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I think we’ve been lied to.


 

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible.

It’s all going to turn out all right.”

~ Billy Graham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a chance we’ve been lied to?  Do you think some, maybe with great intentions, have led us away from truth?  Do you think there could really be an ‘enemy’ with a plan to give us wrong definitions of things that seem good and worthy?  Do you think that we’d be able to see this lie as soon as it makes eye contact with us?  Or would we possibly be swayed into thinking it is honorable?

 

We’re in the middle of a politically charged election year.  Do you think that we’re going to hear fully the truth of anyone who’s running?  I’m not sure.  Each candidate, whatever office they’re running for, wants their best side to show…mistakes hidden.  We’re like that in a lot of ways as well.  We want people to know us for our strengths and not for our weaknesses.  In many ways we ‘advertise’ something we’re really not in order to please others or to feel good about ourselves.  We might not have evil objectives while doing this, but we act selfishly by nature.  We humans are fairly good at that at times.  There is goodness though that can shine through our darkness.

 

Sometimes organizations, governments and corporations tell us that they have the best ideas, products and plans for our lives.  They say we can depend on them to help us get through life.  And many times, that may be their aim…but is it really the truth?  The world would have us believe that its wisdom for our lives and for our families and for our businesses can provide security and success.  And again, maybe with the best intentions, people in the world lead us towards a lie.

 

“True love always protects, hopes, trusts and never gives up.”  Pieces of that last line have been used in greeting cards, love songs and by heroes in movies and books.  But it actually came from the pen of Paul as he described our living God.  If God is love, then it goes to show that God provides protection, provides complete hope, is completely trustworthy and is persistent to the end of His perfect plan.

 

Are there people who don’t believe in God that I can trust?  Sure there are.  Are there corporations that don’t know me personally but are trying to put out the best products to make my life better?  Absolutely.  Are there governments that truly want the best for their people, but don’t subscribe to a Creator God?  I certainly hope so.  Are there exceptions to what I’ve just said?  Yes, there are people and groups that are completely selfish and are only hungry for power and prestige.  They act with evil intent.  There are those that act to pull us away from truth, away from God, away from goodness and the felt need for forgiveness.  Plans such as these are evil.

 

There are governments that claim to protect us, and might do so here on this planet.  But they cannot provide eternal protection against Satan.  There are wise people and leaders we can trust.  But we cannot put our eternal soul in their trust because they are simply human and in need of the same forgiveness we need that only comes from a God we can trust.  There are family members and friends that we can put our hope in when they give us their word.  But God gives us a hope that is eternal…and Jesus provided a hope that conquers death itself.  There are people who will die for us, but there is already one who has died who didn’t need to.  Jesus was persistent unto death for our sake.  He took the pain.  He humbled himself, being Himself God, and was nailed to a piece of wood to die.  But that’s not the end of the story.  His resurrection over bodily death proved to us that He is someone who can protect our eternal soul.  He’s one to trust…He kept his word.  We can hope in His claim that one day we will be with Him forever…death doesn’t control Him…He hold the keys.  And we can persevere like He did because we know that this world isn’t really our home.

 

And here is the best part of all.  We as Christians have the opportunity every day to show people the truest and best one who can protect them, give them hope, something to trust in…simply a love that never gives up.  It’s like we’re warriors in a battle.  The world, as good as the world can get, cannot surpass God’s goodness.  And the evil one wants us to simply stop at the world’s goodness and call it a day.  See Satan doesn’t need us to be evil…he just needs us to deny God’s perfection and plan.  We can be really, really good people, and never truly show Jesus.  There’s the battle.  Everyday we’re able to show Jesus and His perfect love…we take the battle to the enemy.  And remember…the war is won.  As Billy Graham’s quote at the top of this article says, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”  Let’s share this with everyone we know.

