GrowingInLOVE

..Sharing with Fellow Christians..

Dirty Hands November 23, 2010

Filed under: My Writings — growinginlove @ 5:11 pm
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He told me I needed clean hands before I could embrace Him

I thought that was easy enough a task to accomplish

I ran to the sink and let the fresh water flow over my hands

I returned swiftly, beaming brightly

Until…. “What do you mean they’re  not clean? I just washed them!”

I sulked on my way back to the sink with my eyes low

Noticing the grimy footprints I left from stepping in the water I dripped on the floor

This time I turned the water on as hot as I could stand it

I sang through the alphabet three times while I lathered my hands

I even soaped up my wrists and got under my nails!

Surely my hands must be clean now!

I returned proudly, with my hands outstretched and ready for inspection

“Still not good enough?!” , I lamented as I began to feel hopeless

I sunk to the floor in despair and disappointment

But just then, He pitied me and told me to give it one last try

I dragged myself back to the sink

Confusion settled into my face as I looked down

How did my hands get so dirty so quickly?

Again I turned on the faucet

Brown, murky water cascaded down my fingers and pooled in my palms

Disgusted and frantic, I backed away from the sink

I looked around for the towel to wipe my hands

And I noticed that what I had been using to dry my hands was just a tattered, dirty rag

I cried as I ran back to Him, exposing my filthy hands

“I can’t get them clean, the water’s dirty! How can I wash my hands in dirty water?! What must I do?!”

He told me not to worry because He could help

He stretched out His hands to me

They were the most spotless I’d ever seen!

Only…He had to really bad sores, one in each

But He told me not to fear as I started to reach

When He tightly grasped my hand, I squeezed His back

That’s when blood oozed from the holes and soaked my hands

He slowly let go and instructed me to take a look

My hands were clean like His!!!

This meant that I could finally come before Him in humble assurance

And I would be recieved as His own

And I know that His grip is strong enough to never let me go!

 

The Fiery Furnace May 5, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 9:09 am
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Last night I read the first 4 chapters of the book of Daniel.  I had heard the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego since I was a kid in sunday school, but it never resonated within me as it did last night. 

Nebuchadnezzar had demanded that these three be thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to obey his command to worship the idol he had set up.  They were bound and thrown into the fire, but upon looking, Nebuchadnezzar saw that they were no longer bound and were up walking, and he also noticed the figure of a fourth person whom he said was, “Like the Son of God”.  When the three came out of the fire, their clothes were not affected by the fire, not a hair on their heads was singed, and they didn’t even smell like smoke.  (Daniel 3:10-27)

Maybe I’m late with this, but this just spoke so beautifully to me.  It’s so encouraging.  When circumstances arise that threaten to take you through the fire, God won’t always prevent you from being taken through the fire.  He didn’t prevent Nebuchadnezzar from throwing them in there, tied up and all.  But while you’re in the midst of that fiery trial, God will be right there with you, and loose the ropes that bind you and walk with you to get you through it.  And since the one true God you serve is with you, once you come out of the fiery situation, you won’t even look or smell like you’ve been in fire.  Through Christ Jesus we are victorious, and He will bring us through the fires we face, enabling us to stand  firm in Him and for Him through any situation.  Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we won’t avoid every fire, but we can stand in the midst of a fire and not be consumed!

Christ is King!!!

 

“You’re a Calvinist” April 15, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 11:24 am
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I’ve never called myself a Calvinist, but I’ve been slapped with that label recently.  I do agree with the “five points”, however, I’m not familiar with the rest of John Calvin’s theology or system of beliefs in entirety, so I won’t title myself.  Besides, I think believing in God’s grace would make me a Bible-ist first…or maybe it would just make me a Christian?

