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Weekly Observations and Commentary

Long-View Living in a Short-View World

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From the time I was very young, until I moved away from home, I was taught to stuff my emotions. In a move that still strikes me as over-the-top, when I was in the third or fourth grade my parents sent me to counseling where I learned to stuff my emotions more effectively.

My father rarely showed emotion, and if he was caught doing so, he would be embarrassed and deny having done so, offering some silly excuse or explanation of how we misread him.

Only one time in my life did my father say to me, "I love you," and that statement was couched in an expression of obligation - "Your mother said I'm supposed to tell you 'I love you.'" So, he said it but not really.

I have no doubt that he loved me. He just had difficulty expressing it.

Similarly, I was raised to not show vulnerability, error, or failure. While I have learned, over the years, to express myself emotionally in appropriate ways, the vulnerability and failure issue still haunts me. It can be terribly frightening to admit failure, or to lay bare your inner-man or inner-woman to another human being. But refusal to do so will lead to a lonely existence.

The challenge we face is the pervasive societal perception that vulnerability equates to weakness. The truth is that vulnerability in the proper context (say, with your spouse) is a sign of tremendous strength. Handing your heart and emotions to another person, and giving them permission to do with them what they will, requires tremendous courage and strength. Refusing to admit failure, or refusing to allow vulnerability will negate any possibility of true intimacy in the relationship.

Just as being vulnerable with my wife intensifies my intimacy with her, being vulnerable with God intensifies my intimacy with him. And just as my wife will not behave cruelly with my vulnerability, neither will God do so. Indeed, in my times of lonliness, pain, vulnerability, guilt, the God of all grace and God of all comfort will shower me with love to sustain and strengthen me.

The God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. - 1 Peter 5:10b, ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV

God is not put off by my messiness. No matter how great or small my burden, no matter how deep my distress, God is there to hear me and to lift my burden.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
- Psalm 4:1, ESV

In an act of intense vulnerability, we can pour out the burden of our hearts to God. "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us." (Psalm 62:8, ESV) We can commit this outpouring in both safety and sincerity. Not only do we have freedom to call upon the Lord Creator of the universe, but we have the assurance that he is "near" to us when we call.

The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
- Psalm 145:18–19, ESV

If you are not at a place where you can be completely vulnerable with another person, I plead with you to at least be vulnerable with God. He knows already! But lay your heart bare before him. Let this be your prayer every morning...

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
- Psalm 139:23-24, ESV

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


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As a child, I lived for the moment. All that mattered was what I was doing at that very time. Perhaps I was swimming at the local pool. Maybe I was playing with cars and trucks in the driveway. I might have been riding my bicycle or eating ice cream. Whatever it was, that was what mattered.

As I aged, my parents and teachers began implanting within me the idea of planning ahead. "You must apply yourself to your studies now to be prepared for your future." In elementary school I had to think about and prepare for middle school. In middle school I had to think about and prepare for high school. In high school I had to think about and prepare for university, and in university, I had to think about and prepare for life.

As a young employee, financial planners clamored for my attention and my money, telling me I needed to plan for retirement. I needed to start immediately, laying up that "nest egg" so that I could enjoy my retirement years.

All of this sounds so reasonable, from a certain perspective. The reality is that this mindset is frighteningly unbiblical.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. - James 4:13-14, ESV

At this point, we are not discussing ambitions regarding material wealth, homes, boats, automobiles, resort living, and jewelry. We are discussing nothing more than our view of time. When we examine our lives, our priorities, our focus, our use of time, and use of resources, on what are we fixating? Physical comforts? Future retirement? Ease of living?

Any objective this side of the grave is a misguided desideratum. It is spiritual myopia.

Here is Jesus' take on the matter:

And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'" - Luke 12:16-20, ESV

Here is the picture of a man who is planning ahead. His nest-egg is abundant. He is envisioning his future of ease, relaxation, and merriment. If you read the man's thought process above, you will find thirteen personal pronouns, all focused on self. God, in his response, tells the man that such talk is the talk of fools.

Friends, this is why we at Long-View Living Ministries continually call men and women to embrace Long-View Living in a Short-View World. We strive to live life in such a way that when Jesus returns we will not "shrink from him in shame at his coming." (1 John 2:28)

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:18, NASB

The apostle Paul encourages us to "build" a life, but to do so on a solid foundation of Jesus Christ, and using materials that hold eternity in view. As Christ-followers, we have no time in this vapor of a life for trivialities. We focus on what is eternal. I submit to you that the eternal viewpoint is one wherein we engage in the "good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10b, WEB)

Consider some of the eternals we are made mindful of through scripture:

  • Eternal Life - Matthew 19:29, Luke 9:25, many more.
  • Eternal Salvation - Mark 16:20, Hebrews 5:9, many more.
  • Eternal Dwellings - Luke 16:9, 2 Corinthians 5:1
  • Eternal Weight of Glory - 2 Corinthians 4:17
  • Eternal Purpose - Ephesians 3:`11
  • Eternal Comfort - 2 Thessalonians 2:16
  • Eternal Glory - 2 Timothy 2:10, 1 Peter 5:10
  • Eternal Redemption - Hebrews 9:12
  • God's Eternal Spirit - Hebrews 9:15
  • Eternal Inheritance - Hebrews 9:15
  • Eternal Covenant - Hebrews 13:20
  • Eternal Kingdom - 2 Peter 1:11
  • Eternal Gospel - Revelation 14:6

These constitute just a handful of "eternals" in scripture. There are so many more. Also, note that these are the positive ones. Scripture also speaks of eternity in terms of destruction, bonds, fire, and damnation.

The phrase "eternal life" is written no fewer than forty-four times in the New Testament. That has to capture our attention!

Embrace Long-View Living in a Short-View World and say with the psalmist, "Turn my eyes away from worthless things, and revive me in Your way." (Psalm 119:37)

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


Jim Visbeek  Jim Visbeek

Excellent truth, Damon. Powerful perspective.

Damon J. Gray  Damon J. Gray

Thanks Jim! We have good material from which to draw. ;-)

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I got a bit of a surprise this morning when I stopped to fill my car with gasoline. It unfolded something like this...

Last week, I told you about the passing of my mother-in-law, and I am grateful to those who expressed your loving comfort and condolences.

While I was in Kansas for slightly more than a week, comforting my wife and assisting with funeral arrangements, my car sat idle on the driveway in Washington. When I returned home, I drove it for another week, because it had a nearly-full tank of gas. That constitutes at least two full weeks of not opening the door to the gas cap.

I go to work quite early, so this morning's stop for gas occurred at 4:00 am. I am pretty much on auto-pilot at four in the morning. As I robotically reached out and flipped open the door to the gas cap I was startled to find that wasps were nesting inside the gas inlet area. I'm certain you'll agree that this was completely unexpected, and it instantly moved me from my typical, lethargic morning stupor to full alert.

Fortunately, I was able to remove the wasps from my gas inlet area without any personal injury, but had it gone differently, it could have been a very nasty encounter.

Far more dangerous than my slumberous encounter with the wasps this morning is our lack of alertness to the activities of the devil. Make no mistake, you are being hunted, as am I. He is the hunter and we are the prey.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8, ESV

Close your eyes for just a moment, and picture a lion on the prowl, hunting. Perhaps you can recall Marlin Perkins from the 1960s - 70s episodes of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Repeatedly, we saw the drama unfold on the screen - the hunted and the hunter.

The lion, silently, imperceptibly stalks its prey, unleashing its roar only when the lion knows the prey is in range, and it has begun the final charge. The roar has a paralyzing effect on we victims, leaving us helpless before the charge of our attacker.

Remember the silent, cunning serpent, from Genesis 3:1. We do not hear a snake coming, and typically do not know it is there unless we happen to see it or until it has punctured our ankle.

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. - 2 Corinthians 11:3, ESV

Just as I did not expect to find wasps nesting inside the gasoline door to my car, we do not walk through life with the constant awareness that we are being hunted. But we should! That is why Peter began his warning above by saying, "Be sober-minded; be watchful."

I am not calling you to be afraid, but rather alert. The thing that makes Satan dangerous is not his power, but rather his deceptiveness. If we are watchful, we can be confident. But if we are spiritually lazy or lackadaisical, we put ourselves in peril.

Immediately on the heels of calling us to watchfulness, Peter says this:

Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. - 1 Peter 5:9, ESV
Satan can be resisted if we are alert to his schemes. The apostle Paul echoed the sentiment in his letter to the Ephesian believers.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:10-12, ESV

James also agrees.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. - James 4:7, ESV

Do not be afraid, but be alert. Stand fiirm, resist the adversary, and one day we will see each other on the other side.

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


Wendy L Macdonald  Wendy L Macdonald

Excellent words of encouragement and warning, Damon. These sentences particularly stood out for me: "I am not calling you to be afraid, but rather alert. The thing that makes Satan dangerous is not his power, but rather his deceptiveness." Thank you for reminding us to be alert. Blessings of His comfort to you and your dear wife.

Damon J. Gray  Damon J. Gray

Thank you so much Wendy. And the same blessings from the God of all Comfort to you and yours as well!

Julie  Julie

So true! Spiritual warfare is real. And there are many subtle ways - some New Age for sure - that the devil is finding a way to get in. It’s more than a need to be alert and watchful in today’s times - Christians need to know their faith well. The signs are usually there, but they fail to see them...or it is easier to ignore them. ??And I am glad you didn’t tangle with wasps at 4:00 a.m., Damon!

