66 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 7-16-18

  1. Jo, “In the Garden” just came to my mind.
    Maybe it would be a good hymn to teach the first time.
    It has a simple melody,
    It has easy to understand.
    With a good meaning.

    Just a thought.

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  2. While I was having breakfast, this thought came to me.
    “No dummy, ‘Amazing Grace” has to be first. It’s always first.”
    But the choice is yours. You may choose neither.

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  3. Morning! Chas In the Garden was my Dad’s favorite hymn….I can still recall, as a little girl , looking up watching him sing that hymn at church….such a peacefilled look upon his face. (He always sounded like Bing Crosby to me 😊) Oh the things that can transport us back in time! ♥️

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  4. Hello, all. We got home last evening about 8:00.

    A few comments from the weekend:
    – RK- Yes, we saw that rain you mentioned. We were on US54 in the mountain area South of Vaughn when we entered the storm. I had to slow down. Lots of water and the creeks were flooding.

    – Good discussion on Tamar and Amnon. It’s good to see people disagree without getting nasty about it.

    – Chas- not all poetry has to rhyme; modern free verse is an example. And as someone pointed out, the Psalms don’t rhyme, mainly because rhyming poetry is a European idea. the Hebrew and other Semitic languages have a different rule for poetry. That said, what makes the modern choruses awful is the lack of depth in the lyrics, and the repetition of the same lines over and over. Also, the melodies are too simple, which shows a lack of talent on the part of the writers.

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  5. OK, I’ll be the first to cause trouble here on a Monday morning.

    I remember singing “In the Garden” in church when I was growing up, too, I think it was one my mom liked a lot. But it’s fallen out of favor among more theologically-focused Protestants in recent decades. It’s considered a prime example of the overly-sentimental, me-centered, not very theologically sound hymns that became popular in the early and mid 1900s.

    https://www.upi.com/Archives/1985/03/22/Religion-in-AmericaNEWLNWorst-hymn-Some-say-In-the-Garden/9003480315600/

    Religion in America;NEWLN:Worst hymn? Some say ‘In the Garden’

    ____________________________________

    … ‘America’s all-time religious favorite, ‘In the Garden,’ has done the worst in fostering the I-me-myself version of Protestantism in our country,’ said Joseph Holbrook Jr. of the Reformed Church of Westwood, N.J. …

    … James Esther, Second Reformed church in New Brunswick, N.J., agreed.

    ”In the Garden,” he said, ‘is a fine example of sentimental fiction. It says nothing of substance, and is addressed to one one in particular, especially not to God.’

    ‘What it does say,’ he added, ‘is not particularly Christian.’

    … David Ter Beest, Faith Reformed church in South Holland, Ill., lumped the hymn with two others — ‘Ivory Palaces,’ and ‘When All My Labors and Trials Are O’er’ — as ‘hymns I seldom choose.’

    ‘While the words may have their basis in scriptural ideas,’ he said, ‘they express a sentimentalism about one’s relationship with Christ and could well leave a worshipper with a limited and unclear impression of the Christian faith. Worship hymns ought to glorify God and not man.’ …

    … Those dismayed by the comments on ‘In the Garden,’ however, can take comfort in the fact that what is probably the nation’s most popular hymn, ‘Amazing Grace,’ was cited by Burgess as one of his favorites and is ‘theologically sound.’

    ‘It centers on what is central in Scripture, God’s grace for all of life, and it is singable,’ he said.
    ________________________________

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  6. I’m going to go along with Peter on the lack of depth. I wasn’t going to answer the question originally, but since he brought it up, why not go with something with a good theological message? First one I thought of was “Thy Strong Word.”

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  7. Bible Study Fellowship, despite the criticisms of it, always impressed on us the importance of sound hymns — they should be God-centered, not ‘me’-centered (as so many of the modern choruses are, but also is true of some of our older sentimental hymns).

    Meanwhile, our church membership was sent this link to a new piece our congregation will be adding to our list:

    https://www.upi.com/Archives/1985/03/22/Religion-in-AmericaNEWLNWorst-hymn-Some-say-In-the-Garden/9003480315600/

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  8. We sang “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb” for a baptism yesterday and I like the simple hymn and message.

    Have never cared for In the Garden, but I noticed many elderly folk in nursing homes loved to hear it, probably because it reminded them of better days–and also a hope of heaven, right?

