1 Corinthians

In the Bathroom

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 14:1-16:24

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

Well, I just got back from the Walk to Emmaus and boy, are my feet tired!

That was a joke someone told during joke time at the Walk, having no idea just how true is was for me as I stood on the other side of the curtain separating the kitchen from the dining room where they were telling the jokes. However, more than my aching feet is my aching soul. I feel so empty and dry right now. I’m exhausted in every possible way that someone can be exhausted. I have hurt in every possible way that someone can hurt, and honestly right now I’m done. I’ve had it. And the worst part is that it’s my kids that are taking the brunt of my frustration at the moment. I was gone all weekend long, they missed their Mommy terribly. And it’s obvious by how much they want (and need) from me now. Yet I have nothing left to give them! I gave it all to the women on the walk. I feel horribly mean and I’m terribly frustrated by it. I’ve got Mommy guilt, where I know I need to take time for myself to re-charge by allowing God to fill me up so that I can be the mom He wants me to be and the mom my kids need for me to be; yet I feel guilty for taking that time because I know they’ve missed me and want me NOW. I have spent all morning and half the afternoon on the couch between sleep and half consciousness. At one point I REALLY had to go to the bathroom but when I started thinking about everything involved in the process, getting up and walking across the room, I decided it just wasn’t worth the effort yet. I’ve been hungry, and haven’t gotten up to fix anything because it was going to be too much work. To say I’m tired really barely covers the surface of how I feel. However, “sore”, pretty much gets to the point. I’m sore in places I didn’t know could even get sore.

All morning my daughter kept asking for me to take her outside and push her in her swing and I kept telling her no until finally I couldn’t take the Mommy guilt anymore and caved to her request. I rolled off the couch onto the floor, where I collapsed in a heap from exhaustion. Moving was worse than I expected it to be. I willed myself to get to the bathroom where I could at least relieve my poor full bladder. I looked at my clothes hanging on the hook on the wall and decided, “Nope, not worth the effort of getting dressed to go outside. All the neighbors are at work right now anyway, who cares if I’m wearing bright yellow Spongebob pajama pants outside at two in the afternoon?” (I don’t even like Spongebob, they were a $5 deal that I couldn’t pass up.) I came out of the bathroom and realized that I now had to put on my shoes… the objects of torture from the weekend, the reminder of the excruciating pain I had endured for the sake of love. I cried. Seriously, I sat on the edge of the couch, looking at my gray and pink tennis shoes and wept. I fell over into the pillow at the end of the couch and sobbed into it, “Lord, do I have to go out already? I don’t want to! I don’t want to put my shoes on again. I know it won’t hurt my feet this time like it did before, but I don’t want to remember that pain so quickly. Right now I just want to sleep and forget it. I want to rest and recover, not push through it. I’m tired and I don’t want to keep going. The last time I loved it hurt so terribly, I’m afraid to love like that again. Yes it was an honor and a privilege, but it hurt! My spirit is oh so willing to go outside and play with my daughter who loves me and makes me smile, but right now my body is so weak. I’m weary. I’m tired. I don’t want to.” “You can” is all He said. It was all that was necessary. So through tear-filled eyes I wearily sat up and pulled on my shoes, I stood up and walked resolutely outside with Anna bounding like a bouncing ball behind me laughing. Ahhhhh….. the energy of youth!

Anna, of course, beat me to the swing and was shouting impatiently “Hurry up Mommy” from the across the yard and I did my best to try and keep the harshness out of my tone when I told her I was coming. It’s not her fault I’m tired and struggling to be nice right now. As I stood behind her and pushed she yelled “Higher!” and so I pushed harder, as hard as I could at the moment anyway. Next she asks if I will go jump in the trampoline with her!!! It’s one thing to stand in one spot and push a swing it’s completely altogether another thing to JUMP on a trampoline! So I made a deal with her, I would sit on the trampoline with her while she jumped. While the swing was in the dense shade of our thickly leafed crabapple tree, the trampoline is almost completely in the bright sunlight of mid-day and once on it I remembered one of the ladies at the walk telling me about how to get the stains out of my heirloom apron. “Wash it and then lay it out in the sunlight and the stains will disappear”. I lay down on the trampoline with my little angel of a girl bouncing around me and prayed that God would wash me out and make the stains of pain disappear. As I lay there she began bouncing closer and closer to my head making it bounce painfully on the trampoline, more pain, I wept again. And I began telling God “I’m sorry Lord, I can’t do it. I don’t know what it is that I can’t do I just know that I can’t.” And it was in that moment I realized that I had been going through a test, and had just reached that moment of brokenness that used to take moments to get to, then hours, now apparently days. I’m still not sure what the test was about or what lessons I was supposed to learn through it, but I do know that I have been sweetly broken by the stretching hands of my Lord and love pushing me to become all that I can be, only through Him. Through this experience He is helping me to realize that I need my own time-outs when I know I’m done. That by taking time out just for me, I am benefitting everyone around me and not just myself.

How can you pour water from an empty cup? How can you squeeze soap from a dishcloth when it’s dry? You can’t! How can you love your family and serve them with your whole heart when you are so focused on your own pain and fatigue? You can’t. You will serve them in bitterness and resentment; they don’t need that, it would be better not to serve them at all. I came in from outside knowing what I needed. I needed time for me. I needed time with my Daddy, the fountain head, the place where the streams of living water find their own origin, from the throne of God Almighty, my Papa. I had been gaining my strength from Him all weekend through frequent restroom visits where I would pray and breathe and read the new book I had downloaded onto my phone right before I left. The only way that I survived the chaos and pain of the weekend was to take time for myself. And while the Enemy certainly did his best to make me feel guilty for it, I refused to let him, because I’ve learned what I need. I need alone time with my Savior and when I don’t get it then I can’t survive. Period.

However, the real test for me this weekend was surviving the test without any of my normal methods of coping with stress. I had no Bible, not even on my phone because the ap wouldn’t work! I was only allowed short breaks for the bathroom due to our overwhelming amount of work we had to do in the kitchen to cook for 60+ people, three meals a day for three days. HOWEVER, I still had the bathroom! God has taught me well how to use the bathroom. J I know that sounds funny, but it’s quite a useful tool for those in any kind of ministry or child care. I have found that when surrounded by people who need you and are under your care there are times where you just need to be alone with the Lord. Jesus Himself spent many a day surrounded by flocks of people, but at the end of a long day of ministry where did He go, somewhere quiet to pray alone. I have found that places like those are hard to find… because the people (and children) will follow you to those places rendering them useless. But the bathroom is a place where you can shut the door and those four walls are your sanctuary. Who cares if you’re actually using the toilet or not! There have been many a time where I have sought refuge in the only place I could find to be alone, a public restroom. While people, or my children may be only mere feet away from me, those four partial beige walls still separate me from the world at large like a force field shielding me from the world’s ability to suck me dry in ways I never expected. But there in the privacy of my very own bathroom stall no one can touch me. I’ve found if I’m quiet enough people don’t even know that I’m there and will even turn the lights out on me! (That was a lesson all on it’s own!) Yes, the bathroom, of all places, has become my mountain top, my sanctuary, my Mount of Olives if you will. No matter where I am or what I’m doing I know that there is always a bathroom nearby where I can escape from reality for a moment’s time and breathe in the breath of Life. Somewhere where I can steal a strengthening moment with God and dump on Him what is weighing so heavily upon my shoulders. Whether it be worries, fears, troubles, insecurities, you name it, He’s there… in the bathroom behind a closed stall door, waiting for me to come and unburden myself upon Him.

Yes my friends, love is a very interesting thing. Sometimes, to show my family how much I love them I have to deny them the thing that they want from me the most, so that I can give them the very thing that they need the most – Me. A happy, fulfilled, satisfied, content, loving me. And by writing that down I have come to realize that that is precisely what God does for us as well. At times He denies us the thing that we want the most in order to give us the very thing that we need the most – Him. Of all the things I have taken away from this weekend of service I will never forget how God was there for me… in the bathroom.

 

I just went onto Youtube to find a song to go with today’s devotional and before I could ever put the song I was looking for into the search box I was drawn to another song I’ve never even heard of on the side bar of “suggestions”. I clicked on the song and it is so perfect for today’s message of giving your burdens to God and finding Him in, of all places, the bathroom. So I typed the name of the song into the search box to find the lyrics because they were so beautiful and I didn’t want to miss any of them. When the results popped up one of them was a video of the artist explaining the story behind the song. Well of course I had to click on that!

Story behind the song.

Mighty Wave by Sarah Reeves

Now, stay with me here for a moment because I’m going to stretch you here a little. The imagery of this song and her dream are precisely the image of a toilet washing away our waste. Sarah’s image of an ocean wave is decidedly much more beautiful and romantic than my own, however, they are one in the same. When we are using the restroom as a place of solitude to meet with Jesus our bodies are doing the exact same thing that our souls are doing, getting rid of the things we don’t need! And when we flush we are sending them to the ocean…eventually anyway. Do you see what I’m trying to get at here though? If you see God’s arms surrounding you in an invisible force field instead of metal partial stall walls and doors. And the toilet as a basin of washing where a mighty wave comes and washes away, as far as the east is from the west, the things that were causing you pain and discomfort beforehand. Then that place can easily become a beautiful place for you to seek refuge. Like a garden retreat or the shore of an ocean. Never the less, even if in your mind it remains a mere bathroom stall and a toilet, as long as God is still there it’s all that matters. Because He is there waiting for you; waiting for you to come and set down the basket full of burdens that you have been carrying and dump them out onto His lap where He can wash them away with a mighty wave down to the ocean floor never to be seen again.

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Writing Through the Bible in a Year

Love

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13:13

(The following post is a newly revised excerpt from our book True Intimacy which is available through Amazon’s Kindle Publishing for $0.99! It was too perfect for today’s scriptures; I just had to share it again. Enjoy!)

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Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

In the beginning, when God was creating the universe, He declared “it is good” over each creation until He got to man. At which point God says “it is not good for man to be alone”. And while I could come up with plenty of jokes about why men should not be alone, the point is that it’s not good for women to be alone either. As women, we were created for companionship; and therefore, we are constantly craving intimate interactions. Often we attempt to fill the gap with friends, co-workers and digital media like texting and Facebook only to deny ourselves the one thing we are actually craving. Truly intimate companionship with our husbands and God!

Gen 3:16 tells us, among other things, that as women we will “desire” our husbands. That word “desire” in the Hebrew is packed with significance. It’s not just a physical desire; it’s an all encompassing, the-two-shall-become-one, kind of desire. You know the way you feel naked without your purse or your phone? THAT’S the kind of desire it talks about, one where your whole being desires true intimacy from your husband and you just feel like you’re missing something when it’s not there. It’s a desire for a true love from him; where he loves you simply because you are who you are. Not because you’ve done great things, or because you’ll be rich and famous someday, but just because you’re you. We desire a love that goes beyond anything that anyone could ever really describe; one where, you complete each other so perfectly that it can get annoying at times.

    As a husband and wife we are symbols of Christ and His Church; which means that within marriage we are to love each other as Christ loves us. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul explains to us not just why we should love others, but how God loves us as well. He tells us that “If [we] speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, [we] have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If [we] have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if [we] have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, [we are] nothing. And if [we] give all [our] possessions to feed the poor, and if [we] surrender [our bodies] to be burned, but do not have love, it profits [us] nothing. (1-3) Basically what Paul is telling us is that we can do as many great and wonderful things as we want, but if we’re not doing them because we love someone enough to do them, then we might as well save our breath and time because they’re meaningless. I can type as many kind and beautiful words as I want, but if there’s no love behind them – what’s the point? If I know all sorts of things that can change people’s lives forever, it’s not going to amount to a hill of beans if I don’t have a heart for those people first. I can give away every single material possession and if I’m not giving them away with love in my heart then I might as well keep them. Paul is making us ask, “What is my motive?”

    Paul ends 1 Corinthians 13 with a profound statement that I think is being greatly overlooked in our culture today, especially in marriages. “But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (v. 13) LOVE. Why love? What makes love so special? Why is it more important than faith or hope? Because while faith and hope are crucial, important and good; GOD is love. So when everything else in this entire world fades away, love is all that’s left. Because love – when it’s a truly patient, kind, non-envious, humble, courteous, selfless, calm, forgiving, truth rejoicing, protective, trusting, hopeful, persevering, never failing love – it’s God.

Christian’s comments:

Don’t confuse love with lust. Our world today has these two terms completely distorted. The type of love God wants is outward love. It is to be directed towards others, not inwards towards ourselves. You must set aside your own wants and desires. Love others, and don’t expect anything in return.

    All that sounds great, but how do we do it? Easy, love with no holds barred. Love with all you have. Don’t have selfish reasons for loving. Do things out of love for someone, not for the things it could get you. Plain and simple, love for the sake of love.

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Writing Through the Bible in a Year

Beneficial

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:6-9:27

(The following post is a newly revised excerpt from our book True Intimacy. I feel the need to warn you, the content of this particular post is explicit. True Intimacy is a book about sex in marriage so be prepared. However, it directly addresses many of the key scriptures from today’s reading and many of the issues facing our society today. Sexuality in marriage is being attacked, this post defends it. I highly encourage you to read on, the content is a bit risqué but, it’s certainly not anything worse than you would see on TV lately!)

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God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31

Humans were one of the things created on the sixth day. When God made humans He created them with procreation in mind. But more beautiful than that, He performed the very first wedding ceremony too! In Genesis 2:22-24 it tells us that
He brought her to the man (walked her down the aisle), the groom said “va va va vooom! I’ll take her! I DO!” and then God said the thing that has been repeated in almost every wedding ceremony since the beginning of time “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Now, *ahem*, “and they will become one flesh”; WHAT do you suppose THAT means? They’ve just gotten married, God has approved and finalized the union, and then mentions that they will become one flesh. Hmmmm….. Well, God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; and fill the earth, and subdue it. (Genesis 1:28a) Hee hee! You see, God isn’t afraid of sex. He created it, and He created it to be “very good”! “God saw ALL that He had made, and it was VERY GOOD.” Ya-know, since humans were included in that statement, I believe that means sex was also included in that statement. God created it all, including sex to be VERY GOOD, otherwise we all would’ve stopped having it a long time ago.

When you view your body as a living sacrifice and a gift to both God and your husband, sex with your husband can end up being an act of worship and praise to God if you let it. As part of this act of worship I recommend praying together before making love. It may seem a little strange or silly at first (considering we’ve never seen it on movies or TV), but think about it; we pray together at the dinner table before we satisfy our body’s hunger for food. Is it really that far of a stretch to pray together at the marriage bed before we satisfy our body’s hunger for sexual fulfillment? Personally I think taking a few moments to thank God for our true intimacy is just as important if not more so, than thanking Him for our food. Besides, in a few more moments you’ll probably be praising God for His “job well done” in making your husband’s body, and your union. Just make sure that you’re not worshiping the sex or your husband, but the true maker of them both, God Almighty. He created sex for our enjoyment, so have FUN with it. Don’t allow sex to be another item on your to-do list, let it be something you look forward to with anticipation. Let it be something special between you and your husband, something to get silly and giddy about. Honestly, in our marriage, sex has gone from an obligation to, well, we’re acting like newlyweds again. We’re playful with one another. We’re whispering to each other. We’re speaking in code to tell each other “I want you”. It’s a whole new world for us now! Our God is a creative God, be creative in your love-making. With that being said, I must throw in this precautionary verse as a consideration for you.

In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul informs the Corinthians that while everything is permissible for them, not everything is beneficial for them. Meaning, just because it’s not considered a sin for you to do something doesn’t mean that it’s not harmful for you to do it. And that’s the question you have to ask of the LORD, “Is this sexual act I’d like to do beneficial?” Something that God has spoken through me is that “He made marriage to allow us to do whatever our filthy little minds would come up with.” From what I’ve been able to find through all my research thus far; as long as it’s within the bounds of marriage (one woman and one man for life, legally bound by the state), it is permissible. Whether it is beneficial is between the two of you and God! Remember, you do not want to do anything that will harm your body, or degrade each other. Your bodies are the temple of God, a living sacrifice, so you need to be respectful of that at all times; You do not want add a 3rd party or pornography to your love life. These, among a few other things, fall outside the bounds of “one woman and one man for life, legally bound by the state” and would (in my opinion) be a big mistake. When in doubt about something, ask God and possibly a doctor if need be. If you can’t get a clear answer, I’d recommend skipping it for now. In my opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Another aspect that you need to consider is if one of you is being degraded or disrespected by the sexual act in question? Let’s take oral sex for example. If my husband finds it disgusting and degrading, then it would be inconsiderate of me to ask him to do it all the time. However, if he chooses to do that for me, I would receive that as a HUGE act of love and kindness since I would know that it is something that he doesn’t really care for. You’ve got to be respectful of each other and your preferences.

Most of all, you need to be open with one another about these things! Have conversations about the things that you like and dislike, things you’d like to try and things that really turn you off. I’m telling you, these conversations can be QUITE eye opening and very exciting. They will help you to be more open to each other’s ideas, and give you an opportunity to discuss things ahead of time so that when you’re actually in the process of being intimate with each other you can simply focus on one another.

As I prayed for a nice scripture to wrap up this book, God gave me Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Hee hee, God has such a great sense of humor!!! He then said to me, “that’s not the ONLY thing that I make straight!!!” May God bless your sex!

Christian’s comments:

Well, you made it. It has been thirty days. Are you ready to have sex? Don’t be surprised if you answered “No”. You may not be ready to go “all the way” yet. You may need to take a couple of days to build up to it. Just take it slow and enjoy the experience.

If you are like me, you like your wife to come on to you. However, if she follows Tamar’s instructions, she won’t this time. You must lead her in this aspect of your marriage, just like you do in every other aspect of it. If you’re not sure about that, don’t worry, God will lead you. I suggest that you pray together before you get started.

The best advice that I can give you is: HAVE FUN! Enjoy each other. Marriage gives you leave to do most of the things your dirty mind can think of. Try new things. Try new positions. Try new locations! You don’t have to be restricted to the bedroom. Ask your wife if there is anything she wants to try. You will quite possibly be shocked and pleasantly surprised by what she says. I was!

Husbands, buy your wife some lingerie. Wives, wear it! And not just in the bedroom. Surprise your husband by wearing it out to dinner under your clothes. Or better yet, TO CHURCH! Meet him at the door when he gets home from work wearing it (just make sure the neighbors don’t see)!

Husbands, surprise your wife too. Buy yourself a sexy pair of shorts or a thong at the lingerie store and strut around the house for your wife (just make sure the kids are asleep, or at a friend’s house). Or jump in the shower with her. Or surprise her when she’s doing laundry. Washing machines can be fun!

Maybe try costumes if you have always wanted to; perhaps a French maid. What I’m getting at here is, now is the time to start living out your fantasies with each other. But remember to pace yourselves; you have a long life together ahead of you.

Most importantly of all, keep God involved. He created sex. He wants you to enjoy it. With Him involved, it will be a very spiritual experience.

Well, this brings us to the end. I pray that reading and following this book helps you as greatly as writing it helped us. I think all that’s left to be said is, God bless, and great sex.

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Writing Through the Bible in a Year

Holy

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-5:5

(The following post is a newly revised excerpt from our book True Intimacy which is available through Amazon’s Kindle Publishing for $0.99! It was too perfect for today’s scriptures; I just had to share it again. Enjoy!)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

In the bible the books are divided into 2 sections: The Old Testament, (books written before Christ was born) and the New Testament (books written after Christ was born). The Old Testament is filled with stories of miraculous events, most of which are very large scale and grand. Showing us how BIG God is and what He is capable of. Then Jesus comes along and the miracles of the New Testament are more personal, they are intimate. The majority of the miracles described in the New Testament are miracles of people set free from bondage of one form or another. Miracles of debilitating illnesses healed, evil spirits cast out, and sins forgiven. The life of the afflicted individual changed FOREVER. God’s involvement in His people’s lives gets much more intimate as you segue from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

This intimate involvement is proved very precisely by what happened to a curtain in the temple on the day Jesus died. Up until that moment God’s presence filled a room in the temple known as the Holy of Holies. As a shield to that room there was a curtain. No one was allowed behind that curtain. Only after many many ceremonies and ritual cleansings was the high priest even allowed behind it and that was only once a year! Since the presence of the LORD God filled that room behind the curtain, for anyone to enter His presence unprepared would have killed them.

According to Mark’s gospel, at the moment of Jesus’ death the curtain that separated God from the rest of the world was torn in two. God had made a way for EVERYONE to come to Him and NOT die instantly. Up to that point in history very few people knew what God’s voice actually sounded like. Only a handful of them had ever talked to Him in person. When Jesus died He made a way for us to enter the Holy of Holies without fear of death. Because of Jesus and His willing sacrifice we can go to God on a PERSONAL level. He is no longer this BIG unapproachable God, He is intimate and loving and wonderful and caring. He always was before but He couldn’t fully show us Himself in such an intimate way. If someone needed to ask for forgiveness they had to go to the priests in the temple and offer an animal sacrifice. They performed the rituals required of them and they left. The priests would accept the sacrifices on behalf of the Lord. The individual that had sinned would never be able to enter into the Lord’s presence to ask for forgiveness personally.

When you choose to accept Jesus’ sacrifice of love, the gift of salvation and radical forgiveness, you get to cut out the middle man! God goes from being an unapproachable God living in a box in a temple to taking up residence in your heart; YOU become the Holy of Holies, your body! Yes, really! He lives in you and through you every day.

Persevere, life is hard. But fear not my friends for Jesus has conquered this life, and so can we, through Him. Love. Love everyone like He loves us, yes it’s hard, but it’s worth it. We don’t deserve the love that He’s given us, so let’s pass some of that underserved love on to someone else today. Maybe even your husband.

Christian’s comments:

Your body is the new temple. So husbands, build a nice temple. I’m not talking about the outside. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape you’re in (like the old saying goes, “Round is a shape”), it matters what kind of shape the inside is in. However, you should take care of yourself so your wife can enjoy you longer.

It doesn’t matter how nice a church, temple, or tabernacle is they are just buildings. They could be an old house, an office building, a shed, or even just a tent. What makes them holy places is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, He isn’t always going to be a fog or a wind, but He is there.

I’ve been in churches where you can feel the Holy Spirit as a slight tickle on your body. I’ve been in churches where the Holy Spirit makes the hair on your body stand on end. I’ve been in churches where you could feel the Holy Spirit flowing out of the building when you open the door, as if the building can’t contain Him. Your temple (body) should be like my last example. The Holy Spirit should fill you so much that you can’t hold Him in and you just have to share Him with those around you.

Now, with that said, you need to lead by example. You can’t spread the Holy Spirit effectively if you don’t follow Jesus’ lead. You must live your life with as little sin as possible. Notice I didn’t say “with no sin.” It is impossible to live a completely sinless life. All we can do is make the choices needed to avoid as much sin as we can. That might mean avoiding web sites that might contain questionable photos. It might also mean not hanging around people that don’t lead a good example, tempting you to not lead by a good example. It might also mean changing your vocabulary if you “swear like a sailor”.

Will it be hard to change some of these things? Yes it will. But you know what, life’s hard, get a helmet.

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Writing Through the Bible in a Year

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