 

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

 

 

Questions for Growth:

  • If God provides perfect protection, what does that look like?  And how do we share that protection with others?
  • If we can have perfect hope in God, what does that look like?  And how do we share that hope with others?
  • If God gives us something to trust in…why should we?  And how do we share with others that they can trust Him too?
  • What does persistent, never failing love look like?  What would that look like to our friends and family if we were to try and mimic that…to be like Jesus…to them?

 

Evil is Real

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Evil is Real – “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  1 Corinthians 13:6

  • Romans 12:21 ~ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
  • Deuteronomy 30:15 ~ See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…
  • Luke 6:45 ~ A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.
  • Psalm 23:4 ~ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…
  • James 3:16 ~ For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • Proverbs 21:15 ~ When you do what is fair, you make godly people glad.  But you terrify those who do what is evil.

Just recently, in our American political arena, the concept of evil was brought up.  A specific American leader, whom I won’t mention by name, said in no uncertain terms that there is evil in the world and Satan’s plan is to destroy us.  Yes, this was said publicly.  The backlash he received from making the assumption that there are things that are evil and things that are good and that Satan is real was amazing…but not surprising.  Many in journalistic circles were really questioning why someone would even think that there is such a thing as evil.  Calling something evil is so mean and callous.  Who gave this political figure the right to call something wrong and evil?  Yes, these were many responses and questions surrounding this man’s statement that evil is in our world.  1 John 5:19 says that if you a Christ follower you are God’s children and that the rest of the world is under the control of the evil one.  Evil is named.  Numerous times Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, point evil out.

The above Bible verses state the concept of evil…and those are just a few of many.  I think at this point we need to define ‘evil’ so we can best understand the verse we’re focusing on.  Evil is that which keeps us from God.  It is the thing that we need forgiveness for.  It creates separation between humankind and their Creator.  Evil prevents us from residing close to our Lord.  Jesus came for a reason.  His purpose was to defeat evil.  Over and over our Bible, God’s word, calls out evil as that which God hates.  And why would God hate evil?  It is the opposite of what we were created for.  Evil pulls us away from God.  The exact opposite of the relationship we see first played out between God and Adam and Eve.  After evil entered the heart of the woman and man respectively, they needed to leave His presence.  Perfection and imperfection cannot mix.  They are like oil and water.

Paul writes that love “does not delight in evil.”  Sounds poetic.  ‘Delight,’ at first glance, seems like a not-so-heavy word.  When I hear this word, my ‘stuck in this world brain’ thinks of someone smiling after eating chocolate pudding.  Delight.  I see a child giggling after opening a Christmas present.  Delight.  I don’t think this is what Paul meant though.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it this way, “…Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.”  Now that certainly spins a different picture.  Don’t get me wrong, I know what our translations are trying to say.  Remember, Paul is giving us a word picture of Jesus in the chapter of the Bible.  Paul is giving us what Jesus is and is not.  And if Jesus is God, and God is love, and God is against all evil, then the mere hint of evil shouldn’t even bring a grin to our face.  But it does…doesn’t it?

How many of us have LOL when a comedian tells a rude joke?  How many of us have ever smiled when we see someone we disagree with fail?  How many of us have ‘delighted’ in something that we know is a sin?  How many of us have intentionally acted selfishly and enjoyed our personal gain at the expense of another?  How many of us have enjoyed a time when we were bashing someone else because of their sin?  Ever enjoyed a good gossip story?  How many of us have used anger to ‘feel’ better when someone did something wrong to us?  Pride?  How many times have we smiled at ourselves when we boast of our wisdom, money or strength rather than knowing God personally?  How many of us claim an arrogance that places us above other people in our minds?  You see where this is going right?  Paul’s little “delight in evil” phrase is completely the right thing to picture when we’re talking about the opposite of true love.

