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Superficial Friendship

If you’re a friend of mine and actually know me, this post is probably going to sound really hypocritical. It’s not something I’m very good at and yet here I am- writing about it. That’s usually the way it goes though. I write about the things I’m learning and being convicted of, not the things I’ve “mastered.” So just know that I really am preaching to the choir right now.

I promise this is my last post on Because He Loves Me, but there is one more point I wanted to pull from that book and share with you all. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while but the way she put it hit me hard.

Have you ever noticed that all humans desire intimacy? Every single person I know WANTS to have deep, meaningful relationships and every single person I know struggles to have them. Personally, I have a really hard time communicating my thoughts and that gets in my way sometimes but other times, it’s my pride. And that’s something I’ve seen a lot. We all want deep relationships and friendships but pull away from the only things that leads to them: transparency and vulnerability. I have tried SO many times to have deep, spiritual conversations with close friends, only to get superficial responses to my questions. But I know that I’ve also been on the other end of that line, doing the same thing to friends. Both leave me frustrated.

So this section in Because He Loves Me really stood out to me:

“As I’ve traveled around the country, speaking at good Bible-believing churches, I’ve discovered that the kind of biblical relationship to which I think the New Testament call us is almost nonexistent. For example, I recently spoke at a conference that was well attended by women who were serious about their faith. They weren’t ‘playing church,’ and they wouldn’t have thought of themselves as tourists. But when I asked for a show of hands of those who were in a biblical relationship with others to whom they regularly confessed sin, expected accountability, and regularly confronted the sins of those same others, only a smattering of hands went up. That’s not to say these dear sisters weren’t eager to follow the Lord. It was just that this kind of relationship, this depth of biblical fellowship, was way beyond their normal practice.
This kind of fellowship I’m enjoining flies right in the face of our American individualism and desire for privacy. We don’t want anyone poking around in our affairs, and we certainly don’t want to be accused of poking about in anyone else’s. This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today. God has placed us in a family because we don’t grow very well on our own. It’s still not good to be alone. We need the encouragement, correction, and loving involvement of others who are willing to risk everything for the sake of the beauty of his bride.” pg. 177-178

I’ve been mulling this over for weeks and I still believe she hit the nail right on the head. Have you ever tried to have a confession or accountability time with friends? It can be like PULLING TEETH from a wild dog. It’s probably the fastest way to silence a room of chatty believers.

And it’s because we believe it’s our own private business. But the reality is that our faith is personal, but it’s not private. We DO have a personal relationship with Christ but NOT a private one that is meant to be kept to ourselves.

There is a verse in Proverbs that just keeps popping into my head, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Prov. 18:1 Deep, meaningful fellowship with other believers is vital for spiritual growth. I’m learning this more and more. It takes work and humility but it’s worth it for the glory of God’s kingdom.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in books

 

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Embracing Sin

I know a lot of people that wrestle with doubt. Dear friends of mine that doubt their salvation, doubt God’s love for them, doubt their beliefs. For a long time, I struggled with these friends. I struggled with how to respond to this kind of doubting. How can you be unsure of the ONLY sure thing we have? How can you doubt the Words of our eternal, sovereign Lord? If he says it, it’s true. I was not a very patient person to a hurting heart for many years but God has shown me some things since then. 🙂 I’ve learned how to better respond to doubts, even if I don’t always understand.

However, all of this has caused me to be very interested in doubting and where it comes from. So let me ask this question: How many times have you listened to a gospel presentation (or maybe given one) and glossed over the part that we are all desperately, evil sinners? I’m actually very curious in this answer. Have you heard someone present the gospel as a way to be saved but you aren’t even sure what you are being saved from?

Romans 3 talks about how every single one of us is unrighteous and no one does what is good. 1 John says that if we say we haven’t sinned, we are liars. Isaiah 64 says that we are unclean and even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags. And all you have to do is read the Ten Commandments (or maybe Jesus’ interpretation of them) to realize that we haven’t kept them at all.

So why is that part of the gospel, the part where THERE IS A DESPERATE NEED FOR A SAVIOR, skipped over so much? Because it is uncomfortable. Because people don’t want to be told that they are in the wrong and are sinful.

