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Community

There is something within each Christ-follower which has supernatural power to nourish souls. Paul referred to it as "fruit of the Spirit" and Jesus called it "rivers of living water". When a group of these Christ-followers come together, are present to each other and to God, this power is released into each other's lives. Christ-followers who miss this are literally walking around malnourished in their souls. I believe extra grace is given to people who are physically unable to be in community like those in hospital or nursing home beds. But for the rest of us, this is a must.

Cultivating with: Community

There are very few hard and fast rules with any of this. Each person is different so each relationship will look different. No two people's relationships with God and those He loves will look exactly the same. But there are a few suggestions that have worked for others. Here are some resources for the "how-to" of the practice. These, together with some of the articles and such linked below, will help to get you started:

Books:

The Good and Beautiful Community: by James Bryan Smith. How to do community is almost impossible to put into a book or a how-to manual. But this book is just one of many that help to offer thoughts and ideas about what goes into community.

Becoming a True Spiritual Community:  by Larry Crabb. Does touch a little on how-to, but again primarily just provides some thought on what goes into community.

Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them: by John Ortberg. This gets into the how-to a little better when it comes to community. Again, there are just general guidelines since each community will look different.

The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community: by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. This is another great book that gets into the how-to.

The best way:

Join a church. Sign up for a small group. If it doesn't go well, then pray. If you are led to a different church, okay. A different small group within the same church, okay. But go into a small group or church with the mindset of not just having your needs met, but that you want to contribute and serve. I have been a part of three churches in my adult life and what helped me get plugged in and connected quickly was going into it with an attitude of wanting to serve. I get into serving as quickly as I possibly could. The church I am at now I reached out to before I even went to it and told them I wanted to serve in whatever way I could as early as I could.

Become New: Meet the Forgiveness Expert: (Community) Episode of the Become New podcast with John Ortberg. The link takes you to the BecomeNew.com website whereas the video below is to the episode on YouTube.

I believe that forgiveness, as you will also see elsewhere on the Our God Bathed Life website, is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. The story of forgiveness related on this video is amazing, but not uncommon when it is attempted from the heart. Do you have a relationship that is flailing and you think that hurt that is undealt with may be at fault? Maybe with a spouse, another family member, a friend, a close coworker, someone you go to church or school or a civic club/group with? Someone that you have allowed differing politics or theological viewpoint or competitiveness to interrupt relationally? Someone who you offended or has offended you? Perhaps the exercise presented in this video is worth considering. Living our God-bathed life isn't just about our relationship with God, though that is the most important relationship, but also about our relationships with God together with those He loves (people). Jesus even encouraged that even if we are before bringing offering to God and while doing so remember that someone has something against us, put the offering on hold and seek reconciliation with the one we have offended. God is more pleased with compassion than sacrifice:

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."
Matthew 5:23–24 (NASB)

“But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent."
Matthew 12:7 (NASB) where Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees who were condemning His disciples for picking heads of grain and eating on the Sabbath. His quote is from Hosea 6:6 (KJV translation used here to make clearer the meaning referenced in Matthew 12:7)

The Great Restoration of Ourselves: (Community) This link is to a BecomeNew.com video episode of the Become New podcast hosted by John Ortberg. In this episode, John invites his daughter, Laura Turner, to share her thoughts on forgiveness. She brings up a couple of great points:

1) Being forgiven is only a part of the grace given by God. We can step into that grace as a child of God and offer forgiveness. She quotes Marilynne Robinson in saying "...to be forgiven is only half the gift. The other half is that we can forgive, restore, and liberate, and therefore we can feel the gift of God enacted through us".

2) Then she speaks about respecting the agency that God gives to other people by respecting their right to make decisions for themselves, even when we disagree with them. We may want to offer forgiveness and restoration in a relationship, but if the other person does not want the relationship restored, then we need to honor that (but, I'll add, while prayerfully hoping that God will work toward changing their heart). Honoring others' rights to make decisions for themselves, of course, applies to areas beyond forgiveness as well. God has high regard for human agency.

Here is the video on YouTube:

How We Change: Community / Practicing the Way Vision Series Episode 7: (Community) Link to Spotify episode of the John Mark Comer Teachings podcast.

