AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Theology

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    During my time at seminary, I grew to love the historic creedal confessions of the faith.  One of the creeds that I wholeheartedly affirm is the Nicene Creed.  If you look at it, the Creed unpacks the Trinitarian nature of God quite explicitly.  There’s God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Three distinct persons and one God at the same time [insert mind explosion].

    While there is unity in diversity within the Trinity, the Church can mirror this Trinitarian reality in our cooperative diversity.  There can be profound beauty within the broad spectrum of the faith.

    But what unites Christians must always be lifted up higher than the things that might individually distinguish us.  The good news of Jesus the risen Messiah is so much bigger than the squabbles between Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, and Orthodox Christians.

    So where is a uniting element of the true Church?  Perhaps it’s wherever people can be forgiven of their sins and united to God through Jesus.

    Pray for unity within the Church

    Photo Credit: …johann j.m. via Compfight cc


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Growth, Theology

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    Last week I mentioned how the Lord provides us his Spirit as confirmation of who we are and whose we are.  I want to take it a step further and relay that he not only gives us his Spirit to confirm that we are in fact sons and daughters of the King, but also so we can know God.

    Paul reminded the church at Corinth that the Holy Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  This same Spirit that searches the very mind of God is also promised to those who are in Christ.  Incredibly enough, this Spirit helps us understand the things of God. (stay with me here)

    As a Christian, I believe that the God of all things (the one who created the cosmos so long ago) was revealed to us through creation.  But he didn’t stop there!  Instead, he revealed himself to us through his Word.

    Through the long and winding narrative recorded in Scripture, we see who God is a bit more clearly.  And in these last days, as the writer to the Hebrews would pen, he revealed himself through Jesus.  In short, if we want to know who God is, we need to look to Jesus.

    “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (I Corinthians 2:12)

    If we have placed our trust in the completed work and words of Jesus, we too can grab onto the promise relayed by Paul.  You and I both can be assured not only of our own standing before a holy God, but also that we can begin to understand the gifts he has given to us.

     What other things does God promise?

    Photo: Daniela Munoz-Santos via Compfight


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy, Theology


    The season begins.  No, not Christmas, I’m talking about Advent.

    As we enter into the period Christians call Advent, this humble blog will seek to remind people about the hope found in the arrival of Jesus, swaddled in a manger.  It will also hold onto the future, second advent of Jesus, found in the longing for his return.  I realize that a lot of people do not understand what Advent is apart from the chocolates found behind each day of the Advent calendar.  Growing up in a Christian church, I never uncovered the richness of this day until years later and hope to unpack this more clearly here.

    Advent serves as a preparation period for Christians, pointing them to the Incarnation, when God became man and dwelt among us.  Tuesdays will center on Jesus’ earthly ministry, looking back through the Gospel of John.  Wednesdays will be centered on the classic work by the Fourth Century giant Athanasius and his work On The Incarnation.  Thursdays will then close out the week with writings centered on the anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ. 


    week two:hope

    Usually the best place to start with a story is at the beginning.  At the start of the Lord of the Rings epic, the film lets us in on the beginning roots of the tale.  It shows us an ancient battle that pitted the forces of light against those of darkness.  Here in the Gospel of John, we are given a glimpse of a beginning, a time before time even began.  In the beginning was the Word, and this Word was with God and He was God.

    This is really tough to grasp: before time began and before any sort of Big Bang, there was God.  And God did not dwell all by his lonesome, instead he existed in a relationship called (as Christian theologians explain) Trinity.  God existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—three in one and one in three.* But while we can speak about Him from a philosophical point of view, God decided to reveal himself to humanity.  He revealed himself to us through the stories we find in the Bible.  He spoke to people like Moses, Elijah, and Isaiah as found in Scripture.  However, he didn’t stop there; instead he chose to reveal himself to us through Jesus, when God became man.

    John captures this dynamic through his account of Jesus, relating to his readers that the glory of God is found in Jesus the Messiah.  That Jesus has made God known to us (1:18) and is in fact equal to the Father (5:18).

    Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us (1:14) so that God could be made known to us.  The one who spoke the universe into existence with an explosive Word is also the same one who brings light to men and women.  His life shone in the darkness and “the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5).

    The same love that so many feel toward Jesus can also be found in the Father, for Jesus points us to him.  Through the Advent of Christ, we are given unprecedented access to God and subsequently are made new by the working of the Holy Spirit.

    I know there’s a lot of Trinitarian stuff floating around here, but the one thing I want to make clear is that Christ came to make God known to us more fully.

    *A nice explanation of the Trinity can be found here in Christianity Today.

