Daily Discovering the Blessing

Archive for the ‘Addressing Misconceptions’ Category

Rut, Rot, or Revival

I recently read an excerpt from a book by A.W. Tozer entitled “Rut, Rot, or Revival” in which he speaks of the “dictatorship of the customary” and the “psychology of the usual”. These issues were purposefully directed to the sometimes woeful state of the Body of Christ in relation to our incorrect representation of life in Christ. He correctly asserts that we are often in danger of slumbering in our complacency (rut), we are in a state of satisfied sameness (rot), and we have gratefully accepted comfortable status quo. That hardly demonstrates:

…constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another.
2 Corinthians 3:18

How can the worldwide Body of Christ effectively offer to the lost the powerful ministry of reconciliation back to God when we are hardly alive ourselves to the energizing ministry of the Holy Spirit? Smith Wigglesworth has suggested that if you are not daily growing in the things of God than you are in a back-slidden state! While some may consider that an overstatement, it is, in fact the call of our Father, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that we “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18), “with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). Luke 1:30 (Amplified) extends the meaning of grace with the words “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving kindness”. That’s what our Abba extends to us on a daily basis. There is never ending growth in God. We are never finished!! There is always more to know, to learn, to become.

…He wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught].
Isaiah 50:4

As members of the Body of Christ that is our daily calling – to grow in grace, to crave to know more about our Father, to enter into this most extraordinary walk in the Spirit. We are to:

..teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom {in spiritual things…(Colossians 3:16)

And we are to approach our Father and our walk with Him according to the leading of the Spirit:

…in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things… (Colossians 1:10)

Ruts and rots are boring and nonproductive – something our Father never is! Ruts and rots stifle growth and accept quiet mediocrity. Ruts and rots allow the attitudes and accepting standards of the world into our approach to God – both individually and corporately. We are not to allow the world’s standards and the world’s way of doing things to compromise, to infect, our growth in the Spirit and our accurate representation of God’s ways of doing and being right. The people of the world who have yet to know Christ need to see how gloriously “otherworldly” life with God is meant to be!

As we attend to the daily ministry of the Holy Spirit, as we welcome in growth in our own spirits, we enhance the Body of Christ. We boldly speak of what we are learning and sensing and bless others. We demonstrate the peace and confidence and joy which is a direct result of life in the Spirit and enable and invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to see possibility! We revive others as we daily and steadily “grow and increase in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition] (Colossians 1:10). And energized and revived believers have a profound effect on the local church. We look for what the Word promises and are no longer satisfied with the “dictatorship of the customary” or the “psychology of the usual”.

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The Leaven of Accomodation

There is such a wonderful liberty in a life lived in the Spirit. That is our Father’s intention for His kids – a released life, a peaceful spirit. And within His Word is found the counsel we need to avoid shackles that impact that liberty.

Compromised truth – half-realized heavenly standards – comfortable accommodation of worldly standards within our faith walk all adversely impede our life in the Spirit.

A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump {it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church} [Emphasis mine]
Galatians 5:9

Early on in my walk with the Lord I was considering becoming a member of a large well-known church in the Boston area. While attending membership classes I heard the speaker say, “During service we do not, you will not, raise your hands to God [in praise]. We do not want to offend those around us.” The admonition was, apparently, acceptable to the people listening. I determined to seek another church! Lifting up holy hands in praise is honoring to God and a heavenly admonition to His people (Psalm28:2, Psalm 63:4, Psalm 141:2, 1 Timothy 2:8). It has nothing to do with personal preference or church dictate. It is the correct attitude of faith and pleases our Father. To lift up hands in gratitude and submission to God reflects a heart filled with praise and an understanding of His Lordship. This church had established behavior standards for its congregation outside of the will of God! For an entire church body to be so instructed “misleads the whole church”.

In a similar manner a gathering of many churches joining together in an effort towards unity in the Spirit, established the principle that speaking in tongues during the services was not to be done. A similar reason was given – “So as not to offend others.”

Now am I trying to win the favor of men or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).
Galatians 1:10

The intense love our Father has for us, the fulfilled lives He has for us to live, the ongoing, life-giving, spirit-maturing work of the Holy Spirit in us can be curtailed by the leavening agent of accommodation to misleading teaching. It is a harsh truth that “a slight inclination to error, a few false teachers…perverts the whole conception of faith” and “misleads the whole church”.

We want to walk in His fullness in a “manner worthy of Him and pleasing to Him” with a full, deep, and clear knowledge of His will and complete insight into His ways and purposes. (Colossians 1:10). When you discover it in the Word, expect it in your church.