Paul quickly writes the opposite of this statement of evil.  Pure love rejoices with truth.  There is such a thing as absolute truth.  This truth rests in Christ Himself.  The evil one is called the Father of all Lies.  God is real.  Man was created by Him and for Him.  Evil keeps us away.  Christ can forgive our evil sin.  Christ is the only way to return to a perfect relationship with God.  Christ came to serve for this reason.  We are to be like Christ.  That’s the truth.  And if Jesus doesn’t smile at evil, then we shouldn’t either.  We should rejoice, be glad, be overjoyed, jump for joy, be extremely happy in the ways of God … no matter what the world thinks of us.

Simply put, Truth drives us closer to God.  Evil pulls us away from Him.  Now this won’t be easy.  A Star Wars fan I am…here’s a quote from the series, “Evil flourishes where it is not opposed…”  Since our nature is evil, it is easy to sin.  It is easy to delight in evil.  That’s why Jesus had to do something against it.  We just can turn away from it, it is a fight.  It is something we will struggle with.  But the first step in fighting well is recognizing and knowing who or what you’re fighting against.  We are to fight and oppose evil by doing good (Romans 12:21).  Will this be hard?  Yes, it will.  It will because everywhere we see people, even through history, doing good in the name of Jesus, they’ve been persecuted and used and abused.  So will it always be cotton candy and Ferris wheels?  No.  Will there be times of extreme joy?  I think that’s what Paul talks about when he says, “rejoice with truth.”  Throughout the book of Acts, you’ll read of where the disciples were ecstatic about being flogged and thrown in jail!  They knew they were fighting evil and winning when that happened.  They rejoiced.

Are you willing?  Can you commit to this kind of righteousness?  It’s what we’re called to and it’s what we were made for.  We were made for times such as this.  Let’s go, with God moving through us as the church, and confront evil face to face.  Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell will not overcome…” His church.  That’s a promise for you and for me.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Have you ever thought of evil extensively?  By this I mean everything from the slightest grin from hearing an off color joke to murder?
  • What types of evil do you personally fight against?…within yourself?
  • How will you stand up against evil this week?…Can you think of something that will probably happen…a situation that is usual for you to be in, where you can confront evil with good?
  • What ‘good’ will you do instead when this evil approaches? (Defeat Evil with Good)
  • Who will you try to speak truth to this week?  What will you say?

No Room for Bullying – Not Rude & Not Selfish

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

No Room for Bullying – Not Rude & Not Selfish

1 Corinthians 13:5

  • I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.
  • I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  • I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.
  • How about never? Is never good for you?
  • It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.
  • Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  • I’m already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  • Ahhh… I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again

Funny?  Maybe for bumper stickers.  But may I say that if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a phrase such as these, you know how it feels.  Is it any wonder why Paul wrote about rudeness and selfishness when he discussed the perfect love of God?  These two topics are complete opposites of the command for us to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).  It goes against Paul’s exhortation to ‘consider others better than’ ourselves (Philippians 2:3).  God is in the business of valuing people and lifting others up.  Rudeness and selfishness do nothing to lift or love a neighbor.

Bullying happens when someone acts or speaks for their selfish need.  It really has nothing to do with the other person…but in the end has everything to do with the other person.  The person who is intentionally rude or intentionally selfish has a need for power.  This person wants to be heard, wants to be laughed with, and possibly thinks that the only way to success is through getting just what they need.  In reality, the potential is that they take life and peace from those around them.

There is a sadder truth here as well.  The one who is rude and selfish might have never been told that they have eternal worth…so much so that someone died for them.  Maybe they’ve been told over and over that there’s nothing important about them.  Maybe their environment has been nothing but hell.  They’ve grown up not knowing that they were created to be a best friend of God.  So they act out accordingly, mimicking what they’ve seen and heard.  Doing wrong things defensively thinking that it’s helping them.

Let’s move to the one who is on the receiving end of selfish acts and words.  I’ve seen so many kids through my years in ministry whose faces are always downcast.  They eat up the attention our ministry leaders give them.  They talk nonstop because someone actually took a few minutes to ask them how their day was or to tell them they were wearing really cool shoes.  And yes, when I say kids I mean all the way to college age and even older.  Truth is there’s no age that selfishness or rudeness doesn’t affect.

