Refuse to be a Slave to the Grind

If a person is truly in Christ, they have an automatic “new creation” desire to please Their Lord and Savior, by living His commands. This arises from the Holy Spirit residing with those who are born again. Having our sin account cleaned and our sin nature or “old man” crucified (Romans 6:6), we feel free to pursue the commands of God. This is  done not for the sake of salvation, which is settled by faith unto repentance, but in order to draw nearer to the God we love and want to glorify. Essentially our new birth gives us the inward passion to love God with all our being, and the spiritual framework and provision to do just that.

In lieu of this biblical state of being, why does it seem that almost as soon as we commit or re-commit to living abandoned to Christ, we find consistent failure rather than success? Perhaps more than any other question this has taxed my emotions and intellect. The reason, I believe, is that I believe so strongly in what the word of God declares Jesus accomplished in His cross and resurrection: that we are literally “new creations”, His own special people partaking in His divine nature, those in whose heart’s the Spirit of Christ is to sit enthroned.

Knowing this only amplified our angst, as we understand that God is faithful to do all of that which He said, for His word is His bond. Therefore we must look straight in the mirror in the failures which stifle our desires. It is in these times of angst, we either make or break our practice of faith, to be as God intended in Christ, or a cut below what His cross and resurrection guaranteed.

In understanding this issue let us acknowledge there is a difference between a follower of Christ with the Holy Spirit as resident in them, and a follower of Christ who has been filled and is being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). If this were not the case, then Jesus would never had commanded the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high (baptized in the Holy Spirit or the first filling), after they received the Holy Spirit, by Jesus breathing on them upon His first appearance to them, after His resurrection (John 20:19-23; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8; 2:1-4).

When a person has yet to be filled with the Holy Spirit, although saved by grace through faith, they can do nothing other than attempt to walk with Christ in their own strength. This is a reason for much failure. Yet it is also a reason for failure in those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit.

Consider Peter being rebuked by Paul in Galatians 2:11-13. How did such a powerful “Spirit-filled” leader sin so egregiously? Because the fullness of the Holy Spirit is not a past-tense act only (Spirit-filled is past tense), but a needed continuous present tense action, that we are to submit to daily, if not moment by moment. Therefore all the redeemed, those who still need to be filled for the first time, and those who have been filled, will encounter the same frustration; should their hearts desire be to walk with Jesus closely. Ah, but there is hope, my dear friends.


(Galatians 5:16-18) 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

“Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”

To “walk in the Spirit” truly is the desire we spoke about at the top of this article, because this is the way to please our Savior, bring glory to His name, and draw nearer to His magnificent presence.  Not only is this our desire, but it is guaranteed to bring victory over the carnal habits of our crucified “old man”, for should we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. In this promise of God we understand that walking in the Spirit will not be easy for the Spirit and our flesh lusting (being at war) against one another. This seems to be easy to understand, but is where we begin to encounter trouble, not knowing the depth of the promise or the agitated and whiny nature of our perishing flesh.

In the first place we must understand that the guarantee of not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, does not mean we will no longer sin at all. This ought to be easily understood, but we have a tremendously difficult time with this area.

Some will say, “Well Duh, I sin all the time”, but if they truly are sinning all the time, how are they even in Christ? Romans 6:11-14 declares we are not to yield to sin, but righteousness, and that sin will have no dominion over us. On the other hand, those who know followers can walk in righteousness will begin to feel condemnation should they be falling consistently to a lust of the flesh. They will do this even though they know “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.

In either case we can become a slave to the grind of law based Christianity. The former example will settle for the deceptive limit “I am just a sinner saved by grace”, when the very nature of the comment denies what Christ finished work promises. in this their law is pretty easily hit, so long as they have said “The sinners prayer”. On the other hand, the latter falls into a frustrating practice of always seeking to ” get right with God”. Both positions have relative peace at times, but over all leaves them lacking.

Secondly we must understand that to “walk in the Spirit” does not mean we will not be tempted or have less powerful types or seasons of temptation. Concerning this let us consider that temptation is not sin, it is temptation. Jesus was tempted in every way we are, yet without falling into sin. In this, let us understand that walking in the Spirit will enable us to overcome temptation and not commit consistent sin. This we will find is how our Savior stayed perfectly pure, yet let us consider when His first temptation occurred.

Matthew and Luke’s Gospels clearly show us what preceded Jesus’ wilderness temptations: His being baptized in the Spirit of God (Matthew 3:21-22; Luke 3:21-22). Subsequently in both accounts Jesus is then led by the Spirit into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted. In fact Luke’s account is more specific.

(Luke 4:1-2) 1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil.

From the above passage of scripture we can see the whole of the promises of “walk in the Spirit” in Jesus being filled with the Holy Spirit. In walking in the Spirit He did not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, yet Satan still came hard against Jesus, tempting Him to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. He overcame, we can as well, but if we don’t learn a few valuable lessons, we can become a slave to the grind of a law based Christianity that places us in a danger zone. In being a slave to the grind of legalism, it seems as if we will never be able please God and therefore feel as though we are trapped as slaves to failure.