Are you in community? Our definition of this term may have eroded over the last several years with the introduction of social media and zoom meetings and church online. In our culture people feel alone and isolated. Men (and presumably women also) are waiting longer and longer to get married, if they get married at all. We count our friends by the number of them we have on Facebook, or how many people follow us on Twitter or Instagram. We work remotely, go to church online, facetime with our friends (and family). We even text back and forth with the person we are having dinner with at the same table. I ask again, are you in community?

In this episode, John Mark Comer helps to define what is meant by our community in Biblical terms. These are people we would do life with who know us well enough to know if something is off about us, if we are having a bad day or a bad season, and are bold enough to ask us about it. And then they care enough to listen to us if we speak about it. And we trust them enough to speak about it. I ask again, are you in community?

Community is a vital spiritual practice if we want to become like Jesus. It is something that we must seek out. And God wants us to be a part of one. If you aren't in one, pray for it. And keep praying for it until you find one. God will guide you and provide for you.

Here is that sermon in video form on Vimeo:

Taste the Soup: (Community) In this link to Renovare.org article, Carolyn Arends of Renovare reminds us that there are things in this mysterious life with God, and with His people, that we need to obey and do, to step into, in order that we may understand it. The specific thing she is referring to is being a part of a community of believers, usually experienced through your local church, though it may also come by way of a small group. For the decade of my twenties, a small group was "church" (little "c") for me. That was my community. Starting at the age of thirty, God clearly called me back to a church building where I found new community. Being physically present with a community of Christ followers is imperative to the health of our souls. I realize there are exceptions to that rule, such as those with severe mobility issues or those in nursing homes and such, and I think that God does provide extra grace to those in need. For the rest of us, community is vital.

In Believing the Best: (Community) In this link to Renovare.org article, Amy Carmichael discusses disagreement in community. As I write this it is election season 2024. We have become a fractured country as it involves our politics. Hopefully we can move past all that someday soon. Let it not take place in our families and our chosen communities, and perhaps we can influence the larger community, state, country, world.

 

Remember when a gunman went into an Amish school and killed a number of their children? How did the Amish respond? They responded by forgiving him and extending compassion to his family. Of course the gunman had to go to jail, but he did so having caught a glimpse of grace. Maybe this would pave the way for him to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with God and his family and community. The Amish mourned, forgave, and extended compassion. The non-Amish observers in the wider community were speechless. For a moment they got to see an image of Christ's love as reaction to a tragic event. Who does that? Jesus does. And he said we would do greater acts than he did. I think because the Church is the body of Christ today. So much more can be done with so many more. Though that requires that we live as He lived, think as He thought, and treasure people and community like He did.

This article is a great reminder of what is important.

Desert, Cell, and Tomb: (Community) In this link to Renovare.org article, there are a number of quotes from the Desert Fathers and Mothers. I especially like the final one, which is more of a story than a quote, but the final quote nails home the point. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. The larger benefit isn't always for the one being forgiven. The forgiving party often receives the larger benefit. This is the story of a Desert Father who helped others see the heart of forgiveness in a particular situation:

"A brother at Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to say to him, ​‘Come, for everyone is waiting for you.’ So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said to him, ​‘What is this, Father?’ The old man said to them, ​‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.’ When they heard that they said no more to the brother but forgave him."

(See John 8:1-11)

Light Enough to Live By: (Community) Link to Renovare.org article by Jean Nevills. Jean gives glimpses into her parents' earlier years as she was growing up - they provided rituals and rhythms that were meaningful to her. She gives glimpses of the beautiful way that her parents served each other in their advanced ages when their capabilities declined. She mentions the story of when monks who had a history of chanting daily were forced to stop. Their physical health declined. When allowed to return to chanting, their physical health improved again. Both mysterious and believable. And she ends the article with the advice her mom gave to a young bride and why those words carried weight. "Say thank you. Say please. Say I'm sorry. And when you can't say I'm sorry you can still say I love you. There are seventy-three years of practice folded into that advice, and Light enough to live by." That advice need not be limited to a spouse. I remember Dallas Willard musing that he wonders how much family strife would be averted if we simply treated each other with the courtesy and respect that we treat those that are mere acquaintances.

