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God as our Father

A Word Picture of What a Good Dad Is Like

The sixth word picture is God as our father and we as his children.

Although not everyone had a good biological father—in fact all human fathers make mistakes in raising their children—our spiritual father, God, is without fault, raising us out of perfect love and without error.

With God as our spiritual father, that is our father in heaven, we see him as being wise, loving, disciplining, and patient. Also, as our father there is the hope of us one day receiving an inheritance from him.

For us as God’s children, we are loved, cared for, given generous gifts, and protected. We are also heirs, looking forward to an inheritance that we will one day receive from him—eternal life for all who follow him.

Lastly, just as adult children have the potential for friendship with their earthly parents, we too, are poised to become a friend with our heavenly parent, God.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 7-9 and today’s post is on 2 Samuel 7:14.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

3 Images to Explain God as Trinity

The Great Three in One: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Most Christians comprehend God as Trinity, a singular entity existing as three persons: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. This is confusing, but recall that Jesus says, “the Father and me are one” (John 10:30). Another time Jesus tells his disciples to baptize people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Though the Bible never uses the word Trinity, it connects Father, Son, and Spirit.

There are two common illustrations that explain God as Trinity.

Each part of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is interconnected, essential, and equal. Click To Tweet

God as Water

Compare God to water. Water exists in three forms: ice, liquid, and vapor. Each part is still water, albeit a different manifestation of it. Each form has unique characteristics but is still the same compound. So it is with the triune God: three forms; one God.

God as an Egg

The second image is that the three-in-one God is like an egg. An egg has three principal parts: the shell, the white, and the yolk. These parts make up an egg. In the same way, a singular God exists as three parts.

God as a Tripod

Here’s a third image for consideration: Consider God as a tripod. A tripod has three legs. Each of the three legs are part of the tripod. Each leg connects to the tripod. And each leg is essential for the tripod to work. Remove one leg and the tripod falls over. For a tripod to work properly, each leg must be equal. No one leg is more important, and no one leg is insignificant.

So it is with God as a tripod. We see each leg—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—interconnected, essential, and equal. Remove one and our perception of God becomes incomplete. Overemphasize one and our view of God becomes unbalanced. There may be three parts (three legs), but it is still one God (the tripod). The tripod reveals God who is a three-in-one Trinity.

God as Trinity

May we recognize each part of the godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—to inform our connection with God. Consider how understanding God as Trinity can affect our faith.

In my next post I’ll cover how God’s trinitarian nature can inform our prayers.

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

God’s Guardrails Are to Benefit Us and Not Limit Us

Running Barefoot in the Snow

In my book Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide, I tell the story of our children running barefoot in the snow. Here’s what happened.

One day I painfully realized that whenever our children asked for anything, the default answer of my wife and me was no. It mattered not how legitimate their request was; we dismissed it.

Though we would sometimes relent and grant permission, the negotiation that occurred between their question and a positive response was time-consuming and unneeded.

I gathered our two children and apologized for my error. I pledged that going forward I would tell them yes every time I could. I would only say no to keep them safe, keep them healthy, and teach them what was right.

I doubt they believed me. A couple days later they tested my promise. “Dad, can we go outside and run around barefoot in the snow?”

“Yes!”

Incredulous, they kicked off their shoes and socks. They donned their winter coats, hats, and gloves. With unbridled enthusiasm, they dashed outside.

Seconds later they returned exhilarated, overflowing with glee, and with cold feet. It was a memorable experience for all three of us. Going forward, our children heard me say yes much more often.

How Our Heavenly Father Treats Us

I suspect God is a lot like this. He tells us yes whenever he can. The only time he says no is to keep us safe, keep us healthy, and teach us what is right. He tells us no for our own good. It’s how he shows his love for us. And I try to appreciate that, even if it’s not what I want to hear.

But many people have the opposite perspective. They perceive God as mean, restrictive, and grumpy, saying no to all the things they want to do. They think he limits their life and keeps them from having any fun. They push against his restrictions, even though these are for their own good.

God gives us instructions through Scripture and the Holy Spirit. We’ll do well to obey what he says. If we don’t, we risk pursuing what is unsafe, unhealthy, and wrong. And for that, we’ll suffer with the consequences.

Guardrails for Our Life

I view this as his loving attempt to put guardrails on our life, which keep us from plunging over the cliff to our doom. Guardrails keep us on the road and direct us forward.

Yes, we can do whatever we want, and he won’t love us any less. Regardless of our actions—or inactions—our eternal standing with him remains secure.

But, oh, what heartache we endure when we ignore the loving guardrails he has erected for us on our journey through life and elect to do things our own way.

God’s instructions to us are like guardrails, which are to benefit us and not limit us. Click To Tweet

We don’t need to follow the rules he gives us to get his attention or earn our salvation. We can go through life however we please. But we’re so much better off when we do things his way and not our own.

