Conformity by Peggy

Conformity

When my son went to kindergarten at age five, I wasn’t worried that he wouldn’t do well. He had been to pre-school, and was pretty smart. He seemed to understand things taught to him quickly, and was a pretty well-adjusted, happy kid.

I wasn’t worried at all walking across the street to the school for the first parent-teacher conference. Everything was well-organized when I got there. We parents were all given an appointed time to meet with the teacher, and we were instructed to bring the student with us. The parents that were ahead of me were in the room with their child, and were all smiles as the exited with a fistful of drawings and gold stars.

When it was my turn to go in, I was a little perplexed when the teacher asked if my son could wait outside the room for a few minutes so she could speak to me alone. Hmmm…. What did he do?

You can’t even imagine my shock when she sat me down and looked me dead in the eye and said: “Mrs. Gilbert, I believe David may have some learning disabilities and I want to have the Child Study Team evaluate him to see how to classify him.”   I thought to myself: “ Um…what? Learning disabilities? Seriously? I don’t get it, he was five, how much did they want him to know at five?”

So, of course, I asked what exactly the problems were. She went on to say that he couldn’t seem to even grasp the smallest concepts or follow the simplest instructions. I felt like I was in some kind of an alternate universe. I didn’t think he was a genius, but I thought he was at least average, for heaven sakes!

As she was droning on about “special classes”, and how some kids just really need a lot of extra help, and how if we didn’t get a handle on this now, then he would surely get so frustrated by the time he was in high school that he would be a drop-out, yadda, yadda.

I was expressing my dismay at this shocking news, and she, of course, went on to say that many parents go into denial when hearing news like this, and that is why the Child Study Team assessment is so vital.

Nope. I knew there was way more to this than what she was saying, so I asked for specifics. I wanted to see his work folder and proof that he was having problems. She sighed, and as I looked into the hall, I saw David turning himself upside down in the chair as he tried to sit still. What did I know? I was only a mother. Maybe she was right.

She pulled some papers from his folder, to show me his coloring. The papers were a mess. He had literally just scribbled all over the papers rather than try to color the pictures nicely. The next papers she handed me were in shreds. It was a picture of a mamma duck and her two little ducklings. The assignment was to color them and then cut them out. It was an exercise to teach them to use scissors.

I asked her why she accepted such poor work from him. Why didn’t she make him do it over? Why was he allowed to hand in such a hot mess? She looked me with pity and said: “Ms. Gilbert, he can’t use the scissors and he can’t follow directions. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. It’s very frustrating for him to watch the other children do their exercises when he just can’t do it. I don’t even give him the assignments anymore”.

The fog was starting to lift. He was manipulating her for something. I explained that it was odd that she thought he couldn’t use scissors, because he could unscrew a door knob and put it back together practically before he could talk.

I asked her what he was doing while all of the other kids were doing their assignments. “Oh, he always asks to look at the books. I let him go to the reading corner and looks at the pictures in the books.” Is that so? Looks at the pictures, does he? Imagine her face when I told her that one of his favorite past times was reading, as he was reading since he was about three years old.

I went to the door and brought my son into the room and showed him the folder with his artwork. I asked him why he refused to do the assignments and color and cut with the scissors. While fidgeting, he told me that the stuff she was making them do was for “babies”, because he did all of that in pre-school. He wanted to read. He wasn’t looking at pictures in the books, he was reading them!

The teacher couldn’t believe it.   I had to make him go get a book and read it aloud to her. She told me in all of her twenty plus years of teaching, she had never have a kid pull such a snow job on her. She had felt so sorry for him, especially because some of the other kids would make fun of him. She was used to having kids fit in, not purposely try to opt out of the stuff all of the kids were doing.

As angry as I was at him that day for being deceitful and not following teacher’s instruction, there was a part of me that thought he was pretty cool. I was glad that he didn’t care what the other kids thought of him. He was finding a way to march to his own drummer. Of course, I never told him that.

Conformity: it is the need we feel to fit in. If we just act like the others, wear what they wear, laugh at their jokes, then we won’t become the brunt of them.