What Does Freedom Look Like?

As a former teacher of very young children, and the provider of day care to infants and toddlers, I was able to witness first hand the negative impact of negligible, or non-existent, disciplinary parameters in the lives of children trying to figure out how their world worked. They so very often kicked out against barriers to their “freedom” (in the form of the standards and regulations set by the adults in their lives) to see if they held fast; to see if they were indeed safe within those boundaries or if the stated standard, the boundaries, were weak and easily crumbled with some resistance to them. Ironically, as their rebellion toppled the barriers, they felt less safe and continued this testing and rebelling until they discovered a sturdy and resistant barrier against which their pressure could not prevail. Firm, uncompromising standards would save these young ones so much frustration; so much wasted time and energy unnecessarily challenging parental authority. And safe and free within those firm boundaries they could explore their world, develop their potential and giftings, and become their best and brightest self.

I was recently reminded of this during a Bible study discussion concerning too much freedom in the world; too much freedom to experiment with alternative lifestyles, drug use, and man made philosophies that diminish or eliminate God’s standards. Ironically, the reality is that this is bondage, not freedom.

Like the developing toddler, men strive to achieve “personal fulfillment” and the tearing down of what they consider limiting strictures to their progress through life. They cry out for freedom to be themselves, they rail against established standards and expectations that hamper their personal opinions and worldly pursuits, and they foolishly expend time and energy building a monument to their view of how life ought to be.

Bob Dylan once wrote correctly, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re going to have to serve somebody.” Satan knows that once he can get us to take our eyes off of God and His standards (once we refuse God’s sovereignty, His Lordship) we are easy prey to his ways of doing and being wrong. Pride, envy, greed, and the selfish pursuit of personal glory or fleshly gratification – this is the bondage that is camouflaged in the guise of freedom.

Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God). Romans 6:16

So in reality, those without God in the world who proudly proclaim that they are free to be whoever they want to be are enslaved to a very hard taskmaster whose dismal end they too will share.

So brethren, we {who are born again} are not children of a slave woman {the natural}, but of the free {the supernatural}. In {this} freedom Christ has made us free {and completely liberated us}; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to the yoke of slavery {which you have once put off} Galatians 4:31-5:1

We are all called to experience and live within the glorious freedom of God’s children (Romans 8:21; Galatians 5:13). Safe within the boundaries of obedience to God’s expectations and His attentive care we experience freedom, peace, joy, confidence, quietness, and a deep abiding satisfaction that our life has meaning, eternal purpose, and great value.

Conditioned by the revelation of His grace” (Matthew 5:7) we make and maintain a life of absolute peace (Matthew 5:9). There is certainly no better way to live, no better place to occupy, than to be “spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation.” (Matthew 5:6)

Spiritual realities often confound man’s rational sensibilities. In truth, our freedom is found in His Lordship. Kingdom freedom is determined by our awareness of and obedience to God’s standards. Worldly freedom is the lie that Satan offers, for there is no freedom when you are dead in your sins and separated from your Creator.

Be Careful How You Listen- Part Two

Choosing to remain fixed within an established frame of reference, a comfortable and familiar doctrine, a view of God and the world you have come to regard as reality – you were raised up in it, those you regard with respect taught and lived it, you would not exert energy questioning it but you might exert energy defending and preserving it – certainly limits God in getting the blessings to you!

How do you receive these statements:

– “Some people defend vehemently their right to be sick!” {And yet God’s Word holds up for us the standard of our Abba as Healer – Jehovah Rapha (Exodus 15:26).} (See other entries in the blog associated with healing)

– “Well, you never know what God is going to do.” {And yet the Word assures us that the deep, intimate,”profound and bottomless things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), including things to come.

– “Why do bad things happen to good people?” {And yet God’s Word teaches that our Abba wants only to do us good (Psalm 145:8-9) and that salvation through Jesus includes health, prosperity, peace, and freedom from agitating conflicts, distresses and fears (2 Peter 3:14).

– “God is teaching me how to cope with this illness. I shine for Him through it.” {And yet that illness is not from God Whose promise of overflowing, abundant life is for all of His children who stand on His Word in faith for its manifestation (John10:10).

-“I am always so fearful about what might happen.” (And yet God says that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), and He has not given us a spirit of fear, which is a spirit of bondage (Romans 8:15, 2Timothy 1:7).

