2013 Summer Trip Recap

Every year, one of the high points for our youth group is a summer trip. Generally, we combine some type of service project with some fun activities. This year, we went to Morrilton, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. 

Old Gym from the 1920s
In Morrilton, we stayed at Southern Christian Home, where we helped to move a ton of furniture, get things organized for a huge yard sale they were having, and also did some painting. It was good to meet the people there and see the campus and the work they were doing, and to help out a little. 

For me, one of the highlights of that part of the trip was getting to work in the main building on the campus, which back in the 1920s served as the campus of my alma mater, Harding University. Specifically, I was working down in the basement, which had originally been a basketball gymnasium. Though in need of a lot of work, it is an incredible building, and still has the original hardwood flooring from 1919!
View from the assassin’s window today (top) and in 1968

After a couple of nights in Morrilton, we headed to Memphis. While there, we visited the National Civil Rights Museum. I wasn’t sure how this part of the trip would go over, because teens don’t always appreciate educational experiences during their summer vacations, but several of them mentioned how cool it was and how much they enjoyed it. The museum itself is across the street from the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, and everything has been carefully preserved. The museum itself is actually the converted boarding house from which the shot was fired.

I like museums, and enjoyed it a lot (even though some of the exhibits were closed because of construction). I learned a lot of details about the assassination which I didn’t know before, and it was pretty neat to watch my teens grasp the significance (or at least some part of it) of what they were experiencing.

Part of our group at Sky Zone Memphis
From there, we spent some time at a mall and then went back to our hotel to swim and hang out. The next morning, we went to Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Memphis. There we spent a couple of hours jumping, flipping, and playing dodgeball. It was a lot of fun, though exhausting as well (I am still sore a couple days later).

After that, we loaded up and began the process of heading home. All in all, we had a great trip: we were able to accomplish some work at the Children’s Home, the teens had a great time and were well-behaved, and I had some really good chaperones who helped a ton. I think it was the most stress-free trip I’ve ever had, which was awesome.


Book Review: “The Epic of God”

Last night I finished reading Michael Whitworth’s The Epic of God, which is a guide to the Book of Genesis (rather than a full commentary), and it was a really good book.

The Epic of God is not written to be a scholarly commentary, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would argue that what Whitworth has done is equally if not more valuable: he has produced a text which is informed and supported by scholarship (it is a well-researched book) but is easily read and understood by the average Christian. This is an important accomplishment, and I am always appreciative of efforts which bridge the gap between the church and the academy.

Anyway, I wrote a somewhat more in-depth review on the book’s Amazon page, but here I just wanted to do what I enjoy—share good quotations! Here they are (with my comments in brackets):

“After Adam was created and placed in Eden, he was given the task of working and keeping the garden. Work is often though to be a consequence of the Fall, but notice that in the perfect world that God created, man was created to work as a means of glorifying the Lord.” (26) [Amen! Work is a good thing!]

“Sin is not a blunder we can flippantly dismiss with ‘Everyone makes mistakes.’ A mistake is wearing two socks that don’t match; sin is an offense and abomination against a holy God. Our sins cost God the life of his Son.” (79)

“There is never an excuse to be selfish with God’s blessings.” (120)

“The God of Abraham has fixed an appointed time, unknown to all but him, when all suffering will come to a fantastic end! It will be the moment when the Son comes to be glorified with his church and render awestruck all who have put their faith in him…knowing that our heartache will eventually give way to hallelujahs can help us bear the pain a little while longer. God sees. God knows. God cares. He has appointed a time when he will visit his people in their distress and bring with him the redemption of the ages!” (165) [One of the definite strengths of the book is the way the author ties the story of Genesis into God’s greater story of the redemption and salvation of his creation.]

“And this is the truth that Abraham discovered on that occasion, that God’s commitment to justice is greater than our own…But his commitment to mercy is equally greater than our own.” (167-68)

“The life of faith is an odyssey of unexpected twists and turns.” (190) [This has certainly been true in my life!]

“If you are having difficulty surrendering to God what is most valuable to you, perhaps you have never acknowledged it as coming form him to begin with.” (215) [Ouch.]

