Sunday Praise and Worship: It is well with my soul

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Beloved, how have you been doing lately? Are you, like most people, struggling to keep up with all the changes in our world that seek to destroy our faith? Are  there situations in your life that feel like they will never end? Do you long for the day when you can live with Jesus in heaven? Me too.

One of the songs that gives me great peace during difficult times is “It is well with my soul,” written by Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford in 1872. This video is the Jeremy Riddle version of the Horatio Spafford hymn, along with the amazing background story of how and why he wrote this song. The verses that impact me the most are:

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Hope is Alive

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Hope is Alive

By Patricia Knight 

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). 

We were watching the final segment of a law enforcement show on TV. The police found the perpetrator of a crime hiding at his mother’s house. As officers were escorting the felon into their squad car, one of them lingered to offer words of hope to his mother for the probability of a shortened jail sentence. She immediately retorted, “hope is useless” and turned away. There was no doubt about the growing bitterness and hate that was seething from deep within her being. At the conclusion of the show, overwhelming disillusionment spontaneously erupted from her heart as the door slammed shut behind her.

Hope is not about what will happen to us or around us. Hope resides in God and in His promises. King David admitted, “In His word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5).

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Hope is not an inaccurately placed belief. It is a personal desire that we expect to have fulfilled. It is a true yearning, an expectation that God will provide for us as He carries out His promises. Misplaced hope is of no value. Only when substantiated by God’s promises can hope have significant meaning in our lives. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

God is able to provide for every aspect of our future. All authority and power rest in Him, a guarantor of our hope. Just as God’s power worked in Christ’s life to accomplish His mission of redemption for all creation, He will also complete His sovereign purpose in each of our lives.

If we attempt to place our hope in ourselves or in anything finite, disappointment will ensue. Unless we place our confidence in God, our expectation for hope is dashed. No one is as worthy of our hope and our reliance on future good like God is. He is the author and embodiment of all hope. With confident expectation we diligently rely upon Him for anticipated results.

Godly hope renews our strength. Giving our hope to God, transferring it from our own inadequate efforts, liberates our meager inner resources. We are more fully equipped to do His work while we depend upon the Lord for all of our strength.

According to the felon’s mother, human hope is offensive. More accurately, true hope inspires and enlightens. God is the source of all hope. Our future rests in Him because   He has a plan for each of us. We can be assured that our life’s blueprint will be constructed just as He designed it for us.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

We are God’s workmanship. Let our hope reside in His design for us, for God doesn’t make mistakes—ever!

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Sunday Praise and Worship: My Hope is in You

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If you’ve been around my blog for very long, you know that I live every single day with several chronic pain illnesses. Some of you may be struggling with health issues too. Or they may be other circumstances that cause concern, anxiety and maybe even fear. Perhaps you pray to be delivered from your trial or circumstances, but day after day nothing changes. In fact, things may even get worse.

Beloved, hang in there!

Remember that our ultimate Hope is in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else. The song “My Hope is in You” sung by Aaron Shust often runs through my mind, especially when I’m struggling with life in my little corner of the world. This section of the lyrics always soothes me:

I will wait on You
You are my refuge
I will wait on You
You are my refuge

My hope is in You, Lord, all the day long
I won’t be shaken by drought or storm
My hope is in You, Lord
All the day long I won’t be shaken by drought or storm

As you listen to this song, ponder the words of David as he sang his trust and hope in God:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

—Psalm 62:5-8

 
Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins

 If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

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Hindu Jat people of India #InternetSaathi (CMI Reblog)

First published at Cataclysm Missions International (CMI) on February 20, 2016  

By Anna Popescu

Please visit CMI to see how you can become part of a team
to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world!

Hindu Jat people of India #InternetSaathi

InternetSaathi-CellPhone

The Jat people of India live primarily as farmers and mobile pastoralists¹ (nomadic herdsman), raising livestock. Their primary language is Hindi. There are an estimated 33 Million Jats, most of them living in northwestern India.