God intends for his rules to keep us safe, keep us healthy, and teach us what is right—not to limit us or be mean.

God sometimes says no because he loves us. May we embrace his directives, follow them, and thank him for them.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

The source of life, truth, and the way to Father God is through Jesus

The disciple Thomas wants to go where Jesus will go but doesn’t know how to proceed. He seeks clarification. Jesus gives him a five part answer, which another disciple John records for us.

Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6, NIV).

I Am

In the Old Testament God the Father effectively tells Moses to think of him as “I am.” When Jesus repeats this phrase in his concise answer we are reminded that Jesus also exists as God, in the form of God the Son.

The Way

Jesus is the path to God the Father. Jesus points us in the right direction and provides the means for us to get there.

The Truth

Jesus personifies truth. He exemplifies truth, proclaims truth, and models truth. We can rely on the words of Jesus as true.

The Life

Not only does Jesus give us life, he is life. As taking part in creation, he emerges as one with life eternal.

As God the Son, Jesus provides us with the path to God the Father. Click To Tweet

The Door to Father God

The first four parts of Jesus’s answer, culminate in his conclusion: it is through him that we are reconciled with God the Father.

Jesus is the way. He provides all that we need for our journey in this life and into the next.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is John 13-15, and today’s post is on John 14:5-6.]

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Holy Trinity: The Great Three in One

3 Illustrations of the Trinity

A commonality among most who call themselves Christian is the understanding of God as Trinity—the Holy Trinity— that is, a singular entity existing as three persons: Father, Son (Jesus), and Spirit. That is confusing, but recall that Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” (John 10:30).

Two common illustrations explain God as Trinity:

God Is Like Water

Water exists in three forms: ice, liquid, and vapor.

Each form is still water, albeit a different manifestation of it. Each form has different characteristics, but is still the same compound. So it is with the triune God: three forms, but one God.

God Is Like an Egg

God has also been likened to an egg.

An egg is composed of three main parts: the shell, the white, and the yolk. Collectively, they are an egg. In like manner, a singular God exists as three parts.

God Is Like a Tripod

I’d like to suggest a third image for consideration.

A tripod has three legs. Each leg is part of the tripod; each leg is connected to the tripod; and each leg is essential for the tripod to work.

Remove one leg and the tripod ceases to function. Also, each leg of the tripod is equal; no one leg is more important and no one leg is insignificant.

The Holy Trinity

So it is with God as a tripod. Each leg—Father, Son (Jesus), and Spirit—is connected, essential, and equal. Remove one and our perception of God becomes incomplete. Overemphasize one and our understanding of God gets out of balance.

There may be three parts (legs), but it is still one God (the tripod). The tripod reveals God as Trinity.

May we worship God as a Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God is the Great I Am

Characteristics of God

In the Bible, Jesus makes several declarations of who he is and his character. In the book of John alone, he says:

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).

I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).

I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7).

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1).

He also provided insight into his relationship with his Father and his followers:

I am in my Father” (John 14:20).

I am in you” (John 17:21).

I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32).

May these verses better inform our view of Jesus, what he does for us, and his relationship with Father God, the Great I Am.

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Does God Really Answer All Our Prayers?

We Can Believe That God Hears and Answers Our Requests

When you pray do you think God hears you? Does he answer your prayers? All of them? The Bible says so. Consider what Scripture teaches.

God Hears Our Prayers

First, we can have assurance that God does indeed hear our prayers.

John writes that we can be confident that God will hear everything we ask for, and we will receive it. The only requirement is that we must align our requests with his will (1 John 5:14-15).

The challenge for us then is to determine his perspective and pray according to his will. But this may not be as hard as what we think. Paul writes that we already have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Jesus Says God Answers Our Prayers

Jesus teaches that we can ask whatever we wish, and he will do it for us. There is, of course, the requirement that we maintain our focus on him and his word (John 15:7). But aside from that, he’ll do whatever we request.

Another time Jesus teaches that we can ask for anything in prayer. If we believe that we have received it, then we will (Mark 11:24).

Parents Give Their Children Good Gifts

These verses seem to say, that given some basic requirements, God does hear our prayers and will answer them. Yet, there are times when I haven’t received what I asked for, and other times he seemed to ignore my pleas. Have you ever felt that way?

The problem, however, isn’t that God didn’t answer our prayers. It’s that he didn’t answer them the way we wanted him to.

Consider a child asking their parents for something. A loving parent will do whatever they can to respond to the child’s requests. Yet a wise parent will sometimes say no because it’s not in their child’s best interest.

For example, if a child wanted a steady diet of candy, we would say no, instead providing a well-balanced and nutritious meal. Giving our kids junk food—even when it’s what they ask for—isn’t good for them. So we give them what’s best for them, even if that’s not what they want (Matthew 7:11 and Luke 11:13).