Defining the Incarnational Tradition: The Sacramental Life: (Community) Link to Renovare.org book excerpt by Richard Foster. I had to read this book to apply to the Renovare Institute. It is a very good book that describes the six traditions/expressions of the church. This excerpt from that book describes the incarnational tradition. This is an important one because it is very common for us to compartmentalize our "spiritual lives" from our "secular lives". But that is a falsehood. All of our life is meant to be permeated by our relationship with God: family, work, social and cultural, as well as "spiritual". This article helps to explain that.

Forgiveness: The Way to Freedom: (Community) Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. I agree with James Bryan Smith that there is a spiritual force in forgiveness; it is something that has tremendous power. Closely related to forgiveness is confession, which has the effect of releasing a kind of weight off of us. Confession and forgiveness can accomplish a tremendous amount of good. There are a number of good points about forgiveness in this podcast. It's power, forgiving yourself, a prayer exercise where we ask the Holy Spirit to show us if there is anyone we need to forgive (then ask for His power to forgive), offering forgiveness to others, etc.

One Torch Lights Another: (Community) Link to Renovare.org article by Robyn Wrigley-Carr. There are a couple of very important points in this article. The first is the idea of one torch lighting another, that is that one person can make a difference in how another follows Christ. The second is Baron Von Hugel's "three Elements of Religion: the ​“Intel­lec­tu­al Ele­ment” (the­o­log­i­cal, ratio­nal), the ​“Mystical Ele­ment” (expe­ri­en­tial, devo­tion­al) and the ​“Insti­tu­tion­al Ele­ment” (church involve­ment, sacra­ments, com­mu­ni­ty and tra­di­tion)". All three are necessary for a vibrant relationship with God (of course if one element is missing of necessity, like for someone physically unable to partake in the Institutional Element, then God will provide the grace necessary). But for nearly all Christians, we must attend to all three elements for our spiritual/relational health.

Unexpected Lessons from the Pilgrim Trail: (Community) Link to Renovare.org article by Ted Harro. I think humility is powerful. Someone living a life of trust and dependence upon God is empowered by the very strength and presence of God. This is difficult for those who can trust in their resources instead. Not impossible, but difficult. And that is where we find the middle class and the wealthy that make up most of America. We need to learn humility in other ways. Ted Harro, in this article, shows a way that he learned humility. God's wisdom is always present to teach us if we listen.

Will My Dog be in Heaven?: (Community) Podcast episode from Andy Miller's More to the Story podcast. The reality is we do not really know the answer to that question, but we know that God is good. I like to think that our pets will live in eternity with us. In this podcast, Andy Miller gives us some Biblical evidence that we may actually be reunited with our pets in "the next life".

Generational Blessing / Dealing with Your Past Episode 2: (Community) Link to Spotify episode of the John Mark Comer Teachings podcast.

Generational influence on our lives, as mentioned above, is not just the bad stuff. In fact, there very well may be more good than bad.

In this episode, John Mark Comer explores the Biblical view of a father blessing a son. Blessing is at its most powerful when you look for what the Holy Spirit is doing in the life of the one being blessed, and agree with it. Blessing, in this context, is essentially speaking a vision of good into the life of another. If you are unsure how to do this, I recommend reading Larry Crabb's Soul Talk. What that book is speaking to is along the same idea.

John Mark Comer explains that a blessing involves (and ideally is from the father, which he explains):

1) Meaningful and appropriate touch. Ancient Hebrew patriarchs would lay their hands on the one being blessed. (He explains this as well)

2) A spoken message

3) Letting the one being blessed know that they are valued

4) Picturing a special future and naming it

5) Follow up with an active commitment to fulfill the promise (and, if possible, providing that, or a seed of it, right away)

He makes an important point that your children will live up or down to the words that parents (or parental figures) speak over them.

One note: there isn't always a father in the picture. Another father figure can do this as well. And, while it was the father who did this, if a father figure isn't present, or isn't willing, I see no reason why a mother, or mother figure, could not do this, too.

He also reminds us that we can speak a good vision into the life of other loved ones also. The book Soul Talk by Larry Crabb, mentioned above, deals with this.

This is good. This is powerful. And this is needed.