When we give greater weight to the “religion” we have been taught than to our Father’s Word we create a life going forward disabled by ignorance, partially or totally compromised, and encumbered by misconceptions that lead to unnecessary troubles.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge because you {the priestly nation} have rejected knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

…So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers) you have set aside the Word of God {depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect}. These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrine the commands of men. (Matthew 15:6, 8-9)

Be Careful How You Listen – Part One

Reluctance to permit the Truth of God’s Word to inform our thoughts and actions is quite often a learned response. Years of misinformed and misdirecting teaching, sermons that misrepresent, or weaken and compromise, our Father’s Word and His intentions towards men, half-truths that weaken and even annul the power of the alive and active quality of the Word (Hebrews 4:12) have created a very insipid and ineffectual Church (Mark 7:13). There are, of course, exceptions to this condition. There are churches, and members in particular, of the Body of Christ who honor the Truth of the Word, and, through their faith, see to its power and effectiveness in their lives. But having encountered so many believers who love the Lord, joyously and gratefully expect eternal life with Him, and even honor the commitment to go and tell others of Jesus, the Messiah- Who is the one and only way to know God – but who sadly resist the all-encompassing depth of the Gospel message – one sees fulfillment of Mark 7:13.

In Luke 8 immediately after the Parable of the Sower, Jesus exhorted us to be careful how we listen. He had spoken in the parable about the various ways that God’s Word might be received in a life (Luke 8:1-15). He concludes that it is the way we listen to and receive God’s Word that matters. The NIV version of the Bible teaches that the efficacy, or lack thereof, of our listening has direct results:

Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him .
Luke 8:18

The Amplified Bible expands this very effectively:

For to him who has {spiritual knowledge} will more be given, and from him who does not have {spiritual knowledge}, even what he thinks and guesses and supposes that he has will be taken away.

At our peril we accept and operate within the confines of a diluted Gospel message. What we think and guess and suppose about the Word of God truly leaves us weak and defenseless. Sickness, fear, confusion, poverty all rise up to challenge whatever hope we might have concerning our faith. Thinking and guessing and supposing honors man’s reasoning but does not honor the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Who reveals to us the deep, inner meaning of God’s Word (John 16:13-15). Thinking and guessing and supposing that we are correctly assuming God’s purposes and intentions when we are, in fact, operating in half-truths or complete error, will result in a faith that is challenged and overcome. This can result in a Christian doctrine to live by that completely misses God’s highest and best. To further compound the error, we share our false assumptions with others, and on and on the misdirection flows.

Do not remain in the compromising realm of misinformation and misdirection. Always seek the Truth of His Word on every issue you encounter. God’s Word puts the lie to every condition in your life that “appears” to disprove His faithfulness; His Word offers ammunition against every device and weapon and condition we encounter in life. He expects His children to take Him at His Word and to use that Word in absolute assurance that It must be fulfilled. (Isaiah 55:11, Hebrews 10:38).

Correctly Introduce Him to the World – Part Three

2 Timothy 2:24-26 – And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending).  Instead, he must be kindly to everyone and mild-tempered [preserving the bond of peace]; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong.  He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], and that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him [henceforth to do His [God’s] will.   [Emphasis mine]

There is no wiggle room here.  Either you accept the Truth of God’s Word and the Lordship of Jesus or you are snared and held in captivity by the devil.  That absolutism must inform our witness for Heaven.  It is not optional, a personal preference, or a chosen value package.  This is how God has established this world; benefits and blessings when you choose life in Him, curses and failure when you don’t (Deuteronomy 28).

But here in 2 Timothy there is a fine-tuning of the manner in which we present this Truth to the world.  Because God’s Truth is absolute, because His Word is the only standard for all life, because there is no “Plan B”, our presentation of the Gospel, the manner in which we introduce Him to the world, could be perceived and received as overbearing or contentious.  Yet God’s instructions concerning the manner in which He wants to be represented are clearly outlined.  He expects kindness, a mild-tempered, peaceful approach to conversation, and courtesy and gentleness in our interactions with those still lost in the muddle of unbelief.  All of these attributes are under girded by absolute confidence in God, reliance on Holy Spirit guidance, and God’s love extended through us to our listener.  For it truly is by our love, not by exacting certitude or righteous proclamations, that they will be persuaded.

Introduce Him daily to the world correctly – according to His instructions.  Let your skilled and suitable teaching (inspired by God’s Spirit and informed by your study of the Word) demolish strongholds, correctly dismantle relativism, and confidently establish the Truth that there is only one Way to life in God – through His Son.

