Monday, April 27, 2015

Strong Feelings on Lectio Divina

As a blog author, I am intrigued by what posts strike a nerve and what posts do not. Apparently, (some) people have strong feelings (to use a phrase from my children's preschool) about Lectio Divina. The concerns I've heard are that it opens the door to Satan, it results in a subjective understanding of the Word, it leads to New Age spirituality, and so forth.

Some people are very concerned about Bible reading and prayer that involves a time of quiet meditation. As I read their concerns, my perception is that when reading the Bible, in their opinion you should only be reading or speaking prayer, but not sitting or waiting in Scripture quietly. Stopping to sit in Scripture and pausing in prayer to hear from God through the Word are viewed with great suspicion as a time that opens us to deception by Satan. I find that entire concept foreign, and I think it is because of my own theological convictions that I do so.

I've been thinking today through doctrines from the Word that give me a framework for sitting with God in prayer and Bible reading with a desire to hear from Him. Here are some theological points to consider:

1. Perseverance of the saints. I believe with the Apostle Paul that He who began the good work in me will continue it (Phil. 1:6). My conviction is that God keeps me, and I am not afraid that Satan will pluck me out of God's hand (John 10:28). I am definitely not afraid that Satan will pluck me away from God through my own personal Bible reading.  God says He's not going to lose me, and He's left the Holy Spirit within me as the deposit to ensure that outcome (Eph. 1:14).

2. The value of memorization and meditation on the Word. God's Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, the psalmist says. The psalmist then commits to hide God's Word in his heart (Psalm 119:105). How do we hide God's Word in our hearts? We memorize it by repeating it to ourselves. Repetition of God's Word is a normative, healthy Christian practice! Now some are concerned with repetition of small portions, like a word or phrase, of Scripture. I don't see that as the thrust of listening prayer and Bible reading. The particular instructions I suggested and have used for myself focus on a passage around 12 verses, reading through the entire passage repeatedly. While one may zoom in on a particular word or phrase, it is in the context of its place in a larger reading of Scripture.

In short, if you are concerned with someone repeating a single word from Scripture in an eastern type trance, fine. But don't project that onto my post in particular. And in general, I don't think that's a fair concern for most modern evangelical discussion around listening Bible reading and prayer. That seems a straw man that is irrelevant to what is actually being discussed -- slowing down in Scripture reading to let God speak to us through His Word.

3. An inflated understanding of Satan. Critics seem more worried about Satan than they are confident in the Holy Spirit. I keep thinking of I John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." We are certainly instructed to be cautious of Satan (for instance Paul's instructions in Ephesians and Peter's of Satan walking about as a lion seeking to devour). But those warnings have Satan on the outside, not talking to us from the inside. That's pretty important!  If you are in Christ, you have been SEALED by the Spirit (Eph. 1:13 and 2 Cor. 1:22).  Now people debate what exactly it means to be sealed by the Spirit, but it means something. My conviction is that it means that we are safe in the Spirit -- He is the guarantee of Phil. 1:6, that God will not default on His promises to us, and Jesus loses none of those God gives Him. God took both sides of the covenant with Abraham, and He has taken both sides with us. We are safe in Him because HE will not default on His promises to us.

Furthermore, it is the SPIRIT not Satan that lives within me. While Satan can and does taunt me from the outside, the Bible never talks of him as indwelling us or speaking to us from the inside.  Again, the phrasing of being sealed by the Spirit is helpful.  A seal locks the letter with the stamp of the king.  Seals remove openings that allow contaminants to flow into an object or that allow seepage out of the object.  We are sealed in the Spirit.  Exposit that and then think of the implications!

Consider also that when Satan approached Eve and later when he approached Jesus, while he did use God's Words against them, he did it externally. He did not come internally into their psyche, and I would argue strongly that he is unable to do that to any who are in Christ Jesus, sealed by the Spirit. Satan can possess unbelievers from the inside. And he can oppress believers from the outside. But I see no Scripture that warns of a Satan that can speak inside of us once we are in Christ and sealed by the Spirit.  The Bible presents a dangerous Satan, but not an omnipresent and omniscient one. That's God, not Satan.

