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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

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 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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by Jim Gordon

We all know it is a fact that no matter what you believe, what your interpretation someone always has a completely opposite view. This is true on about any subject, religion, nationalism, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, abortion and during the present day especially on COVID-19.

It seems we can get excited about hearing some truth that really connects. Then the next thing we read is an article by another person that completely disagrees with what you just heard. This is true whether it is religion, politics or the medical world.

More than that, most of us Christians get mad when someone disagrees with us and believes something different from “our” way of thinking. We get on Facebook and make ourselves look crazy because we talk about brotherly love, then we fight and argue with someone because they interpret things differently. Most of the time it is about things we cannot prove one way or the other.

We really have to stop and think that whatever it is we believe, whatever our interpretation, everyone is not going to agree with us. Everyone has a right to their way of interpretation as long as they do not force it on others. There is no reason for us to get mad at someone for seeing things differently.

In regard to our christian life, it is all a matter of faith. No matter what it is in spiritual matters, no one can really prove what is right and what is not, or what is real and what is not. Just because someone has a different interpretation does not mean they are right or wrong.

We need to keep our ears open to the leading of the Spirit, and follow on our own path looking to Jesus. That does not mean any and every path is the right one, but we cannot be the judge of who is right and who is wrong. Jeremy Myers, in his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire’ states, “The beautiful thing about following Jesus is that while He leads us all in the same direction, there are millions of different paths He can take to get us there. His goal, of course, is to advance the Kingdom of God on earth through the people of God who are being conformed into the image of God”. We need to follow Christ as he leads us individually, and then be ready to love all people, no matter if they are on the same path or not.

Let’s stop arguing, fighting and demanding that everyone agree with us. Follow the leading of the Spirit within and love those we meet along the journey. I think the Spirit of God is big enough to lead us all into truth in individual ways, yet all to the same goal.

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by Rocky Glenn

Distractions keep us from being present and enjoying the moments we live. For the churchboy, the greatest distraction is attempting to live up to a set of expectations. An expectation is a belief or anticipation of how someone should or will respond. Churchboys have many expectations they chase after: their own expectations, expectations of God, expectations of the church, and expectations of others. Quite often these get intertwined and create a web of confusion which is difficult to break free of and leaves one unable to ever enjoy the moment. Disapproval from friends, family, and fellow church members is felt when expectations are not met and long held beliefs and practices are questioned. This disapproval gives way to separation and alienation from those once held close as peace is found more and more in uncertainty rather than simply accepting clear-cut, placating answers to the tough issues of life and conforming to perceived expectations. It is in this journey toward uncertainty the recovering churchboy wakes up to Truth as the scales of expectations begin to fall slowly from his eyes. In my previous post, I discussed how both the prodigal son and his older brother fell victim to the distraction of regret. If you are perhaps unfamiliar with the story, allow me to share below:

The tale opens with the younger of the father’s two sons going to his father asking for his share of his father’s estate. Immediately after the request we are told the father divided his estate between the two brothers. Within a short time, the younger son packed all his belongings and left home and, before long, wasted his entire fortune. To further compound the situation, a famine hit the land and the only employment he could find was feeding pigs. As hunger drove him to the point of desiring the slop he was feeding the animals, he woke up to the idea of his father’s servants being better cared for and receiving three meals a day while he was starving to death. At this point, he decides to return home and beg to be accepted as a servant.

Imagine the confusion of the younger son as he is returning home and, just as he can barely distinguish the silhouette of his father’s home in the distance, he notices a cloud of dust gaining momentum moving towards him on the dirt road only to realize the catalyst for the dust storm is his Father running to him with open arms. Pushing his father away, he begins his rehearsed speech of what a failure and let down he truly is and has become. The father interrupts as he wraps him in his arms all the tighter and shouts to all around, “Bring him some fresh clothes, shoes, and jewelry! Get him cleaned up! It’s time to celebrate and party! My boy has come home! Once thought lost and dead, he is now found and alive!”

During the younger son’s celebrated return home, his older brother was working in the fields and unaware of his brother’s return and the party being thrown in his honor. As he approached home after the day’s work and learned of the celebration and its cause, the story records him as refusing to enter the party and storming off sulking in anger. Being approached by his father for an explanation, he states his case rather emphatically, “I’ve worked for all these years. I’ve never brought you any shame and always done everything you ask. You’ve never held a party in my honor, yet this fool returns home after wasting away all his money and you throw a feast for him as a reward!”

Just as the father’s heart was overflowing with joy upon the return of his younger son, I can imagine sorrow pricked his heart to hear the words of the older brother. How heart-breaking it must have been to look at his oldest son and say, “Don’t you get it. You’ve worked for me all these years and never once realized all I have is already yours.”

The story of the prodigal son is one of the most well-loved and well-known stories Jesus ever used to illustrate the Father’s love. Taking a closer look at the story of the prodigal we can also see examples of how distractions of expectations rob each of them of enjoying the moment just as it does the churchboy.

Expectations of the Younger Son: The Internal Churchboy

As the story opens, the younger son’s request reveals his unhappiness and dissatisfaction with his current life as he is distracted by it not meeting his expectations of what life truly should be. He sets about spending all his time, energy, and resources in attempts of achieving and acquiring all he ever wanted. However, as his bankroll runs thin and his energy is spent, he is forced to face the reality we all must come to realize. Life has no “supposed to be.” Once distracted by his own personal expectations, the distraction of regret has become his close personal companion as he finds himself weary, lost, and alone with no other choice but to return home ashamed and groveling expecting rejection.

Though they would never admit it or exhibit it externally, churchboys often view themselves as the eternal prodigal. Convinced and conditioned to believe the problems of their lives are simply a result of their own selfishness and pride leading them astray, they live their life feeling unworthy to be called a son and seek solace in simply being known as a servant. They anticipate being turned away in displeasure as they return to the Father week after week, Sunday after Sunday confessing their failures of living up to the Father’s perceived expectations: “I didn’t pray enough this week. I didn’t spend any time reading my Bible. I spent more time watching TV and on social media than I did with you. I lost my temper, said things I should have never said, and hurt those I love. I’m sorry. Although I don’t deserve it, please forgive me. I’m so unworthy.” Churchboys beg and plead for the Father’s forgiveness to simply feel accepted once again. Their expectations of the Father are tainted with the fear of rejection and anticipation of being turned away as a result of their image of themselves and how they perceive the Father views them.

The prodigal’s return home is a beautiful illustration of waking up to the true unconditional acceptance of grace for the first time. The cocoon of shame and unworthiness from missing the father’s perceived expectations slowly begins to crack as unconditional love breaks through and the son slowly begins to realize there is nothing he could ever do to not be considered a son. When I was first presented the gospel of grace and acceptance after many years of living the weekly cycle of the prodigal, I was just as perplexed as I’m sure the younger son was being wrapped in his father’s arms and celebrated for returning home. To realize the Father has no expectations in being considered a son is the path to recovery for the internal churchboy.

Expectations of the Older Brother: The External Churchboy

The older brother’s response is reflective of the churchboy’s outward life. Much like the older brother, churchboys make public displays of all they do to please God. They expect to be rewarded for their service and are serving for the reward of acceptance. Their security and trust lie in their years of service rather than in who they are. Because of their track record and accomplishments, they view themselves in higher regard than others. Blinded from the true definition of sonship, their expectations are to be accepted based on the good they’ve done, as well as the evil they’ve not done.

Such is the way of the churchboy, constantly working to obtain what he already has access to. He believes the only way he will ever hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” is by working more, doing more, saying Jesus more, and outshining those around him. As long as he feels someone is closer to the Father than himself or there is something greater he must do, the churchboy will continue working to reside in a place he doesn’t realize he already exists in and can never escape, the Father’s love.

The perceived expectations the older brother has of the father are really no different than his younger sibling’s, but they go about meeting those expectations in different manners: the former through working to achieve and avoid, the latter begging and pleading. Until they release their expectations neither brother, nor the churchboy, can enjoy the moment they are in. For the brothers, that moment is a moment of love, acceptance, and celebration of being with their father. For the churchboy, it’s the same.

Expectations distract from us enjoying the moment and being present where we are. Our minds become so entangled with what’s supposed to be, what’s required, and anticipated outcomes we become blinded to the expectations we’ve placed on ourselves, on others, and on our God. Let us rejoice in the unconditional love and acceptance of the Father and pay the Father’s love forward in unconditional love and acceptance of others.

Rocky

More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

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If you are like my wife and me, you can remember from your first day in church being taught that the Bible was God’s holy word. The Bible was perfect and without mistake or any contradictions.

We felt the Bible was personally written by the hand of God through chosen men, and all the answers were contained therein. I truthfully think a lot of us Christian people have come to see the Bible as the fourth member of the God-head.

In fact, to even question if the Bible is inerrant was sacrilegious. It was like the familiar quote in the court system when being sworn in, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We have come to believe the Bible is the truth, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible. Everything is contained within the written word, and God can do nothing outside of the written word.

Swear-In

Of course that way of thinking really limits the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and is our teacher and guide. If the Spirit teaches us something or shows us something, we immediately want to look it up in the Bible, and if we cannot find it there, then we think the voice of the Spirit certainly must be wrong.

Also like my wife and me, many of you have come to a point where you began to wonder if this inerrancy of the written word of God is really the case. I remember reading a section in one of my Bibles between the Old and New Testament that was about how we got our Bible. I remember thinking about how certain books were chosen, by men, as divinely inspired and others were not, which books to put into what we call the Bible and which books to leave out. It sure made me think about how this can be a perfect, inerrant group of writings. Of course at that time, I quickly dismissed my questions and moved on, lest I made God mad at me for questioning his perfect book. Or maybe I was more worried about making the pastor and other members mad.

Of course a lot of us were taught that the King James Version of the Bible was the true word of God and any other translation was wrong, and some translations were even an insult to God. My thought on that is how can any translation be considered the true word of God? They are all translations, even the King James. Truthfully, some of the stories I have heard about King James and his instructions on interpreting the manuscripts would make me want to stay away from the King James Version anyway. This is why we depend on the Spirit within us to bring the truth to light and not depend on any particular translation.

When we read John 1:1 and many other verses within the Bible, we come to realize that when we hear that the Word of God is living, perfect, powerful, inerrant and so forth, what is being described is Jesus, not a book.

The Bible was definitely inspired by God, and that inspiration was through men. We all know if mankind has a hand in anything it is going to be flawed. Being inspired to write does not mean you write word for word through dictation. I can be inspired to write a book about a topic, but it is still going to be me writing, and have my thoughts, feelings, and flare to it.

Just because the written word of God is not perfect, that does not negate anything about God. I always heard people say that if the Bible has errors in it or contradicts itself, then the whole idea of God must not be true either. I really do not understand that logic, especially since we know that Jesus is the Word of God. The written word, when viewed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. The verse in 2 Timothy 3:16 does not say the written word is perfect.

In fact, when Christ walked on the earth, and the early days of Christianity, there was not even a written word like what we call the Bible available to the believers. There was the Word of God though, because Jesus has always been around.

My wife and I believe the Bible to be very valuable for learning and a means of hearing from God. We also believe the Holy Spirit within us and His still, small voice is even more valuable. We believe godly friends and wise people of God can be a help and guidance to us as the Holy Spirit speaks through them.

Jesus word of GodSo many of us want to fight and defend the written word we call the Bible. We divide ourselves into groups and denominations, we separate ourselves from the world, we fight, condemn and alienate ourselves over the written word because we think it is the inerrant words and ways of God, yet the true Word of God, Jesus, is standing right in front of us and we miss Him. Just like when Jesus was talking with the Jews and said in John 5:39 and 40 … ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life’.

We see that life is in Christ. Jesus is not telling them to come to the Bible or accept the Bible, but to come to Him. Jesus is the true, powerful, inerrant, living Word of God. Read your Bible, let the Holy Spirit bring life to the words, learn and be encouraged from them, but realize the written word is not perfect. Look to the living, perfect Word who is Jesus, and listen for His voice through the Spirit.

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Do you find yourself questioning things more than you used too? I know I do.

As Christians, we’ve always been taught that we need to have the answers. Study to show thyself approved meant, you must have an answer for everything people come up with so you can prove your beliefs are right.

I remember having questions in the past, but I basically blew them off and buried them, thinking I was wrong to even think such things. As time went on, the questions kept popping up and I began to realize that questioning was not wrong.

I believe God accepts us, questions and all. I am hoping that one day I’ll have more answers, mostly for my own sake and not necessarily to defend my beliefs.

Welcometochurch

I think the modern-day church and religion in general do not like questions, at least not hard questions. Especially questions that make us wonder about the basic beliefs they teach. They like to have all the answers, and answers that fit into their particular belief and doctrine.

In his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire: Giving up Our Religious Rites and Legal Rights’,  Jeremy Myers makes a statement that is oh so true: “And as is the nature with questions, asking hard questions rarely leads to answers, but only to more questions”

I think God is much bigger than what the church makes of him sometimes. They try to fit everything into a box and don’t like people asking questions that require out-of-the-box thinking.

It seems to me the spirit within, the spirit of truth, brings up questions that the religious system taught us and we always just accepted. Now, rather than suppressing these questions, I have allowed them to surface and truly seek God for guidance.

On February 9, 2015, Mick Mooney posted an article on Facebook, part of which says: “But who has the faith to ask questions with the intention of seeking the answers to them? Who can let their foundation be not a doctrine or dogma that must be defended, but Christ himself who needs no defense? For it is those who have their foundation solely upon Christ, who can walk in their faith without fear of questions, but rather they walk in their faith knowing that God is lighting their path with questions, and it is these very questions that are paving the path that the Spirit of God is guiding them upon”.

If you are feeling guilty for having questions, I have found it best to stop feeling that way and keep asking the questions. That is the best way to continue growing and learning in our walk with God. Even when we don’t get the answers, we should continue to be asking and seeking the truth from our Father.

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Is it me, or do you find that it can be very frustrating coming to realize that the teachings we have grown up with in modern day religion may be wrong? Be it by way of simple misinterpretation or by people purposefully trying to force others into accepting Christ by scaring them.

Do you ever grow tired of reading all the different views and opinions, interpretations and doctrines? Do you get aggravated when people argue over their beliefs, yet God has told us to love one another?

It can get pretty discouraging seeing all the postings on Facebook and other sites where people argue, and sometimes heatedly, over their views and interpretations. Sometimes they are basic views we have grown up accepting as gospel truth, yet now we question whether they are gospel or man’s wrong interpretation.

No matter how you interpret the scriptures, no matter how much you believe your way of thinking on spiritual matters, someone else will have a completely different view. Even those who are followers of Christ can’t agree on everything. We all have a different view on the bible.

I wonder why we can’t accept each other, no matter what our interpretation. Truthfully, none of us can prove most of what we believe, be it faith in God, heaven, hell, satan and a number of other topics. It is all by faith that we believe what we believe. We can’t prove or disprove anything.

I think we should ask our Father daily for His guidance into truth. Hold to what you believe, but be open enough to change when God (not some other person) gives a clearer view of the truth. When someone has a different way of looking at things, accept them. You don’t have to agree with them. Who knows, they might be right.

I don’t think any of us can say without a doubt who is completely right or wrong in our interpretations. We should seek God for truth through the Spirit, and let everyone have their right to do the same. Quit fighting and arguing over who is right and who is wrong.

One thought comes to mind in all this, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’. The most basic and simple thing we learned long ago seems to be the only consistent thing we can all agree on.

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I wanted to again state what the purpose of this website and my writings are about. I will borrow the words from Mick Mooney, which he wrote in his new book ‘An Outsider’s Guide to the Gospel’ to explain:

 

“I guess all this is my little disclaimer. I want to clarify that I’m not writing in the hope I can somehow teach you something. I’m sharing, that’s it. I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences. If they help you, great. If not, no problem. These words I’m writing are just that. Just words. Take them with a grain of salt.

You know who you should trust? Trust the Spirit within you, that’s who. Let him lead you into all truth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to seek answers, and to discover the abundant life along the way”.

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Is it aggravating to anyone else, or is it just me? I mean the fact that no matter what you believe, what your interpretation, someone always has a completely opposite view.

You get excited about hearing some truth that really connects, and the next thing you read an article by another Christian that completely disagrees with what you just heard.

Even more than that, most of us Christians get mad when someone disagrees with us and is different. We get on Facebook and make ourselves look crazy because we talk about brotherly love, then we fight and argue with someone because they interpret things differently….and mostly about things we can’t prove one way or the other.

We really have to stop and think that whatever it is we believe, whatever our interpretation, everyone is not going to agree with us. There is no reason for us to get mad at someone else for being different.

This life is all a matter of faith. No matter what it is spiritually speaking, no one can really prove what is right and what is not. Just because someone has a different interpretation doesn’t mean they are right or wrong.

We need to keep our ears open to the leading of the Spirit, and follow on our own path looking to Jesus. That does not mean any and every path is the right one, but we can’t be the judge of who is right and who is wrong. Jeremy Myers, in his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire’ states, “The beautiful thing about following Jesus is that while He leads us all in the same direction, there are millions of different paths He can take to get us there. His goal, of course, is to advance the Kingdom of God on earth through the people of God who are being conformed into the image of God”. We need to follow Christ as he leads us individually, and then be ready to love all people, no matter if they are on the same path or not.

Let’s stop arguing, fighting, and demanding that everyone agree with us, and love those we meet along the journey. I think God is big enough to lead us all to His truth in His timing.

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Matthew 23:10 – Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ….

Do you notice how we Christians get so caught up on which pastor, evangelist or Christian leader becomes our focal point? We listen to this one, or that one, read books from this guy, or listen to tapes by this woman. We attend a fellowship because we like the pastor, or we will drive miles to listen to a popular TV or radio evangelist.

But wait a minute, doesn’t God’s word say that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, all fellow-servants. We are not to be called leaders, no one is higher up than anyone else. We don’t need anyone to teach us because we have the Spirit of Christ within us, the true living Word lives in each of us (1 John 2:27).

In Christ, we are all His children, no one should be looked up to or revered more than anyone else. True, we can learn from one another by the way Christ works in each of our lives, but we should stop putting our hope in other people and start listening to the Holy Spirit that is within us for truth and guidance.

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