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The Clash of Titans For The Choice of Your Soul

The Biblical book of Job is my favourite book of the Bible.

Here is this successful man. Wealth, family, health and blameless before God.

Then there is this heavenly chess match between the Creator of the universe and satan a mere angel.
Job is caught between the wrestle.

Will he waver, whom will he choose to side with, is his faith dependant on tangible assets? How does he handle the opinion of others such as his wife and his close friends?

Mysterious questions are asked and answers are elusive.

Friends come and try to help with band aids for broken soul.

In the end Job comes out with probably more questions than he had before but also his tangible wealth is restored and increased.
Some writers write in such a way that you want to slowly read each word and each sentence over and over again. Like a fine wine that you sip slowly to enjoy the flavour.


I have stumbled upon such a writer in Mike Mason.


Here is a long, but worthwhile, quote from his devotional book The Gospel according to Job.


A duel is a highly formal, almost civilized contest between two combatants in which the circumstances are scrupulously controlled so as to make the odds as even as they can possibly be. Neither party is to have an unfair advantage, and to that end the duelists choose identical weapons and observe a strict ritual, a code of conduct.


In a duel the point that is being proved has nothing to do with brute strength, nor even, in the final analysis, with skill or marksmanship. Rather, what is on the line is that peculiar commodity known as honor. The entire rationale for the contest is the defense of personal honor.


In the case of a spiritual quarrel between God and Satan, surely it would be perfectly legitimate for the omnipotent Lord of the universe simply to parade His superior strength and prowess by unleashing his big cannons against the Devil’s pea-shooter.


But the problem, in terms of honor, is whether such a triumph would prove anything. Would it-as insane as this might sound-be fair? No, it would not be fair at all, but lopsided. From the standpoint of honor such a fight would be rigged, and so in the end it would prove nothing.


So what is fair?


In an area as subtle and abstruse as the honor of celestial beings, what are the ground rules? What possible code of ethics might apply? Where is the common territory upon which these two inscrutable adversaries can meet? And what common weapon might they employ that would be truly equitable to both?


The answer, of course, is man. Human beings, soul and body, are the dueling ground where heavenly powers clash.


It is as though two magnificent warriors were to strip themselves entirely of armor, throwing aside not just weapons and shields but raiment itself, and were to step forward stark naked and join in hand-to-hand combat, wrestling in the mud.


For this, finally, is the only way in which the Lord Almighty can begin to prove moral supremacy over the Devil without in any way drawing upon His infinitely greater resources of brute strength.


God’s omnipotence, remember, is never in question in this fight.


Like it or not, even Satan is compelled to bow before the throne of God. But what is being disputed in dubious battle on earth is God’s moral right to omnipotence, His mandate to rule. It is a question of honor that is at stake, and therefore the theater of conflict must be one that is appropriate to the display of purely moral qualities.


Who will win the prize of humanity’s allegiance and praise? Will it be the Lord or the Devil? To whom, in the crunch, will man entrust his soul?


The test is an eminently fair one.


Indeed if the advantage falls either way it is to Satan, in that the duel ends up being fought not in the full light of day, but in confusion and darkness, on the Devil’s own turf.


And so in bewilderment and in exquisite torment man, through the subtle moods and shades and turnings of his own high-mettled spirit, selects the winner.


He is the weapon of choice between giants.


Questions to Consider and Leave a Comment
  • Mike Mason states ‘Human beings, soul and body, are the dueling ground where heavenly powers clash’. What does this statement invite you think, feel and do?
  • What is ‘fair’?
  • There is a battle going on according to Paul in Ephesians 6. Mike Mason believes we individually select the winner. How does meeting with others strengthen the choices we make?

Barry Pearman


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Faith trusts in a God perspective of the fog bound experience.

‘Take a walk in my shoes for a mile or two, or three. Then you will see things differently.’

Fog



I listen to people. I read their voice. Syllables and tones mingle with frowns and smiles.


