WHO DETERMINES WHAT IS APPROPRIATE CHRISTIAN FICTION? by Parker J. Cole

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Parker J. Cole

I have learned a lot since I began hosting my show a year ago. The opportunity to speak to dozens of Christian writers from all faith walks has been an enriching and rewarding experience. A plethora of ideas loom in the minds of these great writers and their execution of their craft in the form of various stories remains an aspect of writing I have come to appreciate more and more.

Yet, in my experience, I have come against backlash from Christian authors and readers alike. The backlash stems from preconceived answers to this question: “What is appropriate for Christian fiction?”

The answer varies based on who you talk to; which is part of the problem.

Everyone has a different idea of what is construed as appropriate Christian fiction. According to a website that contains some rules, the following are some guidelines. Please note that the rules below are for inspirational romance; however, I think this applies to other genres, as well.

“There should be no explicit sex in these stories, and a minimum of sensuality and sexual desire. Both humor and drama have a place in these books; foul language, swearing and scenes containing violence do not. Though the stories may take place in urban environments, hanging out in bar settings, drinking alcohol or becoming involved in sexual situations is not appropriate for Christian characters. …Though the heroine can be conflicted about being “cool” or finding her place in the contemporary secular world while maintaining her Christian values, her behavior cannot stray from acceptable Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) norms. The stories may not include alcohol consumption by Christian characters, dancing, card playing, gambling or games of chance (including raffles), explicit scatological terms, hero and heroine remaining overnight together alone, Halloween celebrations or magic or the mention of intimate body parts. Lying is also problematical in the CBA market and characters who are Christian should not lie or deceive others. Possibly there could be exceptional circumstances (matters of life and death), but this has to be okayed….”

As far as I know, Christians are not saints that do not just struggle with sin but they sin. It’s not as if they are sanctified people who experience sin on an occasional basis. This is part of the conflict within us. The apostle Paul stated it clearly in Romans 7:21-24: So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

The apostle Paul understood this conflict within us very well. He considered himself to be the chief of sinners. (1st Timothy 1:15) yet knew that grace was greater than sin (Romans 5:20).

Please understand that I am not saying Christians should engage in these behaviors. Not by any means. Yet, when it comes to writing our fictional stories, we should use characters that are real with real problems. Why, because Christians in the real world deal with these issues.

Recently in a discussion thread of one of my Facebook groups, a fellow colleague was contemplating utilizing a character, a teenager who had premarital sex and became pregnant. One author/reader made the statement they would not read the book if it has that type of character. When probed, the commentator stated they knew this happened in the real world. When they read a Christian book, they want to escape the world.
Understandable.

If books are just for entertainment, then yes. I can concur with their sentiment. Some readers prefer to escape from the real world. Yet, as a Christian author who writes Christian fiction, I would suggest that our books are a form of ministry. To reach the nonbeliever as well as the believer.

I have been told that my book, Many Strange Women, is too sensual. I’ve been told it’s not sensual enough. At the end of the day, I can’t win. There are sex scenes in one author’s book, who I spoke with. That author made it clear it was something that needed to be done. Whereas I cannot agree with this stance (after all, explaining the act is little more than just catering to the flesh, deliberately); the author did not tout the book as Christian fiction but fiction that has subtle Christian elements.

That opens up another can of worms, doesn’t it? Not to mention speculative fiction that deals with multiverses, werewolves, magic, vampires, ghosts, spiritual warfare, zombies, aliens, elves, fairies, and a host of things that don’t fit in what we consider ‘Christian’.

So, how should a reader and author answer the question, “What is appropriate for Christian fiction?”

For the writer I suggest this:

Pray about what you are going to write about. God answers your prayers and gives you the vision.
Determine who your audience is. Some Christians prefer certain types of book to others. If your work is sweet and inspirational, see what these readers are interested in and gear your work in a similar fashion
As a caveat to #2, at the same time, write the story that is in your heart. No one knows it better than you.