What is it that’s got people so riled up about something as beautiful as God’s grace and sovereignty?  I understand the shock of it because I’ve been there.  I understand it completely!  I know how I felt when I was first introduced to it.  However, God has changed my thinking from man-centered to Christ-centered.  I no longer view God as “owing” man something.  We are owed nothing but what we deserve and that is Hell.  Flat out.  I won’t mince words about that.  But why do other Christians get so bothered by even considering God having a choice in who receives salvation?  Why does it bother them that God must change our hearts in order for us to even be able to receive Him?  And why does it bother them that theheart that’s changed to receive Him can’t choose to do anything but receive Him.  A changed heart comes with changed desires.  Here are some of the reasons that have crossed my mind why many people have a hard time with accepting God’s sovereign grace:

-Men are prideful.

-Man thinks of man as the focus of the universe instead of God

-Man wants more freedom than God.

-Man thinks God “owes” him something or that he is deserving of good things from God.

-Man thinks that if God doesn’t work the way he thinks He should or wants Him to, then He’s wrong or unfair.

-Man doesn’t like to be at the mercy of anyone other than himself.

-Man doesn’t really want to trust God, he’d rather trust himself.

-Man wants God to be God when he wants Him to be God and in the manner which he prefers Him to conduct His Godliness.

So in effect, I’m a “Calvinist” or anything other than just a Christian because I believe that God created this universe for HIS purposes, HIS pleasure, and HIS glory.  Who is the creation to answer back to his Creator?  I recognize that I was put here to glorify God and to serve the purposes that He put me here to serve.  When I was speaking with a loved one about God’s elect, I was accused of possibly developing the mentality of  boasting, “Oh, I’m God’s elect! That must mean I’m special!”  And that could not be FURTHER from the truth.  When you realize what you were before regeneration and faith in Christ, you understand the horrific state you were in, being under the wrath of the Almighty God!  I was no better, no more special, and worth no more than any other sinful human being.  There was NOTHING good about me, and being under the wrath of God is being under the wrath of God..I don’t think “degrees” or levels come into play much here.  So when I think about the fact that He, in His own will and for His own good pleasure, sent His Spirit into me crying Abba, Father, when I didn’t deserve it, it does nothing but humble and baffle me!  Humbled and baffled because I know that I don’t deserve it..and God could have very well left me alone to face the penalty for my sins committed against Him.  I understand that I’m unworthy of such a gracious and precious gift.  I have NOTHING to brag on and no reason to look at myself as if I was something special.  In my flesh dwells no good thing…and before God’s work in me, I was controlled by my flesh..and in that state, there was NOTHING I could do to please God (Romans 8:6-8).  And I couldn’t go from being fleshly-minded to spiritually-minded until the Holy Spirit enabled me to be so.  The natural man can’t understand the things of the Spirit (1Cor 2:14).  Therefore, in order for him to understand the things of the Spirit, the Spirit must reside upon him and in him.  A man who is still carnally-minded  and dead in his sins and trespasses can’t make himself understand the things of the Spirit.  No, God BEGINS the work and He, being faithful, will COMPLETE it (Philippians 1:6).

On the other hand, for someone to think that he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and enforced his mighty will to “activate” Christ’s finished work…what stops him from boasting?  “I chose Christ! I was smart/spiritual/wise/intelligent/had common sense enough to choose Him.”  And those who didn’t weren’t smart enough or spiritual enough?  So then your salvation gives you reason to boast or look to yourself as the final decision maker in salvation instead of God?  That would kind of mean God would have to share the glory for your salvation.  “Thanks be to God for providing Jesus, but thanks be to me for making it effective.” Glory split 50-50?

I’m labled with another title because I know that salvation is of the Lord, and that it is by His grace that we’re saved through faith, and not of ourselves, but it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-10.  I just want anyone who claims the name of Christ to know that salvation is a product of God’s work in them by His grace and faith which He gave them…not by some emotional decision they made when they raised their hand, filled out a card, or repeated a “sinner’s prayer”…and not because they decided to give mere mental assent to Jesus Christ. Salvation is a miraculous work of God.  The greatest miracle He’s performed/performing among human beings. It is literally a miracle that an enemy-of God by nature, wrath-deserving sinner can be transformed into a child of God, truly loving Him and having their sins atoned for by Christ and Christ’s righteousness imputed to them, causing them to be justified and declared acceptable to God and inheriting eternal life!  Professing Christians of ALL “denominations” need to know that.