“Prayer is for our benefit, not God’s. Praying for something that is in the will of God shapes us spiritually in ways few other things can. God’s desires become our own, and we start to see things as he does.” (232-33)

“It is natural and healthy for parents to want their children to succeed in every area. But what shall it profit a child if he becomes a Rhodes scholar or wins the Heisman trophy, yet loses his soul? (303) [Yeah, I wish every youth group parent I have or will ever have would read this quote about three times a day.]

“It is not healthy, not does it deepen our faith, to play the what-if game…when we find ourselves in the throes of suffering and pain, we must refuse to play the what-if game. Ask instead, ‘What if God is greater than my current circumstances? If God is indeed working out a plan to bring himself greater glory, how should I react?’ Then respond accordingly, confident that he can use our disappointments to deepen our faith and bring our lives into greater harmony with him.” (327) [This was very helpful for me to read, as I struggle with playing the what-if game.]

“We frail and pathetic humans have a bad habit of gauging God’s presence based on our circumstances…But veterans of the life of faith know that circumstances are no better a barometer of whether God is with you than overcast skies are proof that the sun has vanished completely.” (329) [Wow.]

I know that was a lot of quotations, but like I said, it was a really good book! The Epic of God will  deepen your understanding of the Book of Genesis, but more importantly, it will deepen your faith as well!


How to Have a Great VBS

This past Wednesday, we wrapped up our 2013 Vacation Bible School at Farmington. If I have done my math correctly, this was my ninth consecutive year to help direct VBS, and although it is a lot of work, it is a lot of fun as well.

I think some people have the idea that VBS is a hopelessly outdated program from a bygone era. I do think that some congregations have a VBS like this, but I don’t think it has to be this way. VBS is one of the highlights of the year for our congregation, and while what we do is by no means perfect, I thought I would share some of the things that have made it successful.

What Does “Successful” Mean?
Before you have a VBS (or any program really), it’s important that you have specific goals, or at the very least, a general idea of what it is that you are shooting for. If you don’t have any idea of what a successful VBS will look like for your congregation, then it’s impossible to know if you’ve had one or not when you are finished.

For us, Vacation Bible School provides a lot of benefits, and I generally consider our VBS to be a success if these things happen:

(1) Kids have fun. Vacation Bible School is supposed to be fun. If kids from the community come and are then bored out of their minds, then all your hard work has been for naught (at least with that particular child).

(2) The church gets excited. The summer months can be somewhat of an energy drain on a congregation. A lot of people travel, so attendance and giving sags. Sometimes it seems that you go for weeks and weeks without seeing people that you care about and are used to seeing on a weekly basis. For us, VBS is an antidote to the summer slump, as every year it provides an energy boost to our congregation. A lot of people pool their talents and abilities for a common purpose, and then get to experience the satisfaction of watching their plans and efforts come to fruition. This is an important thing.

(3) Our reputation in the community is enhanced. Vacation Bible School provides a great opportunity for your congregation to increase its visibility and reputation in the community. If you get visitors from the community to come and then put on a quality Bible school, children and their parents will leave with a good impression of your church.

(4) A lot of people come. Numbers aren’t the most important thing (which is why I listed this one last), but they are important. After all, what does it matter if you have the most amazing VBS in the world if no one is there to see it? Attendance of visitors is especially important, as the church should always be trying to reach out to bring more people in. This year we were blessed with the largest attendance we have had in my time year (Also, related to the second point, if a lot of people come it definitely adds to the excitement factor of your congregation).

Tips for a Successful VBS
Now that you know how I define a successful VBS, here are some tips for bringing it about:

(1) Recruit a lot of talented helpers to do what they are good at. If you do it right, VBS takes a lot of work. So, you can either have a few people try to do everything, or you can recruit a lot of people who can focus on specific tasks. I have tried it both ways, and believe me, the second way is preferable. When you do it the second way, you end up having a better product, fewer burned-out people, and more church involvement. For example, this year we had:
  • A coach in charge of our outdoor games and activities
  • Someone who had studied theater in college working with our skits
  • Teens with years of experience doing Puppet Theater at Lads to Leaders doing the puppet shows
  • A talented song-leader directing our time in the auditorium
  • People with strong organizational skills doing registration and refreshments
  • Some very talented ladies doing decorations and crafts
All of these people used specific skills they possessed to enhance our VBS. And as a result, I got to do less work!