God does hear and will answer our prayers. Click To Tweet

God Provides What’s in Our Best Interest

Parents, however, sometimes make mistakes when it comes to raising their kids. God, however, doesn’t. He loves us fully and perfectly. As our loving Heavenly Father, he gives us exactly what we need, when we need it, to accomplish the best possible outcome for our lives.

We can be confident in him to do that. God does hear and will answer our prayers. Though the answer may not always be what we want, it’s always what’s best.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Six Eras in the Bible

Though God Doesn’t Change, but the Way He Relates to Us Has

We divide the Bible in two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament focuses on the relationship of Father God to his people and looks forward to the coming Savior. The New Testament centers on Jesus and the work of his followers. Each testament has its own focus, and we must not lose sight of it.

To further enhance my understanding of Scripture, I look at the Bible in three parts, each one focusing on one aspect of the Trinity. God the Father is central throughout the Old Testament. God the Savior—Jesus—is central in the Gospels. God the Spirit takes center stage in the rest of the New Testament, Acts through Revelation. Jesus, of course, stands as the foundational part of the godhead that saves us and draws us into right relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We can break this down even more, however, to better guide us as we study Scripture and apply it to our daily lives.

In this regard, it helps to consider six eras in the Bible. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He never changes. (Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8) Yet the way he relates to his people does change throughout Scripture. We will do well to keep this in mind as we read and study the Bible, taking care to not take one passage from the past and misapply it to our situation today.

Consider these six eras in the Bible.

1. Paradise

God creates the world in which we live and places people in it. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. They walk with God in the cool of the evening. But they break the one rule he gave them. They eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

So that they don’t also eat from the tree of life, and live forever in their sin, God forces them out of this idyllic paradise.

This takes place in Genesis 1–3 and moves us into the second of six eras in the Bible.

2. No Law

Though most people think of the Old Testament’s focus as being on God’s law, this doesn’t occur yet, not until the third era. The second era is what happens after Adam and Eve leave the garden and prior to God giving the Law to Moses.

During this time, God continues to speak to his people (Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others). Throughout this time, God is patient. He does not hold people accountable for their sins. This is because there are no laws to let the people know that they are doing wrong (Romans 5:13).

During this era, God wipes out the depravity of the people he created by killing most all of them through a flood. Only Noah and his family survive. It’s creation 2.0, a restart of humanity, a do over. Then God calls Abraham and later Moses.

God tells his people he wants them to become a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), but the people are afraid of God and don’t want him to talk to them. They request that Moses stand in for them. This ends the second of six eras in the Bible, covering Genesis 3 through Exodus 18.

3. The Law

Then God gives the people his laws and shares his expectations. This begins the third era, which covers the rest of the Old Testament of the Bible, Exodus 19 through Malachi.

This era has three phases, but they all fall under Old Testament law. In the first phase God rules as their sovereign Lord, and judges lead the people from time to time. The people, however, go through cycles of following God—usually under various judges—and turn away from him after each judge dies.

For the second phase under the law, the people ask for a king, which effectively rejects God as their king. He starts with Saul. David then replaces Saul, and God establishes David’s line forever, from whom the Messiah will come. In this phase, kings rule instead of God. Most do so badly, and the people rebel against their Lord. Most of the prophets do their work during this era.

For the third phase under the era of the law, God’s people are conquered and deported. They have no ruler, and they have no nation. Though some eventually return to the promised land, they subsist without leadership, except for some of the latter prophets. The people wait for the coming Savior to rescue them. This is the third of the six eras in the Bible.

The New Testament is critical to guide our behavior as Jesus’s church. Click To Tweet

4. Jesus

Jesus comes to earth, calls people to follow him, and dies as the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sacrifices. But he overcomes death, proving his power to serve as the once-and-for-all sacrifice. This is the fourth of six eras in the Bible and is the pivotal point around which all Scripture—and all humanity—revolves. The four biographies of Jesus cover this: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

5. The Church

After giving his followers final instructions, resurrected Jesus returns to heaven. The Holy Spirit arrives to guide the church and remind them of Jesus. Acts through to Revelation 3 cover this fifth era of the Bible. We currently live in this era today, which is why the New Testament is critical to guide our actions as Jesus’s church. And the Old Testament supports this because it looks forward to this era.

Yet to conclude the six eras in the Bible, there is one era remaining, a time we anticipate for our future.

6. A New Heaven and New Earth

Starting in Revelation 4 we read of John’s vision of the future. Though the details confuse most and trip up many, the main point is that there will be an epic spiritual battle between good and evil. God wins. Satan is defeated.

After this we will see a new heaven and a new earth. This is paradise restored. Everyone who follows Jesus will spend eternity with him there.