Soli Deo Gloria! Christ is King!

 

Just an Update (Journal) April 1, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 11:53 am
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Well, I made an attempt at talking to a couple of people very close to me about my “Reformed Theology” learnings, specifically election/predestination…yeah…didn’t go over well at all.  I all but got my head bitten off.  I thought it was a safe place to try to share it, but I guess I was wrong…lol.  I wasn’t expecting them to agree, but I also didn’t expect to get jumped on like I did.  But hey,  I can understand how they felt…it just put me in a scary position I guess.  I’ve never experienced that kind of reaction before.  Anywho, I’m still studying and learning about the Reformed Theology in general.  What I like most about it is that God gets ALL the glory in every aspect.  I’ve come to realize that church/religion, as I’ve known it, seems to put man at the forefront with God as his assistant, only serving the purpose of answering prayers (always with a yes, of course), bringing prosperity and healing, and being there to rescue people out of bad situations.  In actuality, God is the One in charge of this whole thing, and He owes man NOTHING.  We are the creature, He is the Creator.  Until the last year or so, I hadn’t really considered what that really meant.  We are here to serve the purpose that God put us here for.  He doesn’t depend on us, we depend on Him.  Once I started to realize that, I began to put God back in His proper place in my life..me yielding to Him, not me expecting Him to yield to me.  I grew up with a very skewed perception of the Godhead…and I didn’t know it was skewed until good ole “hindsight” kicked in.  I realized how arrogant the church, in the general sense, has become.  In my opinion, it seems like we make God dependent upon us…Like puny humans have tied God’s hands behind His back and He’s just a-wishin’ and a-hopin’ that we’ll untie Him so He can go back to doin’ His “genie thing”. 

Growing up, I can’t really say that I was taught about the judgment of God, how He REALLY feels about sin, what Christ REALLY did on the cross, what grace REALLY is, and what we as sinners REALLY deserve and WHY.  I didn’t even really know, in depth, what the Gospel was truly about, yet I spent almost my whole life in church.  Now that I understand it a lot better, I rejoice and thank GOD for His Son and what He’s done! Soli Deo Gloria!

Also, I’ve been doing much praying and studying and praying and studying, and I have a strong desire to enter into fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ.  I disconnected myself from the “church” for very good reasons…but I’m not so foolish to think that there aren’t some assemblies out there, even of 15 people, who have a grasp on what the church body should be like.  There are no perfect churches, I know, but I’m not settling anymore.  I want to find a place where the true Word is going forth, no fluff..with people who have great respect for God and His Word.  I just don’t know where to go yet.  I’ve recently found 2 churches in an online search for my area that have interested me, but I haven’t visited yet..but I really want to.  God has stirred up within me the desire for Christ-centered fellowship and I can hardly contain myself.  I am resolved to visit one of them this Sunday (Resurrection Sunday).  They’re both Reformed churches, so I might be forced to visit by myself..lol.  Anywho, we’ll see how that goes 🙂

Just needed to vent and get some stuff of my chest today…so there ya have it!

Christ is King!!!

 

My Study on God’s Elect/Predestination-Intro March 17, 2010

Filed under: My Studies and Things I've Learned — growinginlove @ 3:11 pm
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About 2-3 years ago, a friend of mine and I got into a somewhat heated discussion when he brought up something that I had never in my life heard of, and I must admit, it was a difficult thing to swallow.  I can’t remember how the conversation started, but one of the first things I remember him asking me was somewhere along the lines of, “Why do you believe God loves everybody?”  And of course, I threw out John 3:16 amongst a few other scriptures.  Then he pointed out to me Romans 9:13, where it recounts that God loved Jacob but hated Esau.  At the time, I don’t think I had ever seen that scripture before.  I really had no response to it.  After more talking, he then laid the big one on me–Some people are chosen/elected by God to receive salvation, and others are not.  I just really could NOT accept that at that time.  It was total and utter nonsense to me.  I didn’t have much meaningful or strong knowledge of the Bible, so I didn’t have much ground to stand on or use in support of my stance.  The only Bible knowledge I had was what I had heard my pastor quote over and over again and the particular scriptures and biblical accounts that were drummed into our heads at church.  Needless to say, I was filled with so many emotions, mainly of disbelief and disgust that someone could even think that about God.  Everybody deserves a chance, and everybody can be saved if they choose to be, right?