LESSON #1 (Walking in the Spirit intensifies our battle against the flesh)

As we see with Jesus’ encounter above, being filled with the Spirit of God and subsequently walking in the Spirit, means trials and temptations are coming. Why is this the case? In the first place the fullness of the Holy Spirit makes a person instantly recognizable to the kingdom of darkness. Note that Jesus was anonymous to the world, except His mother, until His Baptism and being filled with the Holy Spirit. This is true of us as well.

The enemy’s kingdom has no reason to take notice of a Christian until that Christian is diminishing the darkness by the power of the Holy Spirit. When a person begins to walk in the Spirit, it means they are endeavoring to be led by the Spirit. It is at that time we find the Holy Spirit leads us into dark areas to shine Christ’s light. Therefore, walking in the Spirit almost always leads to intensified temptation and trial, as the flesh (by itself and amplified by enemy temptation) wars hard against the Spirit of God. Understanding this enables us to resound better to the battle against our flesh.

Secondly we understand that unlike Jesus, we have a history of fleshly patterns, which God desires to separate us from. Therefore as we walk in the Spirit, The Lord uses the battle against the flesh, attacks and temptations of the enemy, to reveal these patterns. This is where we often begin to struggle, because we think (wrongly) that Spirit-filled people ought not fall repeatedly to temptation, yet the walk in the Spirit almost guarantees this, at least for a while.

LESSON #2 (Losing a battle does not mean defeat)

“16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Where it says “so that you do not do the things you wish” we must understand that it is in the context of a drawn out battle, where it appears no side seems to be winning. On one hand, it seems that the Spirit of God gains the upper hand only to lose it. On the other hand it seems the flesh is diminishing in influence, only to be frustrated with its apparent resurgence. For at times it appears that we have a spiritually split personality, like Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It seems as though we are in a tug of war, that has only the gaining and loosing of ground in endless struggle. In spite of what the world, your flesh and the devil want us to believe, losing a battle (even more than a few times) does not mean defeat, if we get up in faith and continue walking in the Spirit.

In the first place we understand that trials, whether difficult circumstances or temptations designed by Satan to cause us to fall, are used by God to make us more like Jesus.

(1 Peter 1:6-7) 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Therefore, we chose faith knowing that should we never, never , never give up trusting God’s promises in Christ, we will overcome and before long see the Spirit ruling instead of falling to the flesh. Sadly, many in unbelief, after many hopes dashed and failures, give up on believing they can do anything other than fall to sin. They then live in condemnation and guilt, thinking something is wrong with their faith.

May it never be so for us. Let us remember that our falls aren’t to be indictments against our being children of God, in fact they ought to be reminders of His grace and forgiveness. This is not to say we ought to fall into sin (God Forbid), but to remind ourselves that the battle against the flesh informs us we warring in the Spirit, against the flesh. Therefore as we fail and the flesh prevails, we get back up in faith and follow God’s prescription.

Remind Yourself of who you are and Who keeps you who you are

(1 John 1:77 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Apply the Prescription

(1 John 1:9-10) 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Herein we see the power of having a deep knowledge of God’s grace through the on-going nature of forgiveness. So long as we are in Christ, walking in the light and in fellowship with others who are walking in the light, we believe the blood not only has cleaned the account, but will also cleanse the fleshly pattern in us, by the Holy Spirit. It is truly in the struggle, where our faith in His guarantee of new life and grace when we fail, is the pathway to freedom and holiness.

So walk in the Spirit! Recognize the fight the flesh is going to give the Holy Spirit within you! Expect the fight to grow hotter the closer you get to Jesus! Should the battle drag on, don’t lose hope for victory! Refuse to be a slave to the grind of legalism! When a fall comes refuse to give into condemnation, but believe the word of God and follow its prescription! Never give up! And finally believe you’re a child of God with all the power and provision Jesus was given! Walk in the Spirit and you will, eventually overcome!

Posted in fullness of the Spirit, Galatians 5:16-17, Holy Spirit, Slave to the Grind, Uncategorized, walk in the Spirit | 2 Comments

What Is Truth?

(John 18:37-38) Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.

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Pilate’s question did not come from a man who was confused about truth; at least the truth of Jesus’ legal case. The gospels record that Pilate knew the Jews had trumped up and fabricated charges against Jesus for their own malicious purposes. So why did he question Jesus concerning truth, when Jesus declared truth was the reason He came into the world?

My personal opinion is that Pilate’s view of truth was merely rational and materialistic. Being a Roman did not mean he actually worshiped Caesar or the multitudes of false gods in the Roman pantheon. In fact his life and struggles in war and politics would teach him that those who could force their own will through force or manipulation, would usually get their way. His truth,: might (whether physical/material or intellectual) and the one who uses it best, makes his own right.

This view point made religion, whether Jewish or Roman, perfunctory at best or merely another tool to force the will of his government. His viewpoint of truth hindered him from seeing Jesus the Messiah, as who He truly was and is. By contrast, the centurion at the cross, who was under Pilate’s authority (indirectly), confessed upon Jesus’ death “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). Not unlike many soldiers among the ranks of the United States Armed forces, this centurion saw the truth clearly.