But don’t you see? Without that, there isn’t a need for the gospel at all. Without a deep realization of your sin, you won’t have a deep realization for what Christ did for you! You will be caught up in thinking you have to earn your salvation instead of realizing it was never based on you to begin with. Let me share from Because He Loves Me:

“Many people struggle with feelings of condemnation and guilt today because they’ve never really understood what Jesus did for them on Calvary. They think that their relationship with God is predicated on the fact that they’re not really all that bad, and then they wonder if God still loves them when they struggle with ongoing sin. They wonder if they were ever really his. They don’t see the depth of the sin that Christ bore in their place and so they can’t comprehend the righteous fury he withstood for them nor the riches of the grace they’ve been given. I’m encouraging you now to fully embrace your sinfulness for one simple reason: so that you can fully embrace this great exchange, our ‘justification.'” pg71

YES! If you never fully embraced that you were an utterly sinful person who was incapable of rescuing yourself, then you won’t ever be sure of your salvation. That doubt will remain. But once you realize that your salvation was never based on you or your performance, you can be sure it will never fade away. Christ is eternal, his love is eternal, and his work is eternal.

And that, dear friends, washes away all doubts of this world.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in books

 

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Because He Loves Me

Guys, I made a mistake. A few years ago, I was given a book. It was given as a thank-you gift to a group of volunteers that I’m blessed to be a part of. It was around Christmas time and I remember looking at it, and putting it on my bookshelf. And here’s where the mistake came in:

I DID NOT READ THAT BOOK. If you don’t know this about me, I don’t read many theology books written by women because sometimes I get tired of looking for good ones. (Some of you might identify with that and some of you might be outraged.) So when I saw that this book was written by a woman I pridefully placed it in the back of my mind and forgot about it. I should have known better. I should have known that the ladies that picked this book are some of the most biblically sound people I know. I should have read the book years ago. I didn’t though.

But God in his grace reminded me of that book a couple months back and I decided to give it a try. I have been blown away, people. There were some days I would be reading and it was all I could do to contain the love for Christ that I felt building inside me from reading this. This book is one of the most Christ-focused, convicting, and encouraging books I have ever read!

It’s Because He Loves Me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I actually can’t think of anything negative to say, which is rare for me. I even included the Amazon link if you click that picture because, seriously, everyone should read it!

Over the next few posts, I want to share some of my favorite parts of the book but I think my absolute favorite thing about it was how entirely gospel-focused it is. Elyse starts out with the gospel and builds on that but always brings you back to the fact that Christ’s love displayed in the gospel should be the driving motivation for every single thing we do. I needed that reminder. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to do what’s right that I ignore my motivations. A short quote from the book, “I believe that most Christians think fondly of Jesus, are sincerely grateful for salvation, and remember his name as a tagline when they pray, but they don’t see his work and life as something to contemplate every moment of every day. I have to admit that until fairly recently I, too, pursued godliness without much thought of him.”

And that’s just from the intro! This book left me with a greater awe of our Savior and love for him! I’m so excited to share that with you all.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in books

 

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My Thing Isn’t Top Priority

Today I reread a very freeing thing. Yup, you got that right. I picked up the book Crazy Busy to reread because a) I love that book and b) I felt like I needed to hear its message again. Turns out I did.

My absolute favorite part of the book is the section about ministry. I have a really hard time with ministries because to some degree I always feel like I should be doing more. Everyone around me can make the case that the work they are doing is the most important and should be top priority and I should support it. Inside my church and outside. It’s pretty easy to feel guilty for not helping everyone with their passion. (Just like it’s easy for me to feel like the ministry I’m involved in should be everyone’s top priority!)

But that’s the thing. I can’t be passionate about EVERYTHING. It’s exhausting and draining. And that’s ok! I’m not supposed to be! That is the wonderful, beautiful thing about the church! I’m going to let Kevin DeYoung take over here for a minute:

“Every Christian must be prepared to give an answer for the reason for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15), but not everyone will do beach evangelism. Every Christian should be involved in the Great Commission, but not everyone will move overseas. Every Christian should oppose abortion, but not everyone will adopt or volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. We need Christians who spend their lives improving inner-city schools and Christians whose dream is to get great theological books translated into Polish. And we need Christians who don’t make others feel guilty ( and don’t feel guilty themselves) when one of us follows a different passion than another. I read and write a lot. That’s what I do well. But that doesn’t mean anyone should feel guilty for not reading and writing as much as I do. You have you own gifts and calling. You have to be okay with other Christians doing certain good things better and more often than we do.” Crazy Busy pg. 49-50

Sometimes I fall into the trap of believing that the thing I love, everyone should love and support but that’s not the case. Kevin does clarify earlier in the chapter that there is a difference between caring and doing. For instance, all Christians should CARE about starving children in Africa, but not all Christians are called to go to Africa and do something there.