Well, a few years, a knowledge of the TRUE Christ, coming to TRUE salvation, a lot of prayers, and some studying later…I sing a different tune.  Not only is the doctrine of God’s election made clear throughout the Bible, but I almost feel silly that I never noticed it before.  Last year, I read through the entire New Testament in a couple of weeks, and still didn’t see it! Going back now, I know clearly that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to actually read the Bible for what it says instead of reading what I’ve been taught or my own thoughts into the text.  In retrospect, it almost seems like an impossibility for me to have missed it…almost like my mind subconsciously ignored it, didn’t notice it, or thought, “Well, it can’t mean that, so it must mean something else.” 

This topic has been on my mind SOOO much these past few months, and I haven’t been able to really talk about it deeply with anyone because nobody I know believes it or wants to believe it.  So I mostly stick to the Bible to learn about it, and check a lot of online sources to see what others say about it and the scriptures  they use to support this topic, and I search those and compare them with the scriptures that I’ve studied in my own time.  It’s all still a work in progress, but I have to say that I in NO way look at salvation like I used to.  I’m never one to shut out knowledge when it comes to God’s Word.  I’m always open to correction and will happily accept the new knowledge as long as it’s backed up by Scripture and the Word of God in it’s entire context.  No more do I allow myself to buy into to cherry-picked verses that string together a doctrine that can’t be backed up by God’s Word in it’s entire context.

With that being said, I wanted to start to get into, little by little, some of the things that I’ve learned.  I started today particularly because I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a while, but I was hesitant to do so because of how touchy this topic is.  However, I read an article today on another blog, and I went back and looked the scriptures that were mentioned, which I had highlighted and made notes on, and when I did, 3 verses of scripture explode in my face!  I can’t stay silent on this topic anymore.  I wanted to wait until I had seen substantial scriptural support for the elect/non-elect.  I’ve seen so much now and I’m no longer afraid to discuss the topic.  Plus, this is my blog and if no one will listen to me face-to-face, at least I’ll be able to vent it somewhere! Lol.  I’ll be covering two groups of scripture in this particular post because these were the most eye-opening to me, initially.

Some weeks ago, I was in John 10.  Jesus was speaking about His sheep, and how His sheep know His voice and follow Him.  In verses 14-15, Jesus says:

“I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.  As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father:  and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

A few more verses down, we see that the Jews were still divided, some were doubtful of Christ’s claims.  Verses 24-29:

“Then came the Jews round about Him, and said to Him, How long do You make us to doubt? If you be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and you believed not:  the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But you believe not, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me:  And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.

It took me a while before I caught it.  Jesus said, in verses 14-15 that He knows His sheep and they know Him, and He lays His life down for the sheep.  Then in verses 26-27, He tells those people that they are not of His sheep.  This would explain why they don’t know Him, and it also appears to imply that He’s not laying His life down for them.  He lays His life down for the sheep, He clearly tells them they aren’t His sheep, so He’s not laying down His life for them.  Also, to point something out, Jesus said, in verse 26, “But you believe not, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.”  Notice, He didn’t say, “But you believe not, therefore you are not of my sheep.” The fact that they weren’t of His sheep was not the result of their unbelief…their unbelief was the result of them not being of His sheep.  Big difference.