For the reader, I suggest this:

Understand that Christian writers come from all faith walks and experiences. Their works will reflect that.
Christian writers use various plot devices to reach a wider sect of people. Writing about zombies does not necessarily mean they believe in zombies.
Don’t be afraid to read a new Christian author’s work. After all, you may just find a new author’s work enjoyable! And what can be more appropriate than that?

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Gems from Pastor Jim by Jim Hughes

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Jim Hughes

Ps. 19:9b-11 The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to those who hear them; there is great reward for those who obey them.

Let’s think about this for a moment. The Psalmist is declaring that the laws of the Lord are fair, which would suggest that he personally found them to be so. As we discover all the laws God gave to His people, it would seem to be too much. There were so many of them and many of them required a lot from His people. Yet, the Psalmist is suggesting that none of them are unreasonable and unnecessary. God is not unreasonable or too demanding. It is possible to obey the Lord in all things. It’s just a matter of whether or not we have the heart to do it.

It is believed that King David wrote most of the Psalms. Remember, David was caught in the act of adultery and murder. He had personally disobeyed God’s laws. He knew the guilt and shame of his behavior. Yet, he was able to declare that God’s laws are true, fair, and more desirable than anything else on earth. Our personal behavior doesn’t invalidate the truth of God’s Word.

The laws of the Lord are more desirable than the finest gold on earth; they are sweeter than the best honey found on earth. Instead of looking at God’s Word as cumbersome and restrictive, we need to look at it as a wondrous gift from God. We need to be thankful that God loves us and has given us the way in which we can have fellowship with Him and find our way home to Him. The Word of God is given for our benefit and it is the best thing we will ever find on earth for our souls.

The laws of the Lord are a warning to us. They make it very clear what we must do in order to be found pleasing and acceptable to God and what it is like for us when we aren’t. God does not leave us confused about this. There is a huge price to pay when we ignore His Word and choose not to obey Him. We have no one to blame but ourselves when we suffer the consequences of our sins.

There is a great reward for those who choose to obey God. We are rewarded here with joy and peace that can only be found in Christ. We are rewarded with a clear understanding of who we are in Christ. We are rewarded with the knowledge that God is with us and will help us through whatever we face in life. And, the greatest reward of all is that we will be rewarded with eternal life with Him when we die.

C Through Marriage
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Up a Tree By Allison Kohn

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Allison Kohn
There was an old black bear rug hanging on the wall in the basement. When the children asked where it came from and why it was there the old folks said, “That’s the bear Rob killed with a 22”. Now even a child knows you can’t kill a bear with a 22”; but if the children begged long enough the old folks would finally tell them this story:
Rob was out hunting feline predators with his 22” rifle one day. He had killed a few dozen and was feeling pretty good when he heard a low growl and turned around to see a big black bear lumbering toward him.
Rob was tall and lanky and most of his muscle power was in his head so he turned around and ran as fast as he could. The bear ran fast too and soon rob could hear padded feet right on his heal, and feel the bears foul breath on the back of his neck. That’s when Rob exercised some of the muscle between his ears and climbed the nearest tree as fast as he could.
Bears climb trees too, but they can’t climb as fast as a skinny boy so Rob was a little ahead of the bear as they climbed the tree together.
The bear climbed and Rob climbed until there was nowhere else to climb. Not wanting to be the bear’s supper, rob took the butt of the 22” rifle and hit the bear as hard as he could between the eyes.
The bear lost his grip and his consciousness at the same time. Rob ran down the tree as fast as he could, put the barrel of the rifle between the bear’s eyes and pulled the trigger before the beast had a chance to wake up – even more determined to have a boy meal. Rob had done the impossible.
As a winner in the race “Can’t” and “Impossible” are two words that aren’t in your working vocabulary. Trials aren’t crosses to bear, but stepping stones to victory. You are responsible to God to master your environment; and equipped by your Creator, in that you reflect his image, for bringing biblical solutions to your problems. Each trial is a blessed opportunity to learn some strengthening truth about God – and take a step into your re-creation into the image of your Creator.
Put your hand firmly into the hand of your God and, in his strength, gladly accept the responsibility of mastering the events of your life by following the instructions laid out in the GPS to spiritual maturity and the abundant life – the Word of God.

