Erase and Replace Those Tapes!

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 

Taking every thought captive includes guarding against the lies of the enemy. Oh boy, do I need to practice applying the helmet of salvation to my mind. Anybody else feel the same way?

Some days I hear the same old tapes playing over and over in my mind. It’s the strangest things that start them rolling. Applying lipstick from a tube. A comment about thick eyelashes. The word “papyrus”. Washing down the counters. Shelling and eating peanuts. McDonalds. Driving along a familiar street. Spending time with unsafe people. And the upcoming holiday season. 

Why is it so easy to believe the lies that Satan whispers in our ears? Oh, unkind, mocking, thoughtless words and/or actions from someone in our lives started the ball rolling, but the enemy gleefully takes those words and builds an entire game plan to take us down. Bullets crafted to inflict the most possible damage to our very souls become imbedded into our thought life. 

Guess what? Science has proven that negative thoughts actually work a physical change in our brains, eventually causing physical problems throughout our bodies. (For more info, check out the research of Dr. Caroline Leaf.)

Which brings me back to putting on the helmet of salvation: 
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm…and take the helmet of salvation…” ~ Ephesians 6:13, 17a

Did you know that the helmet is a key piece of God’s armor??

“He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head;” ~ Isaiah 59:17a

If the Creator of the universe modeled this armor–and handcrafted it personally to perfectly fit on His children–shouldn’t we be wearing this armor that we already have in our possession?

I just finished up a Bible study with a beloved friend. I so appreciated Priscilla Shirer’s insights in The Armor of God.

For instance, “Salvation is not just about redemption. It is also a defensive, protective device. Salvation was meant to implement an entire new way of thinking into your life…Salvation is about your identity. It’s who you are in Christ.”

When we apply the truths of God’s Word in our lives, strongholds are torn down, and Satan’s lies are replaced with what God has to say about us. 

And what does God say about us, you ask? I’m so glad you asked! Here is just a small sampling of what He says about you and me:

* We have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
* We are not condemned by God (Romans 8:1)
* We are justified (Romans 5:1)
* We are tenderly loved by God (Jeremiah 31:3)
* We are blameless and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:22)
* We are chosen by God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
* We are free from any condemning charges against us (Romans 8:31)
* We cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35)

Check out Priscilla’s blog here for the full list of who you are in Christ!

So, when those tapes (I know you have some, too: I’m not good enough. I am unloved. I am worthless. People laugh and think I’m a mistake. Etc…)  begin to play, crippling your heart and turning your thoughts to despair, remember how very loved and wanted you are by God. Guard against the lies of Satan. And live in the freedom that our salvation brings us. 

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:1-2

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:8

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Posted in 1 Thessalonians, 2 Corinthians, Armor of God, Colossians, Condemnation, Depression, Ephesians, Faith, Freedom, God, God's Faithfulness, God's Heart, God's Promises, God's Word, Healing, Heart, Helmet of Salvation, Hope, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus, Lies, Love, Mind, November 2017, Peace, Romans, Salvation, Satan, Science, Uncategorized, Worth | Leave a comment

When Life Gives You Raspberries

Splintered. That is how my heart felt throughout much of the late spring/early summer days. Thrown to the ground, shards scattered, reflections distorted like a funhouse mirror. I tried to hold it all together and attempted to somehow mend the broken bits but was failing. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Overwhelmed by life, I couldn’t even compose a proper prayer to my Saviour. Thankfully, He knows me better than I know myself. After all, none of the chaotic events that sent me around the bend took Him by surprise. The broken promise of one in authority. Jobs in upheaval. A daughter’s ugly divorce and sudden move. The loss of relationship with a son. My best friend’s brush with death. The traumatic yet miraculous birth of our grandson. Whispered lies bandied about among family and friends. The death of an older friend very dear to me. All of it threw me for a loop. But God? Nothing can shake Him. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)

A sidenote: I am not a fan of summer’s extreme heat. When temperatures hit the 90’s and 100’s, a happy camper I am not. However, I AM a fan of the flowers, fruits, berries, and birds of summer. I spend at least an hour each glorious morning out in the garden: feeding (and cleaning up after) the birds, chickens, dogs, and barn kitty; watering pots overflowing with blossoms, herbs, tomatoes, pumpkins, and cucumbers; and picking raspberries. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

On one of these mornings, while plucking the ripe fruit from the thornless (yay!) raspberry stalks, God gently spoke to me. I’d been agonizing over two of our children, my unshed tears bottled up and shards of shattered heart piercing my soul. The familiar story of the prodigal son came to mind. But from a slightly different perspective. God’s perspective. And he said, ‘There was a man who had two sons.’ (Luke 15:11)

Earlier that week, a friend and I were chatting about what we’ve been learning in our daily Bible studies. It had occured to her that it must really hurt God when we only come to Him asking for things. ‘And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.” And he divided his property between them.’ (Luke 15:12) 

How we must hurt God when we make requests of Him and yet do not appreciate, thank, or pursue relationship with Him. As a parent, I can relate to this when I only hear from a kiddo if he or she needs something. Oh, how I long to connect and spend time with them! And then they sometimes wander away… ‘Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.’ (Luke 15:13)

Yet, even when my heart hurts for that child, I love them with all my being and desperately want the best for them–and fear the worst. ‘And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed his pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.’ (Luke 15:14-16)

And then, it hit me. God loves my kiddos much more than I could ever possibly hope to love them. He hurts for them, aches for them, cries for them–like I do. He hears the whispered lies that the enemy utters against Him–like I do. And yet, He continues to care for and love them–like I do. My soul was reminded once again: if those who stray truly belong to Him, they will return. Someday. ‘But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’ ” ‘ (Luke 15:17-19)

And so I wait. And I pray. And I thank God that HE waits and prays. For me to come to my senses when I have strayed, and for my kiddos. He is a compassionate, long-suffering, slow-to-anger, forgiving, and loving Father who longs to meet us where we are, take us into His arms, and welcome us home. ‘And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.’ (Luke 15:20)

If you haven’t yet believed on Jesus as your Saviour, by God’s grace–unearned, undeserved mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness–through faith, please do so today. Run to Him. He will welcome you with open arms and celebration. Without condemnation. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

‘And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” ‘ (Luke 15:31-32)


Posted in Children, Death, Depression, Faith, Family, Fear, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Friends, Genesis, God, God's Heart, Grace, Healing, Heart, Hope, July 2017, Lies, Life, Love, Luke, Mercy, Mourning, Prayer, Prodigal Son, Psalms, Repentance, Romans, Salvation, The Father, Worry | Leave a comment

Plot Twists, Dashed Dreams, and Peace

Our lives have had more plot twists lately than would seem possible. But after all, don’t they say that “Truth is stranger than fiction”? Sigh. So it seems.

Some of the lyrics in the song When Will I Be Loved, written by Phil Everly, and sung by Linda Ronstadt, ring oh-so-familiar right now:

I’ve been cheated, been mistreated…I’ve been put down, I’ve been pushed ’round…I’ve been made blue, I’ve been lied to, when will I be loved… 

Can’t we all identify in some way to those sentiments at times? People hurt us, family and friends fail us, life can just be so very blecky. When will I be truly loved?

No matter what nastiness or hurt you may be experiencing right now, there is good news: you are loved, perfectly and completely, right this very minute. 

It’s true. God loves you, perfectly and completely, right now, as you are. Don’t take my word for it. Take His.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:6-8

” ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’ ” ~ John 3:16-17

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 3:23; 6:23

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9

That’s the truth, straight from the mouth of God. He loves you so very much that His Son died a nasty death (but didn’t stay dead, hallelujah!) to pay the price for your sin–and for mine. And because the price has been paid for us, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:9

Jesus promises us abundant life (John 10:10), eternal life and eternal safety in His hand (John 10:28-29), His peace (John 14:27), fullness of joy (John 15:11; 16:24; 1 John 1:4), and a home with Him forever (John 14:1-4). 

He also warns us of troubles but reassures us that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). God doesn’t take us OUT of the storms. He instead rides the waves with us

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” ~ Hebrews 13:5b-6

And so, as I type these words, I remind myself of these truths yet again. And I’ll take the advice of John Piper:

Friend, we can embrace the life we have IN CHRIST, no matter what unexpected plot twist comes our way today.

 Have you confessed with your mouth and believed in your heart that Jesus Christ is your risen Lord and Saviour? Accept His freely offered grace: unearned, undeserved mercy and love and kindness and forgiveness.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7


Posted in 1 John, April 2017, Faith, Faithfulness, Family, Fear, Forgiveness, Friends, God, Grace, Heart, Hebrews, Hope, Jesus, John, Joy, Lies, Life, Love, Lovingkindness, Men, Mercy, Mind, Others, Peace, Persecution, Philippians, Praises, Prayer, Sacrifice, Salvation, Thanksgiving, The Father, The Gospel, The Son, The Truth, Worry | 2 Comments

Oh, the Depth of the Riches of God’s Word!

I have always been a quantity over quality kind of person when it came to studying the Bible. I didn’t realize this until I hit emotional rock bottom back in December. In my anguish, I began really poring over passages of Scripture, delving deeper into the meaning of words in their original language, and writing them out to apply as balm to my shattered soul. But God, in His infinite grace and providence, didn’t leave me on my own. He rocked my OCD world using two perfectly timed incidents: my dear friend gave me a Beautiful Word Bible for a belated Christmas gift, and I stumbled across an in-depth Bible study focused on the last chapters in the book of John–which is precisely where I was in my efficient, read-the-Bible-from-cover-to-cover-and-begin-again, daily study. 

And so, in the middle of January, I began a new and strange-to-me way of spending time in God’s Word each morning. This new Bible is filled not only with artsy passages of key Scriptures in the margins, but also with room to write in the margins–huge, LINED (this is very important for my OCDedness) space to fill with thoughts and truths and treasures from the verses I’ve read and studied. The new Bible study was a workbook of sorts, guiding me to a deeper understanding of Who Jesus Is and what He taught in His last hours, and days, on earth. I’m now happily (slowly) working through the book of Acts, using a fabulous book from Warren Wiersbe, as well as another workbook study I found, and learning so much about the Holy Spirit, prayer, and what unity in the early church looked like!

In addition to the new-to-me, in depth studying, I’ve become one of those people. You know, the ones who have rainbow-colored markings throughout their Bible? The friend who blessed me with this Bible has been doing this for years, but I wasn’t really interested. Oh, I have always marked in my Bible–with neat, orderly black ink. I’ve made notes in the margins, underlined and starred key verses, and paid special attention to the names of God. But this is a whole new, colorful world! 

Note to all my fellow OCDers out there: I underline with the appropriate colored pens and color in the verses with erasable (hooray!) colored pencils. Oh happiness!

Below is a rough key for the colors I use. I based it loosely on a chart I found on the internet and changed it up to match a bit more of what my friend does. I am adapting and learning–and thankful for erasable colored pencils!

There is no “wrong” way to study the Bible. Any time spent in God’s Word is an excellent investment.

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.” ~ Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

God spoke to me clearly and beautifully in my quantity-over-quality years. And who knows, I may go back to my old study habits. 

But in this current season of my life, God is speaking volumes to my heart in new and colorful ways. And I am SO grateful. 

Bonus: my artistic and creative self is being refreshed and encouraged, also! 🙂

Here are the studies I talked about. The first two are available from Moody Publishers. We have been collecting Warren Wiersbe studies over the years from Paperback Swap. I can’t say enough great things about Wiersbe AND Paperback Swap! 

This is a link to the Bible I have. There are many variations, and my friend insists she found it on clearance…so keep your eyes open if you’re interested. 🙂

Whatever Bible you have, READ IT!

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word…
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes…
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” ~ Psalm 119:9, 11-12, 14-16

Posted in Acts, Apostles, Blessings, Church, Friends, Grace, Healing, Holy Spirit, Isaiah, Jesus, John, Life, March 2017, Mercy, Psalms, The Father, The Son, The Spirit, Wisdom | 1 Comment

Abounding in JOY!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, are you spiritually exhausted, worn, and weary like I am? Guess what, the enemy is laughing at us…

“The devil is at church as often as you are. And he stands outside your closet door and listens to what you say to God in secret, all the while studying how he may accuse you…
“When you have done your best, then this persuasive critic goes to work, ‘There,’ he will say, ‘you played the hypocrite–appearing noble, but really serving self. Here you wandered; there, you were lazy; farther along, puffed up with pride. What reward can you hope for at God’s hands, now that you have spoiled His work?’ Such constant nitpicking makes many poor souls lead a weary life. Are you one of these–spiritually exhausted? Does he snipe at everything you do until you know not whether to pray or not, to listen or not?…Thus your soul hangs in doubt, and your days pass in sorrow, while your enemy stands in a corner and laughs at the trick he has played upon you. It is his master plan that if he cannot rob you of your righteousness, he will deprive you of your joy.
“He comes to fetch you away from the green pastures of covenant comfort and drag you into the depths of despair…” – William Gurnall

If he cannot rob you of your righteousness, he will deprive you of your joy.

He comes to fetch you away from the green pastures of covenant comfort and drag you into the depths of despair. (This reminds me of the “Pit of Despair” in the movie The Princess Bride, yikes!)

It looks like it’s time for me to go back to the bedrock truths of God’s Word and rest in His promises!

JOY! Jesus promised us His joy. So why allow Satan to rob us of it?

” ‘These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.’ “~ John 15:11

” ‘Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.’ ” ~ John 16:22-24

” ‘But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.’ ” ~ John 17:13 (Jesus even prayed to God the Father on our behalf, that we might have His joy fulfilled in us! The Greek word used here for “fulfilled” is plēroo, meaning “make complete, fill to the top, abound”. We should be abounding with Jesus’ JOY!)

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” ~ Acts 13:52

Hmmm, filled with joy AND the Holy Spirit, a package deal–which brings us the fruit of the Spirit!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23

PEACE! What is more peaceful than the green pastures of covenant comfort?

“A Psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” ~ Psalm 23 (Oh, how I need to remember to rest with God like this! What a gift!)

Jesus promised us His peace.

” ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ ” ~ John 14:27

” ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ ” ~ John 16:33

Jesus has overcome the world! AND the ruler of this world, Satan. We have no reason to fear, or doubt, or be weary and sorrowful.

Take heart, brothers and sisters: we have joy, peace, and the power of the Holy Spirit! Let’s replace the lies of Satan in our world with the TRUTH of Jesus and God’s Word.

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” ~ John 14:6

May we rest in Your promises today, Lord God. Refresh our spirits with your JOY and PEACE!  🙂

Posted in Acts, Apostles, David, Disciples, Fear, February 2017, Fruit, Galatians, God, Heart, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jesus, John, Joy, Lies, Life, Love, Peace, Psalms, Refreshment, Rest, Satan, Shepherd, The Father, The Son, The Spirit, The Truth, The Way, William Gurnall, Worry | 1 Comment

Time With Jesus

This morning I am relishing the thought of spending this entire day AT HOME. Not since Thanksgiving have I spent a whole day in the comfort and safety of home. I’ve been anticipating this day with great joy, and I may or may not get out of my jammies. I even added “veg in purple chair” and “write!” to my Any.do app for today… I do believe life has been a bit out-of-control-ridiculously-overscheduled lately.