     Photo: Jack Fussell via Compfight


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Guest Posts, Theology

    Today I am pleased to bring back a friend on my blog.  Jon Varner is a bright, well spoken guy who is also a Baptist (don’t hold that against him). 
    He tweets @jcvarner and be sure to go check out Jon’s new blog.

    Take it away, Jon!


    HS Jon Varner

    Hi Everyone. This is Jon again. I’m assuming at this point Jeremy and Kristen have welcomed their daughter into the world. That is an assumption on my part because I am writing this before her due date but this will post at least a week later. You see good bloggers, like Jeremy, work on posts in advance. I on the other hand like to write stuff and post immediately. I’m kind of a slacker in that way. So Jeremy is forcing me out of my procrastination comfort zone.

    In my previous post I discussed with you the concept of Perichoresis. Today we are going to look at similar topic, one that Jeremy has been covering the past few weeks. Today we’re going to take a brief look at an important idea regarding the Holy Spirit. If you want to read the other ones you can find them here.

    Let’s be frank here. If I was the Holy Spirit I would be a little bummed out. I would be thinking to myself “Guys like Jeremy are always calling me shy and everyone always seems to forget about me. Often they even think the Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Bible. And then the people who really like me do super crazy stuff. Like wave flags around, push people over, and talk in a language that only I understand all the while looking weird. Having fans like these don’t add much to your street cred.” But alas I am not the Holy Spirit and that is a good thing.

    The Person of the Holy Spirit

    However, I do share one important similarity with the Holy Spirit that is often neglected when discussing him. The similarity is that we both exist as persons. It seems that people regularly forget that the Holy Spirit is indeed a person. If you notice in all of Jeremy’s posts about the Holy Spirit he has used the masculine pronoun to describe said person. This is a tradition that has good standing. In John 14:26 Jesus states “he will teach you.” You see Jesus didn’t say it. He gave credence to the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

    So if he is a “he” and not an “it” why do we so often view him otherwise? I think it is because we don’t clearly understand him so it is easier to think of him as an “it.” There may be other various reasons but that is one in particular and unfortunately we don’t have the space to dive deeper into this idea.

    This also means we need to be willing to change our thinking. No person likes to be objectified; so we shouldn’t objectify him. We need to alter our thinking. Often this is best done by our actions. To begin to change this idea I’d like to encourage you to begin interacting with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. In your mind pray to him specifically and refer to him as a him instead of it.

    This is a complex thought that I think is best changed through simple actions over a period of time. Don’t expect immediate change. But strive to change you thought process by your actions. Be ok to take it slow. If you give it enough time you might just wake up and notice that you’re automatically thinking of him as a him.

    Now may you this week be aware of the dynamic present person, known as the Holy Spirit, in your lives.


    Jon Varner is a graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, the longest seminary name in the world. JV Guest PhotoLike me (Jeremy) he is about to have his first child or has had it depending on when you read this. Unlike me he is going to have a boy. For him that is a good thing because the thought of a daughter scares the you know what out of him. He is passionate about people consistently pursuing God and this includes better understanding him. In the next few years he hopes to plant a church in California. He tweets @jcvarner and be sure to check out Jon’s blog!


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Guest Posts, Theology

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    Today I am thrilled to introduce a friend on my blog.  Jon Varner is a bright, well spoken guy who is also a Baptist (don’t hold that against him). 
    He tweets @jcvarner and be sure to check out Jon’s blog.  



    Hello fellow fans of My name is Jon and Jeremy asked me to write up two posts for him while he and Kristen acclimate to their new season of life. It is a huge privilege to write for him during this time. I’m sure he’s posted my bio somewhere so if you want to know more about me you can check that out.

    On my blog I like to discuss topics of theology on a weekly basis. I cover different topics about Christian Theology that I feel help the average person better understand God and their relationship to him. I call it Theology Thursday (if you click on that you will see my original post and why it is important to study theology). With that in mind let’s get into today’s topic: Perichoresis.

     Now if you’ve never heard that word before you might be thinking “what on earth does that mean?” I’m so glad you asked. Perichoresis is a combination of two distinct Greek words. The first word is peri which means around. The second word is chorein, which means to make room for another. According to Michael G. Lawler (some guy you’ve probably never heard of because without seminary I wouldn’t have) the combination of these two words gives the distinct picture of “the dynamic process of making room for another around oneself.” In essence this word picture is describing a constant dance (something Jeremy referenced in this post) that each member of the Trinity is constantly participating in, always moving and making room for the other members.