Damon J. Gray  Damon J. Gray

Spot on, Julie. Not only is spiritual warfare real, Julie, it is where the "real" battle is taking place. The skirmishes we engage in the tangible realm are nothing. We don't even know who the enemy is. We think it is the man or woman standing in front of us. Paul said, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world's darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 6:12) THAT is where the battle is fought.

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Today, we wrapped my mother-in-law in love, and released her to the embrace of Jesus. Indeed, I am writing this blog posting from the Southwest Airlines terminal of Kansas City International airport on my return flight home following her memorial.

One element of human life that each of us shares is that we all have faced, are facing, or will face grief. Despite its ubiquity, and inevitability, the passing of a loved one is one of the most intense and overwhelming challenges any of us ever faces.

The internet is rife with feckless, secular advice on how to deal with grief, particularly grief related to the loss of a beloved friend or family member. At Long-View Living ministries, it is our conviction that the best comfort and advice for grieving hearts comes not from secular psycho-babble, but rather from the pages of scripture.

This week, in a rather simple blog posting, I want to share with you some of the most comforting passages of scripture I know.

1. Our God is interested in our comfort. He is called the God of All Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, ESV
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. - Matthew 5:4, ESV

2. Our God is intimately familiar with sorrow and grief.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. - Isaiah 53:3a, ESV

3. Our God is the great physician who will mend the broken heart.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. - Psalm 147:3, ESV

4. Our God drives out our fears - even fear of death, our own, or that of our loved ones.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10, ESV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Psalm 23:10, ESV

5. Our enemy, death, has no claim on us. By this, we are encouraged.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

'Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?'

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, ESV
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [dead], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' - Revelation 1:1-4, ESV

And the end result...

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me;
You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
- Psalm 30:11-12, ESV

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


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"A day without sunshine is like, you know, night."            - Steve Martin

I am often so obtuse that I miss the obvious. Perhaps not something as obvious as what Steve Martin has pointed out above, but I make assumptions that I later learn to be invalid.

I was visiting, recently, with Alean about Long-View Living Ministries, and was doing so with the assumption that she understood exactly what Long-View Living in a Short-View World means (to me). Everyone does, right? It's so simple; so obvious. A day without sunshine is like night.

Given my recent re-education, that not everyone can read my mind, thus not everyone knows what I mean by Long-View Living in a Short-view World, I decided that this week's blog posting needs to revisit that concept (originally addressed here) since it is at the center of everything we do at Long-View Living Ministries.

After trying to compose another summary of Long-View Living, and failing to do so effectively, I further decided to share an excerpt from my unpublished manuscript, The Christ Saturated Life.

This will be a longer-than-normal posting. Enjoy!

Long-View Living in a Short View-World

     I have two clocks by my desk at work, one hanging on the wall to my left, and another on the shelf to my right. I am not certain how I achieved this, but the second hands are ticking off the seconds in near-perfect synchronicity, providing me with a pseudo-stereophonic reminder of the passage of time throughout my work day.

     One of the greater challenges humanity faces in our ongoing struggle to wrap our minds around God, is the reality of time. In this life, we are linear. We have what was, what is, and what will be. We view our entire existence in terms of time. Our verbiage is laced with time terminology, speaking of past, present, and future events and activities. We measure time. We plan our lives in relation to time. We go to work at a certain time and work for a number of hours each day. We do this for years over a lifetime. We plan for retirement. We mark special dates on a calendar, and cross off those dates that are behind us as we press forward toward those dates that are yet to come. We sense time, talking about it moving too slowly, or by describing our day as flying by. Our children grow up much too quickly. We are time-bound creatures, and while God, the creator, invented the concept of time, and created us as linear beings, the passage of time is a reality by which God is not bound.

     I cannot count the number of mind-numbing discussions I have had regarding the seemingly conflicting ideas of God’s omniscience and man’s free will. The argument runs something like this: If God is all knowing, then that means he knows my past, present, and future. And if God knows my future, he knows exactly what I am going to do for every second of the remainder of my life. He knows every word I will speak and every choice I will make. Therefore, I cannot be said to be acting of my own free will. The fact that the debate continues is evidence enough that neither I, nor you, nor anyone else has the definitive statement to end that debate. But I can share with you how I prevent it from driving me insane.

     It is critical to my ponderings of God that I understand him as living outside of time. It is a concept that a dear friend described to me in the 1980s as “The Eternal Now.” It is always “now” to God. It is never “then,” or “yet to come.” It is “now” – always “now.” As it relates to me, from God’s vantage point, I am being born right now, I am dying now, I am having my 16th birthday now, and writing this word right now. It is always now to the one who is outside of time.