I read between the lines to try and grasp the context of the struggle.


At times the words that are spoken feel like daggers aimed at my heart. Pin pricks mostly go unnoticed until the cushion is over subscribed.


‘Shields up’ my mind responds and a giant jelly like bubble is imagined, invited and installed around the place of vulnerability.


I listen and this is what I hear.


Paranoia and anxiety whisper gusty winds of uncertainty on the tightrope of life. A need to ask these questions. A need to know. A ‘must make up my own conclusions if I am to feel safe and in control.’


A tightrope is covered in fog and all that can be seen is the cold wire beneath. ‘I must know and be in control to be able to take the next step’.


Fog bound tightropes are dangerous places.


Slippery wet,
moisture cold,
height exposed.


A demand to know all the answers to every question reveals a heart that must be in control.


Some mysteries will go unsolved, at least for the moment. Cold cases will remain frozen.


Job asks his questions, God is in the fog.


Faith trusts in a God perspective of the fog bound experience.


The tightwire has now become an airport runway on which one can dance, run, and explore.


Like a child my faith is secure because I am held by God who has all the answers to every question that I gaze upon.

Will mystery be my friend or my foe?


Foggy tightrope questions are laid down and I delicately dance with Father, Son and Spirit.


I leave behind Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite ( Job’s supposed friends) to their accusing fog bound ways and waltz into a new life.


Note to self: Must take dance lessons

Barry Pearman
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Uncomfortable about Going to Church? 11 Ideas to Help

So many people avoid being part of a Church service because it just makes them feel uncomfortable.

fingers tapping anxiously fear waiting

Feelings of anxiety, panic, and being judged are just some of the challenges.

Yet they have a deep desire to be part of a worshipping community. They want to know God and they want to form relationships with others, but barriers and roadblocks exist.

Here are just a few barriers that I have encountered, and perhaps you would like to add a few in the comments section below.

  • Past experiences of judgemental teaching – ‘I fear that I am going to be made to feel guilty’
  • Clothing – ‘They all dress better than me’
  • Concentration – ‘I just can’t concentrate for the length of the service’
  • Sermon – ‘It’s too long and words are used that I just don’t understand’
  • Habits – ‘I smoke (or drink or…) and they are so perfect, they wouldn’t accept me’
  • Anxiety – ‘I can’t sit still, I pace, I will just disturb others and draw attention to myself’
  • Money – ‘They are always asking for money and I don’t have any. It makes me feel guilty that I can’t give when the offering plate comes round’
  • Relationships – ‘I know people in that Church and they know me, perhaps they will gossip about me’
  • God stuff – ‘Does God really love me? I have done some really bad stuff. There is no way any would accept me’
  • They don’t understand my illness – ‘They think my illness is all due to some sin in my life, some demons, some lack of will power or faith. Does God think this?’
  • Size. ‘Too many people too close, I don’t like being so close to others’
  • Hygiene – ‘I cant afford soap and deodorants so I smell, people won’t like that’
I could keep writing many more examples, all of which are valid, to the mind of the person.
10 ideas that can help
  1. Change your belief that ‘Church’ is about a time and a place, to Church being a relationship with a few others focused on Christ.
  2. Find two other people, perhaps like yourself, whom you can trust and form a Christ focused relationship with. Read the Bible together, pray together and listen to each other.
  3. Talk to some one in the Church and explain your difficulties and ask if they can help. If the Church can’t then they probably aren’t the type of Church you want to be involved with anyway.
  4. Have a Church buddy. Some one you can sit with, reassure you, and generally help you out.
  5. Check the church and it’s teaching etc out via the Internet.  Many churches now use social media and have websites and facebook pages etc where you can visit. At River Valley Baptist, where I pastor, we use social media and it just provides another opportunity for people to look into what we are doing, but from a safe distance.
  6. Sit outside in your car and watch people coming and going from the service. What do they wear, do you know anyone, are there people with disabilities, are they generally happy and friendly looking people or are they the walking dead?
  7. Enter the service late and leave early. This is a great idea if you are really afraid of meeting people. Some people do this also to avoid loud worship music, so you may not be alone!
  8. Sit at the back, then you can easily leave or go for a ‘ciggy’ if it all gets too much.
  9. Sit on the end of the row. Easy escape if needed.
  10. Ask for a copy of the sermon notes so you can read them later. The preacher may be surprised at just how popular this would be, or not!
  11. Ask someone what the big words mean. They may not know either, and that might be the preacher we are talking about here!
Perhaps you might have some ideas or thoughts you would like to share. Leave a comment?
Barry Pearman

