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Archive for the ‘christian living’ Category

by Jim Gordon

If you have grown up in the organized church system and later change your views, what do you do with all your all friends who are still in the system?

Sometimes the first thought is to separate from them. They no longer understand you so why be a part of them?

To this I say that the bible says to forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. I do not believe that means we need to stay a part of an organized church and attend their meetings. I feel it means we still need our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not done through a Christian organization on a certain day of the week. How much fellowship can we really have sitting in an organized service listening to one person do all the talking?

We need a daily interaction with believers for encouragement, strength, prayer support, helping others and sharing the love of God to lift one another up. We need communion with other believers, and not necessarily always about spiritual things. Just good old fellowship and communication on a number of topics: spiritual, our various concerns and needs, funny things and basic conversation.

I honestly feel we should not separate ourselves from those who think differently from us, but sometimes it cannot be helped because they will cut us off. They tend to think we have lost our faith or have fallen under the lies of the devil.

When my wife and I left the organized church, we did not leave God. We still believe in Jesus, in loving God and loving others. We love our brothers and sisters who are still in the organization and believe we still need each other.

We do need to get past the us versus them mentality and accept one another whether we attend a religious organization or not.

If they feel we have lost our faith or walked away from God, it does not mean they are our enemy. We are still to love them and do our best to get along and support them. If they choose to stay away from us, there is nothing we can do about that, but we cannot write them off and forget them. We still love them, pray for them, and go on with our lives sharing the love of God with them any everyone we meet.

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by Jim Gordon

Just a few verses from the bible that put emphasis on what we are called to do, and that is love one another. Does not mean we always agree, does not mean we do not have different views and opinions. Yet we can accept one another, grant the same equal rights, respect and human dignity to everyone through love.

Notice these verses do not say this pertains only to those who think the same, look the same, believe the same or worship the same. It applies to all human beings no matter what label they wear, such as man/woman, black/white, gay/straight, no matter what nationality, no matter what religion, gender or race. We are only called to love one another.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 22:37-40

And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Mark 12:30,31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

John 13:34-35

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 15:12

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:17

These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:13

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 16:14

Let all that you do be done in love.

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ephesians 4:2

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love

2 Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

1 Peter 1:22

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart

1 John 3:11

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

1 John 3:23

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us

1 John 4:7, 8

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:19,20,21

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

2 John 1:5

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

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by Jim Gordon

Many people wonder if Christianity and politics can actually exist together. It seems that Jesus really had no real interest in the political system of his day, yet he also did not condemn it. He said to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

In our day and age politics can be a powerful thing and many people find it extremely important. No matter what country you live in it is controlled by a political party in one way or another. Many countries, like the United States participate in free elections and others are under more of a dictatorship. Either way, we humans are all under some type of political influence and control.

I find that coming from a Christian viewpoint it seems many Christian people in the United States feel that if you are a Christian you have to be a republican. Personally, the way I feel about politics I really do not care which political party a person belongs too. Unfortunately, I really do not see much of the ways of Jesus in either of our main political parties. It seems politicians are more concerned on political power and financial gain rather than on serving the people and making things better for all.

When I vote, I try to vote for the person I feel will do that best job for the most people and I do not worry which political party they belong too. I know there are many politicians who are of the Christian faith, yet there are also many who only use Christianity to get more votes.

Truthfully, being a Christian has nothing to do with a political party. Those of us who are followers of Christ live every day by our faith which involves every aspect of living. Our faith in God is not a Sunday only thing or a political thing. Many people seem to think they have a spiritual life on Sunday and a secular and political life the rest of the week. Yet the truth is we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we walk with the Spirit of God each and every day. Everything we do can be considered spiritual because God is within us all the time.

Many people seem to think we can use political power to force our Christian values on everyone. I for one do not believe we should or can legislate Christian values and morality on anyone. God does not force his love and ways on us, so why should we try to force our values and beliefs on others. Only by the power of the Spirit living within us can righteous living and loving others be accomplished.

Jesus was obviously more interested in speaking of and teaching about the kingdom he was a part of, the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not nearly as worried or concerned about worldly kingdoms or political powers.

I would love to see people stop bringing Christianity down to a political purpose. Focus on Christ and loving others no matter which political party they endorse, if any. Politics is not the answer and is not worth all the fighting and arguing over. Loving God and loving one another is a much more important and meaningful way of life.

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By Mike Edwards

When my parents, partner, or friends believe in me, respect me, hope or trust in me – I am more inspired. Does God love us in the same way? We all struggle to be the person we desire to be deep down. Many struggle with habits that they regret each time they break a promise. God surely knows such regrets. Loving parents never give up on their child becoming what they know them to be like. Is God any less loving?

