Words of Encouragement | The Mug


zxcdIt was my husband’s birthday this month. I decided to get him something from the heart for his gift; so I chose to go to the paint your own pottery shop here in town. Searching through the options on the shelves, I selected a coffee mug. He loves coffee so this would be perfect!

Now, I needed to make a decision of what to paint. I know his favorite colors are red and black, so that would be the colors. There were books to look at in order to help get the creative juices flowing; I picked this curly design and placed a heart in the center of the mug.

I started by painting the red on the mug; leaving the white to show through in a shape of a heart. Then I put black paint on the handle and around the rim. I pulled out the fine-tipped, black paint marker and began to make curly designs on the red paint. I had a picture in my mind; but for the life of me it was not looking quite like my image.

This stuff is tedious work, people! The tip of the marker kept getting clogged with the red paint (It stays a chalky texture until it goes in the kiln).  I began feeling super stressed. Elijah, the 9 year old boy I had with me finished his shark and was getting antsy. We decided it would be a great idea if he selected another item to paint. My mono-vision contacts, from looking close then far away, were making my eyes feel over stimulated. I am sure that you have felt that feeling before; you have high expectations and nothing seems to be going right. You can physically feel the stress. Then it happened. I put my finger right into where I painted and smudged the design. Talk about feeling irritable, I wanted to cry and throw the mug away. Not quite sure what I was thinking, but I resolved the mistake by putting a FLOWER over the smudge. Yes, on my husband’s manly mug…a flower. But one flower wasn’t enough; I had to balance it out and put several flowers on it.

Finishing off, I put his name at the bottom and painted a black rim at the top with red dots on the inside. I hated it. All I saw was “pink” paint, flowers, and it was definitely not the image I had in mind for this gift. My mom was with me. We both were laughing as we retold the situation to my husband and my dad. All of the “what I should have done’s” were mentioned. I should have done a different design. I should have just put my name on it and re-made him a manlier one. I should have put hearts instead of the flowers. I should have dropped it…on and on. Tim just laughed and told me he would love it; even when I told him that it looked like a pig threw up curly-ques.

I went to pick up the mug at the shop. The owner, as she pulls my artwork out of the box, says, “And this one turned out so nice!” I couldn’t believe it! And, I was surprised as I looked at it. The pink was bright red and the black was way more muted. The curly-ques were much milder than they were before it went into the kiln. It did; it actually looked pretty good! I got into the car and called my mom after sending her a text message with a picture of it!  We talked about the significance of the fire. Interesting, right? Just like in life as we have situations that paint us, decorate us, fail us, and even cover up the mistakes with new attempts to do things correctly. Then God, fully in His amazing grace, comes when we allow Him to and puts a coat of plain glaze right over top of our “artwork”. Then, He puts us in the kiln. Fire is never comfortable; but boy does the pottery come out beautiful afterwards! The glaze makes everything nice and shiny; even the colors change. His plans are always the best.

The “game-changer” in this situation is the willingness to be put into the fire. The Bible talks about not getting comfortable but allowing God to move us into His image.  You read through scripture and there is story after story of God calling people out of their comfort zones. Read Daniel 3 for the story about three men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who literally went into the fire!  Their willingness, obedience and faith in God resulted in changed lives of many people. I am sure their “mug” (situation) didn’t look too good before and as they were taken into the fire! But what a glorious story after!

I was driving down the road and heard the song by 7eventh Time Down called “God Is On The Move.”  While I love the song, it really struck me that WE need to be “moving” along with Him.  James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  So often we see husbands who get involved in seeking Christ-likeness and only do painting. They never seem to allow God to put the glaze on and certainly when it gets too hot from the fire, they become defensive and sometimes even quit. God certainly IS on the move. He wants to do BIG things in our lives. Remember the quote, “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”; well, it is like that with our quest to Christ-likeness. God has even warned us of this in scripture. Although there are many verses that allude to this hardship; one is Acts 14:22, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