In many ways, this is what Jesus did with His twelve chosen disciples. They weren't the best of the best, as evidenced by the fact that they weren't already following a rabbi, and weren't rabbis themselves. Nevertheless, these were the people that, through and with the power of the Holy Spirit, literally changed the world by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and the availability of the kingdom of heaven (Jesus Christ's own gospel, Matthew 4:17). Jesus spoke a vision into them (see John 14-17), and they helped change the world.

Here is the sermon in video form on Vimeo:

Part 6: Search Me and Know Me (Confession): (Community) Spotify link to an episode of the Bridgetown Audio Podcast.

This may be the best teaching on confession that I have ever heard.

James 5:16 says that we confess to one another to be healed. There is some discussion on whether this means to one another generally, or to elders, since the verse before this one, in the same paragraph, mentions to bring the elders to pray for someone who is sick. I, personally, think that we need to use good judgment. I think that most confession can be done with any Jesus follower, but there may be times where the sin involves another person, might hurt someone, or when we think it could cause the person we are confessing to harm. In those cases, confession to a church leader may be in order.

Confession helps us to find the grace and love that God has for us. In this sermon, Tyler Staton says "confession is how we trust the grace we say we believe in." It recalls to me the quote by Dallas Willard that "faith is belief in action".

Here is that sermon on Vimeo:

Brighter Than the Sun: (Communty) Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. "Dad, are you happy about me?" Smith's son asked him this question when he was little. I heard another parent tell a similar story where her daughter asked if she "smiles about her" or something to that effect. Does this question we hear from children to their parents echo the same question we want to ask God? "God, are You happy about me?" In the movie The Shack, Papa (God the Father) tells the main character that God is "especially fond" of him. He asks back to God, is there anyone You aren't "especially fond" of? "No, I suppose not." John 3:17, Galatians 2:20, Romans 5:8 all say that God came to save us. John 15:5 Jesus invites us to abide in Him. With us all the time? I don't even want to be around myself all the time. Yet God seems to delight in it. Dallas Willard says "God does not love you without also liking you." It is true. He is good.

Asking Questions While Holding the Faith with Dr Josh McNall: (Community) This Spotify link is to episode 229 of the Wesley Seminary Podcast hosted by Dr Aaron Perry. Ever since my early twenties when I first started thinking about it, and really going back to childhood when it was just assumed, I have believed in a "young earth" theory of creation. This means that I think that the earth is roughly 6000-ish years old. I know that not every Christian thinks that way as some believe in evolution and some believe in a kind of hybrid where maybe the earth was formed over hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions, of years and animals appeared through evolution, but that humanity was created about 6000-ish years ago. There are several reasons why I believe in a young earth theory, that maybe I'll explain on a podcast someday, but this episode of Wesley Seminary podcast reported on Darwin's excellent question about animal death prior to the fall of man. Darwin, of course, assumed that it was true that animals suffered and died for long before humanity, and that caused him to doubt the goodness of God. With the young earth theory, animals did not die prior to the fall because it was a literal six-day creation.

 

I also appreciate, and this is important, that he says that we should not shame or put down people for having serious questions or doubt about their faith. We should foster an environment where it is okay, even invited, to ask serious questions and voice doubts.

Part 1: Practicing the Way of Jesus Together in Portland: (Community) This Spotify link is to an episode of the Bridgetown Audio podcast.

I include this episode because it spells out a few basics pretty clearly about the "how" of doing community within a local church. These are 5 commitments that Bridgetown Church asks their congregation to do as it relates to being a community:

1) Practice the way of Jesus. Typically called spiritual disciplines, but what we call "practicing with".

2) Be a part of a small group. In the larger Sunday service it is easy to stay surfacy in our communication and relationship with others. Being a part of a small group allows us to get deeper.

3) Come to Sunday worship service. We still need to come together as a corporate body.

4) Get involved in serving at your local church or with a partner of your local church. This helps to make you a part of something bigger as well as meeting the serving needs of the church and its partners.

5) Give financially to the church. This teaches us generosity as well as trust in God's provision. Also, the reality is that the church does need finances and God works through His people. We are God's Plan A and He has no Plan B.