Really, I think, it’s the lack of trust of other people. We don’t want them to see our “real” selves, for fear that they won’t treat that knowledge well, but instead will make fun of us, bully us, and isolate us.   It can be uncomfortable and hurtful when we let down our guard and choose a direction outside of the status quo. We will do anything to avoid it, so we conform. We become imitators of other’s, and fall in line to march to their drum. Feeling secure in the group overshadows the nagging feeling of being different. It’s easier to express someone else’s thoughts and feelings, rather than expressing our own. It takes courage to not conform.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Roman 12:2

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and He knew us in the womb. He made us in His image, and gave us our desires, our abilities and capabilities. He knows what interests us, and how to bring out the best in us. He did not make us to be conformists, imitators or someone else’s life.

Instead, He challenges us to be, transformed, to be completely changed from the influence of the world around us, by the renewing of our minds. Why? So we can test and approve God’s will for us! Think about that a minute: so we can test and approve God’s will for us. He doesn’t require us to imitate Him, He welcomes us to weigh out His will for us, and decide for ourselves who we are.

He has never desired to have a people who are puppets. He gave us free will, and wants us to use it. He wants us to come to Him on our own, not by coercion or fear tactics, but because He loves us.

My son was wrong to deceive his teacher and not carry out instructions.   But, even at five years old, he was finding out who he was, and taking a stand to do his own thing, no matter what the other kids thought. He chose to ignore the snickers of the other kids in order to pursue his desire to read.

He was wrong to act on his desires the way he did, but he was not wrong to have those desires. The end result of what he did forced the teacher to think outside of her twenty year old teacher’s box. She told me later in the year that she was grateful that he had fooled her, because it made her realize how comfortable she had become in her pattern of teaching. Somewhere along the way she had stopped looking at her students as individuals, but looked at them as her “class” of kids. David’s antics was a wake-up call for her, and she re- evaluated her teaching techniques. She began to look at the kids as individuals again, and had the most fulfilling year in many years, as she was able to stir the creativity in the children, and watch them evolve into who they were. She was not only challenged to think differently and creatively, but she was rewarded by seeing the results in the kids.

I think this is the lesson God wants us to learn: don’t be satisfied with everyone else’s status quo. Instead, He wants a relationship with us, based on getting to know Him. He knows us; He created us. As we allow our minds to be transformed by the knowledge of Him, not conformed or brainwashed, we will discover exactly who we were created to be. Our lives will be full. Not always without problems, but full.

Conformity by Barbara

Let’s start this topic by going directly to the Word of God and see what the apostle Paul has to say about conforming.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)  

There is a great deal of information and direction in this small paragraph.  It is clear, we are not to conform to this world but what are some of the reasons that make a individual or a group conform?
.The desire to fit in
.The fear of rejection
.The fear of criticism
. The need to be liked
.Wanting to please people
. One is not sure how they feel regarding  a particular issue, therefore they conform with the majority

To put this in a nutshell it all comes down to fear of man.

There are many great men in the Bible who conformed to another’s way of thinking but I will list two.

In their old age Abraham and Sarah were promised a child. This blessed event wasn’t moving fast enough for Sarah so she took matters into her own hands.  Sarah gave her servant girl Hagar to Abraham  to have a child.  Instead of waiting on the Lord, Abraham  conformed to Sarah’s wishes.  This caused quite a mess.  You can read the story in Genesis.

Solomon’s weakness was women.  The Lord told him not to marry the foreign women but he did it anyway.   His wives worshiped other gods and Solomon conformed by worshipping them as well. Solomon’s heart turned away from the Lord.  This account is in 1st Kings.

The good news is God can take our mistakes and make something good out of it but most of the time not without consequences.  Abraham and Sarah had their promised child Isaac but the child Ishmael, that Abraham had with Hagar, caused many problems within the family.  Abraham loved Ishmael but because of Sarah’s jealously, both Hagar and Ishmael were forced to leave their home.  Hmmm, looks like Abraham conformed again.  Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastics.  For the most part it sounds like doom and gloom.  I assume because of Solomon’s sin, he suffered great depression.  Though this is a controversial topic, I believe Solomon repented at the end and got right with the Lord.  It states in the last chapter of Ecclesiastics, 12: 13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (NIV)

