The Spirit of Strength
The Spirit of Understanding gives us an outward expression of the life of Christ within us. We are engulfed in the Spirit of God as we are being changed from glory to glory. The outward expression of this is exhibited in our unique purpose in terms of the original plan God has for us blueprints from the foundation of the world. The Spirit of Understanding brings what the Holy Spirit is speaking on the inside which is a mystery, into this realm of reality in a truth. The truth of who we are is an illustration of the power we are clothed in. When we become a believer, the Spirit of God indwells us. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit it is “upon” us. We are now “Cherebum” which is a mystery being—a real human being in the nature, ways, character, power and authority working within us to be all that is God because the Holy Spirit is our teacher. This does not mean we are God, but rather a new creature. This means we are Royalty in Christ and being transformed into a brilliant light that changes the world.
Our identity, thinking, beliefs, values, culture, and our entire family history are changed, as we are “re-born” in Jesus Christ. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are more concerned with transformation rather than “information.” The new person we now are belongs to the royal household of God—we are royalty in Christ in relationship. We are becoming real in the nature, ways, character, power, and authority of the living God. The new person we now are is part of a new bloodline in Jesus Christ because we are “engrafted” into the vine of Abraham. The nation we belong to is a “Holy Nation” and our nation belongs on earth today since the time of Abraham. Beginning in Genesis 17, originally called Abram, he is given the name Abraham that means: “father of multitudes” at the Covenant ceremony. “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am El-Shaddai–‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.’” Abraham’s story is essentially the history of the establishment of the covenant between Abraham and God: God calls Abraham to leave his land, family and household in Mesopotamia in return for a new land, family and inheritance in Canaan, the new land. Abraham entered relationship because of His covenant with the one God as He submitted his will to God’s will.He is with us: The Lord is with us; Emmanuel is in Tabernacle with us forever. Angles are about our Father’s business fulfilling His divine plan of relationship. The Angels have the purpose of bringing what is already in heaven into this earthly realm according to our faith and God’s will. The angels ascend from earth in response to our prayers, in response to God’s plan for us, and in assignments for protection and more. The heavens are open with our worship as well in the Body of Christ as many see angels. Angels are helpers and bless what God is doing in our lives according to our purpose and calling.
The Feast of Tabernacles was a shadow of Jesus dwelling with us–it reflects how God dwelt with Israel in the wilderness in the “Tent of Meeting.” Jesus abides with us: Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4). During this feast apples are dipped into honey and eaten. Psalm 19 and 119 speak of God’s sweet Word–we are sheltered by the Holy Spirit and filled as well. The tabernacle symbolizes so many things–we have a place in God’s household, He is preparing a place for us, in Heaven there are many mansions, we are under the Shelter of His wings–all of these images reflect our identity as members of The Kingdom of God. On this earth we have humble and temporary dwellings–life is short and difficult. Yet we have a glimpse of heaven in the love, hope, and joy we find in our Jesus as we see Him manifest in our daily lives.
The Spirit of Council is an aspect of the Holy Spirit and is a gift to all believers. We have access to the revelation of council from the thrown room of grace.
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers; 17 [I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son] (Ephesians).
The Spirit of Council reflects who we really are according to the grace given us in the Body of Christ. This is the premise from which our authority should operate from. It is the mission of our spiritual leaders to hold us in the vision of understanding the personal will of the Father for each member of the body, the corporate knowledge of revelation, and to walk in the intercession of the saints.
18 And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the [f]hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the [g]saints (God’s people) (Ephesians).
When we have the eyes of our understanding opened through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can embrace our inheritance. Our inheritance in becoming all that we are created to be in the hope of a predestined life in the fullness of the will of God. The five-fold ministry holds this the ultimate perspective to “see” from. Our heart’s become enlightened as we “hear” the Word through our spiritual leaders teaching their “sons” by the Spirit of Council. We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God and our spiritual leaders: apostles, prophets, pastors, teacher sand evangelists embrace the Kingdom message in terms of imparting it to the Body of Christ in their lives of Service to the King.
19 and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength 20 which He [h]produced in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion [whether angelic or human], and [far above] every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and world but also in the one to come (Ephesians).
Our spiritual leaders guide us into embracing what the power of God really is in terms of seeing the supernatural manifest in the earth. Our leaders help us reach to the stars. Their specific anointing pours out with the revelation of heaven as they lead us through the Word through the Spirit of Council. The spiritual shepherds are not self-serving–they are accountable for laying their lives down for the sheep–in terms of being the “overseers of our souls.” The Shepherd of the flock feeds the sheep–the Shepherd would never “eat up my people like bread” (Psalm 53:4). This means our spiritual leaders would never dream of exploiting the sheep for their own interest or judge the sheep as expendable commodities for self-gain or aggrandizement.