The Heart of Worship with Dallas Willard and John Ortberg: (Community) This link is to episode 87 of the Renovare Podcast hosted by Nathan Foster. Have you wondered what worship is? I have. Even after it is explained to me, I don't always remember. Maybe we think of music: "worship service" means a church gathering where we are going to be singing most of the time, right? Even though it can include music it doesn't need to. Worship is simply ascribing to God great things that are true about God, and usually includes an attitude of thankfulness, wonder, and awe. 

Also included is a rephrasing of the Lord's Prayer, which Dallas reminds us is really our prayer, because it was Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray. It is a great rephrasing that I often use myself (having read it in The Divine Conspiracy). I encourage you to give it a careful listen and consideration.

In another topic, Dallas discusses confession to God. He simplifies it. He reminds us of the parable of the prodigal and how the son was the one who was rehearsing his confession and getting up the courage to speak to his father. But that wasn't needed. The father was accepting and loving at simply the son's confession - he cut the son off before he could speak the rest. Relationship was restored to its former intimacy. He goes on to talk about the power of confession to other believers. He humorously says that it is great for the soul but bad for the reputation. True. ***But it is good for the soul.***

Conversation with Marlena Graves: (Community) Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. "Mom...why are you looking so happy at me?" 3 year old Valentina caught her mom looking at her with a blissful look. She wasn't doing anything spectacular or out of the ordinary, Marlena was just admiring her person, her interests, so thankful that Valentina is her daughter. As mentioned above, James' son once asked his dad when he caught him looking at him similarly, "Are you happy about me?" These are longings of our souls. We don't need to look far in our society to see people who are desperately asking the same question, "are you happy about me?" Adults posting on social media checking every ten minutes for likes, teenagers posting on TikTok looking for (whatever the equivalent to likes are on TikTok), YouTube posters looking for views, young women showing a lot of skin, young men doing dangerous stunts, "Are you happy about me?" God is looking at you with a smile. He is happy about you. Sometimes what we do breaks His heart, but He is happy about us. If you have children then you probably understand. We all need to know this. As Christians we are, each one of us, ones "in whom Christ dwells, and delights." If you do not know Jesus, He is not far from you at all. Simply pray. If you don't know how, that's okay, He'll hear you anyway. Tell Him that you want Him to be in your life, and that you want to be a part of His. The rest of the content on this website will provide ways that you can get to know Him better.

Conversation with Bruce McNicol and Robby Angle: (Community) Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. The early part of this podcast deals with an extremely important topic: no one works to gain approval or acceptance from God - He offers approval and acceptance through Jesus Christ. Paul in Ephesians calls it grace through faith, Martin Luther calls it faith alone, but God offers us His gift of life not at all on merit. It is freely offered, freely received, to any and all who would accept. But that runs counter to our natural instincts. There is a reason why every other religious belief system on earth runs on merit - it is how our imperfect fallen selves are oriented and our culture reinforces the idea. So we think that to be loved and accepted by God we must earn it. Grace doesn't work that way. We start with the grace of being loved and accepted by God while still separated from Him, are made new and given life and the Holy Spirit when we trust in Him, and from that new life we do good with the Holy Spirit who works with and empowers us. We do from our being, not be from our doing.

The latter part of the podcast deals with small groups and the necessity of community, which is another critically important part of the life of the Christian.

You Are Called: (Community) Episode of the Things Above Podcast hosted by James Bryan Smith. We all have a calling on our lives, and that can change over time, and it can be more than one calling at once, in different contexts. For example, like a calling in your role in your family and a calling for your role in your career (or a calling to a certain career). James gives an interesting way to tell your calling - where does your deep gladness meet the world's great hunger? That may be where God is calling you. Another point I would like to add: invite the input of other godly people to help you determine if taking a bold step is right for you. For example, I thought that I might be sensing a call into some kind of pastoral role within the Free Methodist Church. So I prayed about it and seemed to be getting a green light. Then I asked a couple of friends who were excited and supportive. Then I asked my pastor, and she thought it was a great idea. I pursued it, starting the required classes and pathway, and got nearly halfway when some successive life curve balls occurred, and I ended up switching paths. I still minister, but it looks different. I learned, though, that what I really wanted is to help the relationship between God and people to grow stronger. God, because it is His deep desire, and people, because they need it even though they may, or may not, realize it. I learned that I kind-of have a dislike for almost everything else involved in the role of pastor. But taking that step helped me discover that, and to find the role I have now. And I am thankful for that role. 