Can you see what the lie is here?  Satan has told many of us, somewhere along the line, that getting a laugh at the sake of someone else is OK and worthwhile.  We’ve been told that what we want in life is more important…maybe more so than anyone’s needs…and it’s OK.  We’ve been lied to.

Here’s the truth.  Perfect love is not rude or selfish.  The other truth is this…and this is the hard one…it’s a choice to not be rude and not be selfish.  Some people may say this, “But I have weakness to be sarcastic.”  Maybe this, “I’ve always been driven to get what I want.”  Paul makes no allowances for a personality test we may have taken years ago.  Love is love.  It is what it is.  And God wants us to look more and more like his son Jesus so others get to see Him and maybe want Him.  For some this choice to not be rude and to put away selfish tendencies is going to be hard, but that doesn’t mean we give up or not work hard.  Remember the end goal in God’s eyes?  God wants us to be in Heaven with Him forever…and to take as many people as possible with us.  The more we love others like 1 Corinthians 13 calls for, the more God has a chance to use us as an open and willing servant.  Open hands and an open heart…just like Jesus.  That’s the truth.  : – )

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Have you been bullied, talked down do, and trampled on because of someone else’s selfishness?  How did that feel?
  • Have you bullied, been rude, trampled on someone to get what you want?  How did that feel?  What was the look on the other person’s face?
  • Do you have personality that loves rude sarcasm or rude jokes?  How can you change that…today?
  • Do you have a personality that is easily broken?  How can you lift your heart even though you may have people around you who regularly beat you up?  (Quick hint:  The Bible has the story about how important you are.  The church isn’t perfect, but it’s a group of people struggling with the same things you do.)
  • Do you have a friend who can be honest with you when you let something slip that is out of place?  If not, who could that be?  Will you talk to them this week to watch your back and call you out if you fall?
  • Try memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  The Bible says that if we can meditate on God’s word enough, it will be there for us as a reminder of how to live daily.  And memorizing also gives the Holy Spirit more things to use that we’ve planted in our own brains.

So How Do You Picture Jesus?

February 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus. ~ Mother Teresa

When Jesus comes, the shadows depart.  ~Author unknown

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” ~ Kevin Max

“For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.” ~ Brennan Manning

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35

He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8

 

***

Standard Publishing released a drawn image of Jesus that most everyone who grew up in the church would probably recognize.  I can’t remember the exact year, but it was in one of their VBS programs of the late 70’s or early 80’s.  Many people would, without a doubt, recognize the picture of the Last Supper painted by Da Vinci.  Even more recently was the picture that Mel Gibson created for us in the movie The Passion of the Christ.  We all have images of Jesus that we’ve seen throughout our lives.  Some are familiar to the masses and some simply familiar to us.

Paul pens a picture of Christ for us.  In the passage of Scripture contained in 1 Corinthians 13, he writes of what love is and what love isn’t.  He has just written of what the body of Christ really is…the church…and then writes of what it is suppose to look like.  Love.  We are to love as Christ; and if we do that successfully people whom we love will see Jesus rather than ourselves.  Our love for others will be a picture of Jesus for them.  The church’s love for others will be a picture of Jesus to the world.

Think for a second the pictures friends and neighbors and co-workers get as they witness you throughout a day.  Do your choices, thoughts, words or facial expressions point to Jesus?  Now I know that we can’t all be perfect, but on that point do people see a repentant person as well.