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  9. “In the Garden” was probably in its heyday during the mid 1900s, so many people simply are familiar with it and have warm feelings because they sang it so much in younger days. It reminds me of “American” Protestantism during its very comfortable years — when nominal faith became predominate a bit too much, perhaps?

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  10. Michelle, our pastor shared with us recently about visiting a church where “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” was sung and how newly touched he was by the simplicity of that children’s song.

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  11. When my mom was close to dying, she told me she wanted In the Garden at her funeral. I did not know that she knew it or any other hymn. She had never mentioned attending church as a child and I knew she didn’t as an adult. It gave me hope that maybe she knew God but was keeping quiet because my dad thought it silly.

    I like the song though I don’t know it well. It reminds me to turn my thoughts to Him. It reminds me of the first garden and it reminds me that we have a future which can be lived today. Those are all good things, in my view. It gives me hope and reassurance that the same God Who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, walks with me. Amazing that the Eternal God wants to spend time with me.

    We sang it at her funeral.

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  12. Summer feels like it’s moving fast, which is good from my personal perspective, although our hottest weather lies ahead. August, September and even October can be brutal.

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  13. Good morning…we took a new route into the office to get off the slow moving lava route.

    The weather here is icky. It is way too humid and the air seems bad. I think it’s a good day to stay inside.

    The discussion yesterday can be reconciled by saying the one man sinned terribly against his sister and he was given a clear freeway to do so by using the sins of others to his lustful advantage. It all goes back to living in a fallen world…our true reconciling factor that makes the people back then and the people today all guilty in a corporate way as well as individually. Jesus is our only help. He gives us ways to live and makes it possible to rise above the sins that compound to allow others to sin in such big ways. In the big picture, I do not see a disagreement on viewpoints on what happened. I see a macro view and a micro view that are in agreement. I am writing this while listening to a conversation Art is engaged with (new client) and also being interupted by the ringing phone. So I hope what I wrote made sense despite my distractions.

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  14. Taking from one of the quotes I posted earlier, saying “nothing of substance, and is addressed to one one in particular, especially not to God” does not describe the Psalms by a long shot.

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  15. In the Garden was my mother’s favorite. I do always equate it, as Mumsee said, with Adam and Eve, and that God still wants to spend personal time with us as His created and beloved children. It is not about deep theology, but it does relate basically to God being loving. He is love and that is a basic truth of our faith.

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  16. Interesting how all our moms loved the “Garden” hymn, it was pervasive in the 1950s and 1960s, I’d say. Maybe earlier as well (I think I read where it was written in 1912). It had a pleasant, swing-y tune — if you were a Baby Boomer growing up in church in those ‘mid-century’ years, you heard it a lot (as did our parents, which probably is why they feel so warmly toward it).

    But it’s not a particularly good hymn, especially for church.

    “Be Thou My Vision” is one of my very favorites. We sing it quite regularly at church (with men and women in alternating response lines).

    In part, hymns also are teaching tools for the people of God — they are to be an accurate expression of who God is (which is why all verses also should be sung, I remember hearing some years ago — when I was a child, we frequently sang verses 1-3-5 or some such combination; if a hymn is solid enough to be sung in church, it should be sung in whole).

    No one said Christianity isn’t personal, it’s very personal. It is also very corporate. But some of the more sentimentalized hymns (and certainly many modern-day repetitive choruses) are Christianity-light, if any at all.

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  17. …. And they begin and end with ‘me’ on center stage, they don’t go much further than that.

    Nancy jill (9:17), I have a similar memory of singing the ‘Garden’ hymn in church standing next to my mom sometime in the 1960s 🙂

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  18. “In the Garden” isn’t deep, but not all songs are. But where it becomes a “no, not a good song” (and not just neutral and meaningless) to me is the line “And the joy we share as we tarry there / none other has ever known.” This “I’m Jesus’ favorite, nanny nanny nanny” line is quite troublesome and quite individualistic as opposed to being about Jesus’ love for all His brothers and sisters. We are not, individually, His bride and His special favorite.

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  19. Yes, I was thinking that as well (“no other has ever known”) although I suspect the argument would be that it’s how we, individually, feel — it is such a strong tie that though we know we’re not the “only” one, it feels that way to us.

    Playing devil’s advocate …

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  20. I believe the “none other has ever known” part reflects the idea that ours is a personal God and He has relationship with each of us as individuals as well as corporately. That is huge. That God cherishes each one of us with our own unique experiences making each of us have a unique relationship with Him. Much as each individual snowflake is unique, so are we and so is our relationship with Him and His with us. What an enormous God we serve! No one worship fits all, which is why some are loud and some are silent, all worshiping the same God.