22 And He [i]put all things [in every realm] in subjection under Christ’s feet, and [j]appointed Him as [supreme and authoritative] head over all things in the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills and completes all things in all [believers].
Above all our Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers, understand that Jesus Christ is the head of the church. The Body is His Bride. These men and women of God are called by God and given the authority to lead us. The commission of love is the mantle over our spiritual leaders as they scout out the land, as they are the watchmen on the wall, as they take us across the Jordan to the Promised Land because they are led by the Spirit of Council. Our leaders declare the fact that as believers, we are now saints because how can we remain sinners while we are under the blood of Jesus Christ? God sees a saint not a sinner.
It is the Spirit of Council that initiates movements of God. What this means is that God works in movements on this earth and we need to accept those movements in terms of God’s purpose as a body of believers—after all, we are “one Body in Christ.” God anoints movements of His Spirit through the Spirit of Council and although we may cringe at the hell fire and damnation message, there were tremendous revivals in times past that brought many to Jesus–and it could happen again. However, the reason we cringe at that message now, is because it is “old manna.” Manna in the wilderness was fresh every day and aside from the Sabbath, it rotted by the next day. We are refreshed and encouraged with the fresh word of manna from our spiritual leaders who understand how to feed the flock with fresh manna.
When Paul address the churches, he always calls the believers, saints. Our spiritual leaders call us the same. He himself is busy readying a gift to bring to the poor Christians in Jerusalem: I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25-26; see also Rom. 15:31; 1 Cor. 16:1-6; 2 Cor. 8:4, 9:1, 9:12). Our leaders serve the church in the Spirit of Council. What this means is in view of the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God,” we are no longer identified as “sinners.” In fact the “sinner” is the old man; the man who walked according to the dictates of this world in the flesh. We are now citizens of God’s household walking according to the dictates of the Spirit of the Living God; in fact, we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Our leaders encourage us to be all that God created us to be as saint in the household of the living God.
Paul tells the Corinthians, Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are (1 Cor. 3:16-17). When we combine the idea of now being a temple of God’s Spirit with the idea of now being members of God’s household, our identity rests on the foundation of the apostles and prophets of God. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner-stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22). Our spiritual leaders are all about receiving vision and direction in how to do this through the Spirit of Council.
When my husband and I visited Wales last year, I became fascinated by the small village community spirit. One evening in the lovely village of LLansawel, after walking beside a small river in the cool of the evening, the green blanket of grass covering the banks as we strolled down a medieval paved street of stone, my husband and I found our way to the local pub. I honestly felt like I just walked into a Tolkein novel and Hobbits would appear at any moment. We were warmly welcomed—and even more so when my husband joined in by speaking Welsh.
We were invited to sit at the main table with the locals. It was an old wooden table and there were half a dozen people there already. After a short while, watching the body language and listening to a conversation I did not understand, I could not help but ask a woman at the table, in English, “How long have you lived hear?” She replied, “All my life, I was born here. I am the sixth generation.”
I told the woman that I was absolutely fascinated with the idea of living in the same place in light of the fact that never residing for long in one city; I lived so many different places in the United States. I asked the woman this question: “Do you find that because you have lived here all you life, that you are expected to behave in a certain way or that perhaps you cannot grow beyond a certain point because others may have a certain expectation of you or may not understand?” The entire table stopped talking—the language of Welsh switched off. The atmosphere suddenly changed—it seemed a window opened up blowing in something and all at once we seemed to be dialed into a profound moment.
One at a time they began to reply to the question in the English language; “The truth is, everyone knows each other. We know who everyone is and they know who we are. We may not always see eye-to-eye, but when someone is in need, we all help out.” Another man replied: “to put it bluntly, we know the measurement of everyone’s inseam (bursting out laughter of all.) But when any one needs help, we are there to help even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye. We are a close community and know everything about everyone. In fact most of us sitting at this table are related.” At that point I asked, “ Do you find that this causes you to feel like you do not have any privacy?” They all simultaneously burst into laughter once again and began to joke about the community dynamic.
A profound thing happened in a small moment that evening in summer, in this enchanting and somewhat ancient little Welsh town of 600 people. I felt validated, included, and significant with people I never met in my life. I actually felt like a member of the community for just that small moment because they let me in on something I considered rather personal. When my husband burst into singing a Welsh hymn: here we are, in the middle of Middle Earth in a Welsh pub with wooden tables singing and drinking ale while everyone is smiling; rosy faces full of joy, having the time of our lives with people we never met in our lives or will ever see again. It actually brought tears to my eyes—oddly enough, I saw others a bit touched as well. We participated in this gifted moment: aliens becoming community, aliens becoming “family.”