A solider’s truth is defined by those who are given them orders of those in authority over them. They practice that truth by obeying those orders without question or discussion.  How did this aid the centurion in recognizing the truth concerning Jesus? Because in Christ’s selfless death, where He prayed for His enemies, took care to assign provision for His mother, and forgave and received a former mocking thief (among other things), the centurion saw the highest power, that of God’s love.  Jesus’ total selflessness was supernatural to the soldier, something he had never encountered. This Jesus, “the Son of God” was the Highest authority he had ever seen, love not overcome by hate, pain or shame. Truth was crucified before him.

So let us ask the question “What is truth to us?” or more specifically “How is it that we received and handle truth”?

Recently I have been reading “The Greatest Life of All: JESUS” by Charles Swindoll. In Chapter 14, entitled “The Last Trials and torture of Jesus”, Swindoll outlines 4 persons perspectives on truth. I found these very insightful and a bit troubling, concerning how clearly the church in America fits into them, in some form. In these four perspectives, you may find a diagnosis for how you handle the truth when in a situation that presses your flesh. He uses Pilate, Herod, Pilate’s wife, and the religious leaders, to illustrate his positions. Below is an extended quote from Swindoll’s book,  “The Greatest Life of All: JESUS” pages 212-213.

These people were not very different from you and me. And I find four different perspectives in the case of The State v. Jesus of Nazareth, each represented by a primary figure in the historical accounts.

Pilate. He was completely convinced by the truth, yet terrified to admit it or act upon it for fear of losing favor with certain people.

Herod. He was so distracted by superficial pursuits that the truth had long ago become irrelevant to him.

Pilate’s wife. She was so easily persuaded and carelessly undiscerning that truth and fiction commingled with ease.

The religious leaders. The were willfully unconcerned with truth because it frustrated their personal agendas.

Swindoll goes on to explain…

Some people are like Pontius Pilate. They recognize the truth about Jesus Christ and even acknowledge it, but they refuse to yield themselves to that truth because it threatens to disrupt the plans they have for their own lives. They fear the rejection of people. The perhaps have a greater desire for power or money or comfort or a relationship or… the list is endless.

Some people are like Herod. they distract themselves from the most important issues of life with projects or parties or thrill seeking. Belief in Jesus Christ is for fanatics and other people who take themselves too seriously. It’s all a big joke. The truth about Jesus Christ is lost in the pursuit of the next good time.

Then people like Pilate’s wife accept that Jesus claims are authentic… along with every other passing philosophy or religious (or Christian wind of doctrine or practice; my comment) belief. They make the bible, the cross, the church, even His name into treasured tokens of a sentimental faith or lucky charms to ward off guilt and other negative experiences. Theirs is a superficial , sentimental belief, that fails to change them or transform their character.

Worst of all (like the religious leaders; my comment), many people reject Jesus Christ because He is not the Messiah they have prescribed for themselves. They have a clear picture of the god they would like to worship–and even presume to worship–but have no desire for the God who actually exists and has revealed Himself.

Jesus said, “I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37). Pilate devalued the truth about the Son of God. Herod was to shallow and vain to see the truth. Pilate’s wife accepted everything as truth and, therefore, failed to recognize it. And the angry mob ignored the truth as inconvenient.

May I suggest you take some time to prayerfully consider, which of the above four perspectives on how we receive the truth fits your flesh best. Understanding this natural disposition will assist us in overcoming it, by walking in the Spirit, when trouble or God’s call presses us to deny our flesh. may God bless you as you consider this truth.


Posted in "What is truth?", Charles Swindoll, John 18:37-37, The Greatest Life: JESUS, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God-Sent Spiritual Anorexia?

Psalm 106:10-15 10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy11 The waters covered their enemies; There was not one of them left. 12 Then they believed His wordsThey sang His praise13 They soon forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel, 14 but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. 15 And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.

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While reading this Psalm, I was struck how quickly good times get bad. In verses 10-12 we see God’s miraculous deliverance of the Hebrews nation at the Red Sea, over the Egyptian enemy. In response to this fantastic rescue we read “Then they believed His words; They sang His praise”. Despite their passionate praise of YHWH for His power, mercy and love, only three verses later we read “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul”. If you think like me, it sounds like God sending “leanness into their soul” would be a bad thing for the Israelite’s because it is.

The word for “leanness” in the Hebrew language means “scantness, a disease of wasting away into sickly leanness”. On first glance the word seems to describe what we would call anorexia, which would be an apt description, from a spiritual sense.

In the first place we must understand that Israel’s condition arose from their lack of contentment with God’s provision. Despite seeing miracles which would cause most of us to pass out, they grumble against God for water, and for food more than the manna given miraculously by God.

This grumbling was for meat, which God gave them so much of ( in the form of quail), that it layered the ground of the camp up to three feet high (Numbers 11:31-32). Yet even this was not enough for when God gave them what they wanted, they wanted more which would lead to leanness in their soul.

Why is this the cases? Because filling our flesh does not lead to contentment, but a greater desire to feed our flesh (Galatians 6:7-8). Therefore the meat they received caused their soul to waste away into spiritual anorexia; God sent the meat which sent the leanness into their soul.