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Character Interview With Jonathan of The Baron’s Ring by Mary C. Findley

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The Baron's Ring

Character interview with Jonathan of The Baron’s Ring

Q: What is your relationship to Prince Tristan of Parangor?

A: I came to the capital city to be a squire to the prince. I was supposed to help him learn swordplay and warcraft. However, he preferred books and study, while I became accomplished enough at what we were both supposed to be learning to be offered the

position of captain of the king’s guard.

Q: So Tristan was a weakling or a coward, in your opinion?

A: Not at all. He was a good man, with a real heart for serving the people of the kingdom, and the knowledge to do it well.

Q: But he wasn’t destined to be king, was he? Dunstan, his older brother, inherited the throne.

A: Dunstan! That drunken, illiterate bully! He is Tristan’s curse. I told him he should leave Parangor. It’s time he stopped trying to hide what a horrible King Dunstan will be. He certainly won’t change what Dunstan is.

Q: Where would Tristan go? What can he do? Doesn’t he have a responsibility to help his kingdom, especially if his brother will be a bad king?

A: There are two things Tristan will never succeed in doing – One is beat anyone in a swordfight, and the other is make his brother into a good king.

Q: It still sounds to me like Prince Tristan is weak. Otherwise he would overthrow his brother and take the throne himself. Lord Michnal, you were the advisor to the late king. What do you have to say about this?

A: It’s not as if Dunstan is a criminal. He hasn’t broken any laws. Tristan has no cause to do anything but, as he says, try to spare the people what he can. But I have also counseled him to leave. He is only torturing himself staying here.

Q: Gladring, you are Master of Horse. Prince Tristan spends a good deal of time at the stables. Have you been able to counsel him about how to save the kingdom?

A: I let him come and chop wood for the forge. I don’t know that I counsel him so much as let him blow off some steam and have time to think. I have given the bully Dunstan a hiding now and then, though. I wish it had helped make him a better man. Too much

his father’s favorite, that one is, and bully to boot.

Q: So the answer is that Prince Tristan should just leave the kingdom? Do any of you think he will? Jonathan? What say you?

A: As long as Tristan lives in Dunstan’s shadow and lets him beat and bully him and do all the real work of being king, he will never learn anything. But Tristan will never leave of his own will. His heart is too good and unselfish to abandon his people. God will have

to rip him away from Parangor somehow. Rip him away, and give him no chance to return. Because he will try to come back. God may have some lessons to teach Tristan. I hope he can learn them somewhere away from here.

The Baron’s Ring http://www.amazon.com/The-Barons-Ring-Mary-Findley-ebook/dp/B0040V4EYI

elkjerkyforthesoul.files.wordpress.com

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You Can Make A Difference by Natalie Buske Thomas