But you see, my husband and I both serve in ministry. Two different ministries. And we contribute our time, talent, and treasure substantially to them both. Which is wonderful, but extremely taxing. And so when days like this come along, they are meant to be savored and treasured and celebrated! (Donuts anyone?)

Currently I’m studying through the book of Luke. Ironically, I read chapter 10 today…the story of Martha and Mary. Hmmm.

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’ ” ~ Luke 10:38-42

Now as a doer, and a busy servant, I think Martha gets a bad rap oftentimes. Her role is vital. After all, if Martha isn’t fixing dinner and getting things ready for the Master, no one is going to eat! (And we all need to eat.) I suspect her love language was “acts of service”.  😉 I can so relate!

And then you have Mary, simply sitting at Jesus’ feet and soaking in every word. I suspect her love language may have been “quality time”.

But there were things needing to be done! Oh my goodness, as Christians we must be careful not to compare or critique one another’s spiritual gifts and “membership” in the body of Christ.

I did a bit of digging for the meanings of some of the Greek words in this passage. “Martha was distracted”…perispao–over-occupied, too busy (oh, how that often describes me)…”with much serving”…diakonia–service, ministering, preparing food (all good, important, and necessary).

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things”…merimnao–caring for, anxious, providing–thorybazo–troubled, disquieted–polys–many, much, large things. Again, nothing wrong with that…however…

“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part”…chreia–necessity, need, duty, business–agathos–good, excellent, honorouble, joyful–meris–assigned part, portion, share…

When I get so wrapped up in serving–over-occupied and too busy–I miss out on my portion of that good and joyful necessity: to sit at Jesus’ feet and soak in every word. Oh, I still pray and read the Bible, but there is just something about taking time to be still and let Jesus soak in and restore your soul.

So today (okay, this morning…because this Martha has so many Christmasy things to do later!), I am choosing to be a Mary. And as this year draws to a close, and a fresh new year looms, I’m hoping to be more intentional with my schedule and choose to spend time at Jesus’ feet regularly. I long for His words to permeate my soul. How about you?

May you have a blessed, joyous, and Christ-filled holiday season. I think I’m going to rest here a bit longer…

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Posted in Blessings, Christmas, December 2016, Healing, Jesus, Life, Luke, Martha, Mary, Rest, Self, Waiting on the Lord, Worry | 2 Comments

Sweetly Broken

Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours. 

Have you ever prayed that prayer? If you dare, God will open your eyes and change your perspective. But be prepared for your world to be rocked. He will reveal calluses on your heart you weren’t even aware existed, pockets of prejudice in the recesses of your mind that you had never before noticed, and a log in your eye that blinds you to the truth. The truth that you are desperately in need of a Saviour. The truth that there is none righteous, no, not one. The truth that you are no better than anyone else. The truth that this life is not about you, it’s about God. About who He is, what He’s done, how He loves, and why you need Him. It’s about forgiveness found only by grace through faith in Christ, the hope He gives, and the freedom found only in Him. It’s about laying aside your own life, taking up your cross, and following hard after Jesus. It’s about loving God and loving your enemies. It’s about going and telling the world the good news that you’ve experienced: the forgiveness and freedom and goodness and grace and love. It’s about weeping and praying and sacrificially giving. It’s about so much more than your own self. It’s about having a heart that breaks over the things that really matter: lost souls and wounded spirits, abused bodies and abandoned families. 

Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours. 

 

Posted in Enemies, Faith, Family, Fear, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friends, Giving, God, Grace, Hatred, Healing, Heart, Hope, Jesus, Life, Love, Love one another, Men, Mercy, Mind, Mourning, Nature, Obedience, October 2016, Others, Prayer, Repentance, Sacrifice, Salvation, Self, Submission, The Gospel, The Nature of God, The Truth | Leave a comment