In closing, the question is: Do you want to go through life feeling like you are just painting (or playing Christian)? Along with this come feelings of anxiety, frustration, emptiness, like giving in/throwing in the towel (breaking the mug), insecurity, dissatisfaction, etc. God has such a better picture in mind! Stay the course and allow Him to finish what He has started. Follow Him.  As the song says, “God is on the move, on the move, Hallelujah! God is on the move; in many mighty ways.” He does take us into the fire. It isn’t always easy; but discovering your Spirit, for husbands knowing and understanding the spirit of your wife, and knowing and learning God’s Spirit is AMAZING! I am so glad I didn’t throw away the mug. Tim loved it when I gave it to him. And so it is with God’s ways; the blessings are huge and so worth the fire!

Written by Denise Wedel

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Principles and Projects | SPIRITUAL SEEDS THAT REAP CHRIST-LIKENESS


sowing-the-seeds-that-reap-christlikenessExcerpted from the book SPIRITUAL SEEDS THAT REAP CHRIST-LIKENESS volume one

Although I was married in 1959 it wasn’t until 1971 that my circumstances caused me to recognize that I was in serious trouble.  So much so, that it forced me to recognize that I needed to do some deep soul-searching and challenge myself.

I was staring at a disaster; caused by conducting my marriage from my perspective. All the time, God was patiently waiting for circumstances to drive me to a place where I would turn to Him for direction.

The time had come for my Christianity to become more than mere words and theological habits. I needed to search out; re-evaluate my life and then pursue God’s goals for my life and marriage; which I discovered, meant becoming more and more like Christ to my wife and children. I needed to accept the responsibility (as the spiritual leader in my home) to lead as Christ would. Those are also the ultimate purposes of this book.

To accomplish those purposes, here are Five Challenging Concepts (which are like spiritual seeds for the gardener who wants spiritual growth) all of which I believe God revealed to me and to which I hold myself accountable. These concepts (or spiritual seeds) yielded for me and I believe will yield for every Christian man… the same brand of Christianity the Apostles died for.

These concepts presented me with a challenge, and I’m passing that challenge on. Are we willing to become the Christ-like spiritual leaders in our homes that God requires we be?  Not so incidentally, that requires an intense commitment to God. A commitment wherein we will need to determine; are we willing to pay the sacrificial price required to gain the necessary understanding that will enable us to become more and more Christ-like!

God is going to bring every man to a place where he will have to decide; am I willing to accept the challenge of literally illustrating Christ. Exemplifying the ability to respond to all of the events in my life as Christ would?

Let me take this opportunity to mention, it definitely is the intent of this series of books, to present every Christian man with a challenge: The most demanding concepts he may ever face; requiring that he meet some of the strictest opportunities for illustrating Christ in his Christian home (and community) he may ever be confronted with.

This challenge centers on the following Five Concepts or Five Spiritual Seeds that are presented in question form. They represent seeds that need to be nurtured so they can grow and provide spiritual nutrition; becoming a part of who we are; since it’s said, We are what we eat!”

SEED #1, answers this question: What needs to happen before a man can prove he understands his own human spirit well enough that he would be qualified to be a Christ-like spiritual leader?  Proverb 25:28 requires that a man understand his own human spirit; warning him about the trouble he will encounter if he does not have, “…rule over his own spirit.” (KJV) If we do not recognize, nor specifically understand, our own human spirit, how is it even possible that we could build spiritual maturity in ourselves or in those we are supposed to be spiritually responsible for?

SEED #2, answers this question: What is specifically involved in dying to self; how does a man put his own “flesh” to death?  II Cor. 7:1 clearly instructs us to, “… cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and filthiness of the spirit.” (KJV)  Do we know how to recognize our flesh in all of its manifestations?  Do we even recognize when and how our flesh manifests itself in our everyday lives? Knowing these things enables a man to understand what is necessary to put his flesh to death, and allows him to acquire greater spiritual strength.