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Natalie Buske Thomas
In my heart of hearts I’ve always been an artist. I was also a hard worker and a student of Scripture. I won a Bible from my church when I was five years old for memorizing Psalm 23. I was an AWANA scholar and attended scholarship camp three years running. As a teen I attended Youth Congress in Washington, D.C. where a young Michael W. Smith performed. The theme was “You Can Make a Difference” and I came away from that conference believing that indeed, I could make a difference. What I hadn’t yet figured out was how.
The summer of the conference was the week of my 16th birthday. It was also the summer that my father was dying from cancer. He was just thirty-seven years old. My best friend’s church was sending youth to the conference in Washington, D.C. One of the youth had suddenly come down with something and his family wanted to donate his trip to anyone who could go. It was last minute, quite. My family didn’t have much money, but the conference was all paid for. Washington, D.C. was far from our home in Warsaw, Indiana. And yes, it meant spending my birthday away from home – a birthday that would have been nearly ignored if I had stayed home. Could I go? Please?
That conference changed my life. Our youth chaperone helped the girls plan a surprise birthday party for me. I have never forgotten how good that felt! Yes, I knew that the incentive for showing me such love and kindness was because they knew that my father was dying, and that made this experience all the more special. Most of them barely knew me, but they had compassion for a skinny young girl who was living through a season of sadness. When the ugliness of the world gets me down, I can remember my surprise 16th birthday limo ride, and my moonlit journey to the Lincoln Memorial, the cake in the hotel room, and the looks on the girls’ faces when they saw how delighted I was by the kind acts that they had performed for a girl they barely knew.
And yet, it would take over twenty-five years for me to begin to understand how I could “Make a Difference”. What difference could my writing make? There were already so many writers out there, and I was a nobody from nowhere. How could I make a difference with my art? Again, there were so many artists. What did I have to contribute that would make a difference?
I focused on making a difference as a wife and mother. I still wrote, worked, and challenged my brain, but how my artistic talent fit into God’s plan for me was as muddy as ever. Meanwhile, my kids were growing up. My son was now sixteen, the same age that I was when I attended the life-changing conference. And, wow, did he look a lot like my dad! And suddenly, it all came together. I knew what my purpose was. It was in front of me all along! I was to do as I had done naturally when I was a little girl – I was to write and do my art together! Why had I insisted that these were two separate careers?
My book “Grandpa Smiles” is about loss, and faith that the boy (my son) will see his grandpa (my dad) again one day. Every illustration is one of my original oil paintings. It is a healing and beautiful celebration of love that lives forever, and the hope that we’ll see our loved ones again one day soon. It is encouragement to meanwhile live our lives fully and joyfully. This book is a way that I can make a difference.
Grandpa Smiles
And you can make a difference too! Don’t worry if you haven’t yet found your purpose, have patience. Work hard at what you’ve been given to do. The answers will come to you at the right time. I want to wrap up with article with a thank you to all who work with young people. You never know when your influence will plant a seed that won’t fully blossom until twenty-five or more years have passed! And yet, the seed has been planted in a heart yearning for love, kindness, and encouragement.
Thriving in a Hateful World
Natalie Buske Thomas
Share Natalie’s art & watch her paint (free): http://www.nataliebuskethomas.com/paintings.html
About “Grandpa Smiles” paperback and eBook: http://www.nataliebuskethomas.com/GrandpaSmiles/
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CrossReads Book Blast: A Nation Under Judgment by Richard Capriola

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A Nation Under Judgment
By Richard Capriola

About the Book:

A Nation Under Judgment defines wisdom as “the ability to see things from God’s point of view.” It reviews our nations social polices, including hunger, poverty, the environment, marriage, homelessness as well as others, from a Scriptural point of view. It empowers readers to consider if our nation is moving away from being One Nation Under God.

LINK to PAPERBACK


Rick Photo JpegRichard Capriola spent many years as a hospital chaplain. He completed four years of Clinical Pastoral Education in preparation for becoming a chaplain. In addition to his pastoral care experience, he has served as a ministry outreach leader for a Midwestern church and has been a mental health counselor at both a regional crisis center and psychiatric hospital.

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This book blast is hosted by Crossreads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

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Words of Wisdom from Charles Haddon Spurgeon for July 14 Morning

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I am posting the Morning devotional for the current day from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals. If you would like to have your own copy of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals for your eBook reader click on the image:

For the Kindle

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotionals

Words of Wisdom from Charles Haddon Spurgeon for July 14 Morning

“If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” – Exodus 20:25

God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in him alone.

Many professors may take warning from this morning’s text as to the doctrines which they believe. There is among Christians far too much inclination to square and reconcile the truths of revelation; this is a form of irreverence and unbelief, let us strive against it, and receive truth as we find it; rejoicing that the doctrines of the Word are unhewn stones, and so are all the more fit to build an altar for the Lord.
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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Gems from Pastor Jim by Jim Hughes

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Jim Hughes

Ps. 19:9b-11 The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to those who hear them; there is great reward for those who obey them.

Let’s think about this for a moment. The Psalmist is declaring that the laws of the Lord are fair, which would suggest that he personally found them to be so. As we discover all the laws God gave to His people, it would seem to be too much. There were so many of them and many of them required a lot from His people. Yet, the Psalmist is suggesting that none of them are unreasonable and unnecessary. God is not unreasonable or too demanding. It is possible to obey the Lord in all things. It’s just a matter of whether or not we have the heart to do it.