Why would an all-powerful God give us freedom?   

Freedom in relationships is necessary for true love. God obviously created us with freedom because of all the evil in the world contrary to God’s desires. Controlling behaviors never lead to true intimacy desired in relationships. The truth is parents or God are dependent on others to have genuine relationships. God puts their hopes and trust in us as do loving uncontrolling parents.

God can’t know or control the future and truly love!                                      

If the future is knowable and not open, I can’t act otherwise. God controlling the future is no different than parents dictating to their older children what career or partner they must pursue. God must be uncontrolling or God is uncaring. God must have faith and be vulnerable just as our parents when having us. The Bible agrees God doesn’t know the future. God regrets (I Sam. 15:10-11); God relents (Jonah 3:10); God is surprised (Is. 5); God changes their mind (Jer. 18:8-10).

How dare you compare God’s love to human love!

We may not always know what perfect love entails but intuitively we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others Even the Bible suggests God’s love is the same as perfect human love: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48); be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1); be merciful like God (Lk. 6:36). God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God seem evil. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and perfect human love are the same.

God is love but what does that mean? 

An unloving God isn’t worth believing in. God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for our success, believes in us. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes. God either believes in, hopes for us, builds us up, or doesn’t love us at all.

We matter to God!

We commit to relationships not knowing how they will turn out. God too! If you claim to love someone, you suffer when things don’t turn out as you hoped. God too! Even if you don’t believe Jesus was really divine and human, many believe Jesus may have been the most perfect person in the world like God. Jesus trusted, hoped, and had faith in others. We may feel hopeless at times but not God. God believes in and loves you the same way you want to be loved by your parents!

Resource and must read: Wm. Curtis Holtzen, The God Who Trust: A Relational Theology Of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love

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by Jim Gordon

In the Christian world today there are many, many people who are well known and educated in the Bible and religion. Pastors, evangelists and big-named TV evangelists are so numerous we cannot remember them all. People have their favorites and sometimes even argue about which one is the best and should be listened to the most.

For me personally, I am getting tired of all the big-named, well known pastors and evangelists giving me their views and opinions and telling me what God is saying. I have pretty well stopped listening to people and try to focus on hearing the voice of the Spirit of God who lives within me.

Obviously, we all have an opinion and a view and there is nothing wrong with listening to others to get their viewpoints. The problem is that most of the time we put our full faith in what other people say. There is no need to put such faith in another person. Jesus said when he left earth that he was sending us a comforter, one who would guide is into all truth and we would need no man (or woman) to teach us.

Listen to those to whom you value their knowledge and understanding, yet do not put complete and total faith into anyone. Seek the still, quiet voice of the Spirit of God from within and rely on the Spirit to teach and guide you in your daily walk with God.

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by Jim Gordon

This article is written to those of us who live in the USA. Here in the United States it is a time in history when things seem to get pretty weird. Currently we are in a presidential election year and that can cause a lot of chaos in itself. Then we have a lot of other important issues going on that just makes things a little crazy.

Things can certainly get strange. It seems politics (and money) can make people do things and say things they normally would not do and say.

For me, politics is not an interest. I feel it is a divider and causes disagreements and many times can cause the loss of friendships. It usually does not bring people together other than those who are in favor of the same politician or party.

One important thing we need to remember is that no one person and no one political party will be the answer to all our problems. We all have our opinions and views and we are all entitled to have them and express them. The problem is when we cannot accept opinions and views that are different from ours.

Thinking back to the tragedy of 9/11, and I would never want something like that to happen again but right after that happened, I can remember the unity that was felt here in the USA. People seemed to forget their differences and they united under a common cause. If we could only unite together as fellow human beings and not put so much importance on our different political views, what a difference there would be in our country.

There are certainly many issues going on and many issues that need to be dealt with and changed. I believe that not much will happen until we can unite in the fact that we are all human beings who want the best for our country, our families and ourselves. Though we will never all agree, we need to strive to work together in a way that will cause change where needed and bring people together to work for the good of all.

Fighting over which politician or which political party is best and will do the best job is not going to bring the unity we need to make the necessary changes. No politician is going to fight for the people without us, the people holding them accountable. They will fight for what is best for them and what is best for their party, but we need to work together to force them to do what is best for us, the people of the United States of America.

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by Jordan Hathcock

When we haven’t earned the right with our blood, sweat, tears, and time, truth-telling is most often received as judgment. Jared Byas

What a no holds barred match of viewpoints we find ourselves in, within our current culture climate. With so many voices being echoed through all available chambers—social media being the main sphere—how do we know truth? Beats me (haha). But I do believe there is something to an experiential encounter with a “quality or state of being true”, that holds more tangible weight than other voices. In other words, how does our experiences inform us about whether or not an specific idea or act is the actual essence of truth?