(2) Provide something for the adults to do. Kids may be the primary focus of VBS, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your adults. Some parents will drop off their kids and leave, but others live far enough away that they would rather stay if there was a reason for them to. And what about adult members of the congregation who aren’t helping to run things? Shouldn’t they get to be around the fun as well? We have had good classes for adults in the past, but this year we focused on it more, bringing in one speaker for all four nights to present a topic that was different from what people generally get to hear (biblical archaeology). The class was excellent, our adult numbers swelled, and I heard from members and guests alike how much they enjoyed the class and how it strengthened their faith. 

(3) Get teens involved on the service side. Several years ago we made the decision that, rather than having the teens come and sit through a Bible class, we would get them involved in serving during VBS, and I think it was one of the best decisions we could have made. Our teens spend hours at the building the week before VBS moving furniture, decorating, and cleaning. During VBS itself, they are the primary characters and teachers in the story rooms, they do puppets, they help lead the kids around from place to place, and they help run games outside. Not only do our teens really enjoy these roles, it also provides opportunities for them to interact with all generations of the congregation: they get to work alongside those who are older than they are, and teach and lead those who are younger (this is hugely important!).

(4) Provide a variety of activities for the kids. Our hi-tech digital society does not cultivate long attention spans in children. Just the opposite. So if your VBS schedule calls for children to sit in class for 90 minutes listening to a teacher, then it will probably be hard for the teachers and rough on the kids. I absolutely believe that biblical instruction is important, and that is at the center of what we do. But the lessons are taught through skits in decorated rooms and then reinforced in craft time and puppet skits. Kids also get to play games outside, sing, have refreshments, and buy trinkets in the VBS store with coins they have earned by bringing guests and answering questions in class.

(5) Choose good material. Not all VBS material is created equally. Some of it looks really nice; some of it looks like it was made in 1975. Some of it looks like it was made for children; some of it seems like it was made by someone who had never even seen children before. We have found some VBS curriculum that we like, but even it isn’t good every year. This year we actually re-used (good) curriculum from 2009 rather than use the new (not-as-good) stuff. Personally, I am a fan of VBS themes that try to transport the kids to Bible time and places (this year our theme was “Rome: Paul and the Underground Church”) rather than those odd topical themes that don’t make sense and seem incredibly lame to me (things like “VBS Pirates: Searching for Buried Treasure in God’s Word” or “Tropical VBS: Learning Lessons from God’s Word in an Island Paradise”).

(6) Advertise. Honestly, I didn’t do a great job advertising this year; if I had, we might’ve had even more people. There are a lot of ways to advertise. You can send out flyers to area congregations. If your VBS is early in the summer, you can see about sending home flyers at local elementary schools. You can hang attractive banners outside of your church building for those who drive by. For us, the best method of advertising is contacting those parents from our community whom we already know through Thursday Bible School. If you have a similar program at your congregation, these are exactly the sort of people who would be interested in participating in your VBS. 

(7) Follow up with the guests who come. We have, admittedly, been weak on this in the past, but are trying to do better this year. If you have registration information on all of the children who came, then you should have contact information for those whose parents are not members. Send a card thanking them for their attendance. Send a letter or brochure telling them more about your church family and the programs you have available.

(8) Plan for next year. Soon, we will have a follow-up meeting to reflect on things that worked well, and things that we could improve for next year. It’s important that we do this now, while this year’s VBS is still fresh on our minds. No matter how successful things were this year, there’s always something that could be done better or more people who could be involved.

Vacation Bible School can be a powerful ministry for your congregation if only you put the necessary time, planning, and effort into it. The ideas I have suggested above might not be the only “right” way to do VBS, but it certainly works for us!