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“Why Lord?” Question without Answer

Why Lord?


“Why Lord?”
Question without answer,
Nothing gained only ventured.
“I hurt!”
Pain pierces, stabbing the core.
Why? Receives no reply.
“Just wave your magic wand
Grant me my three wishes.”
Tears spill,
Pain elevates rising to the hundredth floor
The basement long forgotten.
The cry rises screamed from silent lips:
“It hurts! Stop it hurting!”
The clawed hand has ripped my midriff open;
The pain of rejection rises
Threatening to split me a thousand ways.
Loneliness rakes its claws;
The soul torn and tattered.

It reminds me
Of the spear tipped with anger plunged into my centre.
Twisted, it ripped love from its home;
Fear took root within the wound;
Love and acceptance were unable to penetrate.
The blade slashed the heart.
Blood poured unchecked into the soul.
Poisoned by self’s denial
The hard knot of resentment plugged the hole.

Weariness seeps into my bones.
I’m tired of fighting:
I surrender to the pain,
Hopelessness a close second.
No packet healing, just add water,
Instant wholeness at the drive through.

Your hand reaches into my soul;
It holds the bleeding, wounded heart,
But the pain doesn’t stop.
Care is given but where is the healing?
No aspirin for quick relief,
This is a damp cloth on the forehead
Sleepless night after sleepless night.
Hardness an easier road:
Pain dulled by the hard knot of resentment;
Anger waiting to surge.
But the anger doesn’t heal:
The volcanic explosion would only spread the flame,
The fire burning many more.
The Man of Sorrows asked for another cup,
But You gave Him only one.
“TRUST! . . . REST!”

“Rest in the pain?”
“Rest in My arms!
Cry the tears.
Sob into My heart.”

The teddy bear is left on the nightstand.
“The pain make it stop!”
With the pain comes the fear,
With the fear the cocktail of emotions
That I bottle for another day.
Threatening to suck the life from me,
A cry rises soundlessly in my throat,
Stride for stride with the inner recessed pain.
The inner reaches disquiet sounds on silent lips.
Exhaustion threatens depression;
Many roads no direction.

“Trust Me!
I will heal.”
“Doesn’t stop the pain!”
“No it doesn’t.
Trust Me anyway!

by Jo Anastasiadis 

Spiritual Growth Ministries – Volume 11, Number 2. Winter 2012.
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How to Change Your Thoughts and Feelings

If it’s been learned, it can always be unlearned. It’s never too late to untangle the knots in your thinking.

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny. Mahatma Gandhi

Do feelings and thoughts drag you to places where you don’t want to go?
Negative thoughts and feelings tangling themselves into your daily living?

Time to take control.

It will be a battle of the mind. Some days you will win, others days it will be just tough going.

How are you going to do it?

Will just saying positive things change your deeply ingrained negative thought patterns?

Perhaps saying positive things will just promote a false self. Looking good to others while deep within your true self is screaming pain.

What is needed is deep truth that will address that inner cry.

In order to oppose the influence and direction of one’s old feelings, a rational mind first needs a very good reason. Without truth to reassure, change isn’t possible. D. Riddell

Jesus said this

The truth will set you free. John 8:32


Where do we find this truth?

For me this truth comes primarily from two sources.

1. Scripture. 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Daily I bring my thoughts and feelings to the double-edged scalpel of the Bible. As I submit to its judgement. I find truth that challenges my thinking habits.

