It’s a word we use often, a phrase I myself have uttered countless times. It’s occupied songs and prayers for generations, but do we truly understand what it means to “confess Jesus as Lord” (Romans 10:9)? More importantly, do we live that out? Today, Alexis uses one of my loves–storyworld–to show us how to live under Christ’s Lordship.

What’s Your Motivation?

 by Alexis A. Goring

 When actors are working on a movie, they always ask the director, “What’s my character’s motivation?” or “What does my character want in this scene?”

Allow me to clarify and explain: The actor is not asking for their motivation as an actor, they’re asking for the motivation of the character that they are portraying. The actor needs to know their fictional character’s motivation in order to properly act it out. Their motivation determines how the character would act.

Therefore, when an actor knows this information, it determines how the actor will portray the character.

Actress Jenn Gotzon said, “Motivation is why a character does something. Why a character makes choices, why a character feels certain ways about other people.”
As a Christian fiction writer, I’ve learned the importance of determining the emotional, physical, and spiritual goal/motivation/conflict (GMC) of my fictional characters before starting the story because for me as a writer, knowing these details helps me to not only deeply understand my characters but it determines how I write the story.

When I know my character’s motivation in their fictional life then I know why they have certain goals and I know what kind of conflict is needed to make their journey interesting and worthwhile. Knowing my characters’ GMC makes the story. It helps me to guide their every step because I know what they are moving toward, and as the creator of the story, I know the best route for them to take in order to reach their destination in “the end.”

Recently, I was thinking about this and I realized there is a parallel to real life in all of this because God is our Creator, this world is His creation, and He is the Director of this movie called Life. Famous or not, we ALL have a part to play in this movie and nobody can portray our character better than we can because God created us to be unique.

As our Divine Director, God already knows our deepest desires and He is well aware of our motivation. But unlike most movies, we are not bound to a script. It’s up to us to determine our motivation.

Are we just here to have a crazy fun time and do all these bad things that are against God’s desires for us to live a righteous life? Or is our motivation to “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” as God advised in Micah 6:8?

So the choice is yours. You’re a star in this movie called Life. What’s your motivation?


Let’s talk about this!

I loved Alexis’s film and story analogy, and it reiterated what I’d been studying in my morning Bible reading time. Lord, kurios in the Greek, means master and indicates “a person exercising absolute ownership rights” and “he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Ownership rights. The power of deciding–how my life will go, how I’ll spend my time, what I’ll pursue and relinquish. I say I’ve made Christ my Lord, but as I consider Alexis’s devotion in light of what this truly means, I must wrestle with this–have I truly given Christ lordship over my life and my agenda?

Have you? What area are you withholding? Ask God to give you the courage, faith, and strength to surrender that area to Him. Because honestly, He’ll manage it must better than you (or I) will or can. Share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Living by Grace, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!


Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ. 

Visit her on  Facebook, her website, or her blog. Follow her on TwitterPinterest, and Goodreads

I also encourage you to check out her latest release, A Second Chance:

Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend, Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being a bachelorette for life.

Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. However, Marc’s compassion and kindness are of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death.

Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.

Today’s reading: Proverbs 2

Today’s focus: Seeking Wisdom From God’s Word

Wisdom is more than accumulating a headful of knowledge. Wisdom is living wisely, or, in essence, living out God’s Word–reading it, praying on how God wants us to apply it, then living it out.

This week’s memory verse: (I must apologize. Yesterday, early in the post, I called the day’s focal passage the memory verse, and, later in the post, mentioned the below was the memory verse. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.)Proverbs2memoryverse


meToday’s devotional comes from writer, musician, and photographer, Emilie Anne Hendryx. Emilie is an author, photographer, and musician living in sunny Northern Los Angeles.  She is a member of ACWF and loves to read and write Christian Inspirational fiction while also blogging several times a week.  She has always been fascinated with the idea of story – whether it’s photographing a love story or writing one – and this passion fuels everything she does.  In her free time you’ll find her with a book and a cup of coffee wishing it was raining outside. Connect with Emilie online at her blog:

Visit her

Proverbs 2:1-8

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.


It’s something we all could use more of and yet, when we search for it, we tend to turn everywhere but in the right direction. I don’t know how many times I’ve felt cornered in a situation and turned to my friends or to my own understanding for guidance but, as Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (emphasis mine).