In this condition, the more they filled their lusts, the less they trusted God. The less they trusted God, the less the wanted to “live by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God”. The less they desired God’s word directing them, the more they wasted away in their relationship to God and His presence. The more their relationship to God deteriorated, the closer to physical and spiritual death they were. So why would God do such a thing to those He so recently delivered? Simply put, they were a rebellious people.

Commenting on the disposition of the generation of Israel and those subsequently, Stephen, the first Christian martyr said this before another group of rebellious Israelite’s…

(Acts 7:51) 51You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.

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We find from Numbers 26:65 that only Joshua and Caleb and their families, entered into the promised land of those who were born in Egypt. This was because although they said they believed God, they refused to obey Him or be thankful very long. For this reason God sent “leanness into their soul”, like a spiritual anorexia, where they refused to live by every word preceding forth from the mouth of God. Interestingly, we ought to take notice of this passage, as a warning for us.

In the New Testament we find passages which illustrate God’s way of operation has not changed, when it comes to those who are thankful and disobedient, even from the beginning. In Romans 1:18-31 we read of the fall of man away from God, until they are turned over to a “reprobate mind”. This state of mind means God stops attempting to speak to them and call them out of their darkness. Why would God ever release a person into such a state? Let the word of God declares it to us.

(Romans 1:21-22) 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

What follows, over the next five verses, is a list of abominable behaviors, while God is still reaching out to them, until He has had enough and gives them what they want…

(Romans 1:28) 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

This passage is not isolated in dealing with God taking action that leads to people moving further away from Him. In II Thessalonians 2 we read of those whom God’s sends a “strong delusion” to, that they would fall for the Antichrist’s lies. I admit this sounds shocking, yet the word of God is clear this happens when the human heart rejects God and His truth, not because of a lack of mercy on His part.

 (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

I understand, depending on ones preference concerning “eternal security”, someone could say that what is being described above can’t happen to true believers. I do understand that sentiment, but let us consider two passages written to those who were in the body of Christ. I Corinthians 10:1-13 describes much of the same ground as what Psalm 106 covers but for a very specific purpose…

(1 Corinthians 10:5-7) 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them.


The verse following 5-7 produces a list of poor behavior tracking right along with Psalm 106:10-15, after which we read this often overlooked warning from I Corinthians 10:12 : “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall”. It seems pretty plain that the Holy Spirit is warning Christian’s to be at the very least, sober, as to what awaits if we fall into a pattern, that leads us to saying yes to God’s word while ignoring His commands. If you recall, this is what Israel was ultimately guilty of, which led to death of an entire generation in the wilderness. In fact, the Book of Hebrews, which was written to Christians (albeit immature Christians) warned them definitively.

(Hebrews 3:12-14) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end

Throughout Hebrews 3 and 4 the inspired writer directly refers to the lost Israelite generation, in whom God “sent leanness into their soul”. What can we learn about their slide into leanness of soul, that will help us to avoid the potential of a similar problem?


“Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. They soon forgot His works”

When considering the praise of Israel after the Red Sea deliverance, we can see it as lip service instead of love for God, for even up to the waters being separated, the majority of Israel either wanted to stone Moses or beg Egypt not to kill them or both. In light of that we can affirm the Hebrews were glad to be on the other side, and in the heat of the ordeal, they understood it was by God’s hand. Therefore, they praised Him and believed His word of about three days.

Yet when trouble appeared on the horizon, the lack of faith of the rank and file, was displayed in the spewing of bitter accusations against God’s servant. In essence they were saying “Hey God, what have you done for me lately? It’s been so long since you have done something, I can’t even remember what You last did”. It seems to me that Christians in America are prone to the same fall and can be a very forgetful and ungrateful lot.

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Have you ever had a season, or even a consistent disposition where you asked “Why are you doing this to me?” or “When does this end?” Have you ever questioned whether God loves you, because the pain and discomfort of your circumstances is more than you signed up to carry? Let us be careful to be continually thankful to God. He could have given us what we deserve in the way of eternal condemnation for our sins. Aren’t you glad we have been given salvation by grace through faith?


“they did not wait for His counsel”

As previously noted, the Israelite’s forgetfulness led to complaining which only grew louder, as they had to wait on the LORD. In the midst of this discontent, they became impatient and sought solutions outside of God’s leading. In essence they “became wise in their own eyes”. Is this why the inspired writer of Proverb 3:5-7 admonished “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge the Him, and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil”?

It may be that not waiting on Him is the chief reason for much of our lack of thankfulness toward God, as it seems we run ahead of Him or want Him to bless what we have concocted. In both cases, the consequences which arise, are normally not what God intended, yet we then expect Him to fix the resulting problems. This second position on the slide toward leanness of soul, is the individual believer’s most necessary practical need for discipline.

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For the church as a whole, in the United States, this second position on the slide is the main reason for our lack of the manifest presence of God. In our efforts to fill our buildings, we will get behind almost any method that will meet the felt needs of the lost, or show them how much we care. We pow wow, conference about and discuss at length the strategies we need to win our cities, while usually harboring a hidden desire to grow the gathering in our facilities. All the while the lost sit in darkness and we have little Holy Spirit power to pierce the satanic veil around their lives.

