inmate said. . .


New York Post June 21, 2010


Yeah. . .the shrink prescribed antidepressants. . .Mr. Madoff surely needs to be anesthetized to feel no pain for the guilt of all his sin. . .Many many people, thought they would have no financial worries in their retirement, hundreds and thousands of little old ladies and little old men awoke to the malignant and terrifying news the Mr. Madoff had stolen all their money. . . losing homes, independence, forced to look to relatives for handouts and charity. . .undoubtedly the stress from this will contribute to early deaths. The death resulting from the commission of a crime is murder. If the shop keeper has a heart attack and dies during your robbery attempt, that is murder. . .in effect Mr. Madoff is not only a liar and a cheat, he is a murderer, probably a multiple murderer. . .He committed adultery, betrayed his wife. . .causing never to be healed wounds in her heart. . .and what he needs is an antidepressant to help him stuff his depression into a dark and hidden crevasse in his mind, so that he can sleep at night, so that he can forget. . .


Our world has no need for religion. . .no need any accountability. . .no need for tears. . .no need for crying out for forgiveness. . .rather than true peace and joy, according to modern psychiatry, all we need is a pill to put us in a mental fog, to help us forget our failures. . .


That is wrong. Mr. Madoff, put down the Prozac. Face your life. . .relive it. . .see every act of shame. . .replay every betrayal over and over and over again. . .let the horror of it work upon you, until you realize the only source of true relief is repentence and in seeking the subsequent forgiveness of God. . . Cry out to Him. . .tell Him of your despair. . . of your pain, your sorrow, your anguish. . . your utter humiliation and shame that wracks your every waking moment. Come to a place before Him. . .face down upon the floor of your cell. . . soaking the concrete with your tears. . .not caring who sees. . .there in the depths of your total breakdown and destruction of pride. . .there at the feet of God find healing and peace. . .


I'm praying for you Mr. Madoff. . .

I'm praying for you. . .


I love you my God. . .

I love you my Lord. . .


Thank you for forgiving me. . .

For giving me another chance. . .

For letting me find peace and love and joy in your arms. . .


Dave Stokely

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Friday, June 18, 2010

As an Atheist. . .As a Christian

As an Atheist. . .As a Christian. . .
I had no moral certainty.I have absolute moral direction.
I had no sense of purpose for my life.I exist to love, to worship, to bring glory to God and secondly to love my fellow man.
I felt greatly alone.I am never alone. He stands beside me through my darkest hour.
I had pride in my honesty and righteousness, regardless how many promises I broke, or lies I told. I could convince myself that I was a good person, as long as I saw people doing worse things than I was.I cannot have pride. I know how far I fall short of true righteousness, for I follow He who never sinned. I require His grace and forgiveness when I fail.
I had trouble forgiving. I would hold grudges for months or even years.I must forgive, for I require forgiveness.
I was not happy. Happiness was forever receding into the future for some new goal and when that goal was achieved, disappointment soon arrived.I am filled with joy as long as I keep my eyes upon Him. Joy is only as far away as worship.
I had no peace. My mind was filled with turmoil and internal strife.I have great peace as I focus my mind on Him and upon His Word.
I was powerless.I have power. The Spirit of God resides in me.

To be continued. . .

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Street Ministry 6-15-10









It was a very muggy evening last night. It wasn't overly hot, but the humidity was quite high. My shirt was just soaked with sweat by the time I was done. For the first part of my walk, it seemed so very quiet. I spoke with only a few people last night, but I refuse to be discouraged at that, for I'm planting seeds in many different ways. It only takes one seed to sprout and grow, to make the evening worth every effort.

The fliers are one form of seed, a kind word. . .a smile. . .a catching of the eyes. . .a mutual tear. . .joining hands in an offered prayer, are all seeds planted in hopes of finding good soil, sprouting and eventually bearing fruit. A great sequoia tree springs forth from a seed that is smaller than a flake of oatmeal. No fireworks span the sky upon the planting of a seed, which will someday grow into a tree 20 feet in diameter and over 300 feet tall. The planting goes unnoticed in the forest floor, but ages down the road, grand and glorious evidence stands of that day in which a tiny seed found good earth. . .

