Saturday, July 30, 2016


Just for fun I sat for a few minutes and thought about signs that could be used by those who like to picket, signs that would be an accurate reflection of the truth of who God is and how God relates to us. Here is a short list of ideas for picket signs that could be alternatives to the signs my family chooses to use when picketing, if one considers it necessary to picket . . . just for fun:

Short list of ideas for Signs:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God

We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God

Learn to do right; Seek justice; Defend the oppressed

Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow

Come to Jesus, you who carry heavy burdens and He will give you rest

It is for freedom that Jesus has set you free

You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart

The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

The Lord has come to heal the brokenhearted

The Lord has come to preach good tidings to the poor

The Lord has come to proclaim liberty to the captives

The Lord has come to open the prison to those who are bound

Jesus came to make your life whole, not to destroy your life

God will grant recovery of sight to the blind

I once was blind but now I see

God will restore comfort to the mourners

Jesus was wounded for our transgressions

Jesus was bruised for our iniquities

By His (Jesus') stripes we are healed

The chastisement for our peace was upon Jesus

O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me

Lord, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You

God forgives all your iniquities, God heals all your diseases

God sent His word and healed them

Abraham believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness

God will relieve you in your distress

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord

The Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness

The Lord is Good

God restores my soul

God leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake

In You, O Lord, I put my trust

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord

The Lord loves what is right, and He loves justice

God Your righteousness is like the great mountains

God shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday

Peace on earth, good will toward men

God is Love

The Lord Rides out on behalf of truth, humility, and what is right

Win victories for truth and mercy and justice

The Lord is the confidence of all the ends of the earth

Mercy and truth have met together in the Lord

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God's throne!

Mercy and truth go before God's face!

The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed

The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does right at all times

Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them

Revive me and bring my soul out of trouble

God's justice will produce lasting peace and security

God's loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved

The Lord will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds

God so loved the World that He gave His only Son

Mark Chandler

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Eternal Hell: God’s Justice and Love

If you and I were to poll adults on what is the most emotionally terrifying thing for them the answers would vary a lot. People have phobias about dentists, dogs, enclosed spaces, lightning, heights, public speaking, spiders, snakes and a whole lot more. And for the people with true phobias they can reach a point of panic dealing with these things.

When I was a child my father took care of what would be the most terrifying thing for me. And that was the subject of hell. For me it was the most emotionally charged subject on earth. And that came about because my father believed hell was very real. And in his twisted way of looking at life he believed that only by bludgeoning people with fear tactics would he be able to produce compliant people who would turn to God to avoid hell. My father was Fred W. Phelps, Sr. the head of a cult in Topeka, Kansas called Westboro Baptist Church, commonly referred to as WBC. My father never understood how important it was to respect people enough to let them know the facts about something and let them deal with those facts as the free agents and adults they were.

Beliefs and feelings about hell range from one extreme to the other on a long continuum. Recently I spent 45 minutes doing an interview with a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Institute for the Studies of Religion at Baylor University on the subject of the afterlife, specifically hell. His goal is to create a tool to measure people's concerns about hell.

He asked me a lot of questions. About my life. About my religious background. About my beliefs about hell. He wanted to interview me and several of my family members who have left our family cult because he wants to include people who have had exposure to more strident teachings about hell to insure that his tool works for people with a variety of religious backgrounds.

I described the first 19 years of my life and what I was taught about hell. I referred him to five of my blog writings: “God Is Not Good”, “Abusing People with Religion”, “Assailed to the Breaking Point – Part 1”, “The Language of Love” and ‘My Brother Nate.” I told him this would be an efficient way to get an overview on the reality of the religious abuse our family experienced as a result of my father’s toxic pathology. I mentioned that as far as I was concerned I lived in a kind of hell for the first 19 ½ years of my life, right here on earth.

I stated clearly and forthrightly that today, as a man in my 60’s, I believe in a literal and eternal hell. And not because of my father’s fear tactics in my life but because of my own personal study and convictions.