Focusing in on a few scriptures and mediating on them, I chew them over and over until they transform my mind.

2. Wisdom Insights.
These come from all sorts of places. Mostly from books, but I also get them delivered daily to my email inbox. Some of the best come from Christian Counsellor David Riddell. You can join his email service at Living Wisdom or follow on Twitter. You may also like to connect with Living Wisdom North Shore.

As you discover the new insights write them down. Possibly on little cards that you can carry during the day and remind your brain of truth.

Repeat them to yourself over and over again. 
You are building new patterns of thinking in your brain.
It will be like building a rope bridge over a canyon. At first it will be hard work, but over time and repeated crossing’s over the canyon the new thinking pattern will get stronger and stronger.

Have a look at this incredible video by Dr. Robert Winston as to now we learn.

What insights have helped you change your thoughts and feelings?

Barry Pearman

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The Walk of Healing


The Walk of Healing 

The road You have taken me on has led
Down into the valley of the shadow
Where I feared much evil, but found none,
Save what I truly thought about myself.

I have climbed the mountain of pain
To the precipice of despair,
Death awaiting, threatening on each side.
The walk narrow
Between the cliff of self-pity,
With the rocks of depression below;
And the scree of the past
Offering a slippery slope backwards to where I began.

I have heard my own self echo off the canyon of truth
Vibrating throughout my reality.
Traversed the desert of self-sacrifice,
My thirst growing, my will dying;
Control being handed to God again and again.
Finding new life at oases of refreshing,
Yet beyond still, desert’s death in all directions.

I have seen myself in the pond of silence,
The water sometimes crystal clear:
Truth obvious to sight;
Sometimes ruffled by the wind of self-deception:
Truth distorted, the liquid indistinct, blurred.


I have walked the beach of companionship,
Jesus by my side and praise in my heart
Oneness a part of every stride.
I have wandered the plain of tears
Wondering where my Companion has gone,
Feeling the pain of the child uncried for many years.

Turned my back on my Companion
And walked the base of the volcano of anger
Smouldering with resentment.
Stumbled onto the circuit of forgiveness
A road that circles and crosses many others
And brings me back to myself.

I have circled the walls of self-preservation,
The brick work impenetrable even to me.
Crossed the drawbridge of self-revelation
Facing the truth of how I view myself and God.
Travelled to the plantation of the past
To discover the slavery to sins, lies and deception
Planted by the deceiver many years ago.

Hesitantly stepped the stones of self-disclosure
Constantly fearing the quicksand of rejection,
I have faced the enemy of confession:
Shame and fear burning deeply in my heart;
Only to realise my enemy was, in fact, a friend.

Meandering into the meadow of love and compassion
I have lain in the grass allowing
Your care to seep into me.
I have trodden the forest of solitude
Where You have pervaded my soul,
Transforming without sight with each footfall.


I have been drawn still further
Into the narrow trail of sorrow and sadness;
Thorns scratching through past emotions,
Exposing rejection and grief.
Plummeted into the abyss of hopelessness,
The darkness complete without and within.

Rowed the ocean of fear
In a dinghy swamped by the surging waves.
Immobile from the coldness of terror,
Holding to the ineffective oars of self-effort,
Waiting for the island of faith or trust to appear.

I have been stranded in No Man’s Land,
The battle between truth and lies
Raging around me.
Stopped at the inn of exhaustion
Too tired to continue;
Sitting amid neutrality
Seeking neither to feel nor to change;
Not wanting to face the road again.
Yet reprieve from travel, gifts energy,
So I have journeyed on at Your encouragement.

I have searched for the fountain of instant healing
That the rest of the road may be walked
Without pain or difficulty.
But healing has not been a destination.
The journey has brought a little more health 
only one stride after another,
one landscape at a time.

Little by little the soul’s wounds receive care.
And always my Companion of the road
Beckons me forward;
New terrain awaiting our travelling feet,
Along the Walk of Healing.