When it comes to nonconforming,  Daniel is the man.  He is the most remarkable nonconformist of all times.  Here was a man that put God first in his life and was ready to serve Him, no matter what it looked like.  It looked atrocious as King Nebuchadnezzar took him captive at the prime of his life. The king was looking for young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. Daniel fit this bill to a T and was everything a young man could hope to be. I think it is safe to say, this was not the life Daniel signed up for but he accepted his position in life.  We see Daniel and his friends nonconforming  many times .  The first time we find that Daniel was not going to defile himself by eating the kings food. So he asked to be given a diet of vegetables and water for ten days.  His request was granted.  At the end of ten days not only did he and his friends look healthier the Bible says they were fatter than the other men.  Next we have King Nebuchadnezzar wanting everyone to worship a statue he had made.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused. So they are told to either comply or die in the fiery furnace.  They would not conform to the kings wishes, they chose death but are saved. They come out of that fiery furnace without even a eyebrow singed.  Later, due to the jealously of the satraps, King Darius was tricked by them. The satraps had the King make a decree that if anyone prays to another god other than the king, they will be thrown into the lion’s den.  Daniel refuses to conform.  He prays to the Lord with the windows wide open like always and the King is obligated to throw him in the lion’s den.  The Lord shuts the lions mouths, Daniel is saved and his accusers and their families are thrown in the lion’s den and killed instantly.  Clearly as there were consequences to Abraham and Solomon’s conforming , there were rewards for Daniels nonconforming. The Kings Daniel served grew to love Daniel and showed him much favor.  What a witness, Daniel was for the Lord, as a result of nonconforming, the kings saw the power of the Lord and praised God for it.  I also find it interesting that in reading Daniel, he grew to love the Kings also but he would never to conform to their commands if it went against the Lord.  I would suggest studying The Book of Daniel.  It is an amazing book and is superb at demonstrating how to trust God, and what nonconforming is all about.

There are times when conforming is a good thing.  Take the set of circumstances of the apostle Paul’s life.  We first meet him in the Bible as Saul of Tarsus. He was a Pharisee and was a great persecutor of the Christian Church.  He was thrilled when Stephen was martyred.  Starting with Acts 9, Saul has an encounter with God.  The Lord speaks to him, strikes him blind but the Lord sends a disciple name Ananias to pray for him and he regains his sight.  This merciless persecutor of the church, now named Paul is conformed to the teachings of Jesus Christ and became the greatest apostle that ever live.  He was beaten, thrown in jail and faced many other trials and persecution but did not conformed to his old ways and stayed true to Christ to the end.

I was in my car the other day, scanning the radio stations when I heard a very upbeat song.  It was titled, “Shake it Off.” Grant you, I know this is a long way off from a Christian song but there is a powerful message in it.  In the song, Taylor Swift sings about the factors in her life, where people are putting her down.  The words spoken about her are critical, could cause rejection, and downright mean.  She continues to sing about how players are going to play and haters are going to hate. What does Taylor do?  She just shakes it off!  People are always going to talk, sadly even Christians will persecute other Christians.  What do we do when we are talked about or put down?  Like the song says, We shake it off, shake it off! I realize there are times when correction needs to be brought but the bible has an answer to this matter also. “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. Matthew 18:15-17 The Message  Presuming we are not in the above situation, it is essential to develop a thicker skin, lose our fear of man, know what we believe and stand firm no matter what. When it is all said and done the only person we need to care about what they think of us is Jesus.  If we do this, EVERYTHING else will fall into place.  If we are pleasing the Lord we are in the center of His will.  If we in the center of His will then we are doing the things that Jesus is asking of us.  If this is the case who gives a rip what other people say and think?  If we fail, take comfort in Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. We serve a God who is slow to anger and forgives us, therefore  repent and ask the Lord to help you do better and He will.  God isn’t finished with any of us yet.