I also described the stark reality of the psychological damage of having hell and the threat of hell used to control and hurt and damage me and its effects on my heart and my life. I told my young interviewer it took me 20 years after leaving my family’s cult to overcome the damage done to my heart and psyche by my father’s use of repeated threats of eternal hell to terrify me and manipulate me. My healing from this damage would include years of intentional work with professional counselors. Many of my siblings have not had the benefit of this type of restorative, healing work and remain trapped in the devastation of my father’s torturous words inflicted on their childlike souls as young children.

I explained in that interview my belief that the teaching of hell to children is inappropriate for where almost all children are both emotionally and developmentally. I told him I believe the love of God should be taught to little children and that little children should have free access to the truth of God and His love. Children need repeated affirmations of their worth and value to God during their young lives to grow up as spiritually healthy young ones. I told him my strong belief that only when a child is of appropriate age is it even responsible to tell them the truth about hell as Christ told all of us in His word. As we mature, each of us needs to know what is true if we are to ever be free. We need to hear and understand truth, but this needs to happen at a time when we are ready to absorb it and understand it.

I liken what the children in my family went through hearing about hell repeatedly and in such graphic and cruel terms to children who grow up in the midst of a war. Children will try various ways to cope with bombs dropping around their heads but when you talk to them as adults there are many scars in their souls having had to go through those things at such a young age. That would be true for all of my siblings and me who experienced “hell abuse” at too young an age.

I described to my interviewer the experiences I had as a child and how opposite they were of what I now believe is appropriate for young, tender minds and hearts. Instead of being told the truth about hell so I could have knowledge and be free to respond to the truth about my eternal consequences as a person, the threat of hell was used to hurt me and unnecessarily terrorize me. My father lied to me and my brothers and sisters about hell and about God. He lied by leaving out the amazing truth of God’s profound love for each of us. And that God had every intention of rescuing each of us from hell. If we wanted to be rescued. And that God gave each person that free will choice that he respectfully offered to them. With no bludgeoning!

I made clear that terror – stark raving terror - was the dominant emotion that described my childhood. Fear and anxiety and turmoil, a sense of worthlessness, hopelessness and the complete inability to sit still in my own skin were some of the ways I described what it was like to be threatened with eternal hell as a child, by my father. This wrong teaching was reinforced by my father’s own rage, violence, hatefulness and physical, mental, emotional and religious abuse of our entire family.

I described how my father manipulated my siblings and me by using the threat of eternal hell to control us from leaving his cult. Sadly, I had to set out in detail how constantly my father would verbally condemn anyone to eternal hell whenever he disagreed with or was upset with anybody at any time. He was very verbally free with these condemnations. My father told all of his children that if we ever left his church (his cult) we were going to hell. Period! The very thing he was so fearful of for his children was used by him to attempt to get and maintain complete compliance out of his children. My father had no respect for us as free willed beings who had to come to grips with our relationship with God on our own. He respected us far less than God did and yet never told us of God’s strong desire to rescue us from all that fear and condemnation of us as little precious people.

But in spite of all the wretched abuse we suffered as children growing up with my father I also said the solution to the question of hell was not to deny the truth of hell. I said there was one person who loved us enough to tell us the truth about the spiritual realm; the invisible realm of the spirit world; and that person was Jesus Christ. That Jesus came to earth just as He and his Father had decided he would, for the purpose of saving mankind. Jesus had an amazing and daring rescue mission to do for planet Earth and when He had accomplished His rescuing work after 33 brief years here He returned to the Father. He was faithful to tell us the truth about what we need to know.

1. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God they experienced exactly what God had told them would happen. They died spiritually. Spiritual death meant separation from God. Separation from God is Hell!

2. Hell is also described in the Bible as being a fire that is never quenched, outer darkness, a bottomless pit, wailing, gnashing of teeth, a worm that eats on you and never dies and never ending torment. Bottom line, I said that hell is literal and it will include the experience of pain and anguish and it is the complete absence of goodness and the complete absence of God. And hell will never end.