The Fall of Man and the Ecological Consequences of Sin

In the first post of this series on the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 and the widespread devastation of sin, I mentioned that we tend to focus on the theological and personal consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin while ignoring some of the other areas. I think the most ignored of those other areas is the ecological consequences associated with the sin in the Garden of Eden. 

Men and women were created to live in relationship with God and with one another, and, in a sense, with creation as well. This is clear in the early chapters of Genesis. Genesis 1.26-30 recounts how Adam and Eve were to have dominion over creation, and Genesis 2.15 mentions that they were to work it and keep it. So in effect, Adam and Eve were to rule over creation, but to do so as stewards who would take care of what God had made. 

But following their disobedience to God’s command to not eat of the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3, the ecological consequence is evident, as a curse is placed on creation in Genesis 3.17-19: 
“And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’cursed is the ground because of you; 
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’” 
This curse makes it clear that the relationship between man and creation has been destroyed as well. And that’s pretty easy to see, right? Rather than embrace our role as stewards of God’s earth, we tend to exploit creation to satisfy our own selfish desires. There are countless examples of companies which have carelessly polluted in order to cut corners and maximize profits, and even “little” problems like widespread littering show a basic lack of respect for the home God has created for us. 

And I think there is significant indication in Scripture that the problem isn’t all one-sided: creation itself doesn’t operate the way it was intended to. In Romans 8.20-22, Paul makes this point, speaking of creation in personified terms: 
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” 
A creation that is subjected to futility, bound to corruption and groans in the pains of childbirth seems distinctly different from the creation that God made and called “good.” I suppose this is ultimately unprovable, but my personal opinion is that the natural disasters that plague our lives—tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.—are symptomatic of the problems Paul refers to, as creation lives out a cursed existence different from the one for which it was intended.1 

In sum, sin has devastated this aspect of our existence as well. Creation is less than the good and hospitable home for humanity for which it was created to be, and we fail to care for it as we should.2
• • •
1If my thinking on this is correct, then it stands in judgment against the hurtful things that some religious people say in very public ways following a natural disaster such as “Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment against the wickedness of New Orleans”. Natural disasters are a condition of our broken world, rather than God’s wrath against a specific people/place. Incidentally, I think the promise made to Noah following the flood (Genesis 9.8-17) that man and creation would not again be judged by a massive flood (and perhaps, by extension, other natural disasters) supports this idea.
2I mentioned the general neglect of this topic, and I think that neglect is itself evidence of the distorted relationship we have with creation. In a significant portion of Christendom, discussion of the creation care is considered to be a “political” or “liberal” idea, despite the fact that environmental stewardship is a clearly biblical principle!


Book Review: “Why They Left”

For quite some time I’ve wanted to read, “Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ,” by Flavil R. Yeakley Jr. This week I finally got around to doing so, and am glad that I did—it’s a great book.

The title is pretty self-explanatory, but basically, Dr. Yeakley (a long-time preacher, university professor, and statistician) conducted 325 surveys of people who had left the fellowship of Churches of Christ and then categorized and responded to the reasons they had for doing so.

The insights gleaned from those who left are helpful, but equally useful (if not more so) in the book are Yeakley’s brief but thoughtful responses to some of the issues which those who have left brought up. The book is an easy read, and I was surprised at how good of a writer Yeakley was (I don’t know why I was surprised; I guess I assumed that a statistician would produce a boring book, but it was an excellent read overall).

Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book (with random thoughts by me in brackets):
“When the average parents in the congregations attend regularly and have specific church work assignments, their children are much more likely to remain in Churches of Christ after they grow up and leave home. The retention rate in those churches was around 75 to 80 percent. In congregations where the average family has one parent who is an active and involved member but the other is not, the retention rate was around 50 percent. In churches where the typical family was one in which neither parent was active and involved, the retention rate was around 20 to 25 percent.” (40) [The youth ministers reading this are amen-ing out loud and trying to figure out the best way of sharing this quotation with all of their parents.] 
“…We should recognize that campus ministries are partners in Christian higher education. We should support the few campus ministries that Churches of Christ already operate, and we should establish many more.” (44) 
“The conclusion based on these positive and negative references to judging [in the New Testament] seems obvious to me. Christians should judge to distinguish between truth and error, right and wrong, or good and evil. It is acceptable for Christians to judge to settle disputes between or among brethren. Christians must judge the conduct of other Christians who sin and refuse to repent in spite of repeated admonitions. Christians must judge doctrines and practices. But we are not supposed to judge the heart, the motives or the eternal destiny of another person. We must leave it to God to pronounce the final judgment.” (62-63). [This is excellent. Yeakley’s discussion of NT passages on judging and his synthesis of them is almost an aside to the book, but the book would be worth reading just for this.] 
“Grace must never be used as an excuse for failing to correct known errors in our lives or in our understanding of God’s will.” (63) [I love this. It is almost worthy of a t-shirt or a bumper sticker.] 
“Churches of Christ reject…‘Once saved always saved’…but a doctrine of ‘If saved, barely saved’ is just as wrong.” (70) 
“My personal observation is that in far too many Churches of Christ, the elders are doing deacons’ work; the deacons have very little to do; and the church-supported ministers do most of the pastoral work. If strategic planning is done at all, it is done by ministers.” (141) [I think this is an accurate statement. I am thankful that the leaders of my congregation are working hard to get away from this mindset.] 
“Christ did not accept us on the basis of our perfect understanding or our perfect obedience. He accepted us because of our acceptance of Him.” (201) 
“The more friends new members make in the church the less likely they are to leave the church…the sooner new converts get involved in some area of ministry the more likely they are to stay in the church.” (208)
If you are a member of a church of Christ and are concerned about the future of Churches of Christ and are interested in doing what you can to help minister to the people in our churches, I highly recommend this book.


The Best Lesson I’ve Taught On Integrity

We’ll come back to our study of sin in Genesis 3, but I wanted to have a change of pace today.

One of the foundational lessons I’ve learned from my years of youth ministry is this: regardless of what I teach to my students in Bible class, the loudest message they hear from me is the one I proclaim by the way I live my life on a daily basis.

And that’s not really a ground-breaking observation—we have common sayings in our culture that illustrate that our actions matter more than our claims or words (“Do as I say, not as I do”, “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk”)—but a recent event hammered this home to me more so than ever before.

Every summer our youth group spends a week at Green Valley Bible Camp, and I work as a counselor. Green Valley is a great place with a lot of fun and meaningful activities, and one of the long-standing camp traditions is that on Friday afternoons, there is an All-Star softball game between the men counselors and the senior boy campers.* The All-Star game is kind of a big deal, especially for the campers, for whom it serves as some sort of coming-of-age rite of passage and an opportunity to talk trash to yours truly all year. 

Anyway, in this year’s game, the campers shot out to a significant early lead while the counselors struggled mightily. We hit very poorly for the first couple of innings, but finally we got a bit of a rally going: down several runs, we managed to score a couple and then had runners on second and third with two outs. 

[On the senior softball field at Green Valley, there is a big tree in foul ground down the third base line, with a large branch that reaches out over fair territory. The ground rules that we played with this year (sometimes they change from year to year depending on who the umpires are) were that any ball that hit the branch was automatically foul.]

The next hitter got up and hit a towering shot down the third base line that just barely nicked a few leaves from the overhanging branch. It didn’t alter the flight of the ball in anyway, and neither umpire was able to tell that it had hit the branch at all. It soared into the outfield past the left fielder; both runners would have easily scored, and we would have been right back in the game.


I was the third base coach at the time, and since I was standing right by the overhanging branch, I could easily see and hear that the ball had hit it. I let the umpire know, and it was ruled a foul ball. On the next pitch, the batter popped out to the pitcher. The rally ended, and we never really challenged again in the game. We ended up losing 10-4, and I will now get to hear taunts from my students for the next year about how they beat us. So, it was kind of a bummer.


One of my students was playing shortstop for the campers team, and witnessed all that had happened. He was keenly aware of how big of a hit that would have been for us and how it could have changed the game. Since that moment (almost three weeks ago now), he has brought it up about six times and has talked about how awesome it was that I spoke up and told the truth regardless of the fact that it hurt my team.