Met the man a couple of weeks ago, who had seemed shocked at my willingness to pray for a financial blessing for him. We were both going into the grocery store. I greeted him asking about the prayed for blessing. He warmly replied, met my eyes and shook my hand, told me that things were slowly, but steadily improving. I told him I would continue to pray for him.

I bought a couple of wonderfully cold bottles of water. What a grand blessing cold cold water is on a hot day.

Talked with quite a few people in the apartments. One lady testified that she had had shingles for over a year, before we prayed together 3 weeks ago. Since then they are completely gone. She is pain free for the first time in well over a year. . .thank you Jesus!!! A group of people were sitting around a picnic table in the River Run apartments, several drinking beer from large tall cans, wrapped in brown paper bags, others were eating Teens-for-Christ hot dogs from their weekly Tuesday evening cookout at the apartments.

I prayed with one man, at his request, in his words for deliverance from the trials and tribulations of life and another man listening, decided that he wanted prayer for his house. He said he was sure a demon lived there. I went to my little wagon, found a bottle of anointing oil. I gave it to him and explained to him how to anoint the walls of his home, and to lift up a prayer and ask to the protection of God upon his house. I anointed him and then we then joined hands at the picnic table and prayed for the protection of God on him. His name is Freddie. We have been talking on the sidewalk, greeting each other for a couple of years now. This is the first time I've ever prayed with him.

I handed out all of the VBS fliers that I had. I ran out in the apartments, so I didn't get to do much of Middlebury Street. I was disappointed the children near Life Tabernacle weren't out. I was a little later than usual. They may have been inside due to the lateness, or maybe because it was so humid.

It was a good evening. Like I said quiet, but still in recalling it and writing it down it was an evening to be greatly thankful for nonetheless. . .

Thank you my Lord. . .
Thank you my God. . .

Dave Stokely

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stress. . .

The following article is developed from a class I taught in the Elkhart County Jail June 10th, 2010.

How we handle stress has implications for nearly every aspect of our lives. Our health, our relationships, our careers, our spirituality are all hugely impacted by the way in which we react to and how we choose to handle stress.

In my own life, some examples of times where I have experienced high levels of stress:

While in basic training in the Army, when going through my wife's labor and delivery, as a young parent with an ill child, different times when I felt overwhelmed by my bills, when I faced uncertainty in my job, when I found out I had to have heart surgery. . .and on and on and on. We all can surely come up with our own lists of times where we have felt stressed out. . .

The word 'stress' is not found in the KJV Bible, but the word 'distressed' is found in 52 verses, in both the Old Testament (44 times) and in the New Testament (8 times). The first occurrence is in Genesis:

Gen 32:7
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;

Jacob is coming back after many years of being away. He left on very uncertain terms with his brother Esau. He does not know that Esau may hold a hatred against Jacob for receiving their father's blessing instead of Esau. Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him the blessing that Isaac intended to give Esau. Jacob is very fearful that Esau may come against him with armed men and kill him. . .

Genesis 42:21
And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

Joseph's brothers have come to Egypt to buy corn, because of the famine in their land. They were responsible for selling Joseph in to slavery. Their father Jacob, awaits back home with their youngest brother, Benjamin. Benjamin is especially beloved by Jacob. Joseph has just told them that to prove their integrity, they must return with Benjamin. This is an impossible situation for Joseph's brothers. It will tear the heart out of Jacob for Benjamin to come to Egypt. In his mind, he has already lost one son, Joseph. Who was sold by these very same brothers into slavery. Their stress levels are extremely high.

If you look at your own life, when you look at the verses of the Bible where people are under times of great stress, there is one common element, one common cause for stress. The less control that we feel we have, the higher the stress. Jacob did not know what Esau would do. There was great uncertainty as to whether he and his family and flock would be alive after meeting Esau. Joseph's brothers needed the corn from Egypt to avoid starvation in their own land. They had to have it, but Joseph put a condition on their receiving aid from him, that represented a huge unknown. Their father might even die in the anguish at having to send Benjamin to Egypt. . .