    Dancers to the Core

    To give a visual image to this while in seminary I took the picture on this post. By taking a picture with an extended exposure I was able to capture the idea of three individuals blending together as they constantly moved and made room for each other. At the same time you can still make out three distinct individuals. When you think of great ballroom dancing you can grasp this concept. Each partner must move in unison with the other; all the while exiting and entering space previously held by their partner. This dance, so to speak, is something God does and lives each and every day. It is at the core of his character. Three distinct persons intertwined in one being.

    Another writer, Molly Marshall, puts it this way:

    “Perichoresis depicts a relationship of mutuality in which persons draw their identity from being related to others. It is an ecstatic dance, in which the Trinitarian persons literally ‘stand outside themselves’ as they evoke the life of their divine counterparts. It is movement, an interplay of self-giving that calls forth reciprocal sharing of life. Perichoresis ‘grasps the circulatory character of the eternal divine life.’ This delightful divine choreography, which calls forth and deepens relationship.”

    Relational to the Core

    And now you must be thinking to yourself “so what? I really hope this Jon guy doesn’t want me to go around dancing all the time.” Well too bad for you because that is exactly what I want. Just kidding. That was sarcasm if the text didn’t translate that well. There are two basic implications of this idea. The first is that God is relational at his core and the second is that each member of the Trinity is constantly giving of himself within the Trinity. These two things are aspects of life that we can imitate. We can live in relationship for “It is not good that the man should be alone” and we can give of ourselves just as Christ did in his incarnation (see Philippians 2:5-11)

    May you this week pursue relationship with others and give yourself away in the process. For this is who God is and who he created you to be.



    Jon Varner is a graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, the longest seminary name in the world. JV Guest PhotoLike me (Jeremy) he is about to have his first child or has had it depending on when you read this. Unlike me he is going to have a boy. For him that is a good thing because the thought of a daughter scares the you know what out of him. He is passionate about people consistently pursuing God and this includes better understanding him. In the next few years he hopes to plant a church in California. He tweets @jcvarner and be sure to check out Jon’s blog!


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Holy Spirit, Theology, Wisdom Wednesday

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    I wanted to use this last post in the Wisdom Wednesday series on the Holy Spirit as a further clarification, just in case you missed this point in my series. The Holy Spirit is God, and this brief post will begin to unpack that with the help of the Early Church Fathers (so enjoy the history lesson without the tuition!).

    Next to the Beginning

    What you need to know for this post is that the second and third century leaders helped shape the trajectory of Christianity.  Before you skip over to the Da Vinci Code though, understand that Dan Brown is wrong when he suggested that these leaders somehow created a Jesus that was divine.  Quite frankly, that’s a pile of garbage.

    The earliest writer in the New Testament is Paul, and his letters seemed to convey the message that Jesus was more than a nice philosopher, as a previous post on Liberalism and Fundamentalism would unpack.  The Early Church encountered something new in Jesus (scholar NT Wright is excellent on this point).

    It is true that a lot of these early leaders were figuring out the place of the Spirit and there was a lot of debate on his place within this God revealed in Scripture.  I try to cut the leaders slack because they did not have the luxury of 1900 years of scholarship on this topic.  Early on though, Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the great Cappadocian fathers of the Early Church, argued vociferously that the Spirit belonged in the Trinity.  Gregory wrote,

    The OT preached the Father openly and the Son more obscurely, while the New revealed the Son and hinted at the deity of the Spirit.  Now the Spirit dwells in us and reveals himself more clearly to us.  

    Baptism and The Spirit

    For Athanasius, a pivotal figure in the Council of Nicaea, the trinitarian baptismal formula was a huge point in demonstrating the divinity of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).  After all, if the Spirit is not consubstantial (of the same essence) with the Father and the Son, the Spirit then cannot make us conform to the Son and therefore cannot save us.  The Spirit is our helper, and he was sent after the ascension of Jesus on Pentecost (see Acts 2 and a previous post).  Also another strong argument for the Trinity is in Acts, where two individuals were caught lying to the Spirit, which is interpreted as lying to God himself.

    A Lived Reality

    More can be said on this subject, in fact a lot has been said on it (a great introduction to this in NT Wright’s Simply Christian), but my purposes here is to point that the God who made the world is the same God who wants to begin the work of making the future Kingdom of God real in the present.

    While the working out of whether or not there is a Triune God can be seen in the writings of the Early Church (which are heavily footnoted with Scripture), this concept is not meant to just be in a book– it is meant to be lived out.

    We were meant to live this stuff out, because it’s not some theological game.  As theologian NT Wright would state, “for Christians it’s always a love game: God’s love for the world calling out an answering love from us, enabling us to discover that God not only happens to love us (as though this was simply one aspect of his character) but that he is love itself.”