Overall, the Jats have a very good self image.”Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever,” is a well known Jat proverb. They are brave, hardworking people who possess both the desire and ability to rule. It has been said that no Jat wants to be ruled. Rather, he desires to have power over a group, if not over an area.²

The Jat people living in India are Hindus who follow the traditional practices of worshiping all Hindu gods and goddesses, and as farmers, most of them touch “mother earth” when they get up in the morning. They also pray to the sun god Surya when they are plowing their fields. The Hindu Jats are only 0.03% Christian and 99.92% Hindu. The remaining are listed under, “Other.”

In 2015, the Hindu Jat women were introduced to the Internet through the use of Internet cycle carts which are ridden from town to town in rural India. An article in the July 4, 2015 issue of The Hindu daily newspaper described it this way:

In a significant initiative aimed at bridging the technology gender divide, Tata Trusts have tied up with Google to launch ‘Internet Saathi’. The joint initiative announced today aims at empowering women in rural India with the power of the Internet so they may benefit from it in their daily lives. The initiative will provide basic training on the usage and benefits of Internet for women through specially designed Internet cycle carts that will visit villages to provide easy access to women.³

The photo at this link shows some of the Hindu women clustered around one of the Internet cycle carts.

SEE PHOTO BY CLICKING HERE

Hindu women are the keepers of their homes. They are very busy and do not have the extra time to take formal classes on how to use the Internet, plus cultural and social issues exist that may prohibit it. These Internet cycle carts come right into their villages where the women can take advantage of this mobile learning center without a negative impact on their daily chores and responsibilities.

The internet Cart would be available in the village for a minimum of two days every week for over a period of four to six months. Once the cart has completed the training in a cluster of three villages, it will be moved to the adjoining cluster for completion of a similar cycle.³

Teaching the Hindu Jat women how to use the Internet could be a major step in reaching out to them with the Gospel. Different portions of the Bible have been brought there through the years by missionaries, but if they are Internet enabled, they will soon be capable of reading or listening to the Bible online.

Right now there is an audio version of the New Testament available for them, plus audio versions of Bible teachings, Hindi Bible stories, talking Bibles, and the Jesus Film Project.

There is also a video version of the Jesus Film Project, as well as at least a dozen other videos, including Creation to Christ, God’s Story, and The Story of Jesus for Children.

All of the resources I’ve listed above can be accessed in the Resources section of the Jat (Hindu traditions) in India page at the Joshua Project site.


¹ http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Jat.aspx

² http://joshuaproject.net/people_groups/12329/IN

³ http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/taking-internet-to-rural-women/article7383842.ece

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The Seven “I AM” Statements in John

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

The Seven “I AM”
Statements in John

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
[Part 2 of 2 in the series
Summarizing John’s Gospel]

Recently I completely re-vamped a study I had originally written in 2003, entitled “The Seven Miracles In John.”  In it I showed how John selected these seven miracles specifically for their ability to help us believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be, and that by believing we might have eternal life.

In addition to these seven miracles John’s gospel contains seven “I am” statements.  Their focus is on what happens after we become believers.  You can call them part 2 of John’s underlying message to the Church.   In this study, we’ll  look at these seven “I am” statements to see what they’ll tell us.  Here’s the first one.

1. The Bread Of Life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

Jesus had recently fed the 5000.  Incredibly some were still asking for a miraculous sign to help them believe He was who He claimed to be. They brought up the manna their forefathers had eaten in the wilderness (Exodus 16:13-18), and that established the context for this statement.   I believe Jesus was saying the manna was meant to be a model of the Messiah. Whoever partakes of Him will never again know spiritual hunger. Like the manna, every one who seeks Him will find Him (Matt. 7:7-8), but each of us has to find Him for ourselves. No one else can receive Him for us, nor can we receive Him for anyone else. We all get an amount sufficient for our salvation. No one is lacking, none of Him is wasted.

As for our thirst, remember how Jesus told the woman at the well that the water He offered would cure her thirst forever.

Read the rest here.

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The Seven Miracles in John

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

The Seven Miracles in John

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
[Part 1 of 2 in the series
Summarizing John’s Gospel]

In the past I’ve explained the need for 4 Gospels and the tremendous increase in understanding we can gain by comparing events from the different perspectives of each (read The Four Faces of Jesus). In this study we’ll  focus on the unique character of  John’s Gospel.