When I first read this section of scripture with the intent to study it (over this last summer), it impacted me so much that I ended up writing it on a notecard and pinning it to the bulletin board by my desk at work. The first thing I did was go through and highlight the action words of the first part (v 1-4) of this section:

Receive my words (v1a)

Treasure my commandments (v1b)

Making your ear attentive to wisdom (v2a)

Inclining your heart to understanding (v2b)

Call out for insight (v3a)

Raise your voice for understanding (v3b)

Seek (v4a)

Search (v4b)

After I did that, I wanted to match up these action words and phrases with their adjacent promises in verses 5-8. One of the beautiful things in scripture is that the Lord tends to accompany commands with promises (Exodus 20:1-17 is a good example) and, though these promises are always dependent on His will, they are stated for a reason and represent hope from a loving and caring God.

Here, I’ve reformatted some of those phrases to reflect their intended promise. Remember, they are dependent on the actions of verses 1-4.

Understand the fear of the Lord (v5a)

Find the knowledge of God (v5b)

You will gain wisdom from the Lord (v6a)

If you are upright, He has stored up wisdom for you (v7a)

If you walk in integrity, He will be a shield for you (v7b)

He will guard and watch over the way of His saints (v8)

Aren’t these promises amazing? God doesn’t just promise knowledge and wisdom from Him, but His own protection over us! It is such a comfort to realize the all-knowing God, who created the universe, has our protection in mind.

As we come into a new year I pray that this passage of scripture would become our guide – that we would receive His words, treasure His commandments, and make it a priority to become attentive to His wisdom rather than turn to our own understanding. While we make our New Year’s resolutions, may we seek His understanding knowing that He will most surely guide us and direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9).


Emilee’s devo reminds me of this week’s memory verse. I love God’s promise to guide, protect, and teach us. I pray today you would really grasp this and the treasure that comes with it. God, the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe, wants to walk with us, in intimate fellowship, leading us toward His very best.

Here are some questions to ponder and/or discuss:

1. There is a difference between accumulating knowledge and even memorizing verses and living with wisdom. What are some ways we can apply what we read in Scripture? I’m thinking back to yesterday’s post on discipline and wondering if there might be a time commitment involved here. It’s fairly easy and quick to read through a passage and walk away, but I suspect God longs for more.

Question one begs a second question–when you read Scripture, do you allow yourself enough time to really digest and pray about what is read? If not, how might you change this?

2. Emilee mentioned how, often, when facing a tough decision, we go everywhere else but to God. Why do you think this is? Is this true in your life? Do you think patience or lack of might be involved? (Oy, we’re going back to the question of time again, aren’t we? 😉 )

3. Pause and consider–do you treasure God’s commands? What are some ways to do this? Do you treasure reading God’s Word? If not, think back to the post yesterday and how we discussed our ways of viewing things as hindering or helping our progress. If we think of our Bible reading time as a “have-to”, I suspect it will be much more difficult to make this time consistent. But, if we think of it as a joy and treasure, I wonder if we’ll look forward to that time. One of our Yahoo Group members shared an insightful comment regarding how she viewed discipline. She said when she thought of the word discipline, she associated it with self-deprivation. But upon thinking about her mindset and goals, she determined to change her thinking to what she would gain from the discipline–increased intimacy with God.

4. I found the wording in verse 7a intriguing:  “If you are upright, He has stored up wisdom for you.”

Many thoughts come to mind when I read this verse, one being Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”

I’d love to discuss this further, but I’m at 1089 words, well over the legal blogging limit. 🙂 So, I’ll leave you with one last question: What do you think this means, that God has wisdom “stored” up for us? Do anything thoughts come to mind when you pair this with Proverbs 25:2? Or when you think of the parables. 😉

We can continue this discussion in the comments below or at our Yahoo Bible study/verse memorization group:
Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

On Monday, I talked about living in victory. On Tuesday, I spent the day swimming in uncertainty. Perhaps God wanted to cushion today’s post with compassion. Emotions and our thought processes are very closely tied and although we are commanded to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, it’s not always easy.

I’ve struggled with wayward thoughts my entire life. Discouragement, fear, frustration…numerous other emotions, all begin in my head. And once I let that first thought take hold, I feed it, and work it, strengthening it with one negative thought after another until it balloons. I think this is a constant battle. Truth tells us God is in control. Truth tells us God’s ways are always best even when we don’t understand. Truth tells us this life on earth is fleeting and our true home lies in heaven. Truth tells us we belong to Christ and have been purchased at a high price.

Quite honestly, I am struggling today. A friend is sick, and it has reminded me how incredibly fleeting life is. The Bible tells us tomorrow is promised to no one, yet how rarely does that truth sink in. And yet, when the reality of mortality hits, so many things become inconsequential.

