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Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Mentors are awesome!!!!

As a pastor, sometimes it’s tough to ask questions because I’m supposed to be the guy that has the answers to the questions.  That’s part of why I started this blog.  Sometimes I need the dialogue and unfortunately I sometimes have to resort to anonymity in order to get that honest dialogue.

My mentor though, is another great resource.  He lets me use him as a sounding board.  He’s somebody that I can ask questions without being judged.  Somebody that I can ask questions that other people would be offended by.

This is a conversation that he and I had last week via text message.  I tried to clean up the text language a bit but it’s still kinda rough.  You should be able to get the idea though.

Me: Okay so I’m trying to figure out where the line is.  Romans 14 says don’t judge one another, especially when it comes to Christian Freedom.  1Cor 5 Paul calls out a guy in sin and says kick him out.  Where’s the line, we are allowed to disagree on the Ten Commandments (sabbath) and on clean food but not on other things.  I’m struggling to see the difference.  Could homosexuality by a “Christian Freedom”? If not… Why?

Him: I think the line is where there is clear do’s and don’ts in the Bible.  Don’t murder is pretty clear.  But no clear teaching on smoking for instance.  Of course, some see the sexuality passages as nebulous but they really aren’t.

Me: So Christians can disagree on food and the Sabbath but can Christians disagree on hermeneutics?  Cause I think that’s what a lot of the sexuality stuff is.

Him: Hmmmm.  How is it hermeneutics?  Do you think it’s a matter of interpretation?  Or do you think that it is an issue of bibliology/authority of Scripture?  Trying to understand.

Me: I think there is a growing group within the church that holds to the authority of scripture but doesn’t see the bible condemning monogamous homosexual relationships.  They are reading the same Bible as me but they are reading it differently.

Him: Well I agree those folks are growing in number.  The issue is what is causing them to read it differently?  What commitments do u/they have that are different?  Those differences are not necessarily just hermeneutic in nature.  Could be value of scripture, theory of inspiration, etc. See what I mean?

Me:  I get what you mean but I don’t know that I see them making a different decision related to inspiration, or authority, it’s cultural context, that is debated.  Namely that orientation wasn’t a thing first century and that homosexuality then was predominantly homosexual rape.  If that’s the case, which I’m not yet convinced of, then I can see how they can argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn same sex monogamy but rather same sex rape.  At the end of the day I’m not convinced by their arguments but I’m also not convinced by Calvinism or Complementarianism.

Him: Hmmmm Interesting but nothing in the Biblical passages speaks of coercion or forced sex.  I think you have to eisegete that into the text.  The OT condemns rape and then separately condemns homosexuality.  It would then follow that prohibitions against homosexuality in the OT don’t assume non consesual sex.  First century Jews were more shaped by the OT than Greco Roman categories.  So as Paul writes he is more likely to be thinking OT than cultural practices.  Their argument requires eisegesis and special pleading and is just thin – nearly an argument from silence.

Me: I agree that the argument is thin but how do we deal with those that don’t agree.  Romans 14 principle seems to say don’t judge, let God deal with them.  1 Cor 5 principle seems to say kick them out.

Him: Well don’t judge doesn’t mean don’t condemn sin.  We are supposed to correct those who don’t repent of sin (Matt 18) even to the point of denying them fellowship (1 Cor 5).  Condemnation/judging seems to be final declaration of eternal death sentence with no intent to further encouragement to repent and return to God.

Me: Any possibility that the issue of homosexuality is the modern equivalent of first century circumcision?  I don’t want to be the foolish Galatian that adds being straight to the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone.  Matthew 18 seems to be someone who has offended and refuses to strive for unity intentionally dividing the body.  Modern homosexual Christians seem to be fighting for unity while conservatives push them away.  Maybe I’m off track but it seems different.

Him: Different categories.  Jesus and Paul base their sexual ethics on creation order.  That is the standard and basis they continually go back to.  This isn’t a unity issue.  My citation of Matt 18 was simply to show that sin is to be confronted.  There is no doubt in my mind that homosexual behavior is sin based upon my exegesis and consideration of the other interpretations as well.  You know me.  I am always open to revisit positions. I have on this issue and I have just not been convinced by the new understanding.