This is the sixth era of the Bible and the one we anticipate as Jesus’s disciples.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Third Heaven

Paul Spent Time with God in the Spiritual Realm and So Can We

In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth he makes a cryptic statement about going to the third heaven. He doesn’t know if it’s an out of body experience or not (2 Corinthians 12:2).

This is the only verse in the Bible that uses the phrase third heaven. What does it mean? By looking at other uses of heaven in the Bible, we find three applications.

  1. Sometimes heaven refers to the sky. This is the first use of heaven.
  2. Other times heaven refers to the sun, moon, and stars. This is the second use of heaven.
  3. Another instance refers to God’s dwelling place. This is the third use of heaven.

This means that Paul went to heaven for a time—whether in body or in spirit, he’s not sure—and then returned to earth. It seems too fantastic to be true.

I’ve not told this to too many people, but I believe I’ve also been to the third heaven. Several times. Like Paul I’m not sure if this was in my body or out of it. Though a few times I did have a physical form when I was there.

At first, I only had a fleeting awareness of my presence in heaven before returning to earth. Sometimes I’d bow at the foot of Father God’s throne, stretching out my hand to touch his foot in reverence. Occasionally I’d succeed, but usually my straining to reach the Almighty fell just a bit short.

Heaven will be glorious, euphoric, and so much more—too wonderful to describe or comprehend. Click To Tweet

After that I had a couple of longer experiences in the third heaven. I can’t describe them other than to say they were glorious and euphoric. I didn’t want to leave. These occurred when I was fasting and praying.

Then one day—again while fasting and praying—I desired to visit heaven, but God said no. He explained that if he allowed me to return, I’d want to spend too much time there, which would detract from what he wants me to do here on earth. I get that. He was right, of course.

One day—when my work here is done—I will return to heaven and stay there forever. It will be glorious, euphoric, and so much more—too wonderful to describe or comprehend.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Pray to the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Praying to the Godhead

Last week we looked at God as Trinity and used the image of a tripod to illustrate how one God can exist in three parts: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now we’ll build upon that understanding and use it to inform us so that we can better pray to the Trinity.

When you pray, who do you pray to? Many people address their prayers to God. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s a bit impersonal and keeps him at a distance. God doesn’t want that, and we shouldn’t either. God desires that we have an intimate relationship with him. This should be our intent as well. One way to do this is to stop addressing our prayers to God and start talking to him using his Trinitarian parts: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is, our Creator, our Savior, and our Advocate.

To inform us as we move forward, consider the characteristics of each part of the godhead.

Pray to the Trinity When We Offer Thanks and Praise

God deserves our adoration and are thankful hearts. Out of gratitude for what he’s done for us, is doing for us, and will do for us we should praise and thank him. To help make this come alive we can address our appreciation, as appropriate, to the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.

For example, we can praise the Father for creating us (knowing that his Son took part as well, John 1:1-3). We can thank Jesus for saving us. We can thank the Holy Spirit for living in us and guiding us.

Likewise, we can praise Father God for his blessings and provisions. We can praise Savior God for his example, words, and sacrifice to save us. We can praise Holy Spirit God for living in us and guiding us.

Pray to the Trinity When We Make Our Requests

We can also use this idea of praying to the Trinity to inform our petitions. For example, James writes that if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God (James 1:5). This is correct. But which part of the godhead can best grant this request? The Holy Spirit. So ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom.

If we seek a blessing, who might we ask? Go to God the Father. Ask the Father for his provisions, and he will provide.

If we desire to live a more holy life—not to earn God’s attention but as an act of worship—we might ask this of Jesus, since his life serves as an example for us to follow.

In Whose Name Should We Pray?

Jesus tells us we are to set our requests before him, asking in his name (John 14:13-14). Some Christian traditions follow this by adding a phrase to the end of their prayers: “in Jesus’s name we pray, amen.” Of course, Jesus also tells us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:6). Which is it? Both.

In addition, the Holy Spirit can help us when we pray. He will intercede for us (Romans 8:26-27). Should we then pray in his name? How about all three? This may be why other Christian traditions pray “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Enjoy Freedom as We Pray

This idea that we can pray to the Trinity is to free us so that we can move into a closer and more meaningful relationship with God. In doing so we should hold loosely our desire to identify the correct part of God to pray to. If we ask Jesus for something that more appropriately should go to the Father, it’s not a problem. They are one (John 17:22).

Praying to one is praying to all three. If we get the name wrong, it’s not a big deal.

When we pray to the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we draw ourselves to God in greater intimacy. Click To Tweet

This idea that we can pray to the Trinity is not a command to follow but one option to enhance our prayers. As we pray to the Trinity, we can breathe life into our prayers if our words mired stuck in a rut. In the same way, this can also draw us into a closer relationship with God if he seems distant. Remember, it’s not him who’s far away from us but we who are far away from him.

When we pray to the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we draw ourselves to God in greater intimacy. Isn’t this the purpose of prayer?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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