3. I said that God had solved the problem of this spiritual death and separation from Him before the problem had ever even occurred. He had a plan in place ready to solve this problem before any of us ever were aware we had a problem.

After having read all this you may still have a pit in your stomach or a brain that keeps saying back to you “but why hell at all? What is the point? Why can’t God forgive us for our wrongdoing without some punishment?”

That is how a lot of us feel when we first encounter hell. What has helped me in looking at this issue is to realize that we here on this earth have a strong need for justice to happen when others are wrongdoers against us. I recently watched a special on television about death row inmates in the weeks up to their executions. What was fascinating was not just the defendants understanding that they indeed had done a heinous crime in murdering people, often who were innocent bystanders, but the victims’ families’ responses. Even if the victims knew that the defendant had come to a place of repentance and understanding that the murder was wrong the victims still believed the inmate must suffer death.

I pondered where that need for justice comes from. I think it is from God. I think we have a built in system in our beings that knows when a wrong is committed and cries out for justice. I think it is built in by God. And honestly when I look at how we hurt each other on this planet, I realize that a lot of the perpetration of our wrongs is because we don’t see justice happening here so we take things into our own hands.

Back to hell. Hell is a judicial punishment for wrongdoing. It is a perfectly logical response by a just God toward our sin. God considers sin worthy of death. He made the planet and he gets to set up the justice rules. But God is not just perfectly just but He is perfectly merciful. So in his perfect mercy, He and His Son Jesus came up with a plan to deal with both issues. God and His Son came up with a plan to fulfill justice and mercy at the same time.

Oddly the whole thing was going to happen in Christ’s physical body. God was going to dump all of mankinds’ sin and crimes against humanity and God into one moment in history. And that moment was Christ hanging on a cross to pay for humanity’s sins. It met God’s justice requirements because Christ’s death was big enough to cover all of humanity’s sins. And He was allowed to do it because He never sinned himself. I know, wrap your mind around that! But that same act met God’s mercy requirements in that God and Jesus took the “hit” on themselves. And paid the price for sin so no one ever had to go to hell. Isn’t that amazing? Can you imagine being Jesus and knowing that your purpose in life was to pay for all the rape, and murder and kidnapping and wrongdoing the human race could ever think to perpetrate on each other and you yourself having done none of that sinning? Amazing Jesus.

So this week on Friday as you go about your day, just ponder the fact that Friday represents “good Friday” in our spiritual history. As the day God provided justice here on earth by Christ’s dying on that piece of wood in the Middle East. Sin had been paid for. And God also provided mercy. If someone wanted to accept the gift Christ provided by paying for our sin, we never had to experience hell.

And if you really want to get excited about who God is, ponder with me what happened on Sunday. God raised Christ from the dead so he would be able to live forever. If you receive the gift of Christ’s death on the cross, your sins are paid for, but Sunday, oh Sunday! It represents that Christ comes to live inside us in the person of the Holy Spirit to allow us to live COMPLETELY different lives than we would have before. Because we have a brand new living spirit that is capable of being and doing good! I know. This blog is mostly about Friday. But, oh, Sunday! Sunday is wonderful too in our lives!

I explained to my interviewer that there is no behavior or action or attitude or mistake that any person could ever make that would result in them spending eternity in hell except the rejection of God’s solution to the problem. I said that ONLY the rejection of God’s provision; who so loved us that He gave His one and only Son to die and save us from hell and so He could have the relationship with us He has always wanted; would be the reason any person will ever find themselves in eternal hell separated forever from God.

I told him that every single human being has complete freedom to avoid hell. That Christ loved us enough to tell us the truth about the invisible realm that is eternal, as well as the visible realm which is temporary. And by loving us enough to tell us the truth He has given us the full opportunity to solve the problem of hell forever, personally. Each of us individually!