SEED #3, answers this question: What is necessary before a man is capable of literally understanding the mind of a woman as Christ would/does?  This capability would enable a man to discover even more about spiritual leadership and spiritual power. Then too, I Peter 3:7, commands that we, “… live with our wives in an understanding way… that our prayers be not hindered.” (ESV)

SEED #4, answers this question: What is involved in a man developing the ability to actually illustrate Christ to his wife, every day in his life?  We know that Christ was/is, spiritually mature! And, Ephesians 5:23-27 requires that we be like Christ to our wives; Romans 8:29 also requires that we be conformed to the image of God’s Son. If we are struggling in our marriages, and the evidence clearly illustrates that there is a lack of harmony and oneness, then Christ-likeness in a husband (the spiritual leader) is missing.

What resources will we draw upon to discover when, where or how we are not Christ-like? What resources will we use to help us discover how to discipline ourselves, so we would more effectively illustrate Christ not only to our wives but to everyone? How about drawing upon the help that God ordained for us? Do you know what that help is?

SEED #5, answers this question: How does a man successfully discern God’s intentions and directions in every situation? Can he interpret all of life’s physical events, in such a way that he is able to turn them into beneficial spiritual lessons?  Thereby, daily, being an example; leading his family into victorious living? Romans 8:28 says, “…all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good …” (AMP) What is the evidence that we specifically do understand, what the good is, that God wants to accomplish in everything that take place in our lives, daily?

If we are going to be an illustration of Christ to the world, doesn’t it make sense that we would have to learn these Five Concepts (plant these Five Spiritual Seeds in our own spiritual lives) before we could teach them to others?

Doesn’t it make sense that we cannot bring stability to the Christian community without personally providing the kind of spiritual leadership (especially in our marriages) that Christ would?

Doesn’t it make sense that we cannot bring stability to Christian marriages if we do not understand our own wife’s heart/spirit so well that in each situation we face in our marriages, our wives feel as though they’ve had an encounter with Christ?

Doesn’t it make sense that we cannot offer the hope of stability in the homes of other Christian, unless we are the kind of Christ-like example in our own home that brings stability? That, like Christ, we would know our wife’s spirit so well that we know what our wives would be thinking in a given situation? We aren’t guessing or thinking we know… we know! And, our wives will readily testify that we do indeed, know what their thinking would be in a given situation?

Doesn’t it make sense that we would not be able to pass on the necessary knowledge or specific understanding about the human spirit, if we don’t thoroughly understand our own human spirits, nor our wife’s spirit?

Doesn’t it make sense that if we are unable to specifically identify each of our emotions, its living proof that we are emotionally unfamiliar and dysfunctional? And when that’s true, we will not be able to identify with the emotional needs of our wives (or others) and as such we will not be capable of caring for their emotional needs. That being the case we will not be able to minister to them as Christ would.  (See Hebrews 4:14-16)

Now, having said all of that, may I propose that the most significant means God has devised; so we could develop spiritual understanding and leadership, is found within the framework of the home… marriage! It is the most challenging institution for building relationships!

Marriage is the first institution that God Himself established. His purpose is, that it is the most significant and demanding resource for training a man to illustrate Christ.

Marriage presents circumstances wherein a man’s true nature and character are revealed. Then, as necessary, he can alter his normal-to-man character; that it be conformed to Christ’s character. Marriage is also meant to be the most rewarding relationship in the world!

Concerning this role of spiritual leadership and how serious God is about it: read Malachi 2:13-15. (NASB) In it, God explains what His expectations are of spiritual leadership; expectations that require a high degree of spiritual awareness, along with a complete ability to understand our own spirit and the spirits of our wives.  Then, we can successfully provide Christ-like care for our wives and others.

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Daily Devotional | A Magnifying Glass


nHave you ever met someone and thought to yourself, “Man, how can they not see how they act?” Their bad behavior seems to blatantly glare for all to see; except they seem blind to it. I have. In fact, sometimes I don’t even want to be around that person. Usually I think to myself, “I sure wish someone who is close to them would share how they come across.”

When we are small, our parents hopefully began sharing with us early on that our bad behavior was unacceptable. God, in His infinite wisdom, put family and people in our lives to help us to expose our flesh. I know that for me, this is true. When we spend a lot of time with people we are able to see those faults much more easily; it is a lot like a magnifying glass.