If we are to show people Jesus, not just by “preachin to ‘em,” we need to daily be aware of how people see us.  Here’s Paul’s checklist of Jesus’ attributes to be shown in our lives:

  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Not Envious
  • Not Boastful
  • Not Proud
  • Not Rude
  • Not Self Seeking
  • Not Easily Angered
  • Not Keeping Records of Wrongs
  • Not Smiling at Evil
  • Rejoicing In Truth
  • Protecting
  • Trusting
  • Hoping
  • Persevering Knowing Love Will Never Fail

So how do you live each day?  I’ve been trying harder to evaluate myself regularly.  Sometimes the days have been crappy.  Yes, I could have used a stronger word there.  Some days are better than others…to my surprise.  I’ve been on a Bible reading plan through www.youversion.com and it has shown to be very helpful.  I’ve also jumped into some challenging debates and discussions through an open religious forum on the world wide net.  I’ve found myself persecuted and made fun of but also challenged.  When I can remember that the people I’m in discussions with aren’t making choices about me or making fun of me, it’s helpful.  Jesus said that if we are persecuted, made fun or written off, its really Him that they are rejecting.  That helps me to form my words and phrases in a way that maybe Jesus would (see checklist above).

I guess the point is this.  Our job, our mission, is to take people to Heaven with us.  In order to do that, we need to watch our P’s and Q’s.  When Jesus asks us to believe in Him, it’s not just a rational decision.  It’s submission.  When we are able to submit our whole life to Him, people will be able to see Him even through our sin and imperfection.  This is the work of the church.  When we follow Paul’s checklist, we give an image of Jesus to other people.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Kindness Changes Things

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

 

  • A mistake made by many people with great convictions is that they will let nothing stand in the way of their views, not even kindness. ~ Bryant H. McGill
  • A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve. ~ Joseph Joubert
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ AESOP
  • The words you say mean nothing, the way you say them means everything. ~ Eileen Parra
  • Great persons are able to do great kindnesses. ~ Miguel de Cervantes
  • Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.  ~ Seneca
  • The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on – including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning. ~ C.S. Lewis

Do you remember the Liberty Mutual commercial from a couple years ago?  It was titled, “Do the right thing.”  I know I’m getting old, but the first time I watched that my eyes became just a little weepy.  If you don’t remember, one person was walking down the street and helped a mom and little baby…the baby had just dropped something from a stroller.  Someone noticed the action of this man and then later saw where they could be kind as well to someone who crossed their path. Each person who saw kindness done by someone else had new eyes for where they could be kind in their day as well.  It was a great commercial because I think that it created the sense in many of us that says, “I can do that.”

So let’s review where we’ve been the last week or so.  We’ve jumped into the ‘love chapter’ of the Bible…1 Corinthians 13…and we’re specifically focusing on verses 4-8 and 13.  But let’s go back just a bit more.  Jesus used the word love in His great commandment response in Matthew 22.  Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).  So here we are now looking at Paul’s definition of love.  Last week we looked at patience. This week kindness.  So what Paul is saying is that being kind is part of loving our neighbor.  But what does kindness look like? Again, Paul does not say that this is an option of being loving…he writes that it simply is part of love.  If we are to be successful in loving our neighbors, family and even enemies with God’s love, we need to find out how we can become more kind to others.

Some people think kindness is like humility or that it even shows weakness. Illustration:  When someone is up in your face and on your case a lot, kindness might be seen as a “backing down from a worthwhile fight.”  Ironically, being kind in that situation takes a lot more will power and control and strategy than simply responding with what you think is right.  Have you ever noticed that opportunities for kindness come when we’re busy, run down, defensive, broke, basically not ready?  Many times, when I have the chance to be kind, I find myself in a struggle.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s the right thing to do, but I just don’t want to right then.  LOL  A bit selfish wouldn’t you say?

There’s a phrase that we’ve all heard.  Random Act of Kindness.  I’m all for random acts of kindness…it’s just that I’m learning, I think, that in order to be kind as God is kind, we need to not be random in how we choose to have an attitude of kindness.  If we get out of bed and choose to be kind throughout the day, then those random acts will become less random and more usual.  Do you know people who live out kindness?  I’m sure we all do.  They always have a good word…even when they’re down.  They always have something to give…even if they’re at odds with the person receiving.  They always have time to share…even though they may be very busy.  They give kindness even to people who we might think don’t deserve it.  Kindness seems to always be the opposite of selfishness to that person.  They’re not random about their kindness.  It’s almost like they look for ways to be kind.