By Jo Anastasiadis

Spiritual Growth Ministries –  Volume 11, Number  2. Winter 2012.

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Is Jesus Safe?

With a sudden burst of speed Oscar the cat sprinted across the dining room floor and took a swipe at our small dog Miko. 

It was unpredicted and left everyone, especially the dog, puzzled as to what had triggered such a response in the cat.
Cats can be highly unpredictable. Pat them one minute and then the next they might bite you, well at least our one does.
We like to have life as predictable as possible don’t we? But then something completely out of the blue comes and shakes us.
One of the metaphor’s used in the Bible to describe Jesus is that of a Lion. In this description we discover themes of royalty, strength, power and nobleness.
Would you trust a Lion with your life? 
Personally I don’t think I could. They are huge animals and kill quickly and powerfully.
In a story called ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe‘, a beaver is trying to describe the lion Aslan, C.S. Lewis’s Christ type, to two young girls, Lucy and Susan.

“Is — is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he — quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

 

We all need people whom we can feel confident that they are safe for us to be broken and vulnerable to. They aren’t going to ridicule us, gossip about us, or share our secrets with others. They will listen and know us.
Is this enough though?
Perhaps someone who is safe will be someone who will see beyond the presenting issues you have to a vision of who you could be. They will hold on to you, even if you let them down.
The compelling vision they have will be a steadying light that keeps the relationship secure even in turbulent times.
If this is the case then Jesus is safe.
He will invite you to change. To face your fears and anxieties.
As well as that he has promised to never leave you alone. You will always have him walking beside you.
He won’t be like normal cats and suddenly rush upon you and take a swipe. He is kind and tender to your heart.
Have you fully trusted Jesus, the great kind Lion with your heart?
Would you like to leave a comment?
Barry Pearman
Image by Ben Pearman Creative Commons

What God wants You to do with Your Feelings?

I must evaluate whether expressing my acknowledged feelings to anyone other than God will serve His purpose, and I must control their expression accordingly. Larry Crabb

I have emotions.
I am human, and I as a creation of God I have feelings. God feels, so therefore I do.
Feelings are good when they are feelings such as being loved. Then there are other feelings that I want to deny, push away and run from such as grief, fear, loneliness.
How do you handle feelings? 
Surely if God created us as a mirror image (now flawed and smudged) of themselves, then surely God can give us some guidance as to what we are to do with those feelings.
In a strange obscure little passage from the Bible we get but one glimpse as to what God wants us to do with feelings.

The word of the Lord came to me:
“Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your moustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”
Ezekiel 24: 15-17

Ezekiel’s wife was about to die. God comes to Ezekiel and instructs him not to groan and grieve openly.
Life can be bitterly hard at times. The ‘delight‘ of Ezekiel’s eyes was about to be taken from him.
I have had ‘delights’ taken from me.
Things I have held onto, dreams, hopes, plans, all seemingly dashed into a thousand pieces till all that I had left was dust.
In this instance, not in all, God comes to Ezekiel and instructs him to not mourn openly but to grieve privately.
Two insights emerge from this passage that give us some wisdom and instruction about feelings.
God wants us to
1. Acknowledge how we feel

I hear God saying this

‘Ezekiel, your wife is about to die, I know that you will have feelings, it’s ok, I put them in you, your just like me in this.

I grieve too, I feel pain, I weep and am vulnerable to the decisions made by my people.

I am not a God that is made of stone or wood, unfeeling and inert.

I am not a God that is far away and oblivious to what is happening for you at the core of your soul.

Acknowledge how you feel.

Feelings are ok, its just what you do with them’.

2. Control the expression of our feelings 

I hear God saying this

‘Ezekiel, I don’t want you to run from your emotions or to bottle them up. I want you to express them in a way that will speak a certain message on my behalf.

You have choice in how you express the heart and I want you to control your expression.