Me:  That’s why I process with you and not somebody else.  1st century Jews were pretty convinced that circumcision was significant.  Also pretty passionate about their view of the Sabbath.  Paul said that neither issue was as important as they thought.

Him:  Because they had been fulfilled by Jesus – not because they weren’t initially important.  Jesus met the requirement of the ritual law.  All believers were still called to recognize the morality of God’s values.  Plus in the circumcision debate at the Jerusalem council gentiles were still asked to abstain from sexual immorality (according to Jewish preconceptions of that category) in acts 15.

Me: Okay that makes sense, so what do I do with someone like Rachel Evans.  Evangelical, holds to biblical authority but is convinced by the new pro homosexual arguments.  Is she still a Christian, is she still evangelical, can I treat her and those that agree with her as brothers and sisters or do I call out sin and then distance myself from those who refuse to repent?

Him: Well her interpretation is wrong and you can recognize that as such.  Is she a Christian?  I would think so.  She is just in error.  And we are called to reprove, rebuke and admonish etc.. (2 Tim 3:16-17).  But here’s reality, she is probably not going to agree with you.  I read lots of authors I disagree with.  But honestly with her I think her doctrine of inspiration might not be just like mine so I recognize that when I read and spit out the bones as I digest what she wants me to hear.

Me: Cause for break of fellowship if it’s somebody in my church?

Him: I need to ponder that.  I would probably preclude them from teaching and sit down and study the issue with them.

So here are my takeaways.

The categorical stuff makes sense to me now but hadn’t been explained before.

Homosexuality is in a different category than circumcision or Sabbath rules because it falls under sexual ethics rather than OT law.  If we put it in the OT law category, then maybe we can throw it out when we throw out the no bacon rule.  But if we put it in the sexual ethics category, which both Paul and Jesus link to the creation order, it’s something that sticks around.

What I loved most about my mentors responses is something that I’ve always respected about him.  When I asked if this issue was a cause for break of fellowship his response was not yes or no.  It was let’s sit down and talk about it.  I think that’s the thing that is missing most in this debate.  There are lots of people talking AT each other or worse hurling insults, but there are very few people that are publicly discussing it and in love, working through the issues.  I’m not saying that it will be easy but I think hearts on both sides need to soften a bit and fight for unity in an attempt to understand and support one another.

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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Bible, church, Religion, Sex

 

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Family Ministry

During the time of Martin Luther there was no such thing as youth group.  There was no children’s ministry either and I think it’s safe to say that Luther would not have been in favor of either institution.  Luther’s ministry philosophy was to teach and disciple parents and empower them to teach and disciple their own children. “Abraham had in his tent a house of God and a church, just as today any godly and pious head of a household instructs his children… in godliness.” (Lectures on Genesis, Chapters 21-25 (1539)

The idea of Sunday School wasn’t even invented until the late 1700’s by a man named Robert Raikes.  Raikes had a passion to reach out to inner city boys.  Young men that either didn’t have fathers or didn’t have Godly fathers.  Over time this vision spread and eventually Youth Groups and Children’s ministries were birthed with the intent to come alongside parents and “HELP” disciple and train children and prepare them for mature Christian lives.