If you are in Christ, you do not have Satan and the Spirit inside of you dueling it out. THAT is a bad teaching, and those knowledgeable in theology should know better than to entertain that idea.

I am a big proponent of expositional Bible preaching and teaching.  I employ it even right now as I think about why an expositional understanding of Scripture protects us from fear of a Satanic voice that can lead us astray from Scripture from the inside.  Satan may attempt to use someone outside of me misusing Scripture to deceive me, and in that event it is important to understand Scripture objectively to ward off such bad teaching.   But if we are in Christ and sealed by the Spirit, the Spirit within us is greater than our opponent outside of us.  It is in that framework that I can come to God in my Bible reading and confidently listen for Him to speak through His written Word to me.

I hope something there is helpful to you as you think of how to approach your own personal Bible reading and prayer.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Directed Devotions

Growing up in Christian youth group and then attending Bible college, I heard much instruction and emphasis on daily devotions. But it has probably been a good twenty years since I've sat under teaching on the value of devotions or how to do them. Even the term devotions sounds hokey to me now, a throw back to the naïve enthusiasm of youth ministers and the teenagers they led. I read my Bible and pray regularly, but I don't think of it as devotions, at least not the way it was used in my youth.

Our church is in the middle of a four week adult study during our Christian Formation hour (formerly known as Sunday School), and the topic of devotions has come up. But it's the grownup, reformed, educated version.

And it has powerfully affected me for good.

We call it Lectio Divina or Listening Prayer. In one sense, it is basically the type of devotional time emphasized in my youth group, time reading the Bible and praying to God. However, I recognize now that much of my previous understanding of devotionals, particularly in my youth, centered on reading someone else's words on the Bible rather than reading the Bible itself. And maybe that's the central difference in Listening Prayer and a more mainstream view of devotions and devotionals.

The second difference in Lectio Divina and my youthful understanding of devotions is the listening part. It's not so much studying the Bible as it is hearing from the Bible. When practicing youth group type devotions, I read the Bible for ten minutes (or someone else's devotional about the Bible) and prayed my prayer requests for the next twenty or so. Lectio Divina entertwines prayer, reading the Bible, and listening for God to speak to us through it. It is the listening part that I am not used to. I am used to reading the Bible to hear God speak to me and praying my requests to Him. But I am not used to stopping as I read and pray to listen for the still small voice of the Spirit speaking to me through it all. 

Oh, what I have been missing.

In these first weeks of practicing listening prayer for myself, a practice used throughout the history of the Church, the Spirit has been speaking to me clearly through the Word. He's emphasizing parts of His Word to me, drawing my eyes to truths He knows I need. It makes me think of the sweetness of the word devotion in its purest sense. For too long that word was used as a plural noun in reference to my Christian walk with God. Devotions were something I did. But adding the s messed up the word for believers, in my opinion. I don't need devotions, but I do need devotion.

If you google devotion, you will see it defined as love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause. I am loyal to God, but more importantly, He is loyal to, committed to, and loving of me. It's devotion, not devotions -- a covenant keeping relationship with another, not a thing I do to fulfill a religious obligation. Slowing down in my Bible reading and prayer has made me better understand my devotion to God and His to me. It has helped me settle into a communicative relationship with God where He reveals Himself (and myself) to me.

If you are interested in experiencing deeper interactions with God through His Word, Lectio Divina, or listening in prayer and contemplating God's Word to you in a way practiced throughout the history of the Church, can be a help. Here are suggested methods adapted from the book God Still Comes by Charles Shields and Cinthia Ferrell.

1. Begin with prayer; invite God to speak to you in whatever way God knows you need. "Open the eyes of my heart," the psalmist prayed.

2. Read a passage (choose one not over a dozen verses) slowly and thoughtfully twice— once for familiarization and once just to “listen.” During the second reading, watch out for the word or phrase that reaches out to you, that grabs you, that shimmers in your mind’s eye. Hold on to the word in your memory. Don’t analyze why you happened to choose it. Merely observe the word or phrase.

3. After the 2nd reading, be still and listen for at least 2 minutes. If your mind wanders, draw it back to scripture.

4. Following your time of silent listening, write in your journal the word or phrase that grabbed you. At this point, no other comment is necessary.

5. Read the passage slowly again. Watch for your word or phrase. (On occasion, your word/phrase may change. If a different word or phrase grabs you, listen to it. Let the Spirit of God lead you in the process.) Sit silently again for a minimum of two minutes. As you ponder your word or phrase, observe what emotion it creates in you. Observe how the word/phrase connects into your life. How does it hook you? At the end of your time of quiet, write in your journal just two things: your word phrase and the emotion it created in you.

6. Read your passage a final time slowly and thoughtfully. Return to your word or phrase, unless you are drawn in a different direction. (Remember, you are not alone in this process. You have invited God to work with you.) Sit silently for a longer period of time—at least double the previous periods of silence. As you reflect on your word/phrase and feel the emotions it generates, ask yourself, "If this is God's word to me now, what is God calling me to be or do?" Stick with that question until you get some response. At the end of your time of silence, write in your journal all that you have observed and experienced.

7. Conclude by thanking God for whatever you received. There may be instances when nothing insightful comes to mind. Thank God for the quiet time.

Our Christian Formation teacher encouraged us that though this time might likely come with conviction of sin, it would not come with a voice of condemnation. If we are in Christ and hear condemnation or shame, that is not the voice of God (Romans 8:1).

If you have struggled to feel close to God through Bible reading and prayer, I encourage you to engage with God through the Word this way. I am currently setting aside time on the mornings I don't have early obligations (two days a week for me) to sit in the Word this way, and it has blessed me greatly during a hard season in my life.
Hebrews 4:12 The word of God is alive and active …

* Not long after posting this, some pointed out to me criticism of Lectio Divina.  I understand the concerns of opening Scripture up to "private interpretations," and listening Bible reading does not replace the need for expositional preaching and teaching.  But I separate criticism of contemplative prayer from criticism of listening Bible reading.  Contemplative prayer apart from Scripture is of course wide open to error.  But meditative, listening prayer within the confines of Scripture reading seems very different, and I strongly support listening to God through His Word.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Practical Dangers of Teaching Women Made in the Image of the Church

In last week's review of True Woman 101 by Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh Demoss, I discussed my concern with their focus on the core of biblical womanhood, that “God created women to image the relationship of the church to Christ.” This is not how the Bible presents womanhood in its essence, clearly seen if you look at the moment that God actually created woman in Genesis 1 and 2. I spent the last post going through what Scripture says on what God created woman to be as well as other Scriptures likening a wife's submission to Christ as much as the Church. I won't rehash that here, but if you haven't read the first post, please do before reading the rest of this one.

In this post, I want to explore the ways this wrong teaching can affect women practically. A major concern is that wifely submission in marriage is not actually helped by teaching the woman reflecting the church as her ultimate thing. I've sat under such teaching, and I found it demoralizing, not inspiring, to think that the best image I have to go to as a woman is the Church, especially if you know anything about the Church according to Scripture. I am the Church, but I am the Church that is being conformed to the image of Christ. If you follow a reformed hermeneutic for understanding Scripture, the other husband/wife team mirroring Christ and the Church is Hosea and Gomer. Their story is beautiful beyond measure, giving us a picture of God's faithful pursuit of His wayward Bride. But it does not give an inspiring image of the Church's role in this relationship.

When I couple Ephesians 5's teaching with Genesis 1 and 2, that I am bearing out God's image in all of my life, I am inspired toward a better, noble goal. Peter does this in I Peter 2-3. He calls wives to look to Jesus as their example during hard seasons in marriage. Holding both of these Scriptures, Ephesians 5 and I Peter 2-3, in conjunction with Genesis 1-2 on the teaching of wifely submission in marriage gives us a balanced understanding of and inspiration for what God is calling us to. We need to use all the pictures the Bible gives us along with the essence of our creation from Genesis 1-2. Singular focus on one of these pictures without the context of the others creates a skewed view of the issue. Though we ARE the Church, we are created to image God. The Church's glory is that God is working in Her to make Her glorious in Him. Her glory is best seen when, as the arms and legs to Jesus' head, she acts in conjunction with her identity in Him. That is an inspiring calling! 

While women weren't created to image the Church, there is still much of value to learn from Ephesians 5's metaphor on the husband/wife relationship in Christ. What do marriages between husbands and wives that are IN CHRIST (Eph. 4:15) and IMITATORS OF GOD (Eph. 5:1) look like? In that context, Ephesians 5 is inspiring to think through. Humility. Love. Self-sacrifice. Laying down of your rights. When our language is correct in how we label a woman's identity as image bearer of God, we can then learn from this metaphor that illustrates a practical piece of the puzzle.

Another major concern with this wrong teaching on a woman's identity is that women often believe that their only opportunity for acting out their created purpose is with a husband. According to the wording in True Woman 101 on a woman's created purpose, the singular place for a woman to live out her purposes in God's kingdom as He intended is in marriage. This is a demoralizing and frustrating teaching for women who are not married. Also, this idea does not fit the narrative of Scripture. Hannah, Esther, Ruth, Rahab, Deborah, Phoebe, Priscilla, Lydia, Mary of Bethany, etc. If you allow God's example of ezer from the Old Testament to flesh out His created purposes for women, you start to recognize it in women commended in Scripture, married or single, with or without children, as they live out God's image bearing purposes in their lives.

Furthermore, extrapolations of this wrong teaching lead to patriarchy and abuse. This is so obvious I don't want to write more on this. Simply put, bad Bible interpretation leads to bad practice by those in power every single time. It will frustrate some that I don't explore this further. Maybe this is the most important reason in your mind to draw attention to this wrong teaching from Scripture. But I have a more important issue in my head, and I will end focusing on what I think is THE reason to be concerned about this teaching.

It codifies sloppy Bible interpretation, and this is bad for all of us. 

As I said in my first post on True Woman 101, I have a high standard for what constitutes an accurate handling of the Word. I believe that standard is best held through self examination and a willingness to correct when confronted with contradictory Scripture. I have had to correct myself personally in light of that standard many times, usually when another confronts me with Scripture I am misunderstanding or a passage I have missed altogether. It's humbling to have to correct yourself. But it's right nonetheless, and for the integrity of the Scriptures, it's absolutely necessary.

I know this concern of mine isn't as important to others as it is to me. But of everything else listed here, this is the one that bothers me most. Sure this teaching hurts women when practically applied, and that is a big problem. But this teaching is also just wrong! It is the result of inaccurately handling the Word of God. THAT'S what hurts women! My major concern for women coming out of a True Woman 101 study is not what they think of themselves but how they understand Scripture. If a woman can accurately handle Scripture, she'll eventually get her identity in Christ. This may be an unpopular focus I have, but I stand by it. I've staked my ministry on the belief that the Bible when accurately handled is good for women, that it is LIFE-GIVING for women. Teach women to handle the Word accurately. Do it ourselves in our studies and teaching. Elders and pastors, encourage it and oversee it. When we do that, a whole lot of other issues in the Body of Christ concerning gender suddenly fall into place.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Review of True Woman 101

From youth, I have had a pet peeve around the particular issue of groups saying that they are “biblical” when their teaching doesn't stand up against a study of the Word. That started in high school when I read Scripture in my own daily Bible reading that contradicted my fundamentalist pastor's biases he presented as biblical truth. I was deeply disturbed with his misuse of Scripture, all while loudly claiming to be biblical, for a very long time. But I must also admit that I have at times not met my own standard. When I first started teaching material for The Gospel-Centered Woman, a friend at church came up to me and gently questioned me, pointing out Scripture I wasn't considering. That gentle rebuke was good and right (and has happened to me many times before and after). I am hopeful that in this review I can similarly offer correction that will bless, not harm, as we seek to understand gender from Scripture.

The particular teaching I would like to draw attention to and correct from Scripture involves the Week Two and Week Three chapter descriptions from the 8 week study on Biblical Womanhood from True Woman 101.  The study is subtitled Divine Design: an 8-week study on biblical womanhood.
Week Two: God created men to image the relationship of Christ to the church and this has significant implications for male-female relationships. 
Week Three: God created woman to image the relationship of the church to Christ, and this has significant implications for male-female relationships.
If you study Scripture carefully, I believe you will see that this is not how God speaks of what He created men and women to image.

The study's emphasis on Ephesians 5 as the standard on gender, as the starting point for the image we were created to present, is one with which I am well familiar. It certainly dominated my understanding of gender while under the teaching of leaders at Mars Hill. But how does Ephesians 5 mesh with God's words in Genesis 1 and 2 creating man and woman in the image of God? Which is it? At least the man gets associated with parts of the Trinity in both Genesis and Ephesians. But what about the woman? Is she more associated with God or with the Church? Those are two very different things!

Which came first? Which vision should dominate? It's not a hard question to answer. Note that one of these visions is the essence of manhood and womanhood while the other is a metaphor. Man and woman ARE image bearers of God. And, interestingly, both woman AND MAN are also the Church. In the metaphor of husbands leading their homes as Jesus leads the Church, husbands aren't actually Jesus. Furthermore, man, in essence, actually is part of the Church. We need to start with essence. Metaphor is then helpful to flesh out how that looks at times. But metaphor has to submit to essence.

I want to use caution in how I word this, for there is much of beauty (and truth) in Paul's likening of husbands to Jesus and wives to the Church in Ephesians 5. I have been blessed by studying this passage. On the subject of submission in marriage, it's helpful to note that while Paul in Ephesians 5 likens wives to the Church with respect to submission, Peter in I Peter 2-3 calls wives to reflect the example of Jesus when submitting to their husbands. It's a longer passage, but if you follow the flow of thought, it's clear that when Peter says “Likewise, wives be subject to your own husbands” in I Peter 3:1, he's refering back to his description of Christ's example in I Peter 2:21. It's not that Scripture is schizophrenic on this subject but that different writers use different metaphors and examples to flesh out God's instructions on this particular issue of submission.

The foundation of all other teaching in Scripture on gender is Genesis 1 and 2. Paul gets this in Ephesians. He didn't write Ephesians 5 in a vacuum. He was writing in the context of a larger story. After fleshing out the creation/fall/redemption narrative and all Christ has accomplished for us on the cross in Ephesians 1-4, Paul opens Ephesians 5 with the incredible words, “Therefore, be imitators of God.” In Christ, we are equipped to once again image God as He created us to do in perfection. This is incredible and amazing for both man and woman.

Let's go back now to the problem with the language True Woman 101 uses to discuss the essence of gender. My correction is that God didn't create women to image the Church. He created women to image Himself. In the particular relationship of Christian marriage, the submission of the Church to Christ is a helpful metaphor for understanding submission between husbands and wives. It inspires us to live out our own metaphor in marriage, a noble testimony of the gospel.  But, and this is a very big but, women are also called to be like Christ in this very same issue of submission to their husbands (I Peter 2-3). And, furthermore, while man is to be like Jesus in his love and service to his Bride, man in essence actually is the Bride, the Church. The husband's example for his love for his wife is Christ's love for the husband.

The Ephesians 5 metaphor is helpful for understanding roles in Christian marriage, but True Woman 101 sets it up instead as the essence of gender, and that is not consistent with Scripture in my opinion. Our essence, male and female, is that we were both created in the image of God. Our essence, also, is that both male and female are in reality the Church. Neither of us are in essence Jesus; we are both in essence the Church. And both of us were created to image God.  We can not zoom in on Ephesians 5 and treat it as the whole on gender. We can not treat it as the context for all other discussion on gender. God sets the context in Genesis 1-2, a context in which Paul writes the whole of Ephesians.

I have other issues with the True Woman 101 study. It sets up good ideas as ultimate ideas, repeatedly using the phrase “... is at the core of what it means to be a man (or woman)” in ways that the Bible doesn't. It applies Scripture on husbands and wives across the board to all men and all women regardless of marital status. And it presents the issues of Genesis 3:16 in ways I disagree, which any long term reader here is already familiar with.

But in this review, the main thing I want to call us to is precision in how we word what we teach women as the essence of their womanhood. Paul looked at our image bearing creation in Genesis as essence when he wrote Ephesians 5. Just look at verse 1, “Therefore, be imitators of God.” And we too should be careful to use language that does the same.

Rachel Held Evan's A Year of Biblical Womanhood tore down a biblical womanhood I didn't recognize. But it also raised my awareness that the adjective biblical, like the noun gospel, often gets used without precision. If we are going to use the word biblical in our titles and descriptions, we have set for ourselves a noble but high standard. It is the best of standards, but it is one we need to steward with extreme care and precision. With a love for the adjective biblical and a desire for its precise stewardship, I hope this discussion is helpful, not harmful, causing us to think about and steward truth, not question it.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Fellowship of Suffering

Philippians 3:8-10 I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death;
I have been suffering, and as I have suffered, my eyes have been opened to others who are suffering. I always knew of others who were suffering, but there is a difference in knowing of someone and then knowing that someone in truth. My own minor experiences with suffering kept me from being able to enter the suffering of others. But as I have personally suffered, I have found a new ability to enter others' suffering as they have entered mine. 

Enter is an interesting word for this phenomenon. My friends and I have gone through a doorway that brings us into each others' suffering. We don't sit outside peering in through a window. We sit in the room together, sharing the experience in a way that others who have not suffered cannot. There is a fellowship, a companionship, a comradery in this room of suffering in which we mutually sit. Paul calls this the fellowship of suffering.

In Philippians 3, Paul is talking of this fellowship in terms of Jesus and His suffering. We enter into a special place where He sits, as He enters into ours. He is the Man of Sorrows, well acquainted with grief. We have a fellowship with Him in our suffering in particular that is worth meditating on. But Paul also talks of the Church as Jesus' Body. So it makes sense to me that when I enter another believer's suffering, I am entering into Christ's as well. This fellowship of suffering involves both the Head and the rest of His Body.
1 Corinthians 12:26 If one member suffers, all suffer together;
The fellowship of sufferers is a room for the mature in the faith. Suffering moves one from kindergarten to master's level faith pretty quickly. People wise up. Their naïve notions of how their lives would turn out burn off. They put off trite kindergarten sayings of Christianity. They recognize the prosperity gospel for the heresy that it is. They quiet down and man (or woman) up. 

Here are some of the things I have experienced in fellowship with other sufferers.

1. Quiet sitting rather than trite answers.

2. People who pray asking God for advice rather than offering advice of their own.

3. People who can give wisdom on how to BE rather than what to DO. (Sufferers understand being in a situation where you can't control the outcome while non sufferers feel threatened by that idea and have a hard time with anything except advice on how to get out of your suffering.)

4. People who understand this world is not our home.

There comes a moment in the path of suffering when you move from efforts to jettison the weight from your shoulders toward adjusting the weight so you can carry it for the long haul. Not all suffering lasts all of life. I have been healed from severe foot pain that kept me from activity for a good year or so. But I have not been healed from type 1 diabetes, and I have had to learn how to manage it, knowing that I am likely to wear an insulin pump for the rest of my life. A rebellious child is something one can wait in hope in this life for their return to faith. But the child who died from cancer is a permanent loss, a weight that can not be jettisoned from the story of your life.  Such weight is impossible to bear if you don't believe in the joy set before us, the destination in eternity that will not disappoint. Sufferers, especially those permanently scarred by circumstances that can not be undone in this life, get this deep, important truth in a way non-sufferers don't.

Maybe the best thing about the fellowship of suffering is the mutual encouragement we receive to persevere from others in the circle. Wesley Hill's Washed and Waiting did this for me. His struggle was in a totally different area of life, but the last chapter on his vision for enduring in suffering and temptation ministered deeply to me. When my friend admonishes me from his wheel chair to not quit; when my rejected sister in Christ reminds me that there is nowhere else to go, for Jesus alone has the words of life; when the woman dying of cancer writes of mundane faithfulness to the bitter end; the fellowship in this suffering empowers me to persevere, to count the loss not worthy to be compared to the glory of knowing Christ.
Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ ... Phil. 3:8 
If you are suffering, your first reaction, especially if you are early on in your suffering, is likely to find others whose suffering reconciled. The estranged couple who worked it out. The cancer patient who recovered. The parents of a rebellious child who saw their child return to the faith. But as your suffering continues, you'll find a deep treasure in those who have endured without earthly resolution to their pain. Their perseverance will bless you as they know this world is not our home and look to the treasure that lies ahead.
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 9:33 
Enter into this fellowship with Jesus and His Body.  Do not be afraid of it, for it is life giving in the garden of faith.  You are not left to walk this road alone.