Due to his extensive use of symbolism John’s Gospel, written to the church, can be the most intriguing.  Everything he recorded in his gospel actually happened, but he arranged and described them in such a way as to convey additional truth beyond the obvious point of his narrative. Sometimes he even rearranged the order of events to underscore emphasize this additional truth.  John 2 is a good example of this. He placed the cleansing of the Temple right after the wedding at Cana to illustrate the point that the Lord came to create an intimate personal relationship with His church (as in a marriage), not to fix a broken religion.

The focus of John’s gospel is the Lord’s Judean ministry and really only the last part of that.  He devoted most of 9 chapters (John 12-20) to the Lord’s last week and used 1/3 of the gospel’s 879 verses to describe His last 24 hours. The first 11 chapters define the Lord’s ministry through John’s selective use of 7 miracles, and we’ll use them to show how John’s Gospel contains more than meets the eye.

Miracle 1, Water Into Wine (John 2:1-11)

This one is misunderstood by most and yet results in the disciples putting their faith in the Lord. (This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed His Glory and the disciples put their faith in HimJohn 2:11). It seems so insignificant when compared the opening miracles in the other gospels, which involved either casting out demons or curing leprosy.

Read the rest here.

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Happy Valentine’s Day 2016

I’ve published this here before because I believe it is so appropriate for a day that’s all about love. But I decided that starting this year I will share it here every Valentine’s Day.

The other day I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day and how it’s supposed to be all about love. 1 John 4:19 immediately came to mind, and I knew this was to be my message about  love … God’s immense love … for us.

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The Dimensions of God’s Love

We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19

We have all been told how much God loves us. That fact is unquestionable, especially as we look around and see the evidence of His love in all of His creation. God’s love for us can be described as multi-dimensional, so let’s look at the different ways God loves us—the Breadth, Depth, Height and Length of His love—by examining the universe He created.

Breadth

When a man and a woman get married, they usually exchange wedding bands. If you look closely at a wedding band, you cannot see where it begins or where it ends. This circle of metal is therefore used as a symbol of unending love between husband and wife. In the same way, a circle represents eternity.

That is how I think of God’s all-encompassing love for us. I visualize the circle that His arms form to surround the earth. This thought both amazes and comforts me. I am amazed because it shows how big God is. I can’t imagine any human who can hug the whole world. I am also comforted because I enjoy being hugged. But the true illustration of the breadth of God’s love is found in Scripture: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), —Ephesians 2:4-5

God loved us “even when we were dead in trespasses.” What a truly astonishing thing!

Eternity is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God has it all under control. He loves us so much that He can’t stand the thought of being apart from us, so He has provided us with a way to spend eternity with Him:

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For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
—John 3:16

The breadth of God’s love for us is that huge. He made sure that we have a way to be with Him forever—in other words, for eternity. Trying to figure out what eternity could be like is the same as trying to count all the stars in the sky. It is impossible!

I like to imagine what it will be like to spend the rest of eternity with God, but I’m sure my limited picture of heaven falls far short of the truth. All I know for sure is that: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:12-13

Depth

The Grand Canyon ranges in height from 9,000 feet at the North Rim all the way down to 2,400 feet at the Colorado River. Those of us here in the Southwest know that there are no easy ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In fact, portions of the Colorado River are barely visible from above because of the depth of the canyon. Now that’s what I call deep, but it is still measurable.

We read in Romans 5:8 that …God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The love God has for us is so deep that it is immeasurable. It is impossible for me to imagine something that cannot be measured. Everything that surrounds us can somehow be measured, whether by weight or volume. But not God’s love. It is bottomless and keeps going on and on to infinity. Even though we don’t deserve any of it, He loves us that much anyway.

We hear a lot these days about “unconditional love.” The truth is that the only true, unconditional love we will ever receive is from God, Who loves us with a pure love found nowhere else. How better to explain God’s love for us in spite of all our sins and shortcomings? The fact that God loves me in spite of myself is the ultimate proof of the depth of His love.

Height

Have you read about those who have succeeded in climbing Mount Everest? This 29,035-foot mountain range is the highest in the world and the most difficult to climb. There are many people who attempt this climb more than once in the hopes of finally being able to complete the challenge of making it to the summit.