Now most churches have segregated ministries but back in Luthers time there was no segregation for ministry.  Everyone came to church and everyone heard the same message but there were pros and cons to that approach so newer approaches were developed.  Now many churches are so segregated that they fail to find any type of unity between groups.  HS students graduate and never come back because they were never connected to the church in the first place.  Small churches that can’t afford a college pastor expect 18 year old students to make the jump into either men’s or women’s ministry but they haven’t created the avenues for this to happen naturally.  And to be honest as a young man I’m not really exited about joining the men at 6 o’clock on Saturday morning for Men’s breakfast.  Some of the young women from my youth group have found ways to get involved with our women’s ministry but the events and studies that most of our women do are usually not anywhere near interesting for the young women that graduate from my youth group.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Luther’s vision was perfect but I think the lack of segregation had some benefits.  I think there is a huge need for age specific and sometimes even gender specific ministries but they cannot break away from the rest of the church to do their own thing and with changes in modern family structures, they cannot be designed around the stereotypical mother, father, and 2.5 children ideal of a family.  Many churches have Men’s ministries, women’s ministries, JH ministries, HS ministries, college ministries, single adult ministries (aka meat markets), etc, etc, etc… and what these ministries have become is mini-churches that are almost completely separated from the main church.  A similar problem exists with churches that focus on things like Marriage ministries which leave out those that are single or divorced or widowed.

So should churches segregate their ministries in order to specifically reach targeted groups of people?  I think so but proceed with caution.  There are numerous advantages to targeting certain age groups and there are times where segregating by gender can be helpful, but this segregation must be monitored and kept under control to keep the rogue youth group from becoming completely detached from the body. We also need to make sure that any segregation that we build into our churches is wide enough to accept those that may not fit the stereotypes.

James says that pure and un-defiled religion is taking care of orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27).  How often do you come across an orphans ministry at a local church? How ’bout a widows ministry?  Sadly it’s probably not as often as it should be.

Check out these articles on Family Ministry:

http://david-inrepair.blogspot.com/2012/04/tapping-breaks-on-family-based-ministry.html

http://sojournkids.com/2010/04/history-of-family-ministry-part-1-the-reformation-the-home-as-a-little-church/

http://sojournkids.com/2010/04/history-of-family-ministry-part-2-sunday-school-the-industrial-revolution/

http://sojournkids.com/2010/04/history-of-family-ministry-part-3-the-invention-of-the-teenager/

http://sojournkids.com/2010/05/the-history-of-family-ministry-part-4-the-family-ministry-movement/

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in church

 

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Response to “House Churches”

This is a blog response for a post that was put up back in November. GDB has been out of commission for a while so we have a lot of catching up to do. You can’t find the original post on rough-hewn blog. It is written by David Hoopingarner and you can follow this link to get to it, http://javaman56.wordpress.com/house-churches/

First off I want to say that I am extremely blessed to have read the article. It is great to see that there are other people out there who share my passion for ministry and my ideas for discipleship. The one thing that is driving me crazy is that I have never been to a house church before. I wouldn’t quite call what we do at GDB to be a house church but we do meet weekly to talk about our faith, grow in fellowship, and enjoy the company of friends, family and the Lord.

We at GDB have seen first hand the incredible positive affects of this kind of group and my favorite portion of the article “House Churches” talks about something that we have been trying to get at for a long time, the alienation of new coming Christians within the mainstream evangelical churches. David talks about going to new churches and sitting in rows, “… politely waiting for the service to be over.” It might seem ridiculous for me to rhetorically ask if that’s the kind of service we want to be having but it is constantly the kind that we are putting out there. The personal relationship between the pastor and his congregation often ends abruptly at a handshake.

It really makes me sad to know that for most of my life I have experienced this kind of relationship with my pastor. Until just recently when I moved from Colorado to Arizona I knew my pastor as, “The preacher man that talks loud on Sundays.” When I transitioned to the new church I realized that I had a much more personal connection with my pastor. We go shooting and talk about guns, and then stop to get coffee and discuss theology. This kind of relationship has definitely caused incredible changes in the way I view how a church ought to be run.

I’m extremely excited to see that David is on the same page with GDB and hope to have more exchanges with him in the future. If you haven’t checked out his blog then you definitely should and make sure to check in with GDB next week for our continuation of “The Bible is Not a Text Book.”

 

~Arayl

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Bible, church, disillusionment, Failure, Religion

 

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Is God Logical?