    We are invited into a story of love, one that was there even before the universe began.  We are invited into new life and a new story than random present.  For life in the Spirit is a life of love and hope.


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Holy Spirit, Theology, Wisdom Wednesday

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    Curious look

    The Wisdom Wednesday last post hinted that the Holy Spirit invites people into a dance full of grace.  He doesn’t just stop at that though, he also confirms that we are a child of God, even when we don’t feel like a daughter or son of the Creator.

    Deep Seated Reality

    To pull from Henri Nouwen again, it is important to see that when we call God “Abba, Father” it means more than calling God by a close name.  It’s a cry of the soul, surfacing from a deep seated reality– it is claiming God as the very source of who we are.  For those who are in Christ, they have the incredible honor of being called a daughter or son of God.

    In Romans 8, Paul writes that the Spirit of God (read: the Holy Spirit) cries out within us.  It is he who helps us in our prayers when we don’t quite know what to pray for.  It is he who helps us speak, even when we don’t know what to say at times.

    Nouwen would say that it’s through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that we have the same “intimate, fearless, trusting, and empowering relationship with God that Jesus had.”  Paul would put it even clearer, writing that if the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead also dwells in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead would also give life to your mortal body.  How incredible is that?  It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?

    Holy Spirit As Our Down Payment

    While, the Spirit makes it possible for us to know and recognize Jesus, he also can be seen as a down payment of sorts.  Theologian Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen wrote that since the Kingdom of God has broken into the world, the Holy Spirit acts as an initial offering of the glory to come (see I Cor 1:22, 5:5; Eph 1:13-14) and as the first installment of the believer’s inheritance in the Kingdom (Rom 8:15-17; 14:17; I Cor 6:9-11; 15:42-50; Gal 4:6-7).  Or as the second century Church Father Tertullian would write, “By whom has Christ ever been explored without the Holy Spirit?  By whom has the Holy Spirit ever been attained without the mysterious gift of faith?”  It is the Holy Spirit that connects us to God and empowers us.

    He will not only be an initial down payment for us, he will also make us become more like Jesus.  But more on that next week.

    Photo: hapal via Compfight


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Holy Spirit, Theology, Wisdom Wednesday


    Holy Spirit Stained GlassIn part 2 of this series on the Holy Spirit, we’ll explore how the Holy Spirit is viewed as our helper

    One of the things that I have learned at seminary is that Christianity has a core.  Eastern and Western Christianity share a common core centered on the Nicene Creed; however, within these two large branches of the Christian faith there are some differences.  

    There is a heavy emphasis on Jesus (Christology) in Evangelicalism specifically and Western Christianity (Roman Catholic and Protestant) broadly.  The Eastern Orthodox believers, on the other hand, place a large emphasis on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  Recently in the West, the Pentecostal movement has brought about a renewed interest in the third person of the Trinity and I believe that this shift is a great thing.

    Believe me though, it is very important to emphasize the person of Jesus and his role in the restoration of humanity to right relationship with God.  Humanity is only able to relate to God through the God-Man Jesus (I’m thinking that I might have to use another series to unpack that statement.  But for now, I mean that Jesus is fully God and fully man).  However, Jesus himself said that he needed to leave them so that the Holy Spirit could come and bring power.  In fact, Jesus said to his disciples in John 16 that it was good for him to go, that way the Helper could arrive and point others to this work of restoration.

    Holy Spirit as a Helper

    Did you catch that last thought?  It was good for Jesus to leave.  Think about that for a second.

    Jesus (the one who conquered death, the one who spoke everything into existence a gazillion years ago, the one who bore the sins of the world) wanted to send someone else who could help humanity even more, someone who would bring power and new life.  

    It is he, the Holy Spirit, that would bring clarity about Jesus and about the Father.  He would point others to this redeeming work and would also bring strength.  As Karl Barth would reflectively write, “Everything that one believes, reflects and says about God the Father and God the Son… would be demonstrated and clarified basically through God the Holy Spirit, the vinculum pacis (unifying bond of peace, see Eph 4:3) between Father and Son.”

    Holy Spirit, the Shy One

    I heard a sermon on the Holy Spirit and the pastor described him as shy.  What do you think about that?

    Don’t picture him though as the painfully awkward individual who won’t say a word to anybody.  Picture him instead a someone who likes to work behind the scenes as a support to the Father and Son, as an excellent servant like Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey or perhaps as a solid, right-hand man.  Theologian Veli-Matti Karkkainen would suggest that the Spirit hides himself in a lot of ways, he retreats into the periphery instead of standing out in the forefront of the stage.  Similarly, the Eastern Orthodox thinker J. Meyendorff wrote that the Spirit does not call people to himself, instead he points them to the Son.