Until we stop being wise in our own eyes, and wait on the LORD to direct and bless, we will continually train ourselves to rely on ourSELF, rather than God’s power for issues and problems only He can resolve. When this is done it leads to our ministering according to our ideas, preferences and desires and this leads to the next point of decent on a slide toward leanness in our soul.


“but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness”

No matter what we may come up with in our counsel, if it is not of the Lord it has arisen from SELF. Our solutions may appear to be godly, even led of the Spirit, but if they are not, they are machinated from SELF. Even when our direction gained is among spiritually inclined Christians and seems to be very common sensical (from a spiritual point of view), if not directly from God it arises from SELF.

Any time we are led by self, or feed the self life, we reap more desire for the SELF life (Galatians 6:7-8). We already know the SELF and Spirit of God war against each other (Galatians 5:16-17), yet in Israel we see which one gained the upper hand: SELF. This is not because the Holy Spirit failed, but that they (we) let SELF win. Have you ever known a time where you consistently gave into self, and became aware your desire for God’s word was faltering or your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit was waning?  It is for this reason, we are warned from the entirety of the scriptures to deny SELF. Is it possible the slide into leanness of soul is not a real and potential issue for all in the American Church?


“and tested God in the desert”


I realize the word in our passage says “tested” but in the Hebrew it means tempted, in the context of Psalm 106. When looking at I Corinthians 10:9, the word used in reference to Psalm 106, is the word “tempted”. What does it mean to tempt God? It means to taunt Him into proving Himself. Remember Satan attempted to tempt Jesus to do this by having Him jump off the temple, in order to prove He was God’s Son; being that the scriptures report the Father would dispatch angels to catch Him. Why was this wrong? Because Christ had to live in faith concerning who He was, according to the scriptures and leading of the Holy Spirit. There were times where the Father audibly affirmed the Messiah, but those were special occasions.

Our trouble is like Israel, in difficult times, we begin to complain “Why did you bring me here if I am your servant?”, or “If I am your child, You need to change my surroundings or circumstances.”, or “I’ll serve you if you simply do this for me as a sign”. I think it is apparent that tempting God, as a Christian is very do-able, if we are not careful (read I Corinthians 10:9).

As we have seen, we have potential to fall into leanness of soul or “spiritual anorexia”, if we are unaware of the power of the flesh, even though it be crucified. Therefore let us renew our focus on Christ alone, for in Him all praise, direction, provision and identity are found. Let us refocus our efforts on loving Him with our entire being.

Posted in christian living, I Corinthians 10:1-11, Psalm 106:10-15, spiritual anorexia, spiritual leanness, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Being Called by God

Related imageYesterday while reading the classic devotional “My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, I was greatly encouraged by his teaching on being called by God. The devotional used God’s call of Isaiah the prophet, in the book bearing the prophet’s name, as his passage of emphasis. Below is a portion of that passage and his explanation of the call of God.

(Isaiah 6:1-8)1 … saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I sendand who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Below is Chambers description of being called by God, please read it prayerfully.

“The call of God is not the echo of my nature; my desires and personal temperament are of no consideration. As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for, I shall never hear the call of God. But when God brings me into the right relationship with Himself, I am in the same condition Isaiah was in. Isaiah’s soul was so attuned to God, because of the tremendous crisis he had just endured (seeing the Lord in all His holy splendor), that he recorded the call of God to his amazed soul. The majority of us have no ear for anything but ourselves, we cannot hear a thing God says. But to be brought to the zone of the call of God is to be profoundly altered.”

Posted in Isaiah 6:1-8, My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers, the call of God, the voice of God, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The More Things Change…

Just today, one of the godly woman in our fellowship was going through some old files, and ran across a few very meaningful  and spiritually deep historical pieces. One of these artifacts was a church bulletin from the spring of 1949, when A.W. Tozer spoke to our congregation over the course of many meetings during that week (for a missions convention). Another piece of history was an article printed in the Rochester local news paper, entitled “Spiritual Dilemma”, written by the pastor of our fellowship at that time.

The pastor’s name was Rev. William Allen. Pastor Allen was a powerful man of God, whom later moved onto Medina Ohio, where God worked through him to open the door for revival in the not only Medina, but Regina Saskatchewan Canada.

Below I have posted Rev. Allen’s original published article. What the article reveals is that the more things change, from the writers 1940’s and 1950’s culture to our own, the more they stay the same. The church has generally been asleep in the light of Christ, from then till now.


(Ephesians 5:14-21)  14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Walk in Wisdom 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Posted in Leonard Ravenhill, revival, Revive me, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Congratulations! We’re All Failures!

Image result for don't criticize meHuman beings are not fond of being criticized. This is even true when the criticism is constructive; for the benefit of the person being criticized. Making this condition worse is a world where the vast majority of people are hypersensitive about their abilities, standing among others and personal human rights. All of these factors together have built a wordily and cultural mind mindset, that takes even necessary criticism and defines it as mean spirited judgment. Therefore to suggest a person is inadequate, weak or failing will often times place the sincere giver of truth, in the dog house.

Herein is one of the greatest challenges to preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ (The Gospel): People do not want to hear that they are not good enough, nor ever will be good enough, to merit God giving them access to the blessing and pleasure of heaven.