Lets get straight to the point.  All of us cling to traditions that were part of our lives growing up and now some of us are challenging those traditions.  Whether these traditions are religious or just other ways to live out life.  I’m going to attempt to add to what James was saying about looking at the Bible and reality.  I’m going to add culture to the equation (which is part of biblical interpretation) and try to help us all understand this difficult cluster of life’s crap we are all trying to balance out.

First, let me make clear that I believe all of God’s decisions are logical.  Lets not forget that we are merely human and God created logic and reason (if you believe in a God).  In life we all experience moments that seem so illogical to us that it must be certain that God forgot what he was doing.  This brings us to ask questions about religion, God, the Bible, eternity, or whatever we put our faith in.  God wants us to ask question and use the brain he gave us to grow in our faith and challenge ourselves as well as others. If we just go through life never questioning our own beliefs than shame on us.

Now that we have gotten to the point of questioning our belief system, as Christians we look to the Bible first.  We look to the Bible to find answers. Guess what? Most of the time we find the answers we are looking for.  The problem is that we find answers that we want to hear and stop there. Again shame on all of us for doing this (I’m including myself).  This is where bad traditions in the church and the “Christian life” come from and start to screw everything up.  We misinterpret the Bible and create a belief based on false foundations.

As Christians we distort reality or distort the Bible to fit our liking.  I became a writer of this blog to stop this from happening.  I’m sick of the “Christian life” and living the way the church tells me to live.  These ways of living are distorted and have created so much turmoil among the Christian community it makes me beyond angry.

Now this is where culture needs to get added to the equation.  The reality is that culture changes and since the Bible was written culture has changed a lot (that is an understatement).  I will use slavery for an example since it was used in previous comments on the last post.  Slavery in the Bible never seems to be a problem or a sin but we choose as American Christians that slavery is wrong. I totally agree with the previous statement and I’m sure most people do.  This is a great example of Christians using their own brains and questioning their beliefs.  The problem is that we stop using our brains when defining the correct way to live out our lives as believers in Christ.

I want to challenge Christians to reevaluate their traditions, church culture, and walk with Jesus.  Actually read the Bible for what it is and keep it in context.  See how the Bible can work in today’s reality and culture.  Talk to people with a different belief system and learn more about life outside the church and Christianity.  Question ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.  I also want to challenge people of others beliefs to share your ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.  Share with us how you perceive Christians and dialog with us.  The GodDamblog Team wants to here everyone’s thoughts.

~K.R. Morris

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog. Lets start learning from each other, so leave a comment.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Bible, church, Logic, Religion

 

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Hurt shouldn’t make us deaf

Hurt shouldn’t make us deaf

I am one of those stereotypical Christians who has been very much damaged by my relationship with the church and the Church. I have not been entirely driven away from faith, but where I currently stand in regards to God and church is a place far removed from what most Christians would consider “enough”.

I am not going to try and defend where I currently am; I understand that by definition I am not being a very good Christian. Right now I am kind of okay with that. At the same time I am doing my best to not appear as a super Christian; I am not serving in a church currently, nor am I disciplining anyone. Anyone who comes to me for any kind of counsel or theological discussion is told about where I currently am; I will still talk with them but I do my best to make it known to them that I do not want to put on a mask of false piety.

I wanted to start a discussion from this side of the road, following in the vein of our “topic” this month. Knowing all of the other authors of this blog quite well, I’m comfortable saying I am in a unique place amongst them. I know James (as mentioned in his previous post ) discussed his own questioning. I am not really at the questioning phase of this journey just yet.

I am apathetic and I know that this is a problem that falls on my shoulders. I refuse to blame this on anyone or any particular church. However a large part of my disillusionment with Christianity is that so many Christians live hypocritical lives (myself included, I gladly point the finger at myself). I feel that my current place gives me a unique view of both believers and non-believers alike; I am not fully sold out on Christianity and yet I am not walking away from God just yet. It has given me several opportunities to speak to non-believers and have them be open considering I am not “cramming Christ down their throats.”