Maybe by “walking in another’s shoes”, we reach a firmer grasp on what is true or false? Look, I get the importance of doing your own research and the importance of peer reviewed articles. We read articles, try to have an open mind, listen to experts (a lot of conspiracy with this at the moment…good lord), and attempt to listen to both sides. This is good advice and has helped me tremendously. But I cannot help to hear the saying of Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself” when trying to pursue *the* truth. Yes, we can’t forget the other saying of Jesus: “I am the truth”. Amen! But you know we are part of his body so we can’t dodge the responsibility of being part of that truth ourselves. To embody a reality of authentic truth, we get there by self-giving love. And to love is to put ourselves in other’s perspectives, which in turn, enable us to “see and hear” the truth that sets us ALL free.

Don’t get me wrong. Critical thinking skills are needed to get us to a place of factual analysis (Critical Theory for example). The point of any cognitive critique is to bring in a set of ideas and push them to the forefront of discovery. These are all good and much needed steps to find truth. What I am proposing is when we are pursuing the truth we must do it in love. Yes yes yes; love love love is all we need, blah blah blah. Listen (or read? hehe) here, alright?! The only love I am talking about is the love that “lays down her life for a friend”. Capeesh?

This love is a movement of action where all eyes can see. Or, how Dr. Cornel West puts it: “Justice is what love looks like in public”. Speaking truth to power is the gateway of experiencing healing and liberating truth. This is the gospel that Jesus preached. He was “living” this truth, no matter what the cost. It’s an inner truth that Jesus couldn’t deny. Folk rock band The Avett Brothers songTell the Truth say (sing?) it best:

Tell the truth to yourself and the rest will fall in place

I can make my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my lover, my neighbor, my friends all happy

Give of myself whatever they ask

But without this single truth it is only emptiness that I cast

A happiness that will not last

But I’m not here for that for what does happiness help without this single truth given to thyself

Tell the truth to yourself and the rest will fall in place

When we come to a point of a moment of truth, we must embrace the love of self and others to really accept it. Inner truth always will pour out onto others. Hear me out on this: This isn’t the same as weaponized truth, where we just have our weapon of choice—locked and loaded—ready to beat the shit out of any who dare not to comply to our truth claims. I believe we have come to a point in our current social dialogue that all we want to hear is our reasoning biases in the voice of the other. If it isn’t there, bombs away!

We all should be passionate and prophetic when we are looking to carry out our truths to implement change. A little anger helps but when it is the most thundering sound and drowns out love, that’s when we get nowhere. Yes, we need to hear the voices of the oppressed, the sick, and the poor at this current time of history (and all of history past). I mean, this is what Jesus did all day long during his ministry. But we cannot forget how he redeems, reconciles, and resurrects it all: By a cross of forgiveness and love. Author and podcaster Jared Byas says it like this:

We live our lives feeling that there is a tension between truth and love. But there’s only a tension if we believe truth and love are equals and opposites. They are not. Love is the bottom line. When we pursue a life of love, we will find truth along the way. When we pursue truth, we do not always find love along the way. When Jesus tells us the greatest commandment, it’s not truth-telling, it’s not fact-based, it’s not doctrinal. It’s love.

So, can we really know truth? Yes and no. But we definitely will never get there if we do not show the love, people! What if truth is not a belief to be held but an experience to be shared? I like that possibility. Let’s step into that realm of trusting love and see where The Truth leads…

As for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part. For love is the end. — 1 Corinthians 13:8-9,13

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

I swear this is the last time I will write on this subject until next time. There is repetition in my writing because I am always trying to answer the question better.  I named my blog What God May Really Be Like  in search of answers to this question. I am convinced many don’t pursue a relationship with God because of mistaken beliefs claimed about God.   

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.

God and perfect human love must be the same.

The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God seem evil. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and human love are the same.

Moral intuitions are a guide in what true love is.

It is plausible a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is how a Creator communicates how to treat others if in that person’s shoes. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God believer that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but civil dialogue allows evaluating the challenges we encounter and finding what different views have in common.

But, what about the Bible?

We can’t prove if biblical writers were made to understand God perfectly as opposed to being on the same spiritual journey all are on – discovering what God is really like? Even if God inspired every word of the Bible, we can’t always know what the writers meant. Scholars disagree on the meaning of the same biblical passages concerning significant matters such as hell, women, gays, etc. Sick and weak minds carry out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense according to their interpretation. We must use our moral brains when reading ancient literature.

What About Jesus? 