Today I am focusing on Philipians 4:6-8 as I diligently put into practice 2 Corinthians 10:5 which tells me to demolish every argument that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

Philipians 4:6-8

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 I will pray with thanksgiving, reminding myself of all the times and ways God has shown up in the past. I will focus on who He is–Creator, Redemer, Sustainer, Comforter, Prince of Peace, Almighty Father. When I remember what He has done in the past and meditate on His incomprehensible love and power, anxious thoughts diminish. My concerns are placed in a “bigger picture” perspective. Then, I will lay my concerns in His hands, knowing that He is sovereign,  loving and all-knowing.

The final verse is one I like to repeat outloud when I pray, (4:8) especially when my thoughts attempt to run amuck.

“Lord, You are lovely. You are pure. You are honorable and worthy of respect.”

In Tony Evans, Free at Last, he gives an illustration of a driver stuck in traffic attempting to find his way out by craning his neck to see around the long line of cars. As I read, I was reminded of the years we spent in Souther California. If you’ve ever lived in the Los Angeles area, you know how frustrating rush hour traffic can be. You’ll do anything to avoid it, even if that means hanging out down town until eight or nine, when the bumper to bumper crawl finally ends.

Amidst the chaos, how many of us would turn to a fellow driver, moving beside us at a five mile an hour crawl, to ask for guidance? Their vision is equally blocked. All they can see is the mass of cars all around them. And it wouldn’t do any good to look behind us, either. Instead, we turn on the radio in search of the helicopter update–news from one who is above it all and can clearly see.

God is our helicopter view. Most of the time our view will be distorted by the massive traffic jam all around us. And this is why we walk by faith, not by sight, trusting in the unwavering, unfailing love of God.

And before I leave, I ask that you pray for my friend and her family, for peace, an overwhelming sense of God’s love, strength and healing. I spoke with her on Monday night and rejoiced in the extreme peace God had given her. God is holding her tightly and pouring His love through her. His love is never-ending, never-failing.

Today’s devo first appeared on Lynn Squire’s Faith, Fiction, Fun and Fanciful on September 29, 2010. I read this on a particularly stressful day, and was instantly brought to tears. The soft, gentle reminder to release the reigns, to let go and let God, penetrated deep into my heart, reminding me that the battle was not mine to fight. My job was to abide and obey, the rest was up to my Sustainer and Creator. I pray that God will speak those same gentle words to your heart today and that as you read this devotion, you will rest in His sustaining love for you, knowing He is in complete control and He will never leave you nor forsake you.
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At the heart of every trial, every emotional upheaval, every tribulation, faith sits facing personal weaknesses. Words and actions and reactions whirl around like a violent tornado undaunted by human attempts for solutions. But God, the Creator, can still the storm with a simple “peace, be still.”

Okay. We’ve heard this before and have probably sang the children’s song,With Jesus in My Boat I Can Smile at the Storm. But for me, the meaning deepened through a series of almost humorous but very stressful trials.

This summer we got a puppy after our wonderful dog, Bizmark was put to sleep for an unfortunate mishap.

Before we went “dog shopping” at the local humane societies, I made a very clear statement to my children that we would not be getting a puppy, because a puppy is too much work. I knew exactly what I wanted . . . another Bizmark.

But two little rottweiler puppies about 8 weeks old huddled together in a cold cell while large vicious animals barked around them and humans made all sorts of strange noises at them. The puppies big brown eyes looked up at us. Their little tails swished back and forth, and they sang a song of misery with their little puppy voices.

Later that day, I received a call to come and pick which puppy we would take. My daughter had her eye on one, and I had my eye on the other. She got her way despite my better judgment. The most rambunctious of the two rode home in the van with us and gained the name Jasmine, or Jazz for short (which suits her far better).

Weeks followed with me stressed out and ready to turn myself into an insane asylum. “I didn’t want this dog!” would be followed with a flood of tears as I worked to clean up the disasters Jasmine produced. Sleepless nights for the hollowing and several middle of the night potty breaks . . . I felt like I adopted a baby.

. . . until I’d reached the end of my coping ability and slumped down before God begging Him to take me home to Heaven since I was no longer capable of handling things on earth.

Then I knew Jasmine’s life purpose.

She would forever be a meter measuring my boiling point and a spiritual stretching machine to lengthen my character and faith muscles. Oy.

