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Category Archives: Suffering

Persecution and A New Kind of Fortitude Needed in the Military


Well, How is everyone doing this year reading the Bible?  It is nice to hear from some of you and I pray that this has been a blessing to you.  This summer has been great and I have been out of town quite a bit. We just finished the book of Colossians where the Apostle Paul begins addressing some of the early forms of gnosticism.  Gnosticism comes from the greek word gnosis which translates into knowledge. The gnostics believed that they had access to a “secret” knowledge that all matter is evil.

I will be posting on one of the bible readings soon but I did want to share with you this post on my “Man’s Ultimate Challenge” website.  I wrote a post about a good friend of mine who is going through some persecution by the new gnostics of today.  Some of you may have seen the story in the news, but if not please take the time to read this post and please pass it on.

Here is the link:

http://mansultimatechallenge.com/a-new-kind-of-fortitude-needed-in-the-military/

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

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Posted by on July 14, 2013 in Suffering

 

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“So That” The Ministry We Never Prayed For


Changes That HealCelebrate Recovery

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 – “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

The belief that God is a “God of all comfort” is an essential truth that every believer must embrace when life’s journey leads us through the valley.  In our scripture today God calls us to do two things with this essential truth.  First, God wants us to apply this truth in our own lives by letting Him into the deepest parts of our being to be comforted personally by Him.  Second, God wants us to serve others with the same “comfort we ourselves have received from God”.  Notice the so that in verse four.  God is comforting us not merely to benefit us, although that is certainly true, but with the intention that we will serve His people with the same comfort that we have received from the Father of compassion.  In essence we are called to give it away!  Notice that there is a correlation between the areas of your life that you allow God in to comfort and the type of comfort that you can give away.  Is there an area in your life that needs comfort that you have not allowed God into?

Every Sunday my Senior Pastor Lon Solomon makes theology both personal and practical by asking his famous question “So What”?  Throughout the Washington D.C. area, our Mclean Bible Church brothers and sisters are making this theology of comfort personal and practical as they serve the Lord in their own “So That” ministry.  Their ministry is an outgrowth of the comfort that they have personally received from God while in the midst of the valley experiences of their own lives.  For instance, we have couples who have experienced hope and healing in their marriage whom now have chosen marriage mentoring as their “so that” ministry.  We have other couples who have experienced the comfort of God through the touch of a community of saints who now serve as small group or community group leaders.  What is your “So That” ministry?

When are you going to start?  If not now, when?

Our “So That” ministry is our most personal ministry and one that can have the greatest impact for the Kingdom.   I call it the ministry that we never prayed for because I do not know anyone who prayed for addiction, prayed for abuse, prayed for a husband, wife, or child to leave this earth before we were ready.  What you allow God to do with these areas of pain and how far you let Him into the pain will determine if you are a space taker or a difference maker in this world.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus thank you so much for sending me the Comforter when you went to be with the Father; for you knew in this life that is exactly what I would need.  Father, I ask your forgiveness for and seek your comfort in ____________________.  Give me the strength to serve your people with the same comfort that I have received from you.

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2013 in Suffering, Uncategorized

 

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Is Your Life a Box of Broken Pieces or A Puzzle of Purpose?


“Broken Pieces orKorea a Puzzle of Purpose?”

Exploring The Messed up Family Life of Joseph and the Purposes of God

Genesis 34  45:15

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

Many of us come from some pretty rough backgrounds.  God is now and always has been in control and all of the circumstances of life are puzzle pieces of the picture of your life that God is putting together.

But WE do have a choice to make! WE can either look at your life as a:

BOX OF BROKEN PIECES 

or

A PUZZLE OF PURPOSE

Our usefulness is dependant upon our view!

I do not know why God allowed the hurts and brokenness into my life, so I certainly do not know why He allowed the hurts and brokenness in yours.  But I do know that He knew that they were coming which is why Jesus never left us alone, He sent another Counselor called along side us.

Now, I do not think that he would have sent us a counselor if He didn’t think that we would need one!

Now they say that “You get what you pay for” and this Counselor did not come cheap.  He came at a price—the blood of Christ on the cross for not only your sins and mine which would be expensive enough, but for the sins of the world.

We are going to see how Joseph, seeing his life through God’s sovereign eyes as a PUZZLE OF PURPOSE, allowed God’s complete healing and restoration in his life. We are going to see how God was always present while Joseph was going through a struggle so that he would not fall to pieces and instead be utterly prepared to be used in fulfilling God’s purpose for for his life.

But before we do, I want to give you a little family background on Joseph.  Now He grew up in a really messed up family!  We will also see how throughout his life he was the victim of continuous injustices. Hey, there is nothing new under the sun—families have always been messy. Like many of us, Joseph has a messy family background that, good or bad, helped shaped him into the person that he is.   So let’s take a look!

 To begin with Joseph had 3 step-moms, 1 brother, 1 step-sister, and 10 step-brothers.

  1. Genesis 34 tells us that Joseph’s step-sister Dinah went to see her friends and was kidnapped and raped by the Prince of the land.  Her brothers Simon and Levi got so angry about it that they got revenge and tricked the men of the city then murdered every one of them.
  2. In Genesis 35 God tells us that sometime during Joseph’s childhood his mother died while she was giving birth to his brother Benjamin.
  3. Genesis 35 reports that while his Dad was away after burying his mother, the oldest of all of the siblings Reuben went and slept with his step-mother Bilhah.
  4. Genesis 37 tells us that his Father played favorites.  Clearly Joseph was his favorite and his brothers knew it.  Listen to this: verse 4 –Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varied-colored tunic.  His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.

To add insult to injury the Scripture says that Joseph brags to all of his brothers about a dream that he had where in the future all of them were going to bow down to him and serve him one day.

Genesis 37:5-8 – Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.  He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” Then his brothers said to him, ” Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

So this is Joseph’s childhood home:

  1. Step sister raped
  2. 2 brothers are mass murderers
  3. He loses his mom
  4. His oldest brother sleeps with his step-mom
  5. His brothers hate him

Pretty messy huh?

Not only is his childhood a mess, but from the time Joseph was 17 until he was about 30 he was a constant Victim of Injustice

——————————————————–First Injustice——————————————————–

Joseph goes to find his brothers and they see him coming:

Genesis 37:18-20 – When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer! “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!”  (sparkling robe in the sun)

His brother Reuben tries to save Joseph from the plot:

Genesis 37:21-23, 25 – But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life” Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him” — that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit….then they sat down to eat a meal…

His brother Judah comes up with the idea to sell him to the Ishmaelites:

Genesis 37:26-28 – Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.

So, here is Joseph only 17 years old:

(1) Stripped of the special tunic that his dad made for him

(2) His brothers want to murder him out of Jealousy

(3) He is Thrown into a pit

(4) And finally sold into slavery

Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before Jealousy?

But God was with Joseph during his experience of injustice:

Genesis 39:1-5

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord  caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.  It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.

Puzzle Piece #1: He is in Egypt

 

Puzzle Piece #2: God is developing his Leadership skills:

——————————————————–Second Injustice——————————————————–

However, Joseph loses his place of leadership when he is falsely accused of rape

Let’s be blunt, Potiphar’s wife has the hots for him!

Genesis 39:6-8 – Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused…

So, she sets him up:

Genesis 39:11-14, 19-20 – Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed….Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned. So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail…

Ah, but notice that he was never alone:

Genesis 39:21-22But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it.

Here is Joseph in charge, as a prisoner, of the entire royal prison.

Puzzle Piece #3: He is in the royal prison where he eventually gains access to the Pharaoh.

Puzzle Piece #4: God continues developing his Leadership skills and,

FASTFORWARD  

(1)           Joseph is approximately ~38 years old and his brothers are well advanced in years.

(2)           Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams that called for 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine.

  1. So the Pharaoh does what?  He makes Joseph second in command over all of Egypt!!!

 

Genesis 41:41-43 – And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.

Puzzle Piece #5:  Pharaoh makes him 2nd in command

All of the prep work of the last 20 years gave Joseph the leadership skills that he needed at just the right time.

(3)           The years of the famine that God had revealed to Joseph in a dream have now begun,

  1. People from all of the countries surrounding Egypt have been coming to Egypt to buy grain that, under Joseph’s leadership, Egypt had stored during the 7 years of plenty.

God redeems Joseph’s Dream

Genesis 42:6-9 – Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, “Where have you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him.  Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them

  1. Richly dressed in a Robe of Redemption (God replaces his old robe)
  2. Dream fulfilled

“The God of the vision is the God of how to get there”

  1. Joseph tests them to see if his brother is alive
  2. He plants Silver Cup to keep Benjamin with him
  3. Judah begins:

 

Now let’s focus on Joseph’s response

(1)           Joseph now saw his life through God’s sovereign lens as A PUZZLE OF PURPOSE.

(2)           This set Joseph free so that:

  1. He could forgive his brothers
  2. He could comfort his brothers so that they wouldn’t feel guilty
  3. He could try and get them to see through this sovereign lens of God as well
  4. He paid the moving expenses to bring them nearby
  5. He provided land for them to live and provisions
  6. He could warn them to save their life even though they tried to take his!

It could have been different!

What if instead he saw his life as a BOX OF BROKEN PIECES:

“A tree of anger stands tall because of its bitter roots” – Pete Lackey

Sin is great—but He is greater still!

17 Years later.  Joseph’s family has settled in the land of Egypt and Joseph’s father dies.

Listen to this:

Genesis 50:15-22 –  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ” What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.  Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”  But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?  “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. “So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. 

Conclusion:  God The Comforter is with us! 

The wounds were still fresh……the pain doesn’t go away, and the Comforter doesn’t either

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – 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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

  • Are you a victim or victor?
  1. The victim says “my life is A BOX OF BROKEN PIECES because of what happened in my life”:
  2. The victim is a slave and his body is a prison
  • The victor says “my life is a PUZZLE OF PURPOSE in the hands of a sovereign God”
  1.  The victor is a free man and His body is a temple

How about you?

Are you a Victim or Victor?

Do YOU see your life as:

A BOX OF BROKEN PIECES

OR

A PUZZLE OF PURPOSE

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Genesis, Suffering, Uncategorized

 

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The God of The Vision is The God of How to Get There


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES Is God A Moral Monster

In December before we began the One Year Bible that I posted the “17 Mistakes The People Make When Reading the Bible” from Dr. Norman Geisler’s book The Big Book of Bible Difficulties. All of them can be found in order here.

As we have been reading though the Old Testament we see that the Bible accurately records the sins of some of its heroes. This actually is one of the things that serve as what scholars call internal evidence for the Bible’s reliability because the text is honest with the sins of its heroes. In contrast, many texts from history only report the victories of its heroes (some exaggerated) and immediately and correctly come under the suspicion of scholars. Though the Bible is honest with the sins of its heroes, it never condones those sins! Assuming that it does is a classic logical fallacy in reasoning known as the “is-ought fallacy”. This brings us to Mistake 11: Presuming that the Bible Approves of All it Records. It is worth re-reading before continuing this post.

In fact, not only does the Bible report those sins, it also reports the negative consequences of those sins. In the case of Abraham we continue to see the consequences play out today between the Jews who find their lineage of Isaac, and the Arabs who find their lineage through Ishmael. In Genesis 16 we saw Abraham and Sarah take matters into their own hands by “baptizing” a common Ancient Near East (ANE) practice of taking a servant girl as a wife to provide children for Sarah whom remained barren until God stepped in at His timing. As an aside, there is much archaeological evidence confirming this practice; therefore, confirming the historicity of these events.

Abraham knew full well that God intended from the very beginning monogamy not polygamy or bigamy.  Think about it!  Why would a just and holy God make a promise but have its fulfillment through sin?  God’s ideal for marriage is a one-flesh monogamous union between a man and a woman, a husband and wife.  If more women were necessary Adam had plenty of ribs left for God to use. Moreover, notice that the sins of the father passed down from generation to generation as Isaac, Ishmael and Jacob all imitated their father and took for themselves additional wives and concubines. As a father myself I can testify to the truth that more things are caught by our children than taught to our children. Kids are amazing recorders of information but terrible interpreters of it.

A pause for reflection: What cultural practice do you “baptize” in order to get what you want? Has God placed a vision in your heart? How have you taken matters into your own hands in order to fulfill that vision?

Reflect on that a moment before the Lord.

“The God of the vision is the God of how to get there” – Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

future-vision signs

Patience is a virtue, impatience is the vice. In our fast food culture many of us want to pull up to McJesus, make an order, and then pull around for a quick delivery.  But God almost never works that way. He is much more concerned of the product that YOU become through the process of:

Vision–>Development–>Fulfillment

He is the God of not just the ends but the means toward that end. His primary end though is a better YOU!

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in Genesis, Suffering, Uncategorized

 

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God’s Hope and The Problem of Evil


The Triumph of God over Evil

The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.”—Job 30:27

            The problem of evil is a problem for everyone no matter what religious worldview you hold. I believe that Christianity provides the only real answer to this problem through God’s suffering servant Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that He called the “Comforter” or “Counselor” that He promised His followers would come after His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. The Atheist denies that evil exists then uses “the problem of evil” as a reason to deny God’s existence. But Atheist what is your answer because the problem of evil is a problem for you as well?  Answer: What evil so no problem!  Thanks but no thanks because that did not help. Some Eastern religions either deny evil or welcome evil for “balance” while Christianity offers hope in God’s sovereignty, Justice, and Love, along with His presence walking through the evil providing personal comfort and counsel. With this comes a promise of His divine judgment for evil men who willfully reject Him, and divine mercy for those who willfully accept Him.  In fact God is populating the New Heaven and New earth with those who accept Him from this soon to be old earth. Remember that God’s Son was murdered as prophesied 500 years before the event by King David in Psalm 22:16 that records “…a band of evil men has encircled Me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” But what about this hope when evil comes knocking?

When the problem of evil becomes up close and personal by taking from us a friend or family member who served the Lord so faithfully, or even a child who had a whole life ahead of them, the question “Why?” becomes a demanding guest in our temple[1].  Now, “why?” has always been a guest, and at times she behaves like a close family friend providing great counsel and sure answers to some of life’s questions right when we need it.  But, it is during times of senseless evil that she becomes a demanding guest, even initially drowning out the benevolence of God.  How could God be all good, all powerful, and all knowing when a person made in His image senselessly and violently destroys another image bearer?  Why would he allow such evil if He could stop it and how could He allow it if He is all good?  I must admit that for me, in my own pride, a disturbing thread that underlies the question is the belief that though I am finite, with limited power and limited goodness, I know I would have stopped this evil from occurring if I could.  It may pain me to say it or even think it, but honestly there it is.  Ouch!

Job had asked similar questions of God and received no answer.  By implication, it appears God believed that an “answer” is precisely what Job did not need at the moment.  Job pondered some more by turning his why questions to his close friends, whose bad counsel and endless words did not seem to help.  What God did give Job were reminders of who He is relative to who Job is.  What he needed was faith, rooted in secure facts about God to renew his mind and inform his emotions that were causing even more suffering internally.  Job 38 & 39 is where God provides a list of things in creation that Job can consider that reveal God’s glory and the supremacy of His knowledge and power.  These cognitive reminders seemed to Help Job come to the realization that based on what he knows to be true about God he can trust Him even in the things that he does not now know or understand.