It is believed that King David wrote most of the Psalms. Remember, David was caught in the act of adultery and murder. He had personally disobeyed God’s laws. He knew the guilt and shame of his behavior. Yet, he was able to declare that God’s laws are true, fair, and more desirable than anything else on earth. Our personal behavior doesn’t invalidate the truth of God’s Word.

The laws of the Lord are more desirable than the finest gold on earth; they are sweeter than the best honey found on earth. Instead of looking at God’s Word as cumbersome and restrictive, we need to look at it as a wondrous gift from God. We need to be thankful that God loves us and has given us the way in which we can have fellowship with Him and find our way home to Him. The Word of God is given for our benefit and it is the best thing we will ever find on earth for our souls.

The laws of the Lord are a warning to us. They make it very clear what we must do in order to be found pleasing and acceptable to God and what it is like for us when we aren’t. God does not leave us confused about this. There is a huge price to pay when we ignore His Word and choose not to obey Him. We have no one to blame but ourselves when we suffer the consequences of our sins.

There is a great reward for those who choose to obey God. We are rewarded here with joy and peace that can only be found in Christ. We are rewarded with a clear understanding of who we are in Christ. We are rewarded with the knowledge that God is with us and will help us through whatever we face in life. And, the greatest reward of all is that we will be rewarded with eternal life with Him when we die.

C Through Marriage
======================================================
This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Words of Wisdom from Charles Haddon Spurgeon for July 9 Morning

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I am posting the Morning devotional for the current day from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals. If you would like to have your own copy of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals for your eBook reader click on the image:

For the Kindle

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotionals

Words of Wisdom from Charles Haddon Spurgeon for July 9 Morning

“Forget not all His benefits.” – Psalm 103:2

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints, and to observe his goodness in delivering them, his mercy in pardoning them, and his faithfulness in keeping his covenant with them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to remark the hand of God in our own lives? Ought we not to look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of his goodness and of his truth, as much a proof of his faithfulness and veracity, as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before? We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that he wrought all his mighty acts, and showed himself strong for those in the early time, but doth not perform wonders or lay bare his arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favours? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, hath he never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things,” hath he never satiated you with fatness? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters? Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. Let us, then, weave his mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness, and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls give forth music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp, while we praise the Lord whose mercy endureth for ever.
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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Gems from Pastor Jim by Jim Hughes

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Jim Hughes

Ps. 19:9a Reverence for the LORD is pure, lasting forever.

What does it mean to have reverence for the Lord? It means that we have a real sense of who God is. Most who profess faith in the Lord have a very cloudy understanding of God, mainly because they are not in the Word of God like they should be. It is hard to grasp God when all you do is rely on bits and pieces of the Word for your spiritual sustenance. We latch onto the promises of God with very little thought of God who gave us the promises.

God has made himself known to us. When we are into the whole of Scripture, we see things about God that we fail to see otherwise. The God of the New Testament is the same as the one of the Old Testament. We cannot fully grasp how God reveals himself to us as Jesus until we first grasp how He reveals himself to us as the holy, gracious, merciful, and unchanging God of the Old Testament. It is hard to see how God is love until we see that love at work amongst His children in the Old Testament.

To revere God is to appreciate God of all eternity. We observe His creative genius and power. We observe His passion to redeem humanity. We observe the display of His character as He deals with man. We observe His revealed plans for the redeemed and what He does to make sure it comes to pass. We observe God and are in awe of Him.

Reverence for God doesn’t just happen. We must stay closely connected to Him. Sin dulls our spiritual senses and causes us to take God for granted. It causes us to not regard God as holy. It causes us to not worship Him. In order for us to have a proper understanding and response to God, we must keep our hearts pure before Him.

Reverence for God is eternal. It is pure and good. The Lord our God is worthy to be worshiped and praised both now and forever.

C Through Marriage
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