For once in my life I came face to face with something I could not control, no matter how hard I tried. I’ve stopped a running horse by bulldogging its muzzle. I’ve knocked two attacking great danes down to the ground Arnold Schwarzenegger’s style (see the movie, True Lies). I’ve rounded up stampeding horses while riding bareback and cracking a lunge whip, but I could not keep this little 15 lb puppy from turning my world upside down.

Things needed to change, and the change needed to begin with me.

God, in His great mercy, pointed out through Scripture that if I truly trusted Him, something as little as a puppy could not steal my peace. Oy. How humiliating.

He then wrapped His loving arm around me and pointed out that He was in control, I just needed to let Him have the reins (or should I say leash). That was the first step.

Each week, as Jasmine gained five or more pounds, I gained a little more flexibility in my spiritual fingers . . . letting God have that much more control.

We faithfully took Jasmine to puppy training once a week. At the end of the sessions even the trainer was throwing her hands up and the air and wondering how anyone could want a dog like her. I shrugged my shoulders and smiled. God wanted us to have a dog like her because He loved me enough to kindly point out my weaknesses, and how I need to change so that I could better glorify Him.

I learned that Jasmine was not motivated by food but by praise. I’ve also learned that when I let stress get the better of me, she goes crazy. My meter. My measure given to me by God to know when I need to let go and trust God and stop trying control every situation.

I also got a deeper understanding of love. That love expressed according to I Corinthians 13 is positive reinforcement . . . the very kind of love Jasmine responds to.

Through His Word, God revealed a wealth of things about why I am here–even when things are out of control, even when I fail, even when I’ve concluded that I’m utterly worthless–I’m here to glorify Him and for His good pleasure.

Jasmine is adorable. She wiggles and smiles and is probably the happiest puppy on the face of the earth. And while she is mischievous and completely self-centered, she can easily wash away my frustrations with her loving licks and rapidly wagging tail. She’s no Bizmark. She’ll never win any obedience trophies. But she brings us a lot of joy. If this creature who creates havoc can bring me pleasure, than perhaps, in some small way, I can do that for God.

But I needed to change. I needed to stop thinking I’m the one that solves all the problems and when things go wrong that I’m a big failure.

I came up with an action plan that arose from my devotions during this time. Here’s the short version:

  1. Praise the Lord, rejoice in Him, and maintain a thankful heart–always.
  2. Positive reinforcement in every relationship – Love with God’s love (I Cor 13).
  3. Live for God’s glory and pleasure.
  4. Trust God completely–in every situation and in every relationship.
  5. Pray without ceasing.
  6. Be gracious and kind no matter what opposition I might face.

While these six things seem simple, they are not. But by the grace of God and the guidance of His Holy Spirit I will strive each day to replace the craziness of my control-freak attitude with these that do produce the peace I so earnestly seek.

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Lynn is a born again believer of her  Lord Jesus Christ, a wife, mother and author. Visit her blog, Faith, Fiction, Fun and Fanciful to find out more about her and her writing. And as always, if you loved this devo and want it to make my top three of 2010, tweet it, fb share it, “like” it, or leave a comment. (I tested the “like” button yesterday and it is working, although you might need to be a subscriber to “like” the post.)
As you listen to the following song, ask God to show you one area you need to release to Him today, then commit to obey.

Sometimes I spend so much time focused on the day-to-day, I lose sight of those tender little “kisses from God” He sprinkles throughout my day. Which is what I would call Sheila’s deer sighting. You might not like my term, but the Bible tells us that creation reveals God’s divine nature. God speaks to us day in and day out, in a gentle breeze that tickles our cheek, reminding us to pause to pray. In a night sky filled with twinkling stars that remind us of His infinite wisdom and power. In a tender fawn, prancing through the meadow, reminding us of God’s tender heart. God is there, all around us, always with us. The question is, will we draw near the Creator or remain content to admire His creation? Perhaps this week you can find time to admire a night sky or watch the sun explode across the horizon. As you do, stop and think of the Creator, and turn that admiration into an opportunity for praise. May every sunrise and sunset, every flake of snow, every blade of grass, draw your heart to the Creator in a fresh, authentic way.

The following article was first posted on Sheila Hollinghead’s blog, Clearing Skies, on November 10th, 2010. (The post she has up today is also worth reading.)

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We drove the busy highway by our home on Sunday and twin fawns lay by the side of the road, eyes intent on the passing traffic. In fear for their safety, Carl turned the car around and we drove closer to them, hoping we would scare them away from the highway. They stood on wobbly, long legs and moved a few feet away. But they did so with an awkward grace, not in fear.