Now you might be asking why I have spent so much time talking about this. I want us to talk about talking. Discussions between believers and non-believers are not happening enough. Any more it only seems to be Christians sit in their groups talking in hushed tones and the non-believers are on the other side of some figurative border in their own groups. Right now most of the communication across this “border” is in the form of shouts and accusations, full of anger or judgment that has not brought either side ahead of the other.

Christians: stop bringing only messages of “You’re wrong!” and judgment to the table. Listen and openly discuss with those that hold different views from you. You’d be surprised how much you might actually learn.

Non-Christians: stop closing your ears on what you might consider “silly superstitions” and anger over judgment. Not every single Christian is responsible for the hurt that has been dealt to you; in fact it is probably the vast minority that you should be angry at. Be willing to talk and listen to them in their beliefs. You might find some things that shock you in their legitimacy and positive effects on the world.

Let’s stop fighting and start talking like civilized adults instead, what do you say?

-Ender

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in church, disillusionment, Failure, Philosophy, Religion

 

Are you Scared?

It’s one thing to be willing to ask yourself life’s tough questions.  It’s another to be willing to live with the consequences of life’s tough answers.  I might just be equally terrified of both.  I think KR Morris did a good job of opening up the subject for us last week but I’d like to take it one step further.

If you didn’t catch his post, check out Pointing Fingers in the Right Place.  His basic premise, just as a recap, was that many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, blame others for the pain in their life and point fingers in all the wrong places, rather than turning the scrutiny on themselves and having the balls to ask themselves the tough questions.

This week I’d like to navigate away from the original path and follow a rabbit trail for a bit to see where it takes us.

I’m convinced that there are certain ideals in every circle of influence that you just don’t question.  They are debates that have long been decided and it’s just understood that it would be counter productive to continue revisiting them.  I can speak best in regard to Conservative Evangelicalism because that’s what I know.  For conservative evangelicals the list of things that you just don’t question is quite extensive.   The nature of the Trinity, the full humanity and full Divinity of Christ, the Inerrancy of Scripture.

Depending on which brand of evangelical and the severity of the fundamentalism that exists, the list can get longer.  The virgin birth, literal 7 days of creation, biblically defined gender roles and the restriction of women from Church office, alcohol consumption, sex before marriage, and the list goes on.  In these, and countless other issues, you just don’t ask why.  And if you do ask why, you answer it quick and move on.

About a year ago the shit hit the fan and I got pissed. I’d had enough.  I was sick of the stereotypical answers.  Sick of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that raged in the circles that I found myself in.  So I started asking the questions, privately at first.  Why is sex wrong?  Is it really only for marriage?  Can I legitimately back that up in Scripture?  Why can’t a woman be a pastor?  I wouldn’t settle for the typical, “because the Bible says so” answer.  I wouldn’t even settle for finding the answers in scripture.  I began to ask questions of the Bible itself.  Why does Paul not permit women to teach or exercise authority in the church at EphesusWhy does the Bible seem to call Christians to a life of celibacy?

The questioning spread and got progressively scarier.  I started to question the legitimacy of canonicity.  I started to question the doctrine of inspiration as well as inerrancy and I found that they lacked a certain “set in stone” quality that I had just assumed for the last lifetime.  When the day came that I finally began to legitimately question the authority and legitimacy of the Bible, I was terrified.  I realized that the answers to my questions might lead me away from classical evangelicalism.  They might lead me away from Christianity.  It’s a type of fear that’s difficult to verbalize and almost stopped my journey of questions.

I’ve always said that my goal in life is to seek truth and I’ve more than once dropped the line that “if you can find the body of Christ and prove that it’s him, I’ll be an atheist tomorrow.” but did I really believe that?  Was I really willing to follow-through with such a life, career, and paradigm altering switch.  Was I willing to abandon Christianity, if in fact I found that it was not true?  Some might call this a lack of faith and if you really feel that’s what it is then fine.  The relationship between faith and reason is a different blog for a different day.

The honest answer was that I wasn’t willing to walk away, but I felt that an honest search for truth mandated that I be willing to follow truth no matter what that truth ended up being.