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is the final word in understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. But God-followers don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. People who love Jesus with all their heart don’t agree if Jesus’ teachings allow or rule out war when evil is rampant and victims can be saved. It is an illusion to claim we can know for certain what God would do because the Bible or Jesus says so.

What does God really think about women, gays, and non-Christians? 

Most intuitively question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. Most intuitively question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can.  Most intuitively question if God would torture infidels forever for beliefs while on earth only for a short time. Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies. Such beliefs may only be held because of one’s interpretation of a supposed inspired Book.

Uncertainty may be better than certainty.

Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. It is universally accepted that it is evil to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs, unless you are a terrorist, but it is not a universal belief that God condemns gays. God may not communicate more directly, because God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving.

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers might treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

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by Jim Gordon

So many followers of Christ today live like they are under the old covenant. Most traditional churches seem to place more emphasis on the old covenant and rule following.

We have been brought up in the religious system that seems more like a corporation rather than a community where the priesthood of all believers should be the norm. The church has a pastor, elders and deacons just like a corporation has a CEO, board of directors and operating committee.

We still have the mind-set that we are living in the old way of doing things. A lot of us still think the church is a building we gather in and listen to a ‘chosen few’ tell us what God is saying.

We tell each other to ‘have a good Lord’s day’, thinking Sunday is the chosen day to set aside to worship God and to rest.

We look to the bible like it is part of the trinity and we worship it and use it for all kinds of rule keeping, judging and condemning others.

We tithe ten percent to the church, thinking God requires it from us and if we do not give the tithe we are robbing God.

Jesus completed the old covenant and brought it to an end. He made a new covenant with his creation, which we are now living under.

Jesus is building his Church, which is made up of people not brick and mortar. It is a community of believers with Christ as the head and each of us are equal, participating members. Now that may happen anywhere and anytime, in a building, in a house, in a park, a restaurant and so on. The fact is that Church is not an organized meeting in a set place at a set time, but it is a fellowship and relationship among fellow believers, no matter if there are only two or three.

Each and every day is the day the Lord has made. Every day is holy and for resting in the work God has already done. The idea that the seventh day is holy is just not true in the New Covenant.

The bible is the inspired by God. Although God inspired men to write, it is still a book written by men. It is the Spirit that gives life and meaning to those words. If the Spirit is not enlightening us and teaching us the words do not have life.  Jesus is the living, all powerful, inerrant Word of God and he lives within us by his Spirit.

Tithing was a law given to the Jews in the old covenant. It is no longer part of the new covenant. Giving out of love as the Spirit leads is the way we now live. God does not need our money, but giving to those who do, out of love is a way that is pleasing to God and a help to others.

It is disappointing that many continue to teach the old covenant way to believers today, although it is understandable. All of us alive today do not know anything different since this has been taught for hundreds of years. Not until the Spirit opens our eyes and leads us in His truth do we see this new way of living by his grace.

Seek God’s truth, ask the Spirit for guidance. Do not be condemning and argumentative towards fellow believers who see things differently, but be open to what God shows you. Do not be close-minded and continue to do things just because that is the way we have always done them.

The Spirit is within us and he is our guide into all truth. Be open to hear his voice and follow in the way he leads you. Do not be condemning towards your brothers and sisters in Christ who follow a different path. It is the same spirit that leads us, and we are all called to love one another.

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

I have written on this topic several times. See here. There may be thousands of reasons people believe or not. One may believe just because their parents do. One may not believe because God seemingly intervenes little when there is so much evil in the world. I have decided over the years to focus my writings on one main reason people may not believe but wanna.

I am convinced many may not pursue a relationship with a Creator, that they are convinced exists, because they believe lies others claim about God. I know “lies” is a strong word, but no one can claim with certainty their view of an invisible, inaudibly God is TRUTH!

I may be wrong, but I am convinced the following beliefs perpetuated about God are not true. See here.

A God who isn’t perfect isn’t worth believing in. We can only compare God’s love to perfect human love. We all must decide what a perfect, loving God would be like and whether to pursue a relationship further.

Are we better off with God?

  • If a Creator exists, they may know a thing or two about life and purpose for living
  • Parents and friends often don’t love us for who we are but what they want us to be. God can often fill a void that humans can’t.
  • I am not the man I want to be. I have desires and thoughts that I know are wrong. I need guidance and encouragement in refusing them and knowing they are not in my best interests

Do you want to know God better? Find someone who seems to have an open relationship with their Creator and ask for help. If they want to give a lot of advice and act like they speak for God all the time – run! Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions. Seek a rational view of God rather than some pie in the sky God.

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Escape to Reality

Exploring the wide open spaces of God's amazing grace

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