What a weight off my shoulders! This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of this week, people! I don’t need to feel pressured by other people to be involved in every. single. good. thing. and I also don’t want to pressure other people who aren’t passionate about the ministries I’m involved in. The church is a BODY for a reason and I’m SO thankful!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2019 in books

 

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Robbing our Affections

I’m going to be honest. This post has taken me a while to write because I really had to do some reflecting aaaannndd it was super convicting for me. In my previous post, I talked about things that stir up my affections for Christ and make me love him better. But the hard truth is there are also things that rob us of our love for our Savior.

The more I thought about it, I realized that the things that really distract me from keeping my focus on Christ are small things, not giant, glaring holes in my faith or anything.

Going again from Matt Chandler’s book, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain:
“No, in fact, the morally neutral temptations are far more apt to rob me of my affections for Jesus Christ, because God’s grown me to the place where those ‘big sins’ aren’t things that appeal to me anymore. But I can easily justify sinfully indulging in things that are non-sins because they are little things, or what the Song of Solomon might call the ‘little foxes’ that get into the vineyard of my worship of God.”

I can think of three things right off the bat that are just like he describes. They are not sins per se, but they do not encourage me to love Christ better and in fact do just the opposite.

  1. Rushing. The ABSOLUTE worse way for me to start my day, or end my day, or get anywhere in between is to rush. I’m pretty sure I get this from my Dad because I can’t think of a single time growing up that we were late to something. And we always arrived at church with 20 minutes to spare. When my mornings are rushed, my devotions are hurried, and I start my day off feeling grumpy and frustrated. If I’m going to any event, I will be on time if it depends on me. The wonderful thing is: I know this about myself. I prepare. I wake up with plenty of time in the morning. I set things out the night before and I leave myself ample driving time to get to work. Do things always work out? Absolutely not. And then God has to teach my heart what is the proper way to respond.
  2. Politics. Wow I cringed just typing that word. I have seen so many people tear each other down over politics that it hurts me. And while I’m an avid voter, you usually won’t find me discussing politics with anyone. And you will almost NEVER find me discussing it online….except now….and here. I have learned that political discussions don’t lead me to love Christ better.
  3. Theological discussions. Did you topple over in your chair? Yeah this was actually the first one that popped into my head when I started thinking about this. Sometimes I get really passionate about theology (which is a good thing!) But sometimes I can get into argume…err…discussions…with people about said theology and it doesn’t end up building up either party. There is a time and place for everything and I have had to learn this the hard way many times.

Now comes the disclaimer. This is MY list. Not yours. Absolutely none of these things I listed is a sin in and of itself; they are just ways that I have found can lead me to sin. They don’t lead me closer to Christ. Now, does it mean if I’m running late, I don’t move faster? Of course not! Does it mean I never discuss theology? Bahahaha! It means that I know how to control my emotions better and have learned when a discussion should be stopped or moved. So the beauty of it is, your list is probably different. In fact, I hope SOMEBODY has a different list because the world would be in a pretty bad spot in all believers refrained from discussing politics! I’m SO thankful for those that can!

Feel free to tell me what’s on your list. I won’t impose mine on you and vice versa. 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2018 in books

 

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What Stirs Your Affections?

Earlier this year my Young Adult group went through Matt Chandler’s video study on Philippians, “To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain.” I have to say, I was SUPER excited to do it because I had already read the book and loved it and was ready to share that with my closest friends. Pluusss…I just love Matt Chandler…

There was a thought in the series that really struck me. Chandler is asking you to look at your life and think about what stirs your affections for Christ and causes you to passionately pursue Him. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it before. From the book:

“What is it that stirs you to know Him, to love Him, to worship Him? It will probably look different for a lot of people. It will have to involve the Scriptures, because that’s how God speaks to us. It will involve prayer, because that’s how we speak to God. It involves worship, but we have to remember that worship is bigger and more expansive than singing songs in church. What is it that incorporates the Word and prayer and ultimately builds your heart in worship?” pg.98

He goes through several things that build his love for Christ and let me just say, I’m pretty sure he and I are kindred spirits. Most of the stuff on his list is on mine too. But I wanted to share with you a couple things that stir up my affections for Christ. I want to be clear that these aren’t just things I like in the way that I love cozy blankets but they are things that actually cause me to love and worship Christ more than I already do.

The first would definitely be early mornings. There is just something about waking up early and watching the sun come up as you do your devotions. There is a quiet beauty during that time that makes my heart whisper thankful prayers to the Lord.

Secondly, listening to others who are passionate about their faith. Being in the presence (or, ummm, screen) of someone who SO obviously loves Christ and is excited to share about Him and what he has done encourages me to love Him and serve Him better!