Though this topic  is on “Conformity” I don’t want to end it without talking about renewing our minds since it is part of Romans 12:2. So how do we renew our minds?  By means of going to church, praying, which is talking to God and studying the Word.  Studying the Word is extremely important.  If we don’t make the Bible a part of our lives it would be impossible to renew our minds.  The Word teaches us about our heavenly Father, His love for us, Jesus, Holy Spirit and how to live our lives and so much more.  There are many topics in the Bible that can be debated BUT when it comes to how we are to live, it is crystal clear.  If we know the Word, there will be no question regarding a particular issue.  Even with that being said there is a verse in the  Bible stating, ALL of us were born with an instinct of what is right and what is wrong. “When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.” 
Romans 2:14-16 in The Message
One thing I learned to do is pay attention to what we call “red flags.”  The red flags could be the Holy Spirit talking to us or warning us.  It could be anything from walking away from gossip or watching a TV program or the decisions of life such as should I take this job, should I sell my house?  Hence, listen for that still small voice for direction.

Don’t despair if you have conformed to issues in the past.   As I said in previous blogs, this Christian life is a journey.  Take one day at a time an enjoy the ride.  This journey is a process and as the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither is our Christian walk.  In my years as a Christian, I have conformed more times than I like to admit.  Spending time with the Lord everyday has helped me develop a thick skin but it wasn’t over night.  Are things said about me? Yes! Do I care anymore?  Nope!  I just shake it off, shake it off!  I pray you will as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Conformity by andrea

 

Conformity – ugh

 

When I first saw the word conformity I think my stomach rolled over. Sometimes this happens when I see someone else vomit, other times it is when something within me just has so much feeling attached to past events, my mind refuses to process it and I feel physically ill. Conforming is easy, not conforming is usually difficult. Difficult is what my mother would have used for my middle name if I had one. After 11 children she had run out of middle names so I have none.

One of my first remembrances of breaking from family traditions was when I was about nine years old, my father explained to me why black Americans were rioting. It was the civil rights era and I was being raised in an almost all white upper middle class town, Pitman NJ. He gave a lengthy explanation but what I recall most was, non-white people weren’t as smart as white people. He explained that at work he was a supervisor and he would tell these people to do something and sure enough if he told them to turn the valve to the right. He would come back and find they had turned them all the wrong way. I remember thinking, why would that happen repeatedly? Since the few black kids I went to school with seemed to be the same as all the other kids. I knew a few who were the top of the class. It took about 10 seconds for me to realize, they were doing it to get back at him for being so mean. These workers had organized a quiet revolution. If you won’t treat me as a decent human being, you will get what you expect and deserve. I knew they were making his life at work as difficult as possible and it was probably bc they were more intelligent then he was since he obviously had not figured that out. An intelligent supervisor learns to do what it takes to get their workers to produce. The only thing is, I could never tell my father this because he was also that mean to his own family. My understanding is that racism is built on making groups of individuals “the others”. The need to differentiate people who we believe are unlike ourselves is rooted in a need to heal our own damaged selves. The anger and hate is pointing outward, simply because it is too painful to point it toward the real problem, our own hurt.  As Joyce Meyers says it, “hurting people hurt people”. Racism is rooted in the need to feel better about ourselves. People who need to feel better about themselves must make the choice of improving themselves or tearing apart others to make themselves feel better and racism is about “the other” guy.  When I look out over the whole church, organized religion, I see a hurting society. Hurting people all too often hurting people. My thought is the church is trying to heal itself, by making everyone else “the other”. We have an ‘ism’ for every doctrine, dogma or perspective and tens of thousands of denominations to prove it. Instead of racism dividing our churches, we have factions who conform within their own faith communities. Sometimes over race, sometimes over doctrines.

This month’s blog is not about the evils of racism it is about what lies within us as a church body. Can we as a body see one another as part of the same body? Or do we need to see the “other”. Can we take from our collective psyche and relearn the paths we should go or will we remain mired in traditions and conformity. Are we willing to be conformed to the mind of Christ or will we seek healing in “the other”.

I’m asking, did Jesus come down out of glory so that we could go to church on Sunday and try to be good people. Sitting in our own little group of like-minded church goers. If that is all there is, then we are the equivalent of the religious system that crucified Jesus 2000 years ago.

We look no further than our Sunday services to see that we aren’t doing anything differently than my father did with the “other”. When we attend a church because it reflects our own beliefs, we encourage one another in our own beliefs. Rarely stretching ourselves to be prodded and poked by the Holy Spirit, to be taught His ways are not our ways.