Bills can be overwhelming. You cannot see any avenue of keeping your utilities on, or making your car payment. . . You see in your minds eye, your electricity and water turned off, your car repossessed, your house in foreclosure. Your boss is in insensitive jerk. He's demanding, insulting, demeaning, but there is nothing that you feel that you can do. You must have your job. There just aren't other jobs to be had. You have no control over the situation. . .The economy, health issues, marital problems, career difficulties. . .each involve circumstances where we are subject to forces outside our ability to manipulate or control them. These problems create fear, tension. . . high levels of stress within us.

There are many healthy and unhealthy ways of handling stress. The use of Drugs and alcohol, over eating, escaping by trying to distract ourselves with television, movies, trying to escape by obsessive reading, or playing video games, the use of pornography. . . adulterous affairs, can all be ways in which we try to gain relief from stress. These are destructive reactions to stress.

Other possibly healthier ways off reacting to stress and trying to alleviate the symptoms of stress, are exercise, venting, and possibly meditation, but again these only treat the symptoms. They surely can be helpful, as an aspirin is helpful for a headache, but does not treat the underlying cause. Taking aspirin only masks the symptoms and does nothing for the underlying reason for the head to be hurting.

What do we do? What can we do? Stress left unchecked can literally kill us. High blood pressure, ulcers, premature aging, heart conditions, and a multitude of other physical conditions can be either caused or greatly aggravated by untended stress in our lives.

The Bible is so wonderful, as a resource for learning how to live our lives. . .

1 Samuel 30:6
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

David was an outcast, running from Saul he went into the land of the Philistines. The city where he and his men were living was raided by Amalekites. The Amalekites burned the city. They kidnapped all the wives and children of the men. David was greatly stressed beyond anything that most of us have ever known. What did David do? He turned to the Lord. . .He prayed. . .He worshiped. . .Through the Lord, we are never without an advocate. Through the Lord, we are never powerless in any situation. Through the Lord. . .any burden becomes bearable. . .Turning to the Lord in times of stress, does not merely treat the symptoms of stress. Turning to the Lord through prayer and worship, removes stress from our lives. No matter what is happening in your life, there is hope in the Lord. . .No matter what is happening in your life. . .The Lord will take your stress. . .and turn it into hope and joy. . .

Pray to God. . .
Worship Him with everything you have. . .

Philippians 4:6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Dave Stokely

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Street Ministry 6-1-10


My Grandfather loved sailing or boating on big water. . .The Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Ocean. . . in a perfect world, he would have been the captain of a grand and dashing clipper ship, forever adventuring into uncharted waters. . .always seeking fresh winds to challenge and turn to his direction. . .One of his favorite observations or pieces of wisdom was that the color of the water was never precisely repeated on any one day to the next. Each day the color of the water was uniquely effected by sun, cloud, sky, depth, and ultimately by the water itself. The same surely may be observed by the days of our lives. . .in any case, each week's time of street ministry is always a new adventure, never repeated. . .always unique. . .

Started out today with one of the regulars. The man is severely disabled with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ~ severe lung disease). In this heat and high humidity, he can scarcely muster enough breath to come to the door, but more often than not, he will meet me on his porch, as I leave the flier, and come and chat for a few minutes. Today in the sluggish warm air he was having great difficulty breathing. He came out on the porch as far as his oxygen line would allow. He dared not to take it off even for a few minutes. . .but he makes significant effort to always meet me at the door and talk with me for a few minutes. He has no other outside visitors. I am his contact with the world. It is the rare week that he and I don't talk for a few minutes and not infrequently I pray with he and/or his wife. He has not long to live. He has cancer and a gravely ill heart in addition to the COPD. It is only a question of when one will strike a fatal blow to his weakened and gravely ill body. . .If I miss a week. . .he worries about me. . .worries that something has happened to me. . .A man who has insurmountable problems of his own worries that something has happened to me, if I don't show up one week. . .