Simply put the Gospel is a message that begins with “Congratulations! You are an absolute failure!” Even within the body of Christ, this beginning of the Gospel message sounds a little harsh, even though it should not be so.

Let’s face the sad truth that much of our Gospel preaching wants to avoid the abject failure of man, in our presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ. One may ask why is this the case? The answer is simple: We can feel disdain of those we minster too concerning their being labeled as insufficient failures. Therefore we dance around the issue no one wants to talk about, the very issue which makes us insufficient, unable failures: The issue of sin.


The preaching of the gospel always begins with God and that beginning is a declaration of God’s holiness in contrast to the depravity of man. We find this contrast wherever God revealed Himself to men in both Testaments.

Consider for a moment the man Job. Perhaps of the patriarchs there was no finer soul. Even in the most horrific conditions, Job did not sin by cursing God. Yet his ordeal and response to the trial therein, brought Job to a place where God could bring a fuller revelation of Himself to Job. When God did breach the veil of time to speak and show Himself, Job has a very peculiar reaction “I have heard about You with the hearing of my ears, but now my eye sees You, therefore I abhor my self and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). After seeing God for himself, Job saw his very good life (by human religious standards) as nothing but inadequate, in contrast to God’s perfection. In Job’s words we can hear him declaring to himself “Congratulations Job! Your a Failure!”

Let us further consider Isaiah. In the prophet we see perhaps one of the finest leaders Israel ever produced, outside of Jesus Himself. Isaiah was a religious leader of the highest quality, a national leader and statesman. He loved his nation and ardently followed the law of God and called others to do so. Despite these facts, until Isaiah had truly met with God, he would never be sufficient for the prophetic task he was chosen for. In Isaiah 6:1-13, we encounter the time God appeared to Isaiah in His manifest and holy perfection. Verse 5 records Isaiah’s reaction to God’s revelation of Himself to the prophet.

(Isaiah 6:5) 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”

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The word “undone” means to be unwound like a baseball. In our day baseballs are made with a small hard rubber ball at the center, then wrapped by string until the proper size is attained. Once this is finished the ball is covered in leather and stitched up. Early baseballs were simply a ball of strong tightly wound, covered in leather and then stitched up. With those early balls, one could uncover the ball of string and unwind it, until there was nothing left at the middle.

This process is similar to what God’s presence did to Isaiah. In God’s perfect presence all of Isaiah’s achievements, goodness, works, prestige, abilities, and heritage were pulled away, string by string, until he found at the center of himself an empty void of sin. In his declaration “Woe is me…”, we can hear Isaiah declare “Congratulations Isaiah! You are a failure!!!

When reading further in Isaiah 6, we see that Isaiah’s calling in God would have been impossible had God not revealed Himself and subsequently, in light of God’s manifested perfection, revealed Isaiah’s sinful condition. Not only would Isaiah’s calling be in doubt without his encounter with God, salvation would have been impossible (Isaiah 6:6-8)

For good New Testament example of God’s revealed Presence revealing our utter failure before God, consider the miracles catch of fish in Luke 5:1-8. In the account, when the fishermen catch and impossible amount fish, at the Carpenter’s instruction, Peter realized he was in the presence of God. His response “Leave me Lord, I am a sinner”. For a guy who thought fairly well of himself, Peter’s declaration is another statement of “Congratulations Peter! You are a failure!”

As made clear from the examples above, cleansing from sin is not possible without a person understanding that God is holy and man certainly is not. God’s Word makes it very clear that “…all have turned aside… all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, no not one” (Psalm 14:3). This passage refers to mans’ state of depravity before God. Depravity does not mean men apart from God never do positive things, but that the relative “good ” done cannot in any way cancel the penalty for sin all men are under.

This position of man before God is not very readily accepted, but ignored, as the lost runs to and fro looking to atone for their sin, through vain religion, or sear their consciences into no caring at all. In relation to our predilection toward proving ourselves sufficient through works and religion Isaiah reveals “But we are all like an unclean thing. and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Although I believe men know this truth inherently, we (in our natural state) would rather feign ignorance or walk in out right deceit concerning our failing and sinful condition.

Therefore, in pride men ignore God (and his messengers), and reject His kindness and mercy of because they hate correction, revealing themselves to be fools (Proverbs 12:1). This truth falls in line with Paul’s words to us concerning the state of all men, apart from Christ.

(Romans 1:21-25) because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were  darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

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In lieu of this truth, we understand why men grow irritated when we are presenting the good news. As Jesus declared in John 3, men love darkness rather than the light, and in their delusional and lost state would rather ignore the Holy Spirit convicting them of their failure before the Holy God. Yet we must not water down the Good News, or begin away from the beginning.

Some at this juncture may want to point out “It is the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4). I definitely agree, yet His kindness is to reveal the manifestation of His love, through the bloody cross of Christ (Romans 5:8). This is the Good News, and it begins with the reason for Christ’s death; WE FAILED MISERABLY!!!

Paul relays to us in Romans 3:20-23, that good works no matter how many fall well below God’s standard of righteousness. His standard is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word made flesh; He alone is perfect sinless perfection. In light of that mark, even the most self-righteous ranger, has to admit he has failed. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Why is this Good News? Because Jesus Christ Himself is also the way for failures to find grace sufficient to overcome our sin debt.