    He does not want to show himself, rather he reveals the face of the Father to us in the face of the Son.  When people look to him, he steps back and pushes forward Jesus.  He doesn’t seek the limelight, instead you could say that he is the limelight.  The power that many find in the Spirit comes when we seek Jesus, for the Holy Spirit wants to point others to Jesus.

    Mind blown yet?  

    Trinity as a Dance

    Another way of picturing this relationship within the Trinity (remember, the God revealed in the Bible is three in one and one in three) is like a dance.  The Trinitiarian Dance is a deep bond of love, where there is give and take.  The Trinitarian God now invites us (you and me!) to come be reconciled, and it is through the Holy Spirit that humanity can now be called a child of God.

    You might be thinking, how can this be?  Stay tuned next week, but for now soak in the beauty that the Spirit will confirm within you that you are a dearly loved child of God.


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Theology

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    Loving God is important.  I think most Christians will come to this conclusion.

    But wouldn’t we say grasping a picture of who he is is pretty darned important as well?  While both you and I will never fully grasp his nature this side of eternity, we can know him a little more clearly than when we initially first believed.  And just like a couple who have been married for 50 years will know each other in profound ways decades down the road of marriage, so too will the individual who places their hope in God and has a relationship with him.  That is why I am advocating for clearer language about the infinite God who so clearly loves us and has revealed himself to us both in Christ and through the Bible.

    Let me frame it this way.  I love my wife (true story).  Yet, if I compose a poem about how beautiful she is, how I adore her personality, marvel at her breathtaking charm, and think her long, brown hair is incredible I would just be flat out wrong.  Not because of the three initial points, but because she has short, blonde hair.  My description of her is inaccurate and not complete.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t love her any less, it just means I am wrong in my descriptions of her and of her essence.  I get a bit of her, but not the entire picture.  Same thing goes with the Trinitarian God.  We need to know who he is, and the true God is Trinity.  As Jesus prayed, “this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn 17.3).

    Trinity matters because that is how God has revealed himself to us.  God is not some idea, he is real.  The living God is Trinity– he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He is one what and three who’s, or one who and three what’s.  God is not just one dude hanging out in heaven navel-gazing.  If he was, then he would have been alone for eternity.  He would not have known fellowship.  That is why the Jehovah’s Witnesses are flat out wrong (beside the fact that they misread the Greek and are a reincarnation of Arianism that was rejected in 325 AD, but I digress).  He is one God in three persons, enjoying communion and knowing what it means to have fellowship.  I highly doubt this fictional, non-Trinity would have love at the core of his being, since he would have been alone for eternity and not have learned how to love!  But this God, the true God, knows love because he is relational and he is love.

    So I invite you to enjoy and seek out the Trinitarian God of the Bible.  For he is a Father who lovingly gave life to his Son in the fellowship of the Spirit.  He is an other-centered God and he is inviting you into the party.  I pray that you will join the Trinitarian dance and revel in it.


    For more see,

    Three is the Loveliest Number” by Michael Reeves in Christianity Today
    by Christian History Magazine


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Beliefs, Liturgy, Theology

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    “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

    Isaiah 12:2

    This verse hit me hard this week and I felt that it was appropriate that I mentioned it on Maundy Thursday.  The thing that struck me was that the verse was loaded with Messianic expectation, and I just had to write about it.  Looking back with a New Testament perspective, one can see that this passage looked forward to the revealing of the Messiah Jesus.  Isaiah anticipated that the LORD, the covenant keeping God, would pronounce salvation to His people.  Even in times of trouble, the LORD protected His people.  He brought them out of Egypt and would bring them back from exile.  Indeed He would not stop there with these physical acts, but would take salvation to an even grander scale.

    In Genesis, God promised to bless the world through Abraham’s descendents.  He would deliver on His promise to Abraham of blessing the entire world and provide the pathway to reconciliation among Jew and Gentile.  This reconciliation and uniting of Jew and Gentile came through Jesus.  Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, would literally become our salvation.  He would clothe Himself with flesh and live on this planet.  He was crucified under Pontius Pilate and made to be shameful in order to bring us life.  He removed our guilt and shame through the scandal of the cross.  The Messiah also provided us a Way to eternal life through His death and resurrection.  He became our salvation in His life.

    Jesus also said if you trust in God; trust also in Him (Jn 14:1).  It is truly wonderful that Jesus not only took away our sin but He also then offered us life.  It is only in our trusting in Him can we sing the hymn Paul quoted in Colossians about the cosmic Lord.  For it is in Christ that we have life and can live as humans were meant to live, in right relationship with our God.

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

    Colossians 1:15-20