 

Have we questioned what is taught in our church? in our fellowship? in our own homes? Why do we sit under one or two pastors who tell us what the Bible says when the scriptures clearly tell us how the Lord will teach us. Jesus never said, I must go so your pastor can teach you about Me.

John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

What happened to Jeremiah’s prophecy?

Jer 31:31

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,

    “when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel

    and with the people of Judah.

32 

It will not be like the covenant

    I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

    to lead them out of Egypt,

because they broke my covenant,

    though I was a husband to[a] them,[b]”

declares the Lord.

33 

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

    after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds

    and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people.

34 

No longer will they teach their neighbor,

    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’

because they will all know me,

    from the least of them to the greatest,”

declares the Lord.

“For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more.”

1 Jn 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.

2 Cor 3:4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

I have a dream of a church that gathers in His Name, to glorify Christ and not our own beliefs. Where we share our beliefs and accept education, exhortation and encouragement from one another. Where there is no one head, who tells us what to believe but where believers encourage one another to believe. If we encourage one another to follow Christ, then and only then will we want to truly learn of Him and be conformed into His image. The image of Christ is His bride. That desire is something that grows within us, it is not something we visit on Sunday. No one can spoon feed you Jesus. Although, there are many gifted teachers who can give you spiritual food to chew on and be fed.

Why do churches have to birth new churches because of division within the body. If we celebrate our differences and a group has serious differences within a church. Encourage that group to explore the possibilities and birth a new work of God, instead of having a split that tears and wounds the body. The whole point of the church is to spread and grow, not to become bigger than the church down the street. When churches become too large, they are unable to meet the personal demands of the individuals so go and be at peace with one another. There is no our church or your church, there is one invisible church that belongs to Jesus Christ, whom is the Head.

I personally have found Peg and Jim Gilbert to be my ‘idea’ of the church body. Moving through and with other churches, other denominations toward the same goal, conforming to Jesus. Glorifying Christ. What that looks like and how that is expressed in our own lives is different and it is also fluid. I am not the same Christian I was 20 years ago. I have grown. But I have seen many fall to the wayside, unable to come to terms with what they see as heresy, unkindness or just plain indifference within the organized church body.

I have learned more about being a good human being moving through the 12-step rooms addressing addiction and co-dependence issues than I have from the pulpit. I have learned more about being honest with myself on a secular psychologists couch than I had from any pastoral counseling. Yet, I learned to put that together in the past few years by fellowshipping with other believers in an open and honest prayer group. With women who told it like is was and expected the same. I thank God for Mary Datz, Laura Williams and Tina Siberio. What great friends and soul mates they have proven to be. What a wonderful church body we could have if we all had friends like these, there would be no ‘isms’ no ‘others’ because godly men and women would challenge us to be as Christ to the world.

Sharing my problems and imperfections has allowed me to witness Christ in my life far more than anything else. This is me, I have trouble, I have pain and yes, I believe the Jesus can make something good come from it… I know because I have experienced Him in my life.

When at church and everyone smiles and dresses well and they are hurting but there is no place to take it. They have serious issues in their faith but cannot share it. They have questions but they can not be addressed by one man standing at the door shaking hands. Many believers have children who have lost their faith, how do we address this and how do we encourage one another in our own faith even as the world seems to be falling apart?

I have been inspired by reading great men and women of God who write: N.T. Wright, Scott McNight, Dallas Willard and so many others. My hope would be to inspire others through this blog.

Yet the scriptures also tell me:

Isaiah 2:22 

Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.Why hold them in esteem?

We need to be encouraged in our relationship with Christ and we need to encourage others to do the same. They don’t need them to believe exactly as we believe. There is so much room for differing beliefs but only one Lord of all. Room for differing personalities but only one Lord of all. We can not take the scriptures and reduce them to a bunch of one liners nor can we cherry pick our way through them but we must take the whole of the scriptures and see God’s hand… His way of salvation, His plan of redemption and His great love for His children. If we as parents know how to give good things to our children, how much more has the Lord God have for us who believe?

And then I must add all of 2 Timothy 2 because sound doctrine is important but without God’s love it is just another religion, another writing…

2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure,we will also reign with him.If we disown him, he will also disown us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

May the Lord richly bless you as you walk toward our mark… Jesus Christ. God bless, andrea