(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”


The Gospel message does reveal God’s state of perfection and our lack of perfection, but also how we by faith, become acceptable in His sight.

  1. Jesus became our wisdom: We understand the preaching of the cross of Christ is foolishness to those who do not believe, but to those who do, it is the power of God unto salvation. In this understanding, by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and attained through faith and repentance, Christ takes us from fools to wise. We choose to lay down our self-righteousness (which is sin) and our rebellion for the sake of love for the One who displayed His love for us in the cross. We move from being fools to wise.
  2. Jesus becomes our righteousness: In our newly acquired wisdom, from the Holy Spirit, we no longer are trying to be righteous enough to gain God’s favor, as we know Jesus was more than righteous enough to satisfy God’s standard. This happened as He lived sinless, being the perfect atoning sacrifice for sins. This is something no man can do, except Jesus the Son of man (Isaiah 53:1-10). We find His righteousness becomes our own as we are declared not guilty (justified) through Christ’s shed blood (Romans 5:9).
  3. Jesus becomes our sanctification: In our being justified, we are literally set apart as holy (this is sanctification), as if never having sinned. Yet this being set apart is not merely positional in heaven, but made practical by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is God Himself that sanctifies (makes us practically holy) in spirit, soul and body, as we yield to the righteousness of Christ, as led by the Holy Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 6:11-13). Even when failing to walk in complete obedience, by faith we still have a clean account and cleansing in our lives from sin (I John 1:7, 9).
  4. Jesus becomes our redemption: Through His blood we have been redeemed, having been forgiven of our sins. Truly it is good news to know that not by any merit of our own, but in Christ’s perfect work, we are God’s possession. This is an ever growing deposit of the fullness of that redemption, fully realized in the glory of God, when we are with Him forever (Ephesians 1:13-14). All of this is truly Good News.

Since the Good News is so good, why do we waste time trying to build bridges to the lost through meeting felt needs and being seeker sensitive? It seems to me, the good news is sufficient without any add-on’s or creative accessories on our part. The problem is that we are uncomfortable with the beginning of the Good News… Congratulations! We’re all failures!

In this next year, remember, we may be living in one of the last years. We don’t have time to waste. The lost don’t have time to waste. The kindest thing we can do, is to present God as He is, Holy and loving. So loving He sent his only begotten to the cross. Why? Because He loves us and we failed. This is the news that will make any man who receives it have a great eternity.

In closing I offer a wonderful little portion of an ancient hymn entitled “Faith in Christ”, which affirms the Good News…

“a guilty, weak, and helpless worm,                                                                                                 into Thy hands I fall,                                                                                                                          be Thou my life, my righteousness,                                                                                               my Jesus, my All in All.”

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Posted in Romans 3:23, The Good News, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Father… I Need Your Word!!!

Related imageOf all the conversations Jesus had with His 12 disciples in the Gospels, one of my favorites has to be when Jesus talks to them about the giving of the Holy Spirit as a gift in Luke 11:11-13. Herein Jesus reveals the desire of God the Father to give the gift of the Holy Spirit, being analogous to the desire of a human father to give what his child asks for… If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

This passage reiterates not only God’s desire to meet our needs with His own personal Presence, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, He also gives us what we ask for without begging. Those who are children of the King of the Universe, by Jesus shed blood, do not have to beg.

This guarantee is absolutely sure, so long we are asking according to his will (I John 5:14-15). This parameter must be made clear, because of all the faulty prosperity gospel teaching buffeting the church in America. Purveyors of this heretical teaching believe their “God” behaves like a genie, where the one asking becomes the master. The false “god” of prosperity preachers is not THE One True God, Who’s fullness is seen bodily in Jesus Christ: who is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (Colossians 2:9Isaiah 9:6).

That being said, our God and Father does desire to give us our needs and every good gift. It is for this reason Jesus taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Last week we discovered that the request for “daily bread”, has a purpose in training us to be dependent on God’s grace and has its foundation in the instruction given to Israel, concerning God giving them manna. As they should have known, we can be sure that God will supply our need for food daily, so long as we ask Him in trust. Once again we find this affirmed in Psalm 37:25.

(Psalm 37:25) “I have been young and now am old; Yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging for bread”.

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We must approach this promise properly, or be at risk of massive disappointment. In the first place, “the righteous never being forsaken” means never forsaken by God Himself. Secondly we understand “his descendants begging for bread” to mean, God will provide enough bread to live. We may rejoice in this truth, while having a refrigerator full of food, or at least enough money to go to a store and buy a loaf of bread, but Psalm 37:25 is govern our faith when in the most dire circumstances.

Consider how well Israel was taken care of in the wilderness. Their clothing never wore out, had water from the  Rock (I Corinthians 10:11), and had enough manna to make manna cakes, manna waffles, and ba-manna bread (shameless Kieth Green reference). Yet Israel complained in unbelief. We must be careful of their error and  continue to grow trusting Him. We must understand what we think need is often not what we actually need. What will we do, if we ask for our daily bread and our Father declares “No bread or food today, you need something more!”