Now on to John chapter 6.  This particular group of scriptures has to do with election and sure salvation (impossibility of losing salvation).  I’ll be dealing with John 6:37-45.  Just ahead of these verses, Jesus is talking to the people.  They basically wanted Him to give proof of who He claims to be so that they will believe Him.  He mentions the bread of God from heaven which gives life to the world, and they told Him to give them that bread.  Jesus replies in verses 35-40:

“And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life:  he that comes to Me shall never hunger; and he that believes on Me shall never thirst. But I said to you, That you also have seen Me, and believe not. All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. and this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life:  and I will raise him up at the last day.

Jesus said all that the Father gives Him will come to Him, verse 37, and right before, in verse 36, He tells those people that they have seen Him and believe not.  However, all the people that the Father has given Him SHALL come to Him.  So it appears that these people were not given to Christ by God.  Also, Jesus said, in verse 38, that He came down from heaven to do the will of the Father.  I’m sure all sincere Christians would agree that Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life in total, complete, and perfect obedience to God, right?  So, if a person who is truly saved can lose their salvation, then that makes Jesus disobedient and a liar.  Disobedient because, in verses 39 and 40, Jesus tells us that the will of God is that of all which God has given Him that He should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day, God’s will is that everyone that believes on Him will have everlasting life, and He’ll raise him up at the last day..so if the will of God is for Jesus to lose none of the people God gave Him, then He’s disobedient and has failed if any of God’s chosen people don’t receive salvation.. and that would make Jesus a liar, because He said He came to do the will of the Father, but if He lost one, then He lied about doing God’s will.  Clearly Jesus was perfectly obedient, therefore no one that God has given to Christ to be saved will be lost.

I might as well touch on verse 44 and 45 while I’m right there.  Jesus said:

No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.  Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to Me.

Jesus said that no man can (ability, power, capability) come to Him, except (unless) the Father draw (‘helko’-drag) him, and He’ll raise them up at the last day.  So, those who Christ will raise up at the last day are those who God gives to Him, who will come to him (verse 37), who won’t be lost(verse 39), who will believe on Him and receive eternal life from Him(verse 40), and they can’t come to Him unless the Father draws them (verse 44).  Jesus said in verse 45 that those who God draws will be taught of God, and every man that has heard and learned of (from or by) the Father comes to Him..EVERY man that God has drawn will come to Christ and be raised up by Christ at the last day.

I’m learning that God has more power over salvation than I used to think…obtaining it AND preserving it.

More to come…

 

From a Heavy Heart… February 19, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 3:12 pm
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I wanted to write something well-thought out and clever, and even organized, but my current state won’t allow me to do so, so I’ll take the “stream of consciousness” route.  Lately I’ve been feeling “wheighed down” by quite a few things.  I’m daily in prayer about some things that have caused me to be grieved on the inside.  Some of which have to do with me in my personal life, and others have to do with other people.  I sorrow over my own shortcomings, but I continue to give God the glory and praise.  He is ever true and ever faithful and always good…I’m the weak one.  I have things that I struggle with, but I trust that God will deal with them according to His will and timing.  Even the apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh, a problem he dealt with, that he begged God to remove, but He wouldn’t, and instead God told him that His grace is sufficient for him and that His strength is made perfect in weakness.  Now, whether the things I’m dealing with are just temporary means for God to accomplish something in and through me, or whether it’s something He will use on an ongoing basis to His glory, I’m not sure which one it is yet.  I will continue to seek Him first and stay in prayer.  I have a bad habit of getting impatient and panicky about things, especially matters of the faith, such as things in the Word of God that I don’t yet understand, and areas where I find myself to be lacking, and when I discover sin in my life.  It is my everyday prayer that God sanctifies me and teaches me to walk in holiness, denying myself.  I also pray for God to teach me patience.  I’m finding out that it takes patience to learn to be patient.  I keep asking for patience, and I keep finding myself in situations where I tend to become impatient..lol. And I know that it’s going to keep happening so that patience and longsuffering will be built up within me. 