I did some figuring, and I think I’ve taught the youth group about 700-800 times during my years at Farmington. And probably dozens of times, I have taught about the importance of honesty and integrity, either as the focus of a lesson, or mentioned it in passing. But it became clear to me that none of those lessons made as much of an impression on this particular as a simple action that I did at camp without thinking. Regardless of what I teach to my students in Bible class, the loudest message they hear from me is the one I proclaim by the way I live my life on a daily basis.

I’m not sharing this story so that I can be the hero. I am not a hero; I make a lot of mistakes, and there are definitely times when I fail as an example. I share it because it illustrates how important it is that we as parents, youth ministers, church leaders, etc. back up the things that we teach by the way that we live. I shudder to think what would’ve happened if I had kept my mouth shut and let the incorrect call stand—would this student have ever listened to me again when I talked about honesty and integrity, or would he have tuned me out since my actions wouldn’t have matched up with my teaching?

But by God’s grace, that’s not what happened. Instead, I was able to take advantage of an opportunity to teach a better lesson on integrity than all of those which I had spent hours and hours preparing.

*Here, “senior” doesn’t necessarily mean “senior in high school” (though some of them are), but rather is just the oldest of three divisions that the campers are split into. Usually the campers in the senior division are all high school kids. There are also All-Star games between the women counselors and the senior girl campers, and games for the younger kids as well, but those aren’t pertinent to the story I am telling.

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The Fall of Man and the Sociological Consequences of Sin

Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing
In our continuing discussion of the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 and the widespread devastation of sin, we have already covered the theological and personal consequences of Adam and Eve’s misdeed; in this post we turn to the sociological fallout of that sin, or the way that sin affects our relationships with one another.

Returning to our text, we can see this dimension clearly played out in verses 11-13:
“[God] said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
People were created to live in community with one another. Specifically, Eve was created to be the perfect partner for Adam (Genesis 2.18-25). But when God confronts Adam and Eve with their sin, something very significant (and unfortunate) happens: the unity that had previously existed between Adam and Eve is shattered as Adam immediately blames his wife for the sin which they had committed together.

This brings a conflict and disharmony between them that would be passed down over time (Genesis 3.16), and we can see it unfold in the pages of Genesis in the accounts of numerous broken relationships—Cain’s murder of his brother, the depraved society of Sodom and Gomorrah, the distorted relationships between Sarah and Hagar, Jacob and Esau, Jacob and Laban, Joseph and his brothers, and more. But the problems certainly don’t stop there—this same conflict and disharmony continues to darken and distort our world today.

Our world is deeply flawed by sin, and this manifests itself everyday sociologically, as we treat one another in a wide array of horrible, messed up ways:
  • On an international level, countries wage war and kill because of conflict over ideology or resources.
  • Systemic evils such as poverty, abortion, racism, sex trafficking, government corruption, lotteries, and more stem from our exploitation of our neighbors in order that we might obtain our own selfish desires.
  • Horrific acts of incomprehensible violence fill our news cycles. Mass shootings at elementary schools, the use of passenger airliners as terrorist missiles, bombings at marathon finish lines and incomprehensible barbarity at soccer matches shock and dismay us and cause us to weep.
  • Our interpersonal relationships are also a mess. Dishonesty, reckless ambition, and violence abound. The (supposedly) lifelong bonds of marriage are broken on a whim.
And the sum result: our society as a whole stagnates and decays, as people live lives marked by self-interest and fear of one another. The community for which we were created is broken.

Sin destroys our relationships with one another.


Cultural Upheavals and Kingdom Business

This is an excellent article from one of my grad school professors, Richard Oster. In it, he reflects on disturbing recent developments in our culture, discusses a comparable cultural upheaval from the 4th century, and then ultimately puts it all into a kingdom perspective:
“It is time for those whose faith and practice rest on Scripture to get on with Kingdom business with or without the help of legal maneuvers and political and ecclesiastical machinations.”
I highly recommend the read.

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