     If we can grasp that idea in even the smallest of ways, then we can begin to set our compass for Long-View Living in a Short-View World, because the Christ Saturated Life is constantly aware that we have eternity in front of us. John Hamby describes this mindset as an anchor that has been cast ahead of us, that is constantly pulling us toward the future.1

     The world is notoriously short-sighted, and it just as notoriously self-sighted. The latter seems to feed the former, since it is difficult to take a long view on life when the scope of my worldview does not extend beyond my own personal space, and my current moment in time. Life is viewed almost entirely through the lens of my own experience, and how events and circumstances affect me right now. Consider this blog comment from pastor Scotty Smith as he wrestles in prayer to hold onto peace within:

Some days, Jesus, I’m like Esau. My peace-pangs take over, and in the moment, I’ll gladly settle for a bowl of hot porridge over the hope of a future banquet. The provision of a snack-in-hand blinds my eye, deafens my ear, and dulls my taste buds for the sumptuous fare of the wedding feast of the Lamb—the Day when my longing and demanding heart will be fully set free to delight in you. “Maranatha!” Even so, Lord Jesus, come; hasten that Day.2

     The reality of society’s “here and now” focus is a gold mine for marketing specialists who capitalize on our obsession with self by crafting catchy slogans that feed our ego. Do these sound familiar? “Obey your thirst.” Or the somewhat older, “You deserve a break today,” and “Have it your way.” A shot for our vanity; “Promise her anything, but give her Arpege.” And sometimes the appeal is more subtle, “Get the sensation,” from a peppermint patty. Advertisers spend huge sums of money studying how to appeal to humanity’s craving for status, sex, convenience, and luxury. What they are selling is not food, clothing, cars, or jewelry, but rather a set of values, a way of viewing life. If they can convince us to buy into their worldview, then we will almost certainly buy their products as well.

     The long-view reality that this short-view marketing misses is that the core desire of the human soul extends well beyond self-gratification. We may not always be aware of this reality, but it is nonetheless true, and this is evidenced in the way that feeding the self never satisfies us.

     King Solomon knew the emptiness of self-gratification.

And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, ESV

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. - Ecclesiastes 5:10, NASB

     We know the futility of self-gratification. Jesus knows it, and it is why he taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) Note that Jesus did not say it is better to give than to receive, but rather more blessed. It is more satisfying, more fulfilling. He further taught us that the obsessive accumulation of “stuff” is pointless. (Matthew 6:19-21) Jesus was not saying that material wealth is a bad thing in and of itself, but rather that it is so temporal that it becomes irrelevant at best and a distraction at worst. My devotion to that which belongs to this world system is a costly investment of my life and my time in something that ultimately does not matter. Jesus says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21, NASB) Understanding this truth allows us to break free from the bondage of self-gratification and egocentrism. This, in turn, allows us to embrace Long-View Living in a Short-View World.

     Here is how C.S. Lewis describes it:

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought the most of the next … It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in: aim at earth and you will get neither.3

     Similarly, Cornerstone University President, Joseph Stowell said:

When we begin to believe the reality of the other side, we start behaving differently on this side. This is what drove the disciples out into their world – they had seen firsthand the reality of the other side.4

It is Long-View Living that allows Joni Eareckson Tada to say, as she sits in her wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down:

I haven’t been cheated out of being a complete person – I’m just going through a forty- or fifty-year delay, and God stays with me even through that. I now know the meaning of being ‘glorified.’ It’s the time, after my death here, when I’ll be on my feet dancing.5

That is the perspective of one who has mastered Long-View Living in a Short-View World.

     It is eternity that gives meaning to time, to the now. Without it, nothing else really matters. Jesus’ implementation of Long-View Living enabled him to stay focused on his purpose. It is why he asked his parents the question, "Did you not know that I had to be about my Father’s business?" (Luke 2:19) It is the reason behind Jesus’ strange response when told, “Everyone is looking for you.” He said, "Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for." (Mark 1:38b) The only way I can live my life with true purpose, to live a life that counts, is to live it with the long view, the eternal view.

Blessings upon you, my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray

1. Hamby, J. (2006) Living in the Light of Eternity. Retrieved 01/12/2015 from

2. Smith, S. (2013) A Prayer About Our Unrelenting Longing for Peace. Retrieved 02/15/2015 from

3. Lewis, C.S. (1943). Mere Christianity. (p. 118). New York, NY: Macmillan Publishering Co., Inc.

4. Stowell, J. M. (1994, April 1). A Glimpse At The Other Side. Moody Monthly, 24.

5. Yancey, P. (1990). Where Is God When It Hurts?. (p. 139). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


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Acts 17:28 - ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν