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Spiritual Conversations

3 Easy Ways to Have Spiritual Conversations

Do you know how people come to know Jesus? If you look at the modern landscape, you would probably assume that most meet Him in a rather emotional moment during a well-crafted sermon. If not, chances must be that it came from a time of fantastic worship from one of the more well-known songs being played in churches throughout the country. Yet, all the statistics tell us that most people come to know Jesus through spiritual conversations with those around them. You’ve likely already all but determined that having conversations with others about God is either something you feel comfortable with or not, but stick with me just for a moment. In fact, most of the nation has aligned with the latter option out of fear for how the conversation might go. Questions abound in our minds of whether we could answer the difficult questions or if we are even skilled enough to introduce someone organically to the loving embrace of our Savior. What I am here to share with you is that there is a way that anyone, anywhere, can engage someone a in spiritual conversation. In fact, often brand new Christians are the best at this method and see the greatest impact in the lives of their friends. Without further delay, I’ll introduce the easy-to-remember three step process. I promise, if you give it a shot, and allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable, you will see some incredible results as you minster to those around you.

Spiritual Conversations Tool #1: Questions

Can you ask somebody a question? Sure you can. I’ve learned that often the things we first speak about when we are sharing our lives aren’t really what we wish we could share if we knew we could truly be vulnerable with the person sitting across from us. You see, back in the day I had the opportunity to work with people dramatically reaching out for help – they would hear a phone number on the radio and would call in to talk to someone about their issues. Wouldn’t you know that almost every single time the first ‘issue’ they brought up wasn’t really the issue at all? Trust me, when I would get calls from 14 year olds dealing with unplanned pregnancy I couldn’t imagine there was a deeper layer – but there always was. I heard stories about how the child was the result of rape, abuse, and on more than one occasion it was actually their own fathers child. Sure, they wanted help with the immediate issue of being pregnant, but the person couldn’t actually be healed until we dealt with the deeper issues and we could only get to those issues if I was willing to ask more questions about their lives. They didn’t have to be hard questions either. Things like “how did that make you feel?” or “what pains you the most about that?” were pathways to hidden alcoves I could have never imagined existed. The most difficult thing, however, is restraint. As humans, we have been trained to immediately comfort or offer advice. It would be easy for me to sympathize with the young girl, alone and pregnant, hiding in her Dad’s woodshed just to make the phone call – but would that have really helped her long-term? Or, I could have immediately started going down the list of healthy options for her – but we were only on the surface and really meeting people where they are demands we dig deeper. So, as you are talking with people, always keep in mind that there are likely more questions you can ask. If you have genuine interest in a person, the questions won’t be hard to find either. As you start to ask the questions, you will begin to realize that we, as people, are more than willing to share our hurts and pains… we actually desperately want someone to talk to about them with, we just haven’t found the right person yet.

Spiritual Conversations Tool #2: Life Stories

When dealing with spiritual things, we often like to simply give people the answers. For instance, when someone asks you “what about baptism…” how do you respond? Do you give what you know as the traditional Church answers to baptism-based questions? Probably. When people ask us about our faith, we inherently feel the burden to answer the person’s question directly. While that may seem harmless, it actually produces an unhealthy bond between you and that person. The person you have the conversation with, knowing you always have the answers, cleaves to you instead of Jesus. So, how can we still be sympathetic to the question without creating utter spiritual dependence? Tell people about your life. This is beneficial for a bunch of different reasons: First, this should produce a feeling of ease within you as you no longer have to be a subject expert on every matter of the Bible. No one can tell you your life experience is wrong, therefore whatever you share can’t be the wrong answer to the question being asked. Then, for instance, when someone asks you about baptism, you can always tell them your experience with it – whether you have been baptized or not. Even if the person isn’t asking a direct question, there are few things more powerful that a personal testimony. Sharing your walk to faith and being vulnerable about the ups and downs of life go miles in helping someone to see God in you and how God might want to be a part of their life too.

Spiritual Conversations Tool #3: Scripture

But, what about those times where there is a direct question you simply can’t answer with anything but the facts? The answer here is scripture. Remember, we need to be trying to help people cleave to Jesus, not to us. Would you rather, whenever they had a question about their faith, they call you up, wanting a spoon-fed answer? Or, would you rather they pick up the scriptures and find the answer themselves? Or, even better yet, they call you up and ask to take a look at the scriptures together? When a topic comes up, or maybe even a direct question from the Bible makes it way into the conversation, feel free to rely on scripture. So, when someone asks how God can be a good God, but still just – find a Bible nearby (there are likely 3-4 in almost every home that haven’t been opened in years). In a couple different versions of the Bible, there are actually topic-based indexes in the back that you can browse to find the topic you are dealing with. So, in this case, you could flip through the back of Scripture to find the topic “judgment” and together you could explore what the Bible has to say on the topic. Remember, you don’t have to be the expert – let Jesus do the work.

 

So, now, the hardest part actually is having the willingness to engage others in spiritual conversations. Our new reality is that just about anyone can ask a question, tell a story from their past, or open up the Bible – none of this requires any level of in-depth knowledge – it just requires a willingness to be vulnerable.

One final word before we conclude… you are not the Holy Spirit. You see, we have a tendency to get frustrated if every conversation doesn’t produce ripe fruit or go ‘our way.’ But the reality is, we have to let God work in God’s timing. You might simply be the first seed that gets planted in years of spiritual tilling, or you might be the final person to harvest years of spiritual seeds planted by others. So, whatever you do, don’t judge the conversation based upon how you think it went – we have to leave the work up to God. The important thing to remember is that God can use our willingness to transform lives and I promise, if you are willing to have spiritual conversations with people and follow these three simple principles, in no time you will be making a big impact in the lives those you engage.

Questions

Focusing On The Right Questions

I was reminded this morning, during a time of worship and reflection, the importance of asking ourselves good questions. On a sheet of paper I was handed a list of questions and passages to reflect on. Here are those questions:

  1. What place is my heart in these days?
  2. What am I holding onto too tightly?
  3. Where can I be distracted?
  4. Where do I find my joy?
  5. Am I sacrificing in joy?
  6. What do I need to reminded of?

I sat there and stared at this sheet, frozen with the inability to think of ‘my answers.’ Have you ever felt the same way? Literally stuck in a moment where the obvious was so unclear? For me, the question then shifted to: how did I get so wrapped up and tired that what should be easily answered became the unthinkable?

This simple little exercise reminded me of how we often approach our discipleship journey – a loving God wants nothing but us, even in our flaws, to drop everything and follow Him – yet we stand still. Think about Matthew, the tax collector. Jesus walks by him at his booth and says “come follow me” and he drops everything he was doing and follows. Why do we negotiate with that same question? When we are called to follow Him, that means follow Him and leave everything behind. I have had a month where I can honestly say I was doing ministry well, but not being spiritually discerning to what God was leading me to do. I believe that I was walking behind Him, but not ‘following’ well.

For me, in preparation to write this piece, I had to repent of my attitude and reflect on necessary changes. Here is a great quote from Scot McKnight that speaks well to this idea:

“‎Those who aren’t following Jesus aren’t his followers. It’s that simple. Followers follow, and those who don’t follow aren’t followers. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it.”

Discipleship, or following Jesus, requires not only that we ask ourselves questions, but that we invite others to ask us questions as well. We must be constantly immersed in the idea of what it means to truly follow Jesus.

How can we continue to challenge each other along these same lines each and every day?

Resurrection

Does the Bible say the Resurrection was on Sunday?

If you’ve ever read through the Gospel of Mark before, you’ve probably noticed a curious note that appears at the end of chapter 16, following verse eight, that goes something like this: “Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.”

Have you ever wondered about the significance of those twelve verses not appearing in early manuscripts, or how their inclusion could potentially impact your beliefs? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. But if you’re looking for Exhibit A, I would suggest you look no further than the article I wrote about Good Friday. In that article I argued against traditional Church beliefs by concluding that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and rose again on Saturday.

But doesn’t the Bible say that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, which is Sunday? Let’s read the first of those twelve verses I referenced:

Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.” (Mark 16:9)

It would appear that it doesn’t get much clearer than that. Jesus rose early on the first day of the week. Case closed.

Or is it? One of the first lessons in biblical interpretation is to let scripture interpret scripture. So let’s take a look at the other bible verses that talk about Jesus rising on the first day of the week. I’ll wait while you look.

What’s curious is that you won’t find anything. There’s not one other verse that states Jesus rose on the first day of the week. That should serve as our first warning signal. Our second warning signal should be the note that appears after Mark 16:8. I would be hesitant to base my beliefs about the resurrection on a verse that can’t be cross-referenced, and which wasn’t included in some of our earliest manuscripts.

Before some of you get up in arms, let me make clear that I’m not questioning the inerrancy of the Bible in its original text. Even though many New Testament scholars have concluded that Mark 16:9-20 is “non-marcan,” meaning it’s likely this ending to Mark was a later addition by scribes, that does not necessarily mean the verses are not authentic or inspired.

However, if we assume the verses belong as part of biblical canon, doesn’t that leave us with the same problem about the timing of Jesus’ resurrection? Before jumping to conclusions, let’s first read Mark 16:9 from the King James Version:

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”

In this translation, the past tense is used. As a result, it leads to what may be a more natural reading of the text. The meaning of this verse is derived entirely from the placement of the punctuation. It’s important to note that the original Greek text had no punctuation. It was added hundreds of years later, and even then it was added based on human interpretation. So what if the comma was placed elsewhere in the verse?

“Now when Jesus was risen, early the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…”

So by simply moving one piece of punctuation, our entire understanding of the timing of Jesus’ resurrection can be altered. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Jesus was crucified on Friday; and with a proper understanding of Mark 16:9, there’s nowhere that says He was raised from the dead on Sunday morning either.

In the end, does it matter? As I stated when I wrote about Good Friday, the message of why Jesus died is far more important than when He died. But consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:

“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40)

When the Pharisees asked for one sign from Jesus proving that He was the Son of God as He claimed, He chose to use the example of Jonah. His one sign was that He would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. If we believe Jesus is the Son of God, then it is vital that we consider the sign He gave us proving His deity. That sign disproves a Friday crucifixion, and in turn – along with what we’ve studied about Mark 16:9 – disproves a Sunday resurrection as well.

Ultimately, what’s most important is that the resurrection did take place, just as Jesus predicted. And we can forever be confident that we serve a living God, because Jesus Himself gave us a sign to prove it.

Hate

What Does God Hate?

Recently a friend told me of a conversation he had about God. When the person found out that he followed Jesus she told him she had a list of questions for God. For instance, one of them was, “why does God hate Halloween?” My first thought was “wow, I didn’t see that coming”. My next thought was, I am not so sure God hates kids dressing up and getting candy from folks. In fact, I wonder if it doesn’t amuse Him on some level. Certainly there are other aspects of Halloween that are not pleasing to God, but that’s not the point of this. It is just to let you know how I got thinking about the question:

What Does God Hate?

It is a very important question, if for no other reason than “hate” has become a huge topic in our western culture. We now have a whole category of crimes in which we have ratcheted up the punishment because they involve “hate”. So if a black man kills another black man or a white woman kills another white woman, or a gay man kills another gay man, then it is just plain old murder. But if the black man kills a white man, or white woman kills a black woman, or straight person kills a gay person then we immediately start looking for a hate crime motive. Apparently killing someone you hate is more hideous than killing someone you only dislike or have no feelings about what-so-ever. Additionally we have added hate “speech” to the list of crimes. And here is where we really are on a slippery slope. More and more we are seeing people use the “hate” card whenever someone disagrees with the lifestyle, political position, or ideas of someone who is different from them. So now the political discourse is filled with accusations of people being “hate mongers” simply because they disagree with a policy or practice. So if someone speaks about having tougher immigration laws, then obviously they are a bigot and hate people from other countries. Are there people who hold to such positions and do it out of hate? Of course there are. But not everyone who disagrees with someone or something is motivated by hate. Let’s go back to basic logic. Take this line of thinking; People from Boston are Red Sox fans; you are a Red Sox Fan; you must be from Boston. NOT! 

What we see is that hate on any level has become taboo in western culture.

Any notion of hate is seen as being barbaric. It is seen to be part of some primitive nature that truly civilized and enlightened people have outgrown. Surely, the thinking goes,we should have progressed beyond hate by now. If we are talking about hating people then yes, certainly as a follower of Jesus I would say that we need to get beyond the hate of people and learn to love people as Jesus has loved us. Both the Old and New Testaments are clear in their instructions to us to love others, even our enemies. But in typical mentally lazy fashion we have taken the injunction to not hate others and have applied it to everything in life. Where as the Bible is clear that hating other people, just because they are different from us, is wrong, we have made it morally repugnant to hate anything. That goes light-years beyond what the Bible teaches and what God does.

The fact of the matter is, there are some things in life that God hates and if we don’t hate them also, then we are not the people Jesus wants us to be.

There are enough places in the Bible that speak of things God hates that are not an obscure concept. Rather, it is central to His very character as God. There are some things that are so odious to God that He hates them. Consider this direct and unambiguous passage from Proverbs 6:16-19,

16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:

17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,

19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

So let me ask you, Is there anything wrong with hating those things? What would be the opposite of hating them? Surely we don’t want to say that we love “hands that shed innocent blood” or “a false witness that breathes out lies”. Ok so maybe we wouldn’t love them but does that mean we have to hate them? What is the other alternative? I suppose we could be neutral about them, which is simply another way of saying, indifferent, uncaring, unmoved. In some respects that may be worse. Do we really want to be indifferent to the deaths of innocent people? Do we really want to remain unmoved by the death and destruction caused by people who are divisive and evil in their hearts, quick to run off and implement those evil plans?  Do we want to be so hard-hearted as to not have the least bit of inkling in our chest that this should not be? Being neutral, uncaring, unmoved, about such things is tantamount to approving of them, but without the guts to actually own such feelings. It is the weaklings way out, the rationalization of the moral coward.

God hates such things. He hates them because of what they do to people. He hates them because they violate his very character of being a God of justice and righteousness who cares for the broken and the downtrodden. He hates them because He is a God who loves those made in His image and to see them wrecked and destroyed by people who love evil causes a righteous indignation to rise up within Him. God hates such things because they are evil. Maybe that is the crux of the problem. We have so diluted our understanding of evil that we have lost the ability to be truly angry over it and the human devastation it leaves in its wake. How can you read about Gaddafi’s family pouring scalding hot water on a nanny because the nanny refused to beat a child and NOT get angry? How can you hear about a family denying water and food to a 10-year-old boy for days until he died of dehydration and not hate such evil? How can you hear of the tens of thousands or more of young girls trapped in the sex-slave industry and not hate what you hear? To not hate such things is to treat the people who suffer under them as less than worthy of our love and concern. We can understand having our hearts break over such things, but we need to go a step further.

We need to hate such things. Because God hates them too.

But here is the trick. We need to hate such things and at the same time not be consumed by our hate. We need to be people who point to redemption and forgiveness and restoration. Our hatred of evil must become a motivator for good. Our tendency when we hate is to become destructive and vindictive ourselves. We become that which we hate. Maybe that is why so many of us try to avoid any hint of hate. But in God’s case, when He looked at the destruction that sin brought upon humanity, He turned to a plan of redemption, forgiveness, and restoration. He did it by way of the Cross of Calvary. Jesus came and died in order to defeat the things God hates. He did it because He loves those who are caught in the bondage of such evil. In an irony of all ironies, he suffered that death at the hands of people who hated him and for people who hated him. That truly is hating the sin and loving the sinner.

Church

How Does the Bible Describe the Church?

Imagine for a moment that you’ve never stepped foot inside a church building before in your life. You’ve never opened up a Bible, never heard a sermon preached. Maybe you’ve never even heard the name of Jesus spoken before.

But then one day someone gives you a Bible, and you begin to read it. Cover to cover. You read about the beginning of all things in Genesis, and discover a God that is larger than life. You read about Noah’s flood, and discover a God who demands righteousness and punishes sin. You read about Moses and the Exodus, and discover a God who will rescue His people from the bondage that enslaves them. You read about King David, and discover a God who loves us despite our glaring imperfections. You read about Jesus, and discover a God who would send His Son to die, so we could live eternally with Him. You read the New Testament, and discover a God who wants to spread the message of His Kingdom to the ends of the earth, that none might perish.

Now imagine after reading about this God, you stepped foot inside a church building for the first time. What would you expect? Any expectations that you enter with would have been born solely out of what you’ve read in God’s Word. Your expectations would not be tainted by centuries of church rituals and tradition. There would be no influence of past observations and experiences. No expectations based on what you’ve been taught since you were a child. Just the teachings of the Word of God.

I’ve written in the past about our common modern day church experience, but my aim here is not to observe and critique our church experiences of the past. It’s to begin to consider what the gathered Church might look like if we stripped away any preconceived ideas of what we believe the Church is supposed to be.

If we look to the Book of Acts, where the New Testament Church begins, we see that the Church is built around four defining features: the Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  (Acts 2:42)

Let’s take a closer look into the first three of these four features, to learn more about how they impacted the daily lives of the first century believers, and how they should impact our lives today.

The Apostles’ Teaching

Teaching has always been a central focus of Christian gatherings. Early Church gatherings provided an opportunity for believers to receive instruction from the apostles’ teaching, as they submitted themselves to the authority of the Scriptures. In Acts 20, we even see an example of Paul preaching from early evening until daybreak, probably a timeframe of 10 to 12 hours! While this was a special occasion, we see that the Apostle Paul believed the teaching of the Word of God was so important that he filled an entire night with it. The same should be true today. While a good sermon lasting 60 minutes isn’t necessarily any better than a sermon lasting 20 minutes, we should always hunger for more teaching and preaching of God’s Word.

Fellowship

As we continue on in Acts 2, we read the following:

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2: 44-45)

Here we see that the early believers didn’t view the Church as a place where they gathered together on Sunday morning, they viewed themselves as the embodiment of the Church. As a fellowship of believers, they would live as one community sharing everything they owned. We see further example of this in Acts 4:

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common … There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32, 34-35)

This is where we seem to miss the mark most often today. Most likely, this is a result of the focus we’ve placed on Sunday morning in our culture. We’ve made Sunday morning the central focus of our Christian lives, while we live out our own lives Monday through Saturday. But what if we placed a greater focus on gathering together in groups throughout the week, living our lives together as the early Church did? Sunday morning still has an important role to play – its role simply needs to be refocused.

The Breaking of Bread

In Acts 20:7, we read a curious statement indicating that the early believers were gathering together not for the apostles’ teaching, or for prayer, but for the purpose of breaking bread together. Sometimes this meant sharing a meal together, and other times it meant partaking in the Lord’s Supper. But what is apparent is not only did they break bread every time they gathered together, they considered this to be a foundational practice.

As we continue to read further into Acts 2, we learn more about this practice of the early Church:

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” (Acts 2:46)

Here we read that the early believers would break bread together daily and attend the temple together. But while the early believers did meet together often at the temple in Jerusalem, the primary meeting place for the Church in the New Testament is in people’s homes. They would go from home to home, breaking bread and teaching the Word.

So ask yourself a question: Is that something you’ve ever done? Today, is it enough to simply observe communion once a month, or does the Bible call for the Lord’s Supper to be more than that? You be the judge.

In the end, Christianity is not simply about our individual relationship with God. It’s about a community of believers living out their lives together in obedience to the teachings of the Scriptures and in spreading the message of the Gospel. When we look back at Acts 2:42, the verse states that “they devoted themselves” – it wasn’t an individual thing, it was something they did together.

When we begin to live like this, I believe a funny thing will begin to happen: Others will take notice and want to be a part. And what better way to teach the world what it means to follow Jesus, than by following His directions for how to live our lives.

Grafted In

What Does It Mean to Be “Grafted In”?

I recently attended a workshop to learn how to graft new branches onto an existing Bonsai tree. In this case, it was to graft branches from a Shimpaku onto a Personi Juniper. In the process I was reminded of Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome when he speaks to the Gentiles as being united to Christ. He told them that they had been “grafted into the nourishing root”, meaning they were now intimately connected to Jesus.

So, if in fact we have been grafted into a relationship with Christ, what lessons are there from grafting that caused Paul to use this illustration?

The first one came to mind with the first action I had to take toward the plant that would receive the graft. It required taking an extremely sharp straight-razor and cutting a deep wound into the tree. I had to cut through the bark and cambium and into the heartwood of the tree. I couldn’t help but think of the wounding what Christ had to go through prior to and on the Cross in order for me to have forgiveness and a new life. When the instructor said you need to cut to the heartwood I could only picture the spear cutting to the heart of Jesus Christ.

In order to receive me as one to be connected with Him, Jesus was willing to be deeply wounded beyond what I can comprehend.

The second step dealt with the piece of Shimpaku branch that was to be grafted into the cut on the Personi. I had to select a small branch and cut it from its original tree. If it was going to be a successful grafting it had to be completely removed from where it previously received it’s nourishment and support. You cannot keep a connection between the old plant and the new plant. It just doesn’t work. It is impossible. The piece to be grafted will surely wither and die if it tries to remain connected to both Shimpaku and Personi. When it comes to following Christ, trying to hang on to what we have trusted in for support and nourishment in the past will not work. Jesus put it simply, give up everything and follow Him. When he bid Peter to step out of the boat, he was bidding him to give up everything his experience told him to rely on for support and trust only in his connection with Jesus. Peter couldn’t cling to both. He couldn’t hold onto the boat and walk on water with Jesus. James and John could not follow Him and stay on the shore with their nets. Matthew couldn’t be a disciple and stay sitting in his tax collector’s booth. And neither can I. Neither can you.

Being grafted into a relationship with Jesus Christ means being cut off from all that you would cling to for safety and trusting only His word as you follow behind Him on a path that only He can really see.

There was another aspect of the grafting that struck me. In order for the newly grafted branch to take, it needs a clean, solid, tight connection to the life giving nourishment of the receiving plant. The vascular system of the graft can only bond with the vascular system of the receiving plant if it is intimately and tightly connected. Jesus made the point in John 15 that we must abide in Him if we are to have real life. He makes the point that he is the vine and we are the branches and apart from Him we can do nothing. Apart from the nourishment of the receiving plant, the graft can do nothing and it will in fact wither and die.

If we are going to grow strong in Christ we must absolutely be bonded to Him in such a way that our life’s nourishment, what feeds us and strengthens us, is His life giving Spirit.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famously quoted as saying, “When Jesus calls a man to follow Him, He bids him to come and die.” Recently I read that quote in the context in which he wrote it in “Cost of Discipleship.” What Bonhoeffer was pointing to was the cutting off of the branch to be grafted from what had nourished and sustained it before. He is saying that all that you cling to, other than Christ, must be cut off from you. That such a life must be dead and, in fact, you must die to that life and find your life only in Christ. Bonhoeffer points out that for some they may await death as a martyr for Christ. For others not. But the dying he speaks of is not the future dying that may mean martyrdom, but the dying to yourself, and to all you cling to instead of Christ. This is a daily dying. It is a moment by moment reminding that only in Christ am I secure, only in Christ can I find safety, only in Christ is there truly life. Everything else is a counterfeit that seeks to interfere with the deep intimate bond that a well grafted branch must have.