How Gratitude Breaks the Chains of Resentment: (Community) Link to Renovare.org book excerpt from Henri Nouwen. Have you ever felt like God is trying to tell you something? While resentment isn't my current struggle (but has been a companion in the past), the timing of coming across this statement about something I have been wondering over the last few days is surprising to me. The question is this: Can a willingness to be served be in itself a sort of ministry? I think so. Not for narcissistic self gain, but to accept help where needed.  I have taught in the past that asking for help when needed can give someone else the opportunity to serve you "with God". Serving is often a point of connection to God because ideally we do so with God. Some people are wired to connect with God most intimately while serving, while using their spiritual giftings of service. But this article is about that next step, being thankful for what you have received, and how gratitude fights off resentment.

Life Together on the Narrowing Way with Mimi Dixon: (Community) This link is to episode 18 of the Renovare Podcast hosted by Nathan Foster. The narrowing way refers to the idea of getting squeezed like a tube of toothpaste - when we get squeezed what's inside comes out. But when we get squeezed we need community - I used to retreat from people when I got squeezed. But as Mimi points out, it is one thing to think about something and it is altogether another thing to get the other points of view that refine your thinking. So, too, the accountability that comes with the encouragement other people give you.

A Liturgy for Those Deconstructing Their Faith: (Community) Link to Renovare.org book excerpt by Elizabeth Moore and Audrey Elledge. Are you currently, or are you afraid that you are about to, go into a time of seriously questioning your faith? I've been there. In my late teens I came very close to outright abandoning God. I was hurt and depressed and then shifted my focus outward. When I did I saw pain everywhere, evil everywhere, and barely a thimbleful of a sign of the presence of a good and loving God. I started wondering if good was evil and love was hate. Maybe God was being cynical when He described Himself as love. God moved others into my life to challenge my thinking and I eventually came around again. But this time my faith was better grounded than ever before, stronger than ever before. In fact, stronger than it could have been had I not gone through that. Today I look back at that time of doubt and hurt and pain with thankfulness because without that, I don't think that my faith would be as unwavering. This article is a poem of hope reminding us why we need not fear if we are facing such a time, and reminding us that we need others on this journey, hopefully others strong of faith who will walk this road with us. The poem concludes with "Oh God who does not rest until the lost sheep is found, would You come and find me?"

How to Release Resentment: Steps for Forgiving Others: (Community) Link to Renovare.org article by Nathan Foster. Nathan offers practical advice for steps we can take to release resentment we have toward others. Even though he misappropriates the Matthew 5 section (it is a common misconception that this has to do with our anger and resentment, but it is speaking about helping someone else in our life release theirs when we were the offender) it still can be applied the way he uses it as we ought not carry it either. I like how he points out that we often feel justified in our anger and resentment when we have been wronged, nevertheless it is still doing damage to ourselves to hold onto it. He also reminds us that, as a commandment, it is also a choice to forgive. Our feelings might take a while longer than our choice, and we may have to keep choosing forgiveness even for the same offense since we often take it back, but forgiveness is still a choice. He points out that there are times when we may need a counselor or clergy to help us with this, so do not feel embarrassed it you need help.

Bridling Theological Pride: (Community) Link to Renovare.org article by Chris Hall. There are a few non-negotiables in the Christian faith, these referred to as the fundamentals of the faith. However, these are few in number. A vast array of what many consider non-negotiables are actually things open to Biblical interpretation. I have been guilty of the type of theological pride that Chris Hall speaks of. But I am recovering. I don't know that one "denomination" in Protestantism is better than another, or that one (order?) in Catholicism is better than another. I have read and listened to, and so have been taught and influenced by authors, speakers, and teachers from these traditions: Baptist, Quaker, Mennonite, Free Methodist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican, United Methodist, and the list goes on. I have thought I was sure about how some things worked theologically but then my mind changed on the subject(s) years later. Today I hold to a few core fundamentals and have learned to see our life with Christ and with each other through a relational life-with-God lens... and I have seen that God tends to meet us where we are at. He does that with me, too, even on things I get wrong.

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