We have a choice. We can balk at the “help” or we can accept it. I find it interesting when I hear my own children state that they have found working through certain character issues of their siblings (both dealing with their sibling/s and themselves on the things their siblings pointed out to them) has helped them with their spouses. It was an area that we really pointed out; that God didn’t by accident place all of us together in a family and that we are supposed to learn and grow to be more like Him every day. Much time was spent on discussing these issues and behaviors; as well as how we should speak to each other.

This should not stop when we get married. I often feel like a magnifying glass for my husband.  When we were dating, I remember him sharing things with me as well. It was mutual and I really felt like I could learn. However, when we got married I noticed a shift. He became very defensive when I shared things with him, he was harsh with me when he shared things with me, and he was hypocritical when he demanded more from me in areas. When we had children, things didn’t change for the better. It got worse.

I know often we women are told to “build up our husband’s ego,” “don’t nag,” “make our husband’s feel like a man,” etc., right? But, I would like to challenge this way of thinking. Let’s go back to my original statement. People are not naturally inclined to see their own bad behavior. We are defensive and sinful. God shares in His word for us to hold each other accountable. It also states in Genesis 2:18, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

Who loves the husband more than the wife?! She is going to be the perfect one to help him see how he does not look like Christ. I found that I was becoming frustrated and hurt when I observed and shared with my husband his sin nature and he was not receiving that as help. Eventually I became angry and that made me upset at myself for behaving in an unChrist-like way. Not all women show their frustration and hurt in the same way; some will withdraw and shut down.

But, the good news is that my husband became involved in Christ Quest Ministries and developed a quest to become like Christ. He began to value my words as help and saw me as part of “his team”, not as his enemy. The more he became like Christ, the more my anger left. The more he became like Christ; the more I wanted his help to lead me more and more to Christ.  Ephesians 5:21-33 is a famous passage that many refer to for helping with marriage. The verse that usually gets overlooked is verse 21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” I was able to really see this verse in action. The more Tim submitted to God, the more I wanted to submit to him; ultimately taking us both closer to God! How wonderful it is for me to look at my husband and know that to anyone he comes into contact with, that he will be representing God better. I know that he cannot see his areas that don’t look like Jesus easily and I love that he welcomes me to get out that “magnifying glass” to help him. What a difference it makes even in my heart and approach when I know that he will welcome my help; I don’t have that anger or frustration. We are just two people trying to learn how to be more like Christ together! We are a team!

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Relationship Help | Marriage Lessons


Discovery-Seminar-DVD-case-HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN?

Arguments continue without solutions. On, on, on, on. Frustrations continue day-after-day, mo. after mo. yr. after yr.

If we’re going to build the kind of spiritual leadership that inspires confidence in others; that leadership will necessarily, have to illustrate the ability to understand the specific differences between men and women.

Here’s what I mean:

A wife says to husband: “Our marriage sure doesn’t have any life to it anymore.  We could just as easily be divorced.  I don’t even believe you love me anymore.”

Puzzled, her husband reacts with a grimacing question on his face: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She states matter-of-factly: “I don’t think you care about our marriage anymore.”

He judges her: “That’s ridiculous! Why do you say stupid things like that?”

She offers her reasons: “Well… we never spend any time together anymore. You’re always too busy for us.”

He gets defensive: “Well, what do you want from me? I’m only trying to do what I need to, so I can provide for my family.”

She gets vulnerable: “What do I want from you? I want more time! But you know what I really wish? I wish you wanted to spend more time with me.”

He snaps back: “Well I do!” (This is my, “you’ll be glad you spent time with me look!”)

She’s doubtful: “Then why don’t we do more things together?”

He challenges her: “Like what?”

She reflects back: “F-o-r example, we never go out for dinner together.”

Defensively he shoots back: “Okay, you want to go out to dinner, then we’ll go out to dinner.” (this is my, “we’re going to have a great time look!”)