So many times people can use their feelings to manipulate a response in others of guilt, pity, sympathy, attention seeking etc. These can be little games that people play, trying to meet the needs they have that I desire to meet.

For this instance, I want you to use this power of choice to send a message to my people. I know this will be hard for you to do, to control your emotions, but I will be with you, giving you all the comfort you will need.

Ezekiel, it is not sinful to express emotions, I do it all the time. From feelings of joy to sadness, I express them all. Sometimes privately and sometimes publicly.

Will you bring the emotions you have, first and foremost, to me. I won’t reject or abuse a broken heart. I know you better than anyone else, and can help. At other times it is important as well to share emotions with others who are safe, but for this time of grief bring them to me privately’.

Feelings are normal and healthy. God invites you to express your feelings to him, and to safe others.

Have you ever been told off or punished for expressing your feelings? Perhaps as a child?
Time to rethink your child hood conclusions and beliefs about feelings.How do handle feelings? 

Please comment and share your thoughts.

Barry Pearman

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Sitting at the feet of Jesus … Like Mary

Like Mary 

Sitting at the feet of Jesus
sitting near to all that’s good
sitting at the feet of Jesus
no one telling me ‘I should’

He is looking down towards me
I am looking up at Him
sitting at the feet of Jesus
I feel His peace and rest within

Sitting at the feet of Jesus
there’s no pressure to perform
sitting at the feet of Jesus
feeling safe and inly warm

Sitting at the feet of Jesus
I will let Him run the world
sitting at the feet of Jesus
where my heart and soul are healed.

by Joanne Fergusson (Luke 10:38- 42)

Spiritual Growth Ministries –  Volume 11, Number  2. Winter 2012.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary. Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675)

Do you have Memory Stains that Refuse to Budge?

I can’t get rid of that memory stain. It refuses to be washed out. 


No matter what I do, who I see (for help), or where I am, it is always there. 


I look forward, towards the future, and try not to think about the past, but I know its there, hauntingly revealing itself to me wherever I go. 


Do you have memories that just cling to you like a bad smell, like a stain that refuses to be washed out?


You have found forgiveness from God for what happened. Others may have forgiven you. You may have forgiven yourself. 


The memory still remains though as a natural consequential brain recording of the event.


Don’t you want to 
just have a eraser for the brain that you can take to those memories.

Paul, I believe, personally referred to these memories as a ‘Thorn in his flesh’. He had the memories of all the atrocious things he had done. Murdering people because of their faith.


He even made the claim of being the ‘chief of all sinners’. 


What do you do with those memories, stains, and thorns?

Here are some thoughts

  • Acknowledge they exist. Paul didn’t run away from what he had done. He fully acknowledged his embedded stain.
  • Embrace them in the Grace of God. The undeserved kindness of God is now what gives true and deep comfort and strength.
  • Know that out of these memories, stains and thorns, something powerfully good can be released. Something pregnant with compassion and mercy can be gifted to others.
  • Consider how these events have shaped you in good, and not so good ways. Who have you become?
  • Question how much do those past events define who you are now in your eyes, and in the eyes of others? You are not defined by your addiction, or the mistakes made in the past or in fact even the abuse or traumas you have experienced. You are who God says you are. Loved, significant, and forgiven. Your memories, stains, and thorns are just echoes of the past, not the present. Who truly defines you? Surely only the one who knows you better than you know yourself can. 
  • Know that there will be a time when there will be no more stains, thorns, or memories. When we are Christ’s presence forever there will be no more stains or thorns. No memories that will ‘pop -up’ out of nowhere that throw you into panic and tears. 
  • Invite God to bring you the comforter with all truth, and recall to your mind what you really need to know.  
  • Trust in the one who says this

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of fleshEzekiel 36:25 -26

Perhaps over time, and many repeated spin cycles, the stain will lose some of its vividness, the thorn won’t be so pointy and the shadow will begin to dim. 

Question to Consider and leave a comment. 
What has helped you with Memory Stains?

Barry Pearman 

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