A few steps up the street, I spotted a little elderly lady wandering the north side of Middlebury Street, looking somewhat lost and confused. I crossed the street and gave her one of my fliers and told her that I was praying for the neighborhood, for the drug houses to close, for people to quit hurting each other, for good things to happen to people. Her name was Pat. She was looking for Blanch Nichols, the owner of the pie making plant, not far from Life Tabernacle. Blanch lives right across the street from the pie company. Pat knew this, and had knocked on her door, but no one would answer, so she was looking at all the cars parked around the pie company and the little rental properties adjacent, wondering if Blanch might be found at one of those buildings. She brought out two small black and white photographs, one of Blanch and one of Blanch's father. These pictures were apparently, from the type of photos and the historical clues in the pictures they were probably taken more than 50 years ago. Anyway Pat wanted to give them to Blanch. I'm guessing that Pat may have been a former, now retired employee of Blanch's.

I search my mind, and I just cannot recall how, but the conversation came to rest on the topic of Pat's son, John. He had worked as a security person at Martin's Supermarket. His job was to catch shoplifters. Pat emphasized that John wasn't overweight, but one day 2 1/2 years ago. John had a severe heart attack and died. He was 52 years old at the time. Pat talked about how she NEVER EVER blamed or questioned God for taking her son. She believed that God had His reasons for taking her only child from her. . .We talked about how very very difficult it is for a parent to lose a child. . . I cannot imagine. . . I cannot begin to imagine the pain I heard in Pat's voice. . .We talked about how maybe with the heat, that Blanch was sitting in front of a fan or air conditioner and did not hear Pat knock at her door. Pat was going to try the door to Blanch's house once again and if no one answered, she would leave the pictures in an envelope on the hood of Blanch's car, in the carport next to her house. . .As we began to move apart on the sidewalk, I told Pat that I would be praying for God to help the pain of losing her son to heal. . .to help her feel joy once again. . .she gasped loudly. . .and choked out two sobs before regaining her composure. She patted me on my stomach and thanked me profusely with a quavering voice. . .for several blocks. . .I prayed for Pat. . .

Talked with lots of wonderful people tonight. Prayed with quite a few. . .bought a strawberry Popsicle from the Hispanic street vendor with the little push cart and ate it with Ralph (whom I call the Mayor of Middlebury Street). I spoke with him for quite a while. Each week our talks get better and better. . .

The River Run apartments were again very very busy. Lifeline again was having a hot dog and chips cookout. This must be a weekly thing for them this summer. Henry Cruz a few weeks ago when he went with me, said we should bypass the apartments because of Lifeline's cookout outreach that evening. . .I observed that I was doing the Middlebury Street outreach years before Lifeline started their Tuesday evening cookouts. . .if anyone were to depart it should be them. . .LOL!!! I surely hope Lifeline isn't insulted if I pray with the people as they munch on Lifeline hot dogs. . .I don't hang around the common area where they are grilling and neither do I make myself obvious or a nuisance, but I don't see us as being at all in competition. . .we are both working to expand God's kingdom. . .Lifeline in their way, and I in mine. . .

Ran into Patrick Reed whom I first met as an inmate at the jail about 8 or 9 years ago. Patrick is now very active in ministry both in the jail and in the community. He also has a painting business and is painting the River Run apartment hallways, etc. It was a blessing to see Patrick. He has a wonderful heart for people and ministry. . .

I met another lady standing behind her car in a driveway. I knew the house to be a halfway house for ladies. A couple of years ago I had met another lady at this house, who greatly liked the fliers I leave each week. . .another porch that you would never in any way guess had any use for my fliers at all. . .Week after week, month after month, year after year. . .no response. Anyway, I handed the lady a flier. Told her I was praying for the neighborhood. She told me the house was a halfway house for the Spa, which I was familiar with. It is a Christian ministry reaching women who are coming out of addiction. The lady's name was Jody. She had spent 10 months getting clean at the Spa, now she is a worker there. I told her if she ever needed prayer, that I loved praying for people. . .She became greatly emotional. Her voice on the verge of losing control . .She said that she was going through some very difficult things in her life at the moment and would greatly appreciate my prayers. . .

My goodness what a night. . .

Back towards LTC, the same group of kids as last week were out in their yard at 1122 Middlebury Street. Tonight they were roasting marshmallows over a charcoal grill near the front porch. There were even more kids than last week and again they wanted to pray for Lance (the boy we prayed for last week) and they added another boy Johnny, both in juvenile detention down state. They all had sunburns, which they had to show me and they also wanted them prayed for. . .We had a really big circle this week, maybe 12 kids or so. I anointed all their hands and we held hands as we prayed. One of the Mom's was there. She didn't join in, but she surely was observing. I gave her a flier and told her what I was doing and where I was from. Several of the kids commented on how much they enjoyed the smell of my anointing oil. One boy said he fell asleep last week with his hands near his nose, sniffing the odor of my oil as he went to sleep. He really liked the scent of rose-of-Sharon oil very much.

That was pretty cool. . . That was so so very neat. .

What a wonderful wonderful night. . .

I cannot tell you how full my heart is. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

That My House May Be Filled. . .

Several years ago at the jail, a man who had repented of his past life and had opened his heart to God, gave the testimony that the first meeting he attended at the jail, he came in the hopes of being able to steal a pen. . .This was a man, now on fire for God, now consumed with a deep love of the Lord, who fully admitted that he did not come to hear the preaching. . .He didn't come to pray or worship. . .He came to that meeting, as months later he later admitted to commit a crime, but along the way, his heart was touched by the Lord and his life was changed hopefully for ever. . .

The second chapter of the book of Acts:

Acts 2:1-6
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The Jews who gathered around those newly filled with the Spirit of God, did not come to the Apostles for spiritual reasons. They did not come to ask spiritual questions about Jesus and this new Way. They cared nothing for the Good News of Salvation being available to every man. . .They came to view a spectacle. They came as people go to the side show in a circus, to see something strange and new. The rumor of men possibly drunk and speaking strangely at 9:00 in the morning spread up and down the streets of Jerusalem. The people gathered as drivers slowing and gaping at an accident. Wanting to catch a glimpse of something to break the dullness of their lives and captivate their interest for a few moments. . .They came. . .They saw. . .What they didn't plan on was the Words of Peter reaching and changing their hearts. . .They came. . .They saw. . .and their hearts were conquered. . .

Jesus said:

Luke 14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

Get them into the Master's House by any means possible. Do not be critical or skeptical at those who come for non-spiritual reasons. . . . Neighborhood festivals, ice cream socials, family movie nights, Mother/daughter banquets, chili suppers, Father's day breakfasts, chicken barbecues, Christmas Pagents, Easter plays, choir concerts, birthday celebrations. . .in any way possible get them into His house as an opportunity to speak to their hearts. For we know that the goal is not getting them into God's house. . .the goal is getting them into heaven. . .

Dare not scoff at them. Peter did not rebuke the spectacle seekers on the day of Pentecost. He did not make fun of them for being motivated by having an unspiritual desire for scandal. Rather Peter instructed them. He spoke to their hearts. He spoke to the sin that he knew was in their lives. Jerusalem was a small city by today's standards. I've seen varying estimates of it having a population of between 25,000 to 80,000 during Jesus day. Without a doubt numbers of the men gathered gawking at the apostles had been in the mob that chanted "crucify Him. . .crucify Him. . .crucify Him.", a majority of them would have likely seen the crosses raised with the crucifixion and with no doubt, all of them would have been aware of the recent drama.

Peter spoke to the sin of the men in that crowd. He spoke directly to that sin that of the crucifixion of Jesus, the murder of the Jews long awaited Messiah, which was so recently committed many of the same men standing before him. . .

By any reason, get them into the House of God and watch with twinkling eyes and secret joy as they come for reasons of the flesh and unwittingly, unashamedly on our part, their hearts are touched and their lives changed by the Word of God. . .

I thank you my God. . .
I thank you my Lord. . .

I once was blind, but now I see. . .

Dave