While I had learned from my father to be terrified and to be one hundred percent certain that I would face a personal angry God with personal accountability and punishment, I had never been told that I had the option of experiencing a personal God who loved me and who wanted a relationship with me forever.

Sometimes I liken my father’s behavior in speaking so much and so often about hell because of his fear we’d miss out on heaven like any other parent who sees their child going into a potentially risky behavior. An example might be how a parent deals with a 16 year old learning to drive. One type of “glass half full” parent might want to not focus on the fearful part and help the kid understand the fun of getting to places, the freedom and independence to travel in this wonderful country, to get around where and when you need to and what driving offers. But even the glass half full parents probably muster up the courage to say “but honey, there is a downside to driving. You will be going at high speeds in a 2 ton hunk of steel with other drivers going at high speeds and we live in a culture where people drive drunk, drive while texting and drive when the weather doesn’t really permit it.” That might be a balanced approach to include the good and the bad.

What my father did in this analogy was not only to scare us to death about possibly dying and hurting ourselves and others, he just preemptively took the keys away! And told us every day that he would control our ability to drive (and hurt ourselves) by just never giving us the keys.

It would be impossible to overestimate how messed up my siblings and I are with this attitude my father foisted on us. He scared us to death with the negatives but not once every explained or lived out the positives.

So you might be surprised, with my upbringing when asked by my interviewer if I still have a fear of hell and my answer was “No!”

I said it was not just because of knowing the truth but that it was because of a personal relationship I have developed in the intervening years with my God. I said we all understand what it can be like to have a trusting relationship with a child, a parent, a spouse, other family member or friend and that though difficult to describe in words, we all know what it is like when we can trust someone. I said the same is true of God. In the world we live in, through difficulties and joyful experiences, day by day, week by week we are able to grow in our relationship with God and we can learn to trust Him.

Brokenness and terror and fear and anxiety can be replaced by wholeness and trust . . . and peace. I told this young man that perfect love completely eliminates fear. That the difference is the difference between night and day. It is like shining a light into a dark room. When the light enters, the darkness is gone.

I discussed the dangers of avoiding the subject of hell or denying the reality of hell. I posed the questions: “Why would you avoid or deny something of such importance when all you have to do is face directly toward the truth and deal with the truth straight on?” Not only does it help you forever but it allows you to have peace and wholeness in day to day living. Why would a person live in denial or accept a lie when the simple truth can set them free?”

Emotions that destroy the heart can be replaced with emotions that restore the heart and restore the life for each person who knows the true living God and knows the truth He has given us. We have absolutely no reason to fear hell!

So hell is real and even more real is the victory over hell and the grave that God secured for everyone who believes. The healthy way to heal and put your life on a strong foundation, forever, is to listen to what our loving God has told us about what is true, and accept what He says. Place your life firmly on the foundation; The Rock: of Christ Jesus!

I ended by telling this young man that I am free in my heart today in a way I never thought possible growing up in my father’s house. I am at peace in my heart because I have come to know the love of my Creator. His love is deep and wide and it lasts forever.

I invite you to please begin a relationship with God today, if you have not already done so, and take an unbearable load off of your mind and off of your eternal soul. Don’t put it off, don’t avoid it, and don’t try to do an end run around it or break an opening through the middle of this reality. Face it, accept it and live.

Eternal hell is real because God is Just. Eternal salvation is real because God is love! Receive the gifts of Friday and Sunday! God wants to give them to you!

Mark Phelps

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Legalism and Grace

Have you ever had someone call you a legalist? It is not a compliment the way it is usually used! It’s definition? Legalism: A strict literal or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. And once you put that conformity on other people they really want to be close to God. Not!!

How does one get wrapped up in religious legalism? It is an important question. So many churches today preach a wonderful message of grace and forgiveness from the pulpit but yet they live so ungraciously toward one another during the week. So harshly. So legalistically. We are supposed to live out the message and truth of grace, not just preach grace, not just have grace on the name of our church. We are to live it out in the every day of our lives . We don't want to place massive gorillas onto peoples' backs and add to their burdens by requiring religious adherence to our rules.

Religious legalism usually starts off with good intentions. It begins with peoples’ heartfelt desire to find acceptance from God. That is a good thing. Many strike out on their own to order their lives to what they believe defines holiness. The problem is, they tend to look only at the things that can be measured. And that would be outward conformity only. They go on this journey because they believe it is the right thing to do and to find His acceptance.

They start with themselves – what would God like? Well He would probably like me to go to church. He would probably like me to read the Bible. He would probably like me to pray a certain number of hours during the week. He would probably like me to go to Bible school. He would probably, He would probably, He would probably. Then we say “I'm not sure I can do all this but I really want God to like me so I will try as hard as I can!” The approach starts with 'me'. Not with God. And it is an easy place to find oneself. If you are in a relationship with God you are half of that relationship! And God says clearly “Be holy as I am holy.” It’s not as if the desire to be holy came from nowhere.

My experience watching Christians is they are at a crossroads once they decide to follow God into the deep waters of holiness. We either realize it is a day by day walk with God that requires humility and wisdom and many bumps along the road or we invent rules that will allow us to “know” when we have met the “holiness standard.” Set by us of course!

Let’s step into Joe or Jill Christian’s life. Let’s say Joe has had a problem with Internet pornography before he came to Christ. He is aware that the Internet, for him, is a dangerous place. And for him initially he might choose to set up some serious parameters around his usage of even his home computer. He might have passwords that his wife knows. A history he is willing to show her (or his Bible study) at any time.

But what if Joe decided his problem required him to set up those same parameters on everyone? What if his own set of rules that he believed needed to be deeply personal convictions for himself he decided needed to be personal convictions for everyone. Joe might become a deeply religious person as he sought to deal with his own weaknesses and aspects of his specific sin nature. But the problem is Joe could easily end up entering the condemnation zone (which is a much worse place than the twilight zone).

The condemnation zone is where you start taking your personal convictions and looking at other people through them and making a judgment on how they are doing with God. How is that other person doing with God? How are they lining up with God? Are they working hard to gain His acceptance? And usually they are not (in your opinion). And you begin making assumptions about their motivations and the condition of their heart.

It’s not like women aren’t prone to these same issues. A woman might come to a conviction about the wearing of certain neck lines, skirt lengths, swimsuit wearing, you name it. And for her it might be a desire to honor what she sees in the Bible as it pertains to holiness and modesty in dress. The challenge for one woman is she may decide that all women everywhere, no matter what age, what culture and what state of relationship to God still have to follow her rules for holiness. She might start on a crusade she thinks is going to honor God but ends up decimating the women and girls around her.

So then how do you see other people? If you have set up stringent standards for yourself you might just decide other people who don’t have your standards just don't care! They're just not dedicated to God like I am! Something is wrong! No longer can you love people but they have to perform up to a certain level before you will allow your love to go out. And you are giving the impression that this is how God feels toward us. And that is not what the Bible says at all! Grace is defined as God’s wonderful goodness and unmerited favor toward people. He gives away his favor just because he wants to! So why are people then trying to earn his favor you ask? Because they believe that's what religion tells them. Religious tradition is filled with this.

The church my father started is an example of religious tradition on steroids. If everything is not done exactly how their rules say things are to be done the response is immediate harshness and condemnation. They monitor and police every member to enforce their religious rules. And if you are not a member of their church or leave their church you are condemned to hell, end of discussion. All the while they tell you their behavior is motivated by their love for you. They have a vague intellectual understanding of grace but they desperately cling to their rules and traditions; their legalism! The Pharisees in the Bible got so lost in their religious rules, traditions and power structures that when the Lord appeared and disrupted their religious system their response was deadly anger.