The Lord Jesus had a similar Job experience with God the Father as the book of Hebrews indicates: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”[2]  So Jesus, the only perfectly innocent and pure servant of God, was heard by God and yet His life was taken.  The cries and the tears of the Lord Jesus must have been difficult for His all-powerful, all-good Father to hear.  As a father myself, I imagine that it must have been even more difficult not answering.  But, His Father is also eternal and all-knowing.  He knew that the very purpose of His Son’s ultimately unjust death was to bring about the ultimately good gift of eternal life to all who believe.  An ultimate good, brought out of an ultimate evil.  Moreover, Christians for over two millennia have personally looked to this Suffering Servant asking God to accept this sacrifice as a payment for his or her sins; thus gaining access to God’s kingdom through this door[3] of suffering.

Jesus’ followers initially did not have any access to this information as evident to their hiding and return to fishing[4] after His death.  It was the later resurrection of Jesus that provided them access to additional information, that they did not have at the time of their 30 year old friend’s death.  Much later, even more information was provided when the Holy Spirit came and made the purposes of these things known to them.[5]  So, in time God began to progressively reveal more and more data to Jesus’ disciples and eventually to us in the Bible.  What is important to realize is that our all-knowing God is a God who progressively reveals more and more information in His own time according to His purposes and for our good.  What’s more, God does not remain distant providing a rote answer to suffering in the world but, through His Son Jesus, He existentially entered into the unjust suffering of this world!

God gives us something much more important than a full disclosure of all information to answer the “Why”; He gives us His presence!  Jesus said that it is good that He goes so that the Comforter and Counselor can come[6].  Something tells me that He knew that in this fallen world a Divine Comfort and Counsel is exactly what we would need.  It is interesting that in times like we are experiencing, what we need most is the presence of our fellow believers, and what we do not need is “answers” that will not suffice while we are still not home.  However, due to God’s progressive revelation given to us in His word and personally through His Son, we have some important Divine promises that the Divine Counselor wants to use to renew our minds and inform our emotions.  When we allow lies to play over and over in our minds we become “why” slaves and our emotions become our enemy.  On the other hand, when we set our minds on whatever is true[7] we become free for it is the truth that sets us free[8].

Do you know that our loved one is the only one alive not contemplating “why?”  Yes, you heard me-alive!  If he or she is a child the salvation is found is secure in none other than God’s benevolence[9].  If past an age of accountability, then eternal life began here on earth when he or she received the payment of the Suffering Servant’s death on the cross for his or her sins[10].  Because of this, he or she is more alive than any of us here today and that is why when we grieve, we must not grieve like those who have no hope.[11]  We are to “encourage one another with these words”[12] knowing that in Christ we do not say “goodbye” but “I will see you later”.  Yes, we grieve and receive comfort from God Himself.  Even the Lord Jesus who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead immediately still wept at the loss of His friend[13].  We know that we will have the ultimate reunion with him or her[14] and see the Lord Jesus as clearly as he or she does today—face-to-face[15].


[1]1Corinthians 3:16.

[2]Hebrews 5:7, NIV. [Emphasis mine].

[3]Luke 13:24.

[4]John 20:26; 21:3.

[5]John 14:26; Acts 1:7; 2Timothy 3:16; 1Peter 1:21.

[6]John 16:7

[7] Philippians 4:8

[8]John 8:32.

[9] Isaiah 7:16; 2Samuel 12:23; Psalm 139:14-16; Romans 5:18-19; John 9:41.

[10]John 3:16, 36; 5:24-26; 10:28; 17:2-4; Romans 6:23; 1John 5:11-20; Ephesians 1:11-14; 2:8-10.

[11]1Thessalonians 4:13.

[12]1Thessalonians 4:18.

[13]John 11:35.

[14]1thessalonians 4:14-17.

[15]1John 3:2.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Suffering, Uncategorized

 

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