Let’s look at what kindness can do?  It makes one feel noticed.  It helps one feel like their personal need wasn’t hidden in the dark.  It can help a person feel cared for.  Many people feel like they might not deserve kindness when they receive it.  Have you ever noticed that consistent kindness can soften a heart even to the point of repentance and sorrowfulness?  Remember, Paul is giving us the definition of love. Kindness is a part of love.  Perfect love comes from God.  If all of that is true, then God gives the perfect kindness…and many of us probably know that because God doesn’t have to be kind to us.  None of us deserve it.

So the question is, how do we become more kind?  My thought is this.  We first look to see how Jesus was kind and imitate Him.  We choose, each morning to wake up with kindness on our heart so that when those opportunities come, they’re not interruptions, but places where our kindness…God’s kindness through us, can be plugged in.  And we have to always remember that it’s not about us.  It’s always about the other person.  When we can act out kindness in this way, God is the one who is glorified.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Are you usually a kind person to those around you?  Are you naturally kind?
  • Is there someone in your life or regularly in the path of your life that could use kindness?
  • How will you ‘do kindness’ to them this week?…even if they don’t seem to notice or care?
  • What will help you wake up each morning choosing kindness as the attitude of the day?

A Church Moving Forward

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I recently went to the doctor for my annual physical.

The nurse asked me how much I weighed. I told her 135 pounds. Then she weighed me and the scale said 160.

She asked me how tall I was. I said, “5 feet, 5 inches.” She measured me and I was only 5 feet, 3 inches.

So she took my blood pressure and told me it was high.

“Of course it’s high,” I said. “When I came in here I was tall and slender. Now I’m short and fat!”

***********

Growing up or growing older can be tough sometimes.It seems that with each new opportunity or time of growth, there is a period of stress that comes with the change.Pulling through that is essential if we are to continue to grow to be the people God wants us to be. Graduation is a time that is celebratory, but is often also filled with uncertainty and the feeling of being lost. Some grab the opportunity for change with gusto. Others shy back from it and are afraid of future commitment.

Exercise is tough. I’m going through a fairly tough time with my back right now, and “exercise” happens three times a week in my life. The physical therapist tells me that I need to use the right amount of weight on the machines so that my muscles feel a burn near the end of each set movements. The burn tells me that I’m actually strengthening the muscle.The word ‘burn’ just doesn’t sound pleasant to me though. I’ve been burned before, and I don’t like the muscles in my back burning. I’d rather just sit and look at the machine and imagine myself doing great feats of strength…then go home.

The burn is necessary for me to reach the next level. The burn means that the muscle is actually breaking down… even tearing a little. When I rest over the next day, the muscle actually mends itself in a way that makes it stronger. The burn and the tearing down is necessary .The stress is necessary.

The church in Colossi seems to be doing great according to Paul’s words in the first chapter of Colossians. Paul says he and his buddies are praying all the time for this specific church family because of their moves forward, their continual growth and commitment to getting better in passing on the love of Jesus. He uses a few words in the specific passage which are telling of what true growth entails. He mentions the words ‘strengthen,’ ‘endurance,’ and ‘patience.’ Those three words tell me that these people are committed to change for the better. They’re committed to working through tough times because they know tough times are just the precursor of better times…if the right choices are made. Strengthening oneself means becoming aware of weaknesses and either getting rid of those things or working on them. Endurance reminds me of the times when I was tired and ready to quit on the 5th mile of a 6 mile race. Patience reminds me of the times when I’m helping my youngest child learn the consequences of talking back to her parents. Haha. But Paul, in this section of scripture, sees these things as awesome signs of growth as this church family in this town expands, spreads love, and helps many see the salvation of God.


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