Correctly Introduce Him to the World – Part Two

Have you ever heard of relativistic Christianity?  It is an extraordinary misconception concerning faith in the One True God.  It is that safe straddling of the fence that says, “Well, it is truth for me.  It works for me, but I would never step on your toes by saying that it is universally true.”  It is the antithesis of effective evangelism and a renouncing of Jesus’ statement:

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.  (John 14:6)

In her book Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey speaks of observing this disconnect in an understanding of the total Truth of the Gospel message among a group of young people.

“We tell the people ‘Jesus works for me.  Why don’t you give Him a try?’  Isn’t that good enough?

It’s not good enough, of course, and the weakness of reducing Christianity to ‘what works’ came home to me when I joined my friends in their witnessing expeditions.  One evening I had a long, engaging discussion with a young teen-ager who expressed interest in converting.  When asked if he was convinced that Christianity was true, however, he frowned and burst out, ‘Well, of course it’s true.  If you believe it, it’s true for you!’”

In the same way that people down through the ages have created false gods and then worshipped them, modern day relativism (a philosophy which proposes that all truth is relative – what is my truth may not be your truth) is a false god.  God calls it wickedness when men “repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative” (Romans 1:18).

What a messy and inappropriate view of the concept of Truth.  Truth is not provisional.  Truth is not a choice we make or a personal preference. The Truth concerning God, the saving work of His Son Jesus on the cross, and the entire Gospel message is not something offered up on a menu along with other viable possibilities of belief or value systems!

If a Christian shares her faith tentatively and provisionally, not wishing to offend another’s differing faith structure, wanting more to honor their “right” to believe what they want than to introduce them, without apology, to the One True God, then He is not being represented correctly.

  Ephesians 4:21– …all Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him]

2 Thessalonians 2:10,12 – They did not welcome the Truth, but refused to love it that they might be saved…who did not believe in [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on]  the Truth, but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness.

Introduce God to the world correctly.  In love and gentleness, walk confidently in your understanding that:

[There is] one body and one Spirit – just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling your received. [There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism.  One God and Father of us all, Who is above all…(Ephesians 4:4-6).

To compromise that Truth is to bow to a worldly mentality and, even worse, allows others to remain in their unrighteousness and in their lost state.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Romans 1:18                 1 John 5:20-21

Correctly Introduce Him to the World – Part One

When a dear one in my life, a close relative, was very concerned about a possible medical problem, I initially struggled with how to approach her.  I wondered what words I could gently apply, like a soothing balm, to steer her in the direction of God’s answers, God’s provision. Fear loomed large as the potential diagnosis screamed for her attention.  As the size of the dilemma outweighed the size of her established faith, how could I help redirect her focus?

I knew, of course, that the Holy Spirit was well able to help me in this.  He would bring to my remembrance Scripture to share, words of faith to offer, and the encouragement necessary to bring the peace of God to the situation.   But I was, at that moment, reminded again of my responsibility as God’s daughter to daily introduce our Father, and the saving work of Jesus, to the world.

1 Timothy 4:16 Look well to yourself [to your own personality] and to [your] teaching; persevere in these things [hold to them,] for by so doing you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Know the Word so that you:

…may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it [showing the wayward their error] (Titus 1:9).

Growing in grace, growing in our knowledge of the Word, and building ourselves up in our most holy faith is not simply storing up ammunition for our lives concerning the days to come, it is edifying others about the life-changing decision to walk in faith concerning the Truth, reliability, and refuge of God’s Word.

But we must speak it out.  We must demonstrate it.  The truth of this must inform and shape our conversation.  Jesus is our example in this.  All of His interactions with others directed their thoughts towards faith in God.  The life and truth-sapping enigma of “political correctness”, so prevalent in today’s world, sets up barriers which keep people from walking in the freedom and the blessings of the children of God.  By insisting that God be relegated to the private sphere of personal values and that He not be a directing force, a foundational reality, in every aspect of our lives is a human choice to mistakenly, and irreverently, deign to inform God where He may and may not influence our lives.

Playing catch-up, which is where I felt I was with the loved one I spoke of earlier, is far more challenging and far less effective than daily encouraging others to attend to their faith.  Being a spokeswoman for Heaven truly means applying the grace of God into all areas of life – all human interaction; that grace of God which is the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life.  He should be our first cause, our first response, our first authority in everything we encounter.

Let your faith in God (that “leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness” – Amplified Bible) saturate your day.  Allow it to be your response every moment so that you will effectively introduce Him to the world.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Luke 21:14-15              John 13:34-35               John 14:27

The Sovereignty of God – Part Two

From the Lord one morning (After I encountered a believer whose response to the apparent dilemma of unanswered prayer was, “God is sovereign.”):

Be ever vigilant about what you are reading, what you are watching, what you are hearing.  So many of My children have been lulled to sleep by an insidious form of religion.  Insidious because they truly believe that they are in faith and honoring Me with their words, their life, and the beliefs that define their walk before Me.   Words that are meant to be honoring, such as “God is sovereign”  relinquish authority; authority which has been given to you to reflect Me, accomplish My purposes upon the earth, invade and conquer the darkness and hopelessness of Satan’s domain. ( Luke 22:29, Mark 16: 15-20)

“Well, God is sovereign”, they say, and lay down the very weapons that I have given to them “for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).  “Well, God is sovereign”, they say, and in so doing accept the sickness, the poverty, the confusion which their prayer, their stand on My Word (My promises) was meant to address.  “Well, God is sovereign”, they say, when the Truth of My Word is not in evidence in their lives; when they are unable to explain why a prayer seems not to be answered; when it feels easier to accept what they see in front of them than to roll up spiritual sleeves, dig into My Word and with divine expectation, in full reliance on My Holy Spirit “receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:36).

God is sovereign in a life that receives His Lordship.  When a person refuses to acknowledge His Lordship or to honor and obey His Word, God is not sovereign in that life.  When a child suffers abuse at the hand of a sinner, when a life is filled with greed, malice, and all kinds of evil intent, God is not sovereign there. When a person chooses to follow after a belief system that ignores Jesus, God is not sovereign there.  God’s Word is sovereign, ultimately.  You will reap what you sow; you will fall into the pit you have dug for others, you will experience all the Bible teaches about the results of sin.  But all of those evils being practiced do not fall under the category of the sovereignty of God – they fall under the biblical teaching of original sin, free will and choice.  Ultimately creation will, in obedience to God, its Creator, fulfill all of His directives.  But the sovereignty of God in a life is a choice He extended to all mankind.

 

Note:  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word “sovereign” is not in the Word of God!  The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition of “sovereign” is “Supreme in power, possessing supreme dominion, as a sovereign ruler of the universe.  Supreme, superior to all others.  God is the sovereign good of all who love and obey Him.”  This is absolutely true, but it is not an answer to, or a reason for, unanswered prayer.  If we pray according to His Word, His promise is “It will be done for us.”

Deuteronomy 29:29 – The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever…

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Mark 11:22-24              2 Corinthians 10:4-5              Hebrews 10:35-36

 

The Sovereignty of God – Part One

When you encounter “unbelief” – and there are many faces to this – how do you respond?  What is your immediate reaction?  How does it affect your spirit?   In Mark 9, Jesus came upon a situation in which the disciples were unable to successfully heal a young boy controlled by a dumb spirit whose mastery over the child is described in Mark 9:18:

And whenever it lays hold of him [so as to make him its own] it dashes him down and convulses him, and he foams [at the mouth] and grinds his teeth and he [falls into a motionless stupor and] is wasting away.  And I asked your disciples to drive it out and they were not able [to do it].   (Emphasis mine)

Our Lord’s response was two-fold.  First, He addressed spiritual poverty concerning their faith.

Verse 19– “O unbelieving generation [without any faith] How long shall I have to do with you?  How long am I to bear with you?”   (Emphasis mine)

Secondly, He extended a blank check of blessing.

Verse 23 – “[You say to Me] If you can do anything? [Why] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes.  (Emphasis mine)

Let’s look at the Lord’s first response.  Imagine for a moment that you, as did the disciples, come across a person with symptoms as described in Mark 9:18And let us further suppose that, like the disciples, your prayers on behalf of this person were unsuccessful.  What would be your spiritual response?  What heart lesson would you take away from that encounter?  How would your experience define your doctrine, your “theology”, your faith walk?  (This extends to any prayer need you encounter.)

Many would reason – “I asked in faith, but it did not happen. I stood on His Word and I expected a result, but it did not happen. It must not be His will for God is sovereign.  Having exercised my faith, and I have great faith in God, I will not fall into disappointment or question my faith walk  – I will simply accept His sovereignty in this matter.”  (Darkness 1, Light 0!)

And yet, Jesus’ response was “Unbelieving generation…How long am I to bear with you?”  Our Lord does not mince words! If we will allow His words of reprimand to inform our faith, they are, ironically, a truly remarkable encouragement!  They enhance our understanding of God’s will, and under gird our determination in “having done all to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).  When we realize that not seeing the promises of God manifest in our lives reflects unbelief, and may create unbelief, it has the potential to truly revolutionize our faith walk.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Mark 9:14-29