It was this encounter that initiated my vision of community and fed my prayers for small group communities of believers who get in touch with each other in such a way as though they have known each other all of their lives. I have to believe that in this age of autonomy and isolation, we can experience relational community like family with the Body of Christ in the Power of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, believers gathered by meeting in homes, worshiping, praying, and breaking bread together. This concept is what my “vision” is based upon, in the spirit of Diatribo.
Diatribo is such a beautiful word in the Bible. In the Greek it means: “stay with,” or “abide with.” This is how the people of LLansawel, Wales live their lives. LLansawel actually means: “Centered around a church.” Small groups are like the villages centered around the church. Diatribo is the way of life we hunger for because we are Christians. It is a natural desire to enter into relationships and abide with others as we abide in Christ. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5). We abide with Jesus and it is His will that we abide with each other in one mind and one accord: so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:16). Diatribo is returning to the Garden to walk with God in the cool of the evening and witness a renaissance of gifting and purpose come to life in The Body of Christ.
When I shared my passion for small groups with my husband, I asked him what he thought mattered: “Feeling valued leads to healing. Feeling significant leads to confidence”—Eric Bowen
This is a broken world we live in and we are broken people. We all need healing and confidence to make a difference. We need to be honored and validated for who we are and encouraged in the Body of Christ to become all that God created us to be, with all our talents, personality, spiritual gifts, shortcomings and weaknesses, failings and victories. Above all, in all of this we honor and value who we are in Jesus Christ. Prayer is an integral part of small group and brings the validation to the love of God. Prayer initiates God’s will in the midst of believers. The early believers were noted for their diligence in prayer.
Small Group Mission Statement: Honor and Validation of Others
Small Groups honor and validate each person’s unique identity in Christ as we travel on different roads of spiritual growth. We offer a safe place to soak in the Word, develop healthy relationships, pray, break bread, and encourage the Body of Christ with each spiritual gift. We do not seek to fix or advise, but rather to pray with each person to be directed by the Holy Spirit to find solutions and celebrate victories through circumstances that build faith and character as we grow spiritually in unity.
Cultivating: The Word of Our Testimony
Small groups are about connecting with others and cultivating God centered relationships as we share our stories with one another. This brings us into a fellowship with the Holy Spirit and fellowship with others. Small group is about going the distance: “not always seeing eye-to-eye but being there when there is a need.” Going the distance means not only hanging in there during difficult times but celebrating victories. Small groups walk like Jesus walked in the spirit of Diatribo.
It takes time to build relationships especially to the point of becoming transparent. If it is just about study, where is the life in it? That is where sharing both the “word” of our testimony (Revelation 12:11) and the Word of God comes in. When believers come together to share the Word; Jesus is in our midst and the Holy Spirit ministers truth as each responds with their unique point of view. We need to honor the perception of others in terms of what is real to them. I also believe that sharing the word of our testimony brings small groups into more intimate relationships—I believe it is a Biblical dynamic that God intended for us to do while we fellowship. Sharing what God has done in our lives builds faith—God loved to remind His people over and over how He delivered them from Egypt. It is a powerful thing for Christians to share how God has delivered them from all the circumstances we face in life; the “Egypt’s” of trials and tribulation, bondage, addictions, and sin in general etc. Sharing our testimony is not just about how we came to the knowledge of the truth or were saved, however. It also embraces what God is teaching us on a daily basis. It is also what my friend Kat calls, “God Sightings,” sharing the wonder and victory in our lives led by the Holy Spirit of the living God.
On the Farm: Plowing, Watering, and Harvest
My friend Kat started a singles small group on the farm I lived on many years ago. Friendships were difficult to form in the group at first because many seemed carrying all the hurt experienced in relationships. Then I watched a beautiful thing happen: Kat began to “validate” what each person shared—she commented and asked others to comment. There was an art to this kind of communication that amazed me because it birthed the spirit of fellowship in such a way creating healing of broken hearts. Kat also had a way of leading comments away from “counseling.” In other words, she avoided “fixing” people. Kat rather directed the conversation towards allowing God to enter into the conversation—bringing in the Word. Jesus joined in the group—He sat in in our midst in diatr ibo as we experienced diatribo in an honoring way. Kat had a way of asking questions in such a way as to point to solutions in terms of what the Word says: “What fruit of the Spirit do you see helping in this situation?” “What Psalm can we read to encourage so and so?” “How did Joseph forgive his brothers?” This brought a sense of hope and resolve into every dilemma. Communication began to grow as we learned how to look at situations from the perspective of the wisdom of God found in the Word.