Thirdly, SNOW. I’m already prepared for some negative feedback on this one. I don’t know what it is about snow but it makes me giddy. I literally start giggling like a little girl and laugh (out loud) with joy when it snows. That God would create something so unique, soft, and beautiful is just amazing to me and I love it! It adds a beauty and quietness to winter.

The last one is probably weird. Music. Worship music, yes! Singing praise songs by myself or, even better, with my brothers and sisters in Christ is a beautiful thing! But it doesn’t even have to be that. Have you ever listened to movie scores before? Like from awesome, epic movies? There is something so moving and incredible about them that causes me to worship God. I thought at first it was because I was relating it to what I knew was happening at that point in the movie but I’ve listened to scores from movies I’ve never seen and it can still happen. Classical music can have the same effect. The pure beauty of music itself screams out glory for the Creator!

The book also addresses things that can steal your affections for Christ but I want to talk about that in my next post (whenever that comes.)

What about you? What are some things that make you love and rejoice more in our Savior? What stirs your affections for Him?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in books

 

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An “Epic” Review

I recently had the blessing to travel across the country for a good friend’s wedding. And by travel, I mean fly, because if you know me you know that I get carsick pretty easily so if it was a road-trip, the word “blessing” would probably have been dropped from that sentence.

Anywho…I always take a book with me when I fly and sometimes I actually read it and sometimes I just sit like a creeper and people-watch. But this time I brought a book I had actually been saving for my next flight, as weird as that sounds. It’s small, short, and even weirder for me, I have NO IDEA how I got it or it’s study guide! So while you may have been thinking I was being stuck up with my blog title, the title of the book is actually Epic, and I couldn’t resist. 🙂

I got through security for my flight pretty fast (because I’m a good rule-follower) and since it appeared that the people-watching chances were slim, I opened the book right up. Seriously guys, I hadn’t even read the back cover. I was going in blind on this one, which is really new for me. It’s by John Eldredge, who I don’t know much about, except he wrote Wild at Heart, which I’ve never read.

The very first line of the book hooked me because he referenced my favorite movie, Lord of the Rings. I was immediately intrigued. He also had a quote by G.K. Chesterton and I thought, “Gosh, he’s off to a great start!” The book is about telling the gospel with more of an “epic story” perspective. I’ve never read anything that referenced SO many well-known movies and books: Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, Gladiator, Titanic, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Odyssey, Stars Wars, and so many more. It was insane!

It was quite an interesting perspective and while I can’t say I agreed with all the theology (mainly the section on free will), he came at it from an angle that was really different from anything I’ve ever read.

But after a while I started to notice something. It wasn’t quite fitting anymore. Instead of trying to show how the gospel had similar themes to some of our movies, it seemed more like he was trying to make the gospel fit into the movies’ themes. I think he was letting his imagination run away a little bit.

Because while God’s story is incredible, amazing, and (I would even agree, epic,) it’s not one of our movies. It is written by a supreme Creator, not humans. And somehow comparing it to our flawed stories relentlessly gave it less meaning than reading it how it was actually written, in God’s own Words. 

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2018 in books

 

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Theology for Dummies

Have you ever read any of the “For Dummies” books? You know which ones I mean?

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They are pretty iconic. I mean, most people would recognize them simply by the cover, even if you’ve never read one of the books. They have somewhere around 2,500 titles and over 2 million books in print. Crazy, right? The appeal is that they are easy to read for the average person and present the information in a design where the important stuff is made known so that you can recognize and remember it. I think I read one in high school but I don’t remember what it was.

But to be honest, I kind of stayed away from them because I didn’t like reading stuff written for “Dummies!” (Yeah, pride. I know.) I considered myself a pretty well-read person, for which you can thank my parents. My Dad used to read to us all the time as little kids and he can still recite the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” from memory. In fact, if I were to go home and my Dad was read a book to my younger siblings, I would be in the front row.

When we got older, my Mom read us books like King Arthur, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Canterbury Tales. We read a lot. I love books and reading. I used to get in trouble for reading too much (actually, I used to get in trouble for getting upset when people interrupted my reading…) Old English? No problem. Beowulf? Bring it on. Deep theology? My favorite.

But things are different now. My brain capacity and concentration capacity are different. And although the desire to read deep things is very real, I find myself wishing someone would write a “Theology for Dummies” book. Which sounds like a contradiction, I know. But I simply can’t comprehend the books I used to be able to read- which is SO frustrating! For instance, I’ve had Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” sitting on my shelf for about a year now. I’ve probably started it 4-5 times and never been able to get past the first chapter because I don’t understand what I’m reading. No matter how many times I read the same sentence, I don’t get it. (Is there a kid’s version of this book??)

I used to be able to read several books at the same time and keep up with all the themes. Don’t believe me? Look what popped up on my Timehop today:

book

This was what I was reading four years ago. I liked reading more than one book at a time so that if I didn’t feel like reading one book, I had another to turn to.

But not now. It’s been frustrating but also very humbling for me. The person who used to pride herself in reading the great books of the world has been brought down to the level of a child and is thankful that she can read at all! That person who used to have 6 books by her bed that she was reading all at once is now thankful to be able to open her Bible and comprehend one single verse in it. Thankful to find those authors that do write simply. Ultimately thankful that salvation isn’t for the wise or all-knowing people but that you just have to have faith like a child. That it’s simple. Just thankful.

 

But…if you happen to find a “Theology for Dummies”, let me know. 😉

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in books, epilepsy

 

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A Great Savior

Currently I’m reading the book, “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I just started it and I can already recommend it. It’s about all the sins that believers tend to think of as ‘lesser’ sins. Those like gossip, anger, jealousy, unthankfulness, etc. In our minds we all know that sin is sin but if you really look at your heart you would probably agree that you have sins rated from horribly-worst to not-as-bad-as-murder.

A thought from that book really struck me this week so of course you get to hear about it. 🙂 His thought was that if we truly, deeply believed in our hearts that God has paid for all of our sins, then we don’t need to be afraid to confess them. If you really believe that Christ paid the penalty for your sins (past, present, and future ones) and that when God looks at you all he sees is Christ’s perfection, then you don’t need to be afraid to admit your sin.

What a freeing thought, right?! Sometimes I find that I don’t want to admit a sin of mine even to myself, let alone to others, but if I stopped to remember that God has already forgiven me of that sin, then I can deal with the issue and move on!

From Respectable Sins:
“To the extent that I grasp, in the depth of my being, this great truth of God’s forgiveness of my sin through Christ, I will be freed up to honestly and humbly face the particular manifestations of sin in my life. That’s why it is so helpful to affirm each day with John Newton that, ‘I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.‘” (pg.35, emphasis added)

I have that quote from John Newton hanging in my room and I see it every day. It reminds me that I AM FORGIVEN! Yes, I still sin and make mistakes but Christ is greater than my sin and has already forgiven me! How incredible is that?!

So don’t be afraid to admit or confess your sin to yourself, to the Lord, and even to others. Realize that if you are a believer, you are already forgiven. Your sin was nailed to the cross long ago and you also can say that you are a great sinner, but you have an even greater Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in books

 

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The Gentleness of Mercy

Okay, in case you haven’t gotten the idea yet…this book is just amazing!  I just finished chapter six. Chapters five and six both deal with the idea of mercy and forgiveness in a relationship.  Forgiveness I have…I have a pretty easy time forgiving people (unless you were to put a snake in my bed; that would require some SERIOUS forgiveness.)  I’ve always kind of used mercy and forgiveness interchangeably. You know, mercy is bestowing something that is undeserved, forgiveness isn’t deserved, voila!  This book questioned that theory in one sentence.

“Mercy can be extended to those who don’t recognize it, whereas forgiveness is most often a transaction between parties.” (pg 98)

In other words, you can bestow mercy without the other person ever knowing! This really hit home with me as I thought about how many times I can just keep my mouth shut and not say anything. For example, my sister has this horrible habit that really bugs me. (And yes, I have her permission to post this.) She forgets to flush the toilet. Often. It drives me crazy because I have to flush and then when I’m done it won’t flush because the tank is still filling up. So, as I was writing this post, I have to use the restroom and I walk in and the toilet isn’t flushed! AGAIN! My instant thought was, “Man, I’m really going to have to harp on her to get her to fix this. It’s so simple; why can’t she remember?”  Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the post I had left just a second before. Oh, yeah…mercy. So I’ve decided to show mercy on this point and not mention it. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m just keeping it inside, harboring resentment either. It means that I’m being merciful, patient, and kind toward her.

Does this make sense? In my mind it makes sense but I’m not sure my thoughts are flowing well onto the keys this time. It’s so easy to miss the point of mercy in two different ways:

1. By burying it deep inside and letting bitterness take over and

2. By becoming proud in your heart about how many times you’ve shown mercy to another without them knowing.

I think mercy has a kind of gentle humbleness about it. Realizing how much mercy you’ve been shown by the Father and letting that flow out of you to others. And it doesn’t have to be about the ‘big’ things in life

It can be as simple as someone not flushing the toilet or any other pet peeve you may have.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in books

 

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