(They establish Friday as the date night.) So, here they are at the restaurant. Let’s observe them:

His total focus is on the food. Watching him, it’s not difficult to see, he is really enjoying it. On the other hand, she could care less about the food. She’s kind of poking at it while shifting it around. He looks up and sees she’s not making much progress. So, he questions, “Aren’t you hungry?” With a slight degree of disgust on her face and in her voice, she says, “No.”

He can’t pass up this golden opportunity.  Hardly hiding his anxiousness, he asks, “Can I have it?”

Almost as if she hopes it spills on him, she quickly shoves it across the table (not to him) at him. His perception is, she really wants him to have it right now!

But here’s the bottom-line problem: the average husband thinks that you go out to a restaurant with your wife… to eat.

HUSBANDS: You never go out to dinner alone with your wife to eat! You are there for the alone time with your wife. A time you can dedicate to her. You may also eat. But that’s not why you’re there!

This only one of many scenarios that effectively illustrates the difficulties that can come from not understanding the specific differences between men & women.

To learn more join us at the LIVE Discovery Seminar in Phoenix, AZ September 9-10, 2016 or purchase the DVD Discovery Seminar here.

 

 

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Concept Review | How To Be Become Irresistible To Your Wife


18_largeUnderstand, Lead and Love Your Wife in Such a Powerful, Christ-Like Way that You Become Irresistible to Her as You Create a Marriage of Love and Peace by Ken Nair

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” Proverb 18:22

There are two words in this Scripture that today, in our modern society, tend to lend themselves to potential misuse. The words are “good” and “thing.”

This verse, then, seems to be a passage that needs some clarification. I have heard men express gratitude toward their wives in many areas, ranging from cooking to sex. But seldom, if ever, have I heard expressions of gratitude for her spiritually significant thoughts.

Without clarification, the words “good” and “thing” can be defined by whomever the reader happens to be, man or woman. And, too often, a woman’s frame of reference about what Scripture is saying is influenced by a man’s thinking.

It’s a shame when we men think the good  which we would gain from a wife, that God is referring to, is that which will benefit our earth-bound, physical lives. Yes, the good can also benefit our physical lives, but I believe that God, being spiritual, intends that we would primarily derive mostly spiritual benefits from a wife.

Let’s do a word study to enhance our perspective, as we seek to understand this important verse.

Findeth (Hebrew: mâtsâ´, maw-tsaw´) to come forth, appear, exist, to attain, find, acquire, meet

Wife (Hebrew: ‘ishshâw, ish-shaw´) female, one together, wife, woman

Good (Hebrew: tôwb, tobe) good, better, best, in favor, fine

Thing (the word, thing, is not in the original language. It is added to give definition to the word, good.)

Obtaineth (Hebrew: pûwq, pook) to secure

Favor (Hebrew: râtsôwn, raw-tsone´) delight, favor, acceptable, good, pleasure

As we reflect on this creation we call woman, identified by God as Helper, it is important that we try to maintain God’s perspective as we reflect on this thing that will be for our “good”. That way we can derive the benefits that God intends.

Many of the physical tasks we face require two people. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that having a  constant  helper  in  our  spiritual  lives would also provide even more spiritual benefits? Unfortunately, most people do not consider that becoming spiritually mature requires two people in order to experience greater success.

It is typical for men to think independently. Even Scripture tells us we have a problem with our thinking. The Bible says, “Every man thinks he is right in his own eyes.” (Proverb 21:2) So, it is likely that a man’s unChrist-Likeness is not so apparent to him, even though it certainly is more noticeable to others.

This being the case, and considering the long-range and time-intensive investment necessary to accomplish the goal of Christ-Likeness in a man, how likely is it that anyone besides a wife would want to make that kind of time-intensive investment? Who, besides a wife, is willing to invest in a man’s personal, spiritual growth and run the risk of his reactions? Who, besides a wife, is willing to invest the kind of emotional stress that is inherent in helping a man (even if it is his own quest) in putting his flesh/sin nature to death, so that he might become more and more Christ-Like?