Fear set in.  “I work at a church.  If I decide that the bible is not inerrant, that creation actually took billions of years, and that women can and should be pastors… They may not want me to continue working for them.”  I was terrified.

I’m still working through many of these issues so I don’t have the ending to the story yet.  I can say that as of right now I haven’t found anything that will put me outside the scope of evangelicalism or get me fired.  I do however hold several views that are different than those of the leaders at my church and I’m aware that those views may lead us to part ways in the future but for now I strive for unity, for tolerance, for grace, and for love.

I cannot and will not abandon the questions and the potential implications of their answers.  To do so would eat me alive from the inside out.  My conscience simply would not allow it.  Maybe this is where faith comes in to play.  I have faith that the questions that I ask, though their answers may change the way I think and live, will lead me to truth.  That if God exists, and I believe that he does, this truth will lead me to him.

I believe that faith should constantly evolve and grow.  We have done something wrong when we stop asking questions and dealing with the implications of the answers.

So far my journey has been more liberating, confirming, and inspiring that I could have imagined.  I hope that you have the same luck.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in church, Doubt

 

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Pointing Fingers in the Right Place

Does anybody have the courage to ask themselves the hard questions in life?  Presently I have gone back and forth in my own mind if I am even asking myself the hard questions that would truly improve my walk with the Lord. For example, all people have issues with different areas of their life and can choose certain ways to handle these issues.  One issue that many individuals are having when it comes to the Christian culture is the church.  Instead of church being a place of community, fellowship, and worship it has become a place that individuals make themselves feel better for being a Christian at least one day a week.  All of a sudden church has become a check on our to-do list instead of a group of people coming together to love one another and live life together, which Jesus has called us to do.

I was recently involved in a debate between friends and new acquaintances. It really got me thinking about the real truth behind people seeing what church is to them. A few of the people around the table were bible college students, pastors, and people hurt by the church growing up that lead them elsewhere in their beliefs.  Of course the topic of religion and Christianity came up and the conversation was heated.  From this debate I learned more about the church and the different ways church has made an impact on people.  Anytime people are involved in a church, individuals are going to get hurt, it’s just inevitable.  I found myself stuck in-between two sides of the debate.  There was the “on fire” Christians who are highly involved in the church and the non-churchgoers who have been hurt by the church early on in life.  I am familiar with both side of the debate (not just knowledgeable about both sides but experienced both sides) but really listening to the context of the conversation I came to a conclusion.

Nobody is asking the hard questions!  The debate was continually going in circles because nobody wanted to offend anyone on a personal level.  The only personal question that sparked a thought in my mind was asked by the individuals who were hurt by the church, “Do you really live the way Jesus wants you to live?”  Now to the Christians at the table the answer was textbook.  It sounded something like this; “I strive everyday to glorify God but will never be perfect because of the presence of sin in our lives”.  Good answer, but it really doesn’t help our cause as Christians.  The people who are hurt by the church or dislike the church still think we are hypocrites. This brings me to the question that should have been asked by the “on fire” Christians. Instead of turning away from the church, why didn’t you take on the challenge of showing others in the church that the life they are living is not honouring to God? Instead of turning away from the church, why join all the people who live to the world’s standards?  If you are hurt so badly by a group of people than why did you let them win?

There is a passage in the Bible that comes to mind when I need to get my thoughts back on track.  Proverbs 4:4-5: “Then he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth’”. Sometimes we come up with our own opinions and understanding about the way we should live our life, instead of focusing on the true understanding and wisdom of God.  The hard question that I need to ask is “Have I been in a daily walk with the Lord, or am I foolishly leaning on my own understanding?”

No matter where you are at in your life, please take a step back and ask the hard questions.  Even if it has nothing to do with religion, we always take the easy way out in life and just blame others for things that happened to us.  Who cares if others hurt you or me, if you truly want to take the next step in life, do something about it!  Stop pointing fingers at others and point it at you first.  You may find the answer you are looking for and it might just change your life.

~K.R.Morris

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Bible, church, Doubt, Failure, Religion

 

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