Eyes wide, large ears erect, fur still dotted with white spots, they stared at us as we stared at them. No camera in the car to capture their beauty—a beauty to be short-lived if they remained by the highway. Carl drove by them one more time and they moved a short way into the woods, their mother nowhere to be seen.

Had she already crossed the highway and her fawns were too afraid to follow her? Was she still hiding somewhere in the woods? Had some hunter left the fawns motherless? Carl believed the mother crossed the highway and waited out of sight. With our good intentions, did we make it more difficult for the family to reunite? Or had we saved the fawns from death?

We will never know. I do know we glimpsed the beauty of God’s creation, as we do every day when we open our eyes.  We live on a farm with a pond about a hundred feet away from our front door and are surrounded by the artistry of God, but, like a museum guard at the Louvre, are desensitized to it all. Unless we make a conscious effort to actually see.

And some days I do. I open my eyes to the beauty of hay bales scattered across our field and to the beauty of a hawk circling above and to the beauty of the crescent remnant of the harvest moon in the blue sky, hung above the trees that line the hayfield.

Hay bales, dead grass rolled up to provide sustenance to livestock; the hawk, a presager of death; the crescent, the disappearing moon, and yet, in all, a beauty.

The browning grass will green next year. The hawk will soar ever higher. The waning moon will vanish but to reappear.

By our faith we know these things will come to pass if God so wills. Our faith gives us a glimpse of beauty even in death.

And for that I am thankful.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

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Sheila has a B.S. in biology from Alabama’s Troy University and did post-graduate work at Auburn University and Columbus College. At Southern Junior High in Columbus, Georgia, she taught middle-school science for five years. After moving to Opp, Alabama, she continued teaching science and math for fourteen more years at Fleeta Junior High. In 1995 she retired and has since devoted much of her time to the study of the Bible and to her writing. Her blog is the inspirational Clearing Skies.

I am going to close with one final thought. God reveals Himself through creation and His Word, the Bible. He does this so that men would seek Him, and He has promised that if we seek Him, if we truly want to know Him, He will come to us. His greatest longing is to be our dearest friend. Creation is a beautiful gift intended to draw our heart to the ultimate gift giver. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, if you have never experienced the freedom of authentic love that penetrates to your very core, turn to Him today.

Responding to God

You can also listen to a great radio drama about a man named Nicodemus who met the Savior face to face. (Click on “Series One” then the orange sound symbol at the end of “Nicodemus–The man who came at night.”

As always, feel free to shoot me an email with any questions. I’d love to talk and pray with you, anytime.

And remember, if you like this post and think it should make it in the top three of 2010, leave a comment, fb share it, “like” it, or tweet it and at the end of the month, I’ll tally all tweets, shares, likes and comments and will reveal the top three. (My comments and author responses do not count.)

Okay writers, this one’s for you. We’re an insecure bunch, aren’t we? Most of us are so emotionally volatile, we go from laugh-out-loud gregarious to self-isolated hermit faster than a schizophrenic on crack. And only a writer can turn a compliment into a downer:

“Hey, I read your latest blog post. I totally loved it.”

Oh, no. That’s the last one. I know it. I’m bone dry here. What’ll happen when this guy figures out I really can’t write and that was just a fluke?

And an opened door into a dungeon entry:

“I’d love to have you join our team.”

Deadlines? Expectations? What if I let them down? Which blog post, article, or interview made them think I’d be good for this job or ministry position and what’s going to happen when they figure out I’m not who they think I am?

We read so much about platforms, branding, networking, and marketing, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Writing is no longer just about writing. In today’s technological age, it takes much more than flowery words to get yourself heard. You need strong marketing skills, a dash of big-picture thinking to stay one step ahead of the fray, a psychology degree to navigate all the PR requirements, media and industry connections, and enough stick-to-itness to stand up against the ever-flying obstacles hurled your way. It’s easy to get lost amidst the noise, but running in circles won’t do you any good. So what do you do when you can’t see above the ever-swirling storm clouds? You retreat, and rest. And remember this battle is not yours. And you don’t have to do it alone.

“Relax my child, this really isn’t about you. Nor is it up to you,” our Father says, as He lovingly takes our hand. “Be still and know that I am God. Keep your eyes on Me. Trust my plan, and the life jacket I provide. Yes, the waves are strong. Yes, the wind is loud. But My hand is stronger, and I will never let you go. My power is displayed in your weakness. And remember, this is not your story. It never was. It is my story, and I will pen it through you.” And then the Creator of the universe leans down and whispers in your ear the story that will be woven in a million hearts as He draws His beloved into His warm embrace.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”