I cannot imagine being at a point 29,035 feet above sea level. That is so high that one’s breathing becomes quite labored and therefore requires extra oxygen. But that is still not as high as the heavens. In Ephesians, Paul gives us a taste of what it will be like when we’re in heaven: and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,. —Ephesians 2:6

There is no way we cn ever understand the height of such “heavenly realms.”

I love knowing that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be up in heaven with God forever, seated with Him and serving Him in all His honor and glory. Even though we’ll be higher than we’ve ever been, we will not suffer the usual effects of high altitude such as headaches, nosebleeds or labored breathing. God has made sure of that. I believe that heaven will be the most comfortable place ever!

If then you were raised with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
—Colossians 3:1-3

Length

It is estimated that right now the universe is at least 46 billion light years in radius. My puny human mind cannot comprehend such a measurement. Look up at the billions of stars in the night sky and then try to understand the lengths to which God will go for us. He could have designed just an adequate place for us to live, but did He? No. He chose to give us a wonderful universe filled with beautiful planets and stars. It stretches on and on, just like His immense love for us.

The daytime sky and the night sky are the same, yet very different. During the day we cannot see the stars because of the light of the sun. At night, the stars and moon illuminate the dark sky. When we are in heaven, things will be greatly changed.

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There shall be no night there:
They need no lamp nor light of the sun
for the Lord God gives them light.
And they shall reign forever and ever.
—Revelation 22:5

No more night? Really? What will that be like? And imagine not needing a lamp to read a book.

Being part of such an exciting eternity with God requires only this:

  • recognize that we are sinners and be truly sorry for our sins
  • believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior
  • acknowledge that He died on the cross at Calvary and that His death paid the penalty for our sins
  • and trust that He rose from the dead on our behalf so that we might live forever with Him—and all because of the length of God’s love for us.

Paul related this aspect to Timothy:

However, for this reason I obtained mercy,
that in me first Jesus Christ might show
all longsuffering, as a pattern to those
who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
—1 Timothy 1:16

The definition of longsuffering is: suffering for a long time without complaining ; very patient during difficult times. I need this reminder because even though I so often lose patience with the things and people in my life—and with myself—God never loses patience with me. His longsuffering patience is eternal!

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:17

Beloved, on yet another Valentine’s Day I am so glad we have a God Who shows His awesome and immense love for us in so many ways, in spite of our sinful selves!

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Sovereign Encounter

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

Sovereign Encounter

By Patricia Knight

It was a clear, cool, moonlit evening as I walked the pine needle strewn path toward the cabin in the woods. With each step I could detect the crunchy snap of exploding dry pine cones beneath my feet, the only distraction that pierced the quiet serenity of the evening. A full moon provided the illumination necessary to reveal the tranquil fresh water lake, a picturesque scene poking through the black silhouetted pine branches at twilight.

A thick plume of smoke emanated from the massive fieldstone chimney. Without a breeze on this calm evening, the smoke lingered in a vertical spiral, suspended high above the cabin roof, producing a pungent wood smoke permeating the surroundings.

I climbed the few steps to enter the screened-in porch, speckled with casual rocking chairs. In the silence I could nearly hear the relaxed conversations that had occurred in that intimate space over the span of many decades. A simple welcome sign replaced a lock on the front door. My tentative knocks resounded raucous in the silence of the night.

Upon entering the log cabin, I was greeted by rustic ambiance. A lively crackling fire filled the imposing fieldstone fireplace on the opposite wall. Fingers of heat reached out to entwine my cool body with penetrating warmth. Comfortable furniture encircled the fireplace, pieces obviously constructed of native materials, perhaps obtained from a nearby cedar swamp. Other furniture pieces were upholstered leather, a bulky style that engulfed a person who sat therein. Abundant blanket throws and casual decorative pillows scattered around the living space produced an emphasis of pleasant repose; the interior effused cheer and relaxation.

Once my eyes adjusted to the soft glowing lights, I viewed the form of someone snuggled into a high backed chair. As I spoke softly to avoid shattering the precious silence, perforated only by the sizzling of the fireplace logs, He arose to greet me. Though I had never met Him in the flesh, once we established eye contact, I readily identified the mysterious host as Jesus Christ, my sovereign Savior. Our glances locked in mutual acknowledgement. When I responded to His gesture to collapse in a chair close to Him, we conversed effortlessly, the manner in which best friends banter. Jesus had never been far away, for His main residence is my heart. This rare, personal encounter in a remote location afforded us an occasion of undisturbed fellowship.