In a strange way, I like the fact that my shortcomings and my personal struggles keep causing me to go running to my Heavenly Father in prayer.  In Him is my satisfaction, my joy, and my comfort.  It is through Christ that I realize where my strength comes from.  I constantly go running to my Source, my Provider.  I’m not perfect by any means, and I deal with the frustration of the flesh everyday..longing to be conformed to the image of Christ.  In the meantime, I’m glad to cling to my Savior, trusting in His righteousness and His sacrifice.  GOD IS GRACIOUS!!! 

Something else I’ve been weighed down by is a borderline overwhelming sorrow for others.  I have a particular concern for false teachers/deceivers and those who are being deceived.  A lot of professing Christians are being thoroughly deceived and beguiled by silver-tongued wolves in sheep’s clothing.  I get so upset when I see the precious, life-giving Word of God being twisted, taken out of context, and abused by people who have no love for God or His people.  I get equally upset when I see people feast on that garbage like starving raccoons.  Some of them are getting what they deserve because the Bible does tell us that people won’t desire sound doctrine and won’t want to hear the truth, but instead will heap to themselves teachers who will tell them exactly what they want to hear because they’re promoting the lusts/desires of the people.  They’re getting exactly what the Bible tells us they want.  Some of them will be stuck there, that’s clear. 

But there are some people who are meant to come out from under lies and false teachings..such as myself.  I was once fooled by false doctrine, but God, in His great grace and mercy, pulled me out of it, and I’m ever grateful to Him for that.  So I’m very sensitive to the fact that people are being deceived, and it is my prayer that God unveils their eyes and exposes the truth of His Word to them.  That they come to the saving knowledge of Christ through the TRUE Gospel of Christ.  I found out that I was following a false Christ and it TERRIFIED ME TO THE CORE when I recognized  it.  How I would just LOVE to see more and more brothers and sisters brought to salvation and repentance in the TRUE Christ, the Holy Son of God.  It’s not a light issue to me by any means.  I stare it in the face everyday.  It pains me that some won’t listen.  They’d rather cling to the comfortable lies of their beloved pastors and teachers than for one second to entertain the thought that they’ve been lied to and gotten over on, and that their very soul is in danger.   People have been sitting in churches for decades and are still ignorant of some of the most important aspects of the Gospel of Christ.  My heart grieves for people. 

There are some pretty theologically-intelligent people, but nobody on this earth knows everything, so we must never shut our eyes or ears to the knowledge of God’s Word, making sure that all things line up with the Word!.  Even what we think we know, we must always confirm it through the Word and prayer.  It’s one thing to be shown selective scriptures and have them read over and over and over with the preacher’s twist on them.  But it’s a whole other thing to see those very same words in light of the actual CONTEXT and intended meaning the Bible gives it.  This extra-biblical, and sometimes anti-biblical, indoctrination sickens me.  And I know that if it offends me, then it is no doubt a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty! 

There ARE people who are teaching sound doctrine and who handle the Word of Godwith great care, but they seem to be grossly overshadowed by the hucksters who have no real reverence or respect for God or His Word.  I am in prayer for the body of Christ.  I am moved to compassion for all my brothers and sisters.  And for those who contend for the faith and hold to the TRUE Christ, my prayers go up for you and my heart waxes large for you.  I pray that God strengthens you and increases your wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, and that He encourages you and keeps you.  To God be the glory!

Christ is King!

 

Suffering for Christ’s Sake February 5, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 10:46 am
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This is a video showing Christians in other countries who hang on to their faith in Christ at the cost of their very safety and lives.  I often wonder how we, here in America, would hold up under such circumstances as these.  Would we stand firm and steadfast in Christ, or would we buckle under the pressure and deny Him to save our own lives?  I honor and admire the brothers and sisters who endure persecution for Christ.  I also cry for them and pray for them.  The Bible warns us that we’ll face persecution for Christ’s sake.  My prayer for those of us who are being/will be persecuted is that God strengthens us to love not our lives unto death, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ unto death.  That we remain firm in our faith and faint not…that we don’t fear those who have power only to destroy the body and not the soul.  Let us pray for one another.

Let all be done to the glory of our Heavenly Father.  All is in His hands.

Christ is King!