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  21. I use to love In the Garden simply because it meant so much to my mother. I still enjoy singing it. But after reading comments here on the blog, I reexamined it and thought about it being a bit too personal. I was influenced by that thought, too. Now I seem to have double thinking about it. I don’t think it is something to lose salvation over. Also, different people are at different places in their Christian walk. It is where some people are at in their Christian walk.

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  22. I would ask the children to list some of their favorite hymns or songs. You may be surprised. I always was when dealing with children.

    One of the cherub choir teachers of my children had them sing, “It only Takes a Spark.” I was dubious that the five years olds (to a few years older) would be able to memorize it all and sing it. I was wrong. They loved the song and sang it with no problem.

    Everything in our lives does not have to be deep and thoughtful. We only have so much time, so we would want to teach what is useful. Songs and poetry can influence us for years. Yet, if it is all misunderstood or disliked, it can do more harm than good. I am never advocating out right falsehood.

    We do need to remember there is poetic license in songs. My own husband wrote one that is about an angel standing at his door. His nephew loved it, but thought it was an actual angel. If you listen carefully, you will realize he was speaking of a wife. I can tell you that having a couple of songwriters in the family makes you more aware how individuals interpret songs filtered through their own viewpoints.

    I am convinced that many of the psalms would be rejected by some people today, if they did not know they were actual psalms.

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  23. We sing worship songs at our church, and I pay attention to what each song is pointing towards. So far, it seems that the songs selected all point to God and seek to glorify Him in some way.

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  24. I don’t care for ‘In the Garden’ because its sentimentality doesn’t touch any chords in my heart. Also, it is always sung at a soporific speed. The hymn could be played a bit more lightheartedly and quickly; but whenever I’ve heard ‘In the Garden’ sung or played, it always sounds like the music box is almost wound down and the melody is dragging. It is true that it is light on doctrine, and it is a perennial favorite with the United Church members whom I have encountered throughout my life (the United Church of Canada is the epitomy of liberal Christianity – name any modern controversial topic in Christianity and the UC has taken the progressive position on it). I don’t, however, think that ‘In the Garden’ is the ‘worst’ hymn. It was inspired by the passage in John relating the personal meeting between Mary Magdalene and Christ in the garden of the tomb, although I think the poet of the hymn forgot that the meeting between Mary and Christ was deliberately brief, as Christ had work for Mary to go and do, and there wasn’t any tarrying there. But there are a lot of hymns with much worse theology out there. You ought to see the United Church’s official hymnal!

    The hymn most lacking in theological weight that I have found in hymnbooks used by respectably conservative churches, is ‘Morning has broken’. In fairness, the words were written by a poet and author who usually specialized in more secular subjects:

    Morning has broken, like the first morning.
    Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
    Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
    Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

    Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlight from heaven.
    Like the first dewfall, on the first grass.
    Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
    Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

    Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning.
    Born of the one light Eden saw play.
    Praise with elation, praise every morning;
    God’s recreation of the new day.

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  25. Cheryl – Re: last night’s discussion about temptation, sin, and Revoice – Yes, I have heard about Revoice, and a week or so ago had read much of that article you shared.

    Although the article I shared did focus on that issue, it also seemed to be saying that ordinary temptation is sin, and that even involuntary temptation is sin.

    Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I think there is a progression. There is the first flash of temptation – to envy (“I’d love to have a house like this!”), to lust (“She is so pretty”), to lie (“I’ll make him mad if I admit that”). Then sin comes in when we entertain the thought a bit too long – “Why do they deserve this house and I don’t?” “She’s so sexy,” “I’ll just tell him. . .[something not true].” Does that make sense?

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  26. Sometimes a song is just a song. I don’t need every song to have a deeper meaning.
    In the Garden actually reminds me of my time in Rainbow Girls. There are seven lessons. Love, Religion, Nature, Immortality, Patriotism, Fidelity, and Service. In the Garden was sung after the lesson on Religion.
    We also sang Bless Be the Tie That Binds. I love that one too.
    In Christian school we sang Swing Low Sweet Chariot and a few more that now have a racial/slavery meaning. As a child I took the song to mean a chariot would swing by and take me to heaven when it was time. I assume it has also fallen out of favor.
    I could be all stiff upper lip about religion and religious songs or I could just enjoy it. Why do we have to be so somber all of the time?

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  27. My mother-in-law also requested “In the Garden” for her funeral, which we honored. It’s never been one of my favorites, but I don’t object to it.

    Recapping what I think others were saying, “The joy we share…none other has ever known” doesn’t mean nobody else shared as much joy, but nobody else shared the specific joy. No objection there.

    I like most of the hymns other people mentioned.

    I’ve never figured out how “Morning Has Broken” got into hymnals.

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  28. Here’s another QOD, inspired by what Janice said Friday about watermelon. What is part of your summer that you haven’t gotten to yet this year?

    I haven’t been to an outdoor pool or a water park yet. I used to go to one of the city pools often, but not so much since my children were grown. Now I’d go not so much to play but actually to swim a bit. Nowadays we’re more likely to go to the water park, take a few rides down a slide, and go around and around the lazy river, just being lazy.

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  29. Kizzie, I agree that a flash of an idea (an outside temptation) isn’t sin. Let’s say I am making brownies for a church dinner and I think, “If I stirred in a strong enough poison, this one pan would kill an awful lot of people!” Does that random thought–a thought about something I would never ever want to do–mean that I have sinned? My sense is no, I have not. That article would seem to imply yes. The thing is, only God really knows. But since that article was written in response to people who are deliberately savoring the temptation, and identifying themselves by their temptations, what it was directly addressing is sin.

    I personally cannot say whether someone who has homosexual temptations, but who takes them to the cross each and every time he receives such an unwanted thought, is sinning. But I can say assuredly that someone who wants to be seen as a “sexual minority” and to meet with fellow Christians with same-sex desires, and to enjoy home-erotic literature, and who considers being in a “covenantal” relationship with someone of the same sex and to buy a house together and adopt together and so forth . . . that person is savoring actual sin, that person is very likely not a Christian, and that is a problem.

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  30. My summer visit with friend in the SF Valley. I’m really short on time off available right now but will need to take a day for that.

    Yes, a song can be just a song, and that is fine. I think the point of the discussion revolves more around what is appropriate in a worship services, it must rise (I think) to a certain level and standard in that case.

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  31. Kevin, the local corn isn’t in yet. Once it is, we practically live on it.
    Oh, and also WILDWOOD VACATION next week!

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  32. “Morning Has Broken” is better poetry and a better song than “In the Garden.” It just isn’t a hymn. Neither of those (nor “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) belongs in a church service. It’s OK if not every song is deep, but a worship song, sung in public worship, shouldn’t be trivial. “Have a Little Talk with Jesus” is another that’s a problem, for different reasons. ( http://www.bereanwife.net/2010/07/bad-hymns-gospel-songs-have-a-little-talk-with-jesus/ Interestingly a whole lot of the comments defend the song.)

    We are told to worship God correctly “with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12). Not every song needs to be deep–not all of the Psalms are–but what is used in public worship should be true and worthy of our time and attention, and worthy of offering in prayer to God.

    When I was younger (and maybe even somewhat recently), occasionally I’d be somewhere alone, and I’d pray to God out loud, maybe sing a bit. And sometimes I end up making up songs on the spot and singing them in praise. Now, I’m no musician, and I’d never think of writing down those songs and teaching them to others. They are just my private praise, singing a prayer if you will. Nothing at all wrong with that. But not every attempt at a song belongs in public worship.

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  33. Kevin’s QoD: I accomplished my summer goals both last week, an ice cream cone and swimming. Kontaan naa [Wolof for ‘I am happy’].

    The list of hymns I suggested to Jo yesterday are not all of my favorite hymns, but rather the ones that are shorter and have easily singable melodies (which is why I included the hymn tunes, as most have more than one option for tunes). When it comes to singing about the Lord, I find hymns like ‘Arise, My Soul, Arise’ to be intensely joyful, while hymns like ‘If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee’ are deeply comforting. I like silly songs and I sing them to my nieces and nephews – last week, Tiny Niece prompted me to sing through most of a children’s songbook that we have, including perennial favorites such as ‘This Old Man’, ‘The Fox’, Polly Wolly Doodle’, and ‘Down by the Bay’. I have a collection of my favorite secular songs in several different genres. But when it comes to music expressing my Christian faith, the nearer the words come to the Bible, the more meaningful it is to me. So, my most favorite songs of faith are the ones setting the songs of the Bible to Scripture. I have wonderful memories of the team in West Africa singing this arrangement of the first part of Psalm 25, which we sung joyfully a capella in harmony, calling and echoing in response as in the last part of this performance:

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  34. What Roscuro said. The question was about teaching hymns to sing and we would want them to be Scripture and accurate. Unto Thee O Lord is one I often sing. I sing while driving, which is not often, and while doing various other tasks, which is often. Those Scripture songs are my favorites and I hope little ears will hear and little hearts will learn and it will become a permanent part of them.