There were no uncomfortable introductions or interludes communicated in our dialogue, only the magnetic affection of my Lord’s true character. I was in the presence of the Creator and sustainer of the universe, the Prince of Peace, and the Savior of my soul. Generously, Jesus was also my friend.

“You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). Jesus takes His friends into His confidence, just as He unconditionally welcomed my presence this evening. Interacting with Jesus in the tranquil atmosphere reinforced His authority and adoration; purity and perfection; glory and grace.

The minute Jesus uttered my name, my inner soul responded with excitement. Joy coursed through my thoughts and words. As He grasped my hands in His, I could easily detect the still-prominent scars on His palms, created from His heinous crucifixion two millenniums ago, a poignant reminder of His love and sacrifice willingly offered me, opening the way to boldly and confidently communicate with Him at any time.

Jesus was splendid and majestic, the King of kings who fully understood my human weaknesses. He verbally lavished me with love and grace, instructing me to continually grow in faith. Jesus reassured me of His intense interest in my development as His ardent follower, urging me to keep all of His commandments, and explaining that the more I love Him, the more my love will overflow for others.

He reminded me to share my interests and goals with Him, obediently depending upon His perfect plans and precise timing for answers to my prayers. He assured me that with every morsel of trust I place in Him, my Savior, I shall grow closer to Him.

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“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8, KJV).

As I evolve closer to Jesus in fellowship, He challenges me to remember, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17). I didn’t want our visit to end in the idyllic environment engulfed by peace and shared affection. Exuberance and hope produced from being in Christ’s immediate presence renewed my body and soul.

I chose the remote cabin in the woods as the perfect retreat from the stresses of daily life. Psychologists agree about the simple act of projecting one’s thoughts into a familiar, peaceful scene in order to lessen mental burdens.

At first consideration, it would seem my vivid imagination had clicked into overdrive. The truth is, God mentally transported me to the cabin in response to my earnest request: for weeks I’d attempted Scripture memorization, but the meaning of one particular verse eluded my full understanding. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Repeatedly I had asked God to reveal the meaning of what seemed to be an odd expression in that verse.

As a result of my recent sovereign encounter, I now have a much greater understanding of the teachings in the verse I was struggling to comprehend. Once I physically dwelled in the presence of Jesus’ shelter, rest resulted from the overwhelmingly serene shadow that He cast across my life, reinforcing my trust in Him as the rock foundation of my life.

God desires that we seek knowledge of every teaching in His Word. Granted, His method of revealing truths to me for memorization purposes were unusual, but I must not limit my heavenly Father’s communication to my earthly expectations. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

It is impossible to literally worship Jesus at His side until we live with Him in heaven permanently one day. On earth He graciously permits us the mechanism of prayer. As we talk comfortably with our Lord, we are mentally and spiritually transferred to any number of beautiful, tranquil vicinities that appeal to us individually. The cabin scene is one of unsurpassed luxury for me. Where will you go for shelter and rest to meet with your Lord? It could be as familiar as your back yard or as reminiscent as a childhood memory. The most important factors in abiding with Jesus remain our willingness and obedience to pray, connecting us to our Lord anytime, anywhere.

“Jesus told his disciples … that they should pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). As we constantly share details of our lives with Jesus, we need withhold nothing from our trustworthy Lord and Friend. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

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Declare His glory, as you attribute to Him the splendor and majesty He deserves. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (2 Chronicles 16:11).

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Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales || Spoken Word

I am including this excellent video by Jefferson Bethke to my “The Marriage Triangle” tab. Listen as he vocalizes his poem, “Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales.” This is my favorite section:

So read Ephesians 5 whether husband or wife,
wife honor your husbands, husbands give up your life.

Just like Jesus gave Himself up for His bride the church,
So men lead by serving, by putting her first.

So die to self put your flesh on a life sentence,
Because you don’t fall out of love, as much as you fall out of Repentance.

Sex. Marriage, & Fairytales

By Jefferson Bethke

If you cannot view the video for any reason, go here to read the entire “Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales” lyrics.

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