You completely miss what God has revealed about Himself in the scriptures when you live a life like I just described. The only way a person can find acceptance before this Holy God is to believe in the holy substitute God sent to this earth to essentially go to the gallows for us. For our sin. And that holy substitute is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ alone is holy enough to gain the acceptance of God. Jesus Christ alone is perfect enough to gain the acceptance of God. You and I will never be perfect enough to gain God's acceptance no matter how hard we try. Not by a million miles! But the Good News is that God has a way around this problem. One he designed with Jesus before time began.

The way to gain God’s acceptance is to have someone deal with our sin problem which has put us massively at odds with God. You can’t have sinners hanging out with a holy God who hates sin. At least not very well! The way God the Father provided for us to come to Him and be accepted was Christ. Because He completely accepts Christ and Christ is willing to stand in and take our punishment for us. So the first step in a relationship with the Father is to believe the Son did what He said He could do. Pay for our sin and set us free. To be fully and completely accepted by the Father. You see there is no other way other than faith in the solution, the one He provided, the person of Jesus Christ.

In a sense I need to hide myself behind Jesus Christ who is my stand in. The one who is going to my gallows. I need to be attached to him as a branch to the vine. Then you and I can have that acceptance with God before we try to do anything to please God. The acceptance God has provided is by my faith in Jesus Christ alone, and all of a sudden I find the complete acceptance of God. My sins are forgiven. I am washed clean by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. And I can experience in my soul the presence of God. And I can experience His love. His love begins to fill my heart and it becomes my motivation! The more I understand His love the more I respond to His love!

Jesus wants individual hearts to be open to Him as Messiah and King. It's why He came. He's not looking for crowds. He is looking for individuals. He wants each of us as individuals to open the gates of our city; open our own individual hearts; and let Him in to be King of our life, each of us. He wants us to let Him set up His throne in our heart, each of us. That's what He wants. And when He does that our whole life changes. And God is saying I will accept you in the exact same way I accept my beloved Son if only you will hide yourself in Him.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17

Hide yourself in the Son of God. That is where you will find the acceptance of God and you will experience it in your soul. God has promised us that He will put His Holy Spirit within us, just as He put His Holy Spirit upon His only beloved begotten Son. And then we will have God's power to live our lives like Jesus lived and not depend on legalism for God's acceptance. This is a life-long process motivated by the love of God, powered by the strength of God, as we are kept safe within the care of God.

“Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;
My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
“He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
“A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
Until He leads justice to victory.
“And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”
Matthew 12: 18-21

A bruised and battered reed blown over by the wind, knocked over by the forces around it. When someone comes to such a bruised and broken reed the person says: “can I use this?” and someone answers: “No, throw it away. It's worthless!” But Jesus says He will not break it and destroy it. Instead He will take it and heal it. Some of us are like bruised reeds today. We're barely making it, we've been beaten up by the world and we are kind of messed up. We've been knocked down, drug along behind a truck, and we are just shredded wheat on the inside. Just completely mauled and demoralized. And we think what can God do with me? What can God do for me?

God is not interested in you meeting a certain standard before He will accept you. He knows better! God accepts you in Christ. And God wants to come and heal your brokenness. But if you approach God on the basis of works you will never experience that healing because you will always be blocking His moves. You say to God: 'No no, you don't understand, I'm just not good enough!' And God says: “I'm good enough!” I was good for you. Now let me heal your life.” You say to God: “No, you don't understand! I haven't got that act together yet! I'm still working on it.” And we keep blocking His moves.

All the Lord wants you to do is put your hands down. Stop fighting with God. Let Him reach down into your heart and touch your life, in the deep deep areas of your life, and bring freshness and healing. That's vulnerable. Don't be afraid of the Lord. Put the hands down. Sure you are a broken reed, a bruised reed. But see the Lord wants to come in and heal you and set you back up right and wrap that binding string around you to strengthen you and touch your heart and restore your life.

The Lord is well pleased with us when we hide ourselves in Jesus. Let Him cover you with His love. Cease from striving and take Him at His word. He loves you. He is not going to hurt you.

Mark Phelps