Then Kat started a “Prayer Journal.” Whenever a prayer was requested, we logged it into the journal. As prayers were answered, we began to celebrate victories. As a matter of fact, every single prayer was answered that we logged into that Prayer Journal.
The Rose of Sharon: Instinct
We developed an instinct for addressing matters with the direction of the Holy Spirit on how to pray. The word instinct refers to unconscious thoughts or actions that are conditioned into a person through repetitive behaviors, habits, or experiences. The kind of instinct that I am referring to are instincts formed when we process and reflect on experiences through the lens of the Word to understand what happened; how God was at work in that situation. Instinct is developed as we read the Word and learn what the voice of God sounds like. When the Holy Spirit brings illumination to the Word, we are conditioned to hear His voice in the midst of circumstances. If something we think is God does not sound like God, then that is the rubric of instinct. That means that not every word we hear is God. His Words sound like the Word and the Word confirms the truth of what we are hearing. Also not all circumstance are from God, instinct also means watching how God “works all things together for our good.” This accumulation of wisdom began to allow us to instinctually know what to do and say and how to act in a particular situation because our vantage point is from the Word. God created our brain so that we can grasp patterns in His Word and then apply wisdom from the Word in response to each situation. As small groups grow, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to see those patterns as we learn and grow and enter diatribo in honoring relationships .
*Kat always mentions that when someone is sharing, it is good that they share their experience (their personal point of view) rather than offering advice in response to what someone else has shared. This allows others to glean what they wish to glean according to their “free will” while respecting other points of view. Also Kat makes sure that the more quiet people have a chance to express themselves. We want to see change and transformation in lives but that does not mean we are here to fix each other. That is God’s job and He is much better at it than we. Instinct may lead us into the gift of discernment on this matter.
Small Groups Fellowship with The Spirit: Breaking Bread & Soaking Nurtures Loving God and Each Other in the Garden
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrew 1:25).
…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).
The Plow: Imparting Culture into Small Groups
Founded in Prayer:
Discernment: When, Why, and Where?
The Garden: Planting a Small Group
It is important for small group facilitators to understand how to guide the group into diatribo and away from group therapy. Small Groups are communities of God’s people that have the opportunity to be all that God has created us to be. Let’s not take it for granted that God loves each person so much that He gave His only begotten Son. Every single one is on a different journey in this life. Honor the fact that we all have different needs. What we all have in common is the fact that we wish to learn how to be more like Jesus—to be changed from glory to glory in His image. Everyone is on a different “glory road” because God is cultivating different seeds for different gardens of purpose and callings in each special and precious life He created from the foundation of the world. Pray:
Scouting the Land: Addressing Expectations
Scouting the land means finding out what to expect. There are many people who are frightened of the idea of small group engagement—it typically is intimidating. When I attended a communications class at University, the professor led the most amazing exercise when we started the class. She had each one write out three things regarding their expectations of the class which we shared afterwards:
This was one of the most successful and transparent classes I ever attended. It was a safe place because we all understood what was expected and remained accountable to those expectations. The most common expectation was in needing respect for each other even if we did not agree—to respect difference and remain responsible for ourselves is an honoring behavior.
Crossing Over: Create A Mission Statement
This is going to depend on each group and some may not wish to create a mission statement. Creating a Mission Statement for your small group begins group identification. It makes your group unique and establishes a collective purpose and vision. This is something to pray about with the group and allow everyone a chance to brainstorm together. This is also an opportunity to discover more about each other’s callings and gifting’s. This concept establishes what the group wishes to “grow on their land.”
Taking the Land: Spiritual Gifts
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you (Timothy 4:14).
This is the spiritual calling on the Body of Christ that was planned for the edification and equipping of the Saints at the foundation of the world. A perfect setting for people: to discover, experiment, experience, and be encouraged in developing. Find time to pray by laying hands on each other to “activate” the Spiritual Gifts in one another. Help facilitate the use of those gifts at appropriate times and places. Honor each person by drawing upon the treasures you see in them. Remind them that they have a special purpose in the Body of Christ and help each other develop and validate the calling in their lives. The gifts and callings of others manifest in such a way as to make a difference in the world and bring the Kingdom to earth.
Till and Water the Soil: Nurture Significance
Nurture significance by teaching others how to facilitate significance. Facilitators model transparency by soul sharing; by talking about real needs and issues in an open and honest manner. A group can tell when you’re being transparent or superficial, and they’ll follow your lead. Your transparency will give your group members “permission” to be transparent. This is part of tilling the soil of relationships. This is how we learn instinct. This is illustrating trust and a safe place for others. The facilitator in the group is a “lead” in respect to what filters out upon the group in other words.
Everyone is different and everyone requires a different response or validation to what they just shared with the group—remember, everyone has a story and that story is important and precious to God. This is growing significance when we acknowledge others in a sincere and honoring way. When people share experiences that have negatively impacted their lives, it’s is human nature to attempt to make them feel better about the situation or about themselves. It may be a good idea to allow time to pause and reflect, and thank them for sharing. This may be a time to be sensitive—ask which “Fruit of the Spirit” would help, or say nothing at all—offer a hug or ask the group to pray about it now or later as you are led by the Spirit. Above all, it is okay to “not know.” It’s okay to be silent. It’s okay to do nothing but stand with them in love in a respectful manner.
Blossom, Bloom, and Grow: LISTEN
Remind people to listen even if you have to spell out what that means. You will be amazed at how group dynamics blossom when we really listen. I learned from Kat to allow people who are sharing to sort it out and say what they’re thinking and feeling rather than rushing in to rescue by putting words into their mouths. Rather than rushing in to finish their thoughts for them, be patient and allow them to express themselves in an honoring way. Please be considerate and avoid interrupting when someone has a point they are making even in a discussion.
Keep Watering the Ground With Kool-Aid
The Body of Christ is family. When we set out to have a serious group without integrating fun, the Spirit is quenched. People are easily intimidated, and may not open up. When it’s all about the same agenda week after week it is no fun. When we take time to have fun together, people begin to open up. That is human nature isn’t it? It is important to break bread together and have fun by drinking a little “Kool-Aid” like when we were kids; having a BBQ or pot-luck once in a while promotes a family atmosphere. Fun and family dynamics water the ground of relationships to grow—“people ‘play’ together, stay together.” Above all, an honoring environment even when we are goofing off and being silly promotes trust and meaningful fellowship. Try to avoid sarcasm, teasing, or joking at someone else’s expense.
Water the Wilted Spirit Blossom:
Small groups blossom when there is validation and love coming from each one. Often, people in the “background” are the ones who need the group most of all. Not everyone is going to be able to participate—that is where the facilitator needs to continue to love on that person and ask how they are doing (as they are led to do so.) Be sensitive to the fact that everyone who comes to the group needs validation and love, even if they do not contribute a thing. More than likely these folks are learning to trust. They are thirsty for relationship; these are the people Jesus says to offer a cup of water to. That drink of water is going to help blossom that dry spirit into a remarkable garden. That special soul on the sidelines may have no one else to validate or to love them. If we ignore them they will leave—this is a chance to really exhibit Jesus. (This can be done without patronizing someone in a simple, “how is your week going?”)
“Fruitfulness is the goal in a small group; fruit that lasts. Spiritual fruit is produced when we encounter the working of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual fruit is germinated by the actions of faithful Christians who attempt to live out the instructions of Scripture in harmony with the Holy Spirit. When God takes the human efforts of believers and divinely touches their issues, lasting fruit is produced. This is something we can support each other in as we grow individually within our group and as a group of fruitful believers contributing to the community”—Christianity Today
Rotate Fields: Brainstorming Restructuring
I like to integrate the concept of “breaking bread” because it nurtures a family environment and brings in the element of celebration. We have a lot to celebrate as Christians and we should have lots and lots of parties and lots and lots of fun. I also integrate “soaking” into the group concept of worship and prayer in more intimate settings. Soaking is worship and prayer during a small group meeting in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and each other.
More Planting: Discipleship
It is so important to offer the new believer into the family of God. These groups may be temporary or may last for a long time.
Maintaining the Garden—Open to All the Body of Christ
The Native American Tribes get together to celebrate by having Pow Wows: All the villages gather together and “dance to the music” and tell lots of stories.
Other Focused Out Reach: The Root System
Living Waters: Refuge Time With God with Other Facilitators
Worship service with just music can be a time of refreshment and encouragement in the presence of God in intimate settings. Provide time with God in this capacity for those in ministry who need refreshment in a separate group settings with other facilitators. This can be accomplished in a number of ways: returning to established home group for support and testimony time regarding their personal experience with the small group they “adopted” without disclosing personal informational. Setting up a retreat for those in ministry or for the small group. Retreats can be in someones’s home and allows time to study, soak, and break bread together.
But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life (1 Corinthians 8:6).