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  35. Every time I think of or mention ‘Arise, My Soul, Arise’, I feel the need to sing it or hear it sung. The tune it is best sung by is named Lenox, and since most of the performances on YouTube are set to a modern, very slow and complicated setting, this is the best performance of the Lenox tune version I could find:

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  36. Oh, I never did comment on the photo, though I meant to. It’s a killdeer, and I think it’s a good example of how well God colored these birds to be ground-dwelling and -nesting birds. Of course they are best known for their broken-wing feint if a predator comes near their nest. It has been determined that they behave differently if the threat to their nest is not a predator. If a cow comes too close to her nest, for instance, she knows the cow isn’t looking for her eggs to eat them, but the cow might still step on the nest and destroy it. So she makes herself big and gets in the cow’s face to encourage her to turn somewhere else.

    The photo shows that she has several colors on her little body, including a bright orange eye-ring. But the colors together are so nondescript it is nearly impossible to see her even if you know she is there. Here she is in a field of last year’s cornstalks before this year’s crop got planted.

    I found out, taking photos of a killdeer family who hung out in my yard two or three summers ago, that Mama will leave her young somewhere while she goes to forage and then come back for them later, and like fawns they will stay put. They hunkered down in the grass, and I took action photos as they come up when she came back. In the early photos I had to look closely to see an eye; they simply flattened themselves and became invisible by being low. To a hawk flying overhead they probably just look like a small clump of dirt unless they move.

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  37. Since I came here I have been allowing myself to open up in worship during the singing. I will raise my hands or make motions with my hands that go with the words.
    That to say, I only do that when the song or chorus truly praises God. It is surprising how many songs are about me. I do not lift my hands as there is no praise involved.

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  38. Jo, the only time I performed in a youth choir at church, we sang the Lord’s Prayer. I would definitely include that. I taught that to Wesley when he was quite young (to sing it).

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  39. Cheryl – Yes, I certainly agree with you about the matter of those wanting to identify as homosexual (not merely one struggling with those feelings) even as they claim to be Christian. My comments were trying to take that out of the equation, and focus on the general issue of temptation and sin.

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  40. The latest local coyote encounter posted on social media:

    “So I left our dog out for an 11:30 PM bathroom break and she almost immediately started barking franticly. I ran and got my flashlight and she had a large raccoon cornered. The racoon would dart out and chase her and then she would chase it around the trees, etc. Both animals were growling, shrieking and with my yelling at the dog, it was a loud affair. Then out of no where, a large coyote comes trotting up. My dog sees the coyote, starts barking in a different pitch, and chases it off our property. Racoon takes off. Owner has a last scotch for the evening.”

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  41. I used to hate “In the Garden” but now I merely don’t care for it. In general I have a problem with singing hymns (or praise songs) in which the words are expressing feelings or experiences that I don’t share. When I was younger I assumed I was the only one who felt that way; now I wonder how many others feel that way but don’t say anything because they think they’re the only ones. One hymn that bothers me, but that inevitably we sing two or three times every Easter (once at each service), is that one with the line that says “you ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.” If some feeling or experience that I interpreted as “Jesus in my heart” was all I had to go on to know He lives, I’d have given up on God a long time ago.

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  42. I guess I have always equated having Jesus in one’s heart to mean the indwelling Spirit. Jesus, and His cleansing spiritual blood, is alive in believers keeping us spiritually alive and later gives us a new body. That blood must flow through the heart of believers. That thought in no way negates the other knowledge given to prove Jesus is alive. If I am misunderstanding then perhaps wanderers can discuss so I can have a better understanding.

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  43. Ah, another of my oriole shots is up. Again, this male oriole is just not the bright orange that many orioles are. But I like this shot because it isn’t the stereotypical oriole shot, but an oriole stretching and fluffing his feathers in the middle of preening. He doesn’t look as polished and put together as orioles usually do.

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