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The Power and Purpose of Prayer

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The primary purpose of prayer is not to persuade God to act on your – or somebody else’s – behalf. God has things pretty well sussed, His plans are made, and He’s not in the habit of changing His mind (Isaiah 46:10-11, Numbers 23:19).

No, the primary purpose of prayer is to change you - to move you to compassion, to transform your mind, to open your eyes to the direction where He is leading you, to align you with His will.

Consider a line from arguably the most famous prayer in the world, a line that is included in countless other prayers every day.

“Your will be done.” – Matthew 6:9-10

Often phrased as “Lord, have Your way,” this prayer was spoken by Jesus not only in the Sermon on the Mount, but also in Gethsemane as he contemplated his coming crucifixion (Matthew 26:39). And what Christ did next tells you everything about the purpose of prayer – He acted on it.

What do you imagine it means to God when you ask Him that His will should be done? Do you think it might prompt Him, stir Him into action thinking “I’m glad you reminded Me!” Of course not. As your prayer is directed to God, so He reflects it back to you in a perfected form, and if your heart is really open to Him then you receive that reflection, you recognise it as His response, and you understand how He is directing you to act. This is the power of prayer – it actually connects you to God’s will.

If you ask the question “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” then you’re likely to hear several standard answers. Among them are selfish motives, unrepentant sin, unbelief and hypocrisy (James 4:3, Psalm 34:15-16, Proverbs 28:13). At the root of all these issues is pride. Pride blinds us to God’s reflection of our prayer, and we refuse to acknowledge our part in the responsibility for doing His will.

Sometimes our part is very small, but that doesn’t make it insignificant – “For want of a nail…

And sometimes of course the only thing we can actually do is pray. In those circumstances, whether the answer comes through the actions of others or directly by God’s hand, and whether it comes today or years down the line, our prayers still need to change us. We need to learn to trust God, to be thankful to Him in all circumstances, to love unconditionally, and to keep our faith (Romans 8:18-39). As God reflects such prayers back to us, they come wrapped in His peace, and we gain a deeper appreciation of His sovereign power and His infinite mercy.

A Thank You Note

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Since I started this blog, in the Spring of 2012, I’ve made a determined effort to post at least once a month. It hasn’t always been easy, and occasionally I’ve ‘cheated’, for example by popping in a simple re-blog towards the end of the month. Is it a little sad that I don’t want to see a gap in the months on the right of this page, in my Archives?

It’s not that I have nothing to say – by no means! No, I have plenty on my mind, but it’s my habit to think long and hard, perhaps do a bit of research, but definitely draft and re-draft my thoughts many times before publishing, because I want to craft my posts carefully and make sure I get my point across articulately, respectfully and logically.

There are a number of big topics I’ve wanted to discuss for a long time, but I need to be even more careful in my composition in those cases because when they are posted my ideas are likely to be controversial, challenging to certain traditions and orthodoxies. I need to get them right, because while I don’t expect all my readers to agree with them, I want them to at least have credibility, and provoke serious thought and debate.

That introduction was intended as an explanation of what I expected to be a particularly short post, as I feel that it is time for me to try to write more often, even if it is sometimes only a few lines about the thoughts passing through my mind at the time. Ironically the post is no longer short, and I haven’t even started it yet!

This thought came to me a couple of months ago during a Sunday morning service. I wanted to write about it at the time, but I didn’t think it had enough ‘substance’. Well, it’s a nice thought that keeps returning to me, so I think it’s worth sharing anyway…

As part of an all-age celebration service the congregation was asked in how many languages could we say “thank you”? I don’t think there was any hidden meaning behind the question – the message was about thankfulness and and this was just a way of introducing the subject with a bit of audience participation.

The number of responses was remarkable, we must have people who are fluent (at least in terms of gratitude) in several dozen languages from across Europe, Asia and Africa. I was very impressed. But the two that stuck with me, unsurprisingly, were from the two languages I learned at school – French and Spanish.

English: Thank you

Spanish: Gracias

French: Merci

I don’t think what I see there is a coincidence. I expect an etymologist could explain the historical links between the words and the concepts and how they evolved. But I just love it that on that Sunday morning I was prompted in a most unexpected way to say:

Thank You God, for Your grace and Your mercy.

Heavenly Minded

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I see them all over social media, and once in a while I hear them in sermons – the inspirational one-liners, the faith-building sound bites. I dread them. Sometimes it’s an out of context Bible verse, but even worse are the quotes which sound like they are Biblically based wisdom, but which might be little more than misleading witticisms.

Here are my three principle thoughts on religious sound bites:

  1. They trouble me because they could easily lead someone in the wrong direction or reinforce a misconception.
  2. They usually have an element of truth in them, making them even more dangerous.
  3. I use them myself. I wish I didn’t, but they are very seductive.

Here’s an example that I came across recently…

When you have a problem don't go to the phone. Go to the throne.

I can see the value of the message. I can see the truth behind it. It seems to embody scriptural meaning, for example from Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And of course this is just one of dozens of verses instructing us to take our problems to the throne. Very good. Very wise. Very Christian.

These days when for many people the phone is their window on the world, I can see too the wisdom of encouraging them not to immediately Google their problems, or share them with the world on social media, but instead to pray and reflect on them.

But at the same time, I was troubled as soon as I read the quote, because I could also see a very negative side to it.

For a start, it’s an uncompromisingly black and white message. It reminded me immediately of people who say they don’t need anything or anyone but Jesus. It seems like perfect faith on the surface, but I don’t think it’s the message that Jesus Himself gave.

I think about the parable of the good Samaritan for example (Luke 10). The traveller who was attacked got his help from a human being. How much of the Samaritan’s motivation came directly from God is a question we could debate, but while I agree that in the perfect world to come we will need nothing but our Lord, the Bible makes it clear that in this broken world we currently inhabit we need each other.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

God has put people in our lives. He has given us friends to counsel us and support us in our times of need. If we have a problem and we go to the phone to call a good friend who can give us the advice, encouragement or the shoulder that we need, then in a sense we have also gone to the throne, because we are using the resources God has made available to us.

I have no doubt that most Christian inspirational quotes are well intentioned and useful in many circumstances. But you can’t get the whole story from a soundbite. The world is not black and white, and sometimes, as the famous one-liner goes, you can be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly use.

Selah

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Selah — a term of uncertain meaning found in the Hebrew text of the Psalms and Habakkuk carried over untranslated into some English versions (Merriam-Webster)

Uncertain meaning, but scholars have studied the word and come to some conclusions. The most commonly accepted definitions are to measure or weigh (from ‘calah’) or to pause (from ‘salah’). I like the way the Amplified Bible puts these meanings together, and comments after each rendition of Selah

“Pause, and calmly think about that.”

What I’ve done below is to gather the 74 verses which contain the word, and presented them in isolation for you to read, and then to pause, and calmly think about them.

I do not recommend that you try to do this with all the verses in one session! You might want to take one or two at a time, either sequentially from 1 to 74, or perhaps just picking a random number and focusing on that verse.

I want to make a few more observations.

First, while most of the verses are uplifting in the way they describe God’s wonderful attributes, some have a more melancholy feel. For example, the fourth, Psalm 4:2 – How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? We don’t always like to dwell on verses like these, but we should do so anyway, because they help us recognise our weaknesses, or our challenges, or our enemies.

Second, I’ve done something here that I really don’t like doing, and which I will criticise others for doing, and that is to present these verses completely out of context. I’m not even using them to support an argument or opinion. They are simply there, in black and white, and I pray that God will speak to you through them. But if they don’t seem complete in themselves, I urge you to click the link and then expand the passage to view the whole psalm or chapter.

Finally, you may notice occasional repetition. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I tend to think if God repeats Himself, He probably has a very good reason for doing so. Pause, and calmly think about that!

  1. Psalm 3:2
    Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah
  2. Psalm 3:4
    I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
  3. Psalm 3:8
    Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah
  4. Psalm 4:2
    How long, O you sons of men, Will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness And seek falsehood? Selah
  5. Psalm 4:4
    Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah
  6. Psalm 7:5
    Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me; Yes, let him trample my life to the earth, And lay my honor in the dust. Selah
  7. Psalm 9:16
    The Lord is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah
  8. Psalm 9:20
    Put them in fear, O Lord, That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah
  9. Psalm 20:3
    May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah
  10. Psalm 21:2
    You have given him his heart’s desire, And have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
  11. Psalm 24:6
    This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah
  12. Psalm 24:10
    Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah
  13. Psalm 32:4
    For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
  14. Psalm 32:5
    I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
  15. Psalm 32:7
    You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
  16. Psalm 39:5
    Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
  17. Psalm 39:11
    When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; Surely every man is vapor. Selah
  18. Psalm 44:8
    In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever. Selah
  19. Psalm 46:3
    Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
  20. Psalm 46:7
    The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
  21. Psalm 46:11
    The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
  22. Psalm 47:4
    He will choose our inheritance for us, The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah
  23. Psalm 48:8
    As we have heard, So we have seen In the city of the Lord of hosts, In the city of our God: God will establish it forever. Selah
  24. Psalm 49:13
    This is the way of those who are foolish, And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah
  25. Psalm 49:15
    But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah
  26. Psalm 50:6
    Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah
  27. Psalm 52:3
    You love evil more than good, Lying rather than speaking righteousness. Selah
  28. Psalm 52:5
    God shall likewise destroy you forever; He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, And uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
  29. Psalm 54:3
    For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Selah
  30. Psalm 55:7
    Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness. Selah
  31. Psalm 55:19
    God will hear, and afflict them, Even He who abides from of old. Selah Because they do not change, Therefore they do not fear God.
  32. Psalm 57:3
    He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
  33. Psalm 57:6
    They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah
  34. Psalm 59:5
    You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah
  35. Psalm 59:13
    Consume them in wrath, consume them, That they may not be; And let them know that God rules in Jacob To the ends of the earth. Selah
  36. Psalm 60:4
    You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah
  37. Psalm 61:4
    I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah
  38. Psalm 62:4
    They only consult to cast him down from his high position; They delight in lies; They bless with their mouth, But they curse inwardly. Selah
  39. Psalm 62:8
    Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
  40. Psalm 66:4
    All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name. Selah
  41. Psalm 66:7
    He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations; Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
  42. Psalm 66:15
    I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals, With the sweet aroma of rams; I will offer bulls with goats. Selah
  43. Psalm 67:1
    God be merciful to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah
  44. Psalm 67:4
    Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, And govern the nations on earth. Selah
  45. Psalm 68:7
    O God, when You went out before Your people, When You marched through the wilderness, Selah
  46. Psalm 68:19
    Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah
  47. Psalm 68:32
    Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; Oh, sing praises to the Lord, Selah
  48. Psalm 75:3
    The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved; I set up its pillars firmly. Selah
  49. Psalm 76:3
    There He broke the arrows of the bow, The shield and sword of battle. Selah
  50. Psalm 76:9
    When God arose to judgment, To deliver all the oppressed of the earth. Selah
  51. Psalm 77:3
    I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
  52. Psalm 77:9
    Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
  53. Psalm 77:15
    You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
  54. Psalm 81:7
    You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah
  55. Psalm 82:2
    How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked? Selah
  56. Psalm 83:8
    Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah
  57. Psalm 84:4
    Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah
  58. Psalm 84:8
    O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
  59. Psalm 85:2
    You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah
  60. Psalm 87:3
    Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! Selah
  61. Psalm 87:6
    The Lord will record, When He registers the peoples: “This one was born there.” Selah
  62. Psalm 88:7
    Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah
  63. Psalm 88:10
    Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah
  64. Psalm 89:4
    ‘Your seed I will establish forever, And build up your throne to all generations.’ Selah
  65. Psalm 89:37
    It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky. Selah
  66. Psalm 89:45
    The days of his youth You have shortened; You have covered him with shame. Selah
  67. Psalm 89:48
    What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave? Selah
  68. Psalm 140:3
    They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips. Selah
  69. Psalm 140:5
    The proud have hidden a snare for me, and cords; They have spread a net by the wayside; They have set traps for me. Selah
  70. Psalm 140:8
    Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; Do not further his wicked scheme, Lest they be exalted. Selah
  71. Psalm 143:6
    I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah
  72. Habakkuk 3:3
    God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise.
  73. Habakkuk 3:9
    Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah You divided the earth with rivers.
  74. Habakkuk 3:13
    You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah

Reflections on Mercy

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I’ve been thinking about mercy. It’s a beautiful thing to consider, and God’s mercy is described throughout the Bible, sometimes translated as love, compassion, or pity. It is usually synonymous with forgiveness. Another beautiful word.

Grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin. Grace is when we receive something good that we don’t deserve. Mercy is when we are released from a bad consequence that we do deserve.

As I was thinking, I recalled that mercy is the theme of a famous Shakespeare speech, so I investigated. The play is “The Merchant of Venice”. The merchant’s name is Antonio and he guarantees a loan agreement that his friend makes with a Jewish moneylender called Shylock. A contract is drawn up stating that if the loan is not repaid on time Shylock will take a pound of Antonio’s flesh. After some merchant ships are lost at sea the loan defaults, and Shylock takes Antonio to court to seek justice. Portia, a wealthy heiress who has promised to marry Antonio’s friend, disguises herself as a lawyer and makes this plea to Shylock:

The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

Some critics have suggested that Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock is anti-semitic. There are arguments for and against this view, but I don’t want to get into that debate. Instead I think it’s interesting to compare the ‘Old Testament’ ideas of law and justice as demonstrated by Shylock, with the ‘New Testament’ focus on grace and mercy pleaded by Portia.

You can see several scriptural references in this speech:

“It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“It is an attribute to God himself.”

Daniel 9:9 (NIV)

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.

“We do pray for mercy; And that same prayer doth teach us all to render The deeds of mercy.”

Matthew 6:12 (NIV)

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

King David referred often to God’s mercy in his psalms, for a typical example let’s look at Psalm 6.

Psalm 6 (NIV)

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

I have a problem with some psalms. I find that often they will be 90% spot on with insight into my own hopes, fears, feelings and prayers, and then David will throw in a couple of lines asking for, or promising, revenge and dire consequences for his enemies. I’m uncomfortable with those lines because they don’t seem to line up with Jesus’ instruction to love your enemies. I’m sure that all of us have harboured some small yearning for revenge – or justice – at times. I just don’t like to see it expressed so bluntly in the Bible – and by a man after God’s own heart.

But when I look at scripture in totality, it seems clear to me that God wants to see forgiveness in our hearts, not vengeance. Mercy is one of those gifts that is not only lavished on us from above, but is expected from us in our relationships.

Micah 6:6-8 (NIV)

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

But should we expect mercy with ‘no strings attached?’ Is that what God promises us? No.

Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

The one who confesses and renounces their sins will find mercy. A principle also found in first John:

1 John 1:9 (NIV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Yet we know, even on a human level, it is possible to forgive someone who hasn’t confessed or repented. We’ve all done it – even non-believers. So is that true forgiveness? Is that real mercy? Or are we deluding ourselves, clothing ourselves in self-righteousness?

Thinking again about The Merchant of Venice, even after Portia pleads for mercy Shylock insists on receiving his justice, and the law cannot deny him. However, Portia then insists that Shylock sticks rigidly to the letter of his contract. He must take flesh, and not blood – if a drop of Christian blood is spilled then all of his goods will be forfeit under the law of Venice. He cannot take any more or less than one pound, or the same penalty will be due. When Shylock finally gives up his claim he is charged with threatening to kill a citizen of Venice and his sentence is death. His life is spared by the Duke, in his mercy.

We can see the parallels in our own lives, as God’s law shows us the depth of our own sin, and justice would demand a death sentence. Yet our lives our spared by the Lord, in His mercy, through the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.

Titus 3:3-7 (NIV)

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

James 2:8-13 (NIV)

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

So why does He do it? Why does God show us such undeserved mercy? Because He said He would. Because He loves us. Because much of the time we know not what we do. And because He is giving us a reason to show the same mercy to others.

1 Timothy 1:12-16 (NIV)

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

Amen.

My husband is not my soul mate.

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I’ve been slow to pick up on this post, which apparently took the Internet by storm last year, but having just read it, and finding it so in tune with the way I believe God views us and our choices, I felt compelled to ‘reblog’…

http://theartinlife.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/my-husband-is-not-my-soul-mate/

How Controlling People Use Fear To Manipulate

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I don’t read Donald Miller’s blog often enough. When I do, I’m usually nodding in agreement all the way through, as I was with this post. A warning though: if you’re thinking of watching M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village any time soon, you should probably avoid reading this until afterwards!

http://storylineblog.com/2014/03/24/how-controlling-people-use-fear-to-manipulate/

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