I can almost hear someone shouting “Wait a minute Bucko! You just said He gives us our daily bread. I get that It may be less than I think I need, but you said it is a guarantee!” Yes I did, but let us look to the Son of God and what was needful for the body in the wilderness temptation.

(Matthew 4:1-4) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

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What is more needful for the body than food, after having not ate for forty days and forty nights? Medically speaking, for people in their normal weight range, forty days of fasting, places them in starvation and on the verge of death. Let’s give further consideration, as to how difficult it is for most Christians in America to fast only one day, or even one meal, or go without eating for forty minutes; let alone forty days. In the wilderness Jesus was in physical, emotional and mental need of food. Yet more needful than food, in that hour, was the need to be sustained by the God’s word alone. Our need is the same.

Truly we must begin to understand that God’s word is not just the foundation of our faith, concerning true doctrine and practice, but also the principle source of sustenance for spirit, soul and body. Perhaps no O.T. passage displays this better than Psalm 1:1-3, where we are instructed to meditate or “chew the cud” of the word of God, which is called “the law of the Lord”.

1 Blessed is the man…     2 his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not witherAnd whatever he does shall prosper.

In this passage, delight for and pursuit of the word of God, is the foundation of the blessed life. In light of this truth we understand “the Law of the Lord” refers to the written word of God which was spoken by God to men; then written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:15-17). This word of God, when received by men in faith can be understood by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; II Corinthians 2:14-15). As the word of God is understood through Holy Spirit illumination and acted upon in faith, being received as God’s word, it works powerfully in and through our lives (I Thessalonians 2:13). This is how our Savior overcame in the wilderness, for very practical Jewish reasons. As illustrated in Psalm 119.

(Psalms 119:9-11) 9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heartThat I might not sin against You.

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In light of this passage, let us remember that Luke’s gospel tells us Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, before being driven into the wilderness (Luke 4:1). Despite this truth, our Savior did not have a Bible in His hands when Satan came to tempt Him. So how was it He gave exact word of God answers from the scriptures to Satan? Some would suggest the word of was pre-programmed into His perfect human flesh, but that is a large over reach. Philippians 2:5 reveals that the Living Word emptied Himself to be born of woman, under the law. Aside from Jesus virgin birth, allowing Him to be born without a sin nature, Jesus tackled temptation as we have to: obeying the word of God in the power of God’s Spirit.

This is where Psalm 119:9-11 comes into view. As Jesus grew up He was in subjection to his parents and grew in favor with God and man. This means he attended Hebrew school, where He learned to read from the O.T. scrolls and recited the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-6), and multiple other passages in order to “hide them in His heart”. When His temptation in the wilderness arrived, He had enough ammunition not only to not sin, but to thrive through the sustaining power of the word of God and power of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout His life, Jesus delighted in and fed upon the word of God more than any other man in history. When He was at His greatest point of weakness, the word of God gave Him strength to overcome temptation, as the Holy Spirit brought The Word to His remembrance. Is this not what we need in our life; to delight in the word of God so much, that we discipline ourselves to hide it in our hearts, so we will not sin against Him? Yes a thousand times, for the days will come upon us when no amount of food, or human encouragement with sustain us through trial and temptation. In those times, which are closer than we care to admit, only the food of the word of God will sustain us.

the-living-word-of-godUnderstanding this truth will help for sure, as we believe that the word of God is truly bread indeed. Yet the word of God is even more than what is written or spoken from the mouth of God. The word of God is a Person, in fact God Himself and the One who is the second person of the Trinity. John 1:1-5 announces the Word of God, as being fully God, and the One by Whom all things were created. In John 1:14 the Word becomes flesh. In this we know that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. This truth is not allegorical, but actual.

(Hebrews 4:12-13) 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Once again we see the word of God being referred to with the personal pronoun “His”. In this truth, let us dig deeper into the sustaining Presence of the word of God with us. In John 6 Jesus declares that He is the bread of life and in so doing ticked a lot of people off, yet not more so then in verses 43-58. In these verses Jesus declares that His flesh is food indeed, and His blood is drink. He also declares that unless you eat His flesh and drink His blood, you are basically condemned for eternity.

Boy, did the people go berserk! Yet Jesus was speaking to them not in a physical sense (John 6:63). What was Jesus saying? He was declaring the principal, that if a person, will walk in His life, obeying God’s will (denying themselves for the kingdom of God,taking up suffering for His sake, loving the brethren and walking by faith), then His Presence would truly sustain them as food.


This is what is referred to as being in union with Christ, or being filled with the Holy Spirit. Is there any doubt it is Jesus Himself, that sustains our brethren suffering the horrors of persecution, with all its torment and deprivation? Is there any doubt it is Jesus Himself, prevailing against all the impossible odds they face? It is the Living Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, enabling them to continue in the faith. It is the very Presence of Jesus with them, that deepens their love for their enemies, giving them endurance for long stretches of torture. It is the bread of life, through God’s Word with them, that fills them with grace at the hour of their death.

Oh that we too will live not by bread alone, but by the very Living Word of God. Jesus Christ is that Living Word. May our lives shine in godliness and love, as we partake of Him.

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Posted in Every word proceeding from the mouth of God, Living Word of God, Matthew 4:4, The Lord's Prayer, Word of God | Leave a comment