It seems that the person who is the most likely to make such a  commitment is the same person who stands to benefit the most. That person has to be around that man enough that he eventually sets aside all of his pretenses, resulting in  the real man being exposed — the hidden, unChrist-Like man. If a man’s genuine goal is to discover his flesh/sin nature, and put it to death in order to become more Christ-like, then it is indeed a blessing to have his own personal, ongoing revealer of his flesh, his soul’s enemy: which is his wife.

That is the kind of thinking that allows a man to understand God’s purpose when He wrote Proverb 18:22, paraphrased as follows:

He who, [because of God’s generous, loving foresight, made the attractions so strong that a man] would want to acquire a female to be one together with, attains [gains, is able to go, from good to better to] best, and he also is issued, [as furnished to him, has secured for him, as a part of God’s design for his life,] delight, favor, pleasure and goodness in the spiritual realm, as well as the physical realm.

Why? Because a husband has someone helping him to see his spiritual capacity to portray Christ (or not), so that he can attain that high calling in Christ Jesus. That man, becoming more and more like Christ, will be achieving a greater degree of spiritual maturity allowing him to care, as Christ would, for the spirits of all of those in his family for whom he is responsible.

That’s a whole lot of information coming from just eight words!

A man who acquires a woman as his wife will, as a natural by-product and if he will accept it, also acquire betterment for himself. This betterment is secured for him because it delights the Lord and gives the Lord great pleasure to favor a man in this way.

Now that is a good thing!

A prayer: God, it has always been Your plan to bless me. Help me to recognize more and more of Your ways and the blessings that accompany them. Let me recognize that every relationship, especially my relationship with my wife, is intended to bring blessings. Let me seek You and Your  blessings in all that I do. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Words Of Encouragement | Live With Intention


FullSizeRenderLately I have really been meditating on intentional living. So many of us have ideas and thoughts concerning our walk with God, the relationships in our lives and the activities that we would like to do. Yet, we don’t live with intention.

My encouragement in this article, will be to get you thinking about your purpose, your goals, and then how are you planning on getting there. I have two phrases that my family can tell you I do not like, and they are “I will try” and “sorry”. We will leave the “sorry” comment for another article! However, we will address the “I will try”. It is so often an overused and meaningless phrase. Living with intention is not trying, but doing.

The Bible says, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish it, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ ” Luke 15:28-30. A wise person sits down and makes a plan; they lay a foundation. May I suggest that you sit down individually to work on a personal purpose statement and then as a couple or family to create a purpose statement for the family. Decide what you want to look back at, in 2017 that you envisioned for 2016 and see what you have accomplished. Men, decide what areas specifically you want to grow in.  This will allow you to be a better leader for the entire family. What a wonderful thing to do every year.

Once you make the plan, decide what you are going to do monthly and weekly. At the end of the day, go to your Heavenly Father and ask Him if He is pleased with your progress. Ask yourself, where did I succeed? Where do I need to work harder tomorrow? Do I need to reconcile anything from today? This is intentional living. Make a list of what you will do for the next day. Keep the list with you and look at it; do the items on the list! So many have grand plans, and yet do not accomplish anything. Change starts with a decision. Plans start with a decision. Decide daily what you can and will do.

God even has plans. He says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Do you know what His plans are for your life? Do you spend time daily in His Word? His Word is the foundation on which our plans rest. Husbands, do you discuss with your wife and get her thinking about the areas that need a plan in your life and in the home? Do you pray about these plans together?

Eph. 5:15 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise.” And James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.” Living intentionally is being careful and wise on how we live; then doing what we set out to do. When we wake up in the morning, the first thing we should do is to pray over the list we made together as a couple the night before. Just think about how much closer our walk with God will be and how we can look back at what we have intentionally completed if we make the decision to live life with purpose!

Once the decision is made, do it! Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, says he to you; but his heart is not with you.” Will you be a person who thinks in his heart and does it; or a person who thinks it and your “heart is not with you”…aka “I will try”. Let’s choose to live intentionally, daily.

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Concept Review | Spiritual Truth


There is perhaps no greater danger than an intellectual response to a spiritual truth. Watch Ken Nair do a word study on 1 John 4:4 to gain greater understanding of this verse.

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