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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

What does it mean to be “saved?” Sometimes we get so familiar with church vocabulary that we lose sight of the full meaning of the words and phrases we use. “Saved” isn’t conceptual imagery – it should be taken quite literally.

1. Discussion

Acts 11:14 [ESV] “He will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.”

Accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord is the only way people can be “saved” – or rescued from an eternity of separation from God. When the angel told Cornelius he would be “saved,” it wasn’t yet a church-lingo word. That term carried with it the full weight and urgency of an escape from impending doom.

Q. What imagery comes to your mind when you think about being “saved?”

Q. Imagine someone asked you to define what you mean by “being saved” – how would you explain it to them? Can you do it without using other church vocabulary terms?

2. Challenge

Luke 19:9-10 [NLT] “Jesus responded (to Zacchaeus), ‘Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.’”

The concept of being “saved” goes back to Jesus. It was His mission to seek out those who were headed for destruction, and save them by providing a way out. That same mission is ours today.

Q. When you remind yourself of the literal saving that many people around you need, how does that affect your motivation to share the good news?

Q. Now that you’ve thought about how to explain what “being saved” means, what other church- specific terms or phrases might you use when sharing your faith? How would you define those terms with language that a church-outsider could understand?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for saving you. Ask Him to keep the reality of what salvation means fresh on your mind, and to keep you focused on His mission to seek and save the lost in your world.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Matthew 5:44  “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”

Watts Up: “I Will Love And Pray For My Enemies!”

Most people would assume that the way to handle enemies is by fighting back. In the natural way of thinking, we should try to “hit them where it hurts” and possibly even “strike before they do.” That is not the way Jesus taught us to handle our enemies.

2. Bible Reading

Acts 9:1-21 “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples… on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.  ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ …Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered. The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying…’ ‘Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and… he has come here… to arrest all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’ Then Ananias went to the house… he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, —has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘…hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners?’”

3. Discussion

Q. Who was Saul? Were Saul and Ananias friends before this story?

Q. Did it make sense for Ananias to pray for Saul? What do you think would have happened if Ananias hadn’t obeyed God?

We all have enemies. Whether it is the person who continually talks behind our back, the person who insults us at every turn, or the bully who picks on us at school (or work), we all have those we would consider our “enemies.”

Q. How does Jesus want us to handle our enemies? Is this how you handle your enemies? How could you treat your enemies differently? 

4. Prayer Focus

Lead your children in a prayer for those they consider their enemies. Pray that God will change their hearts. Pray that God will use your children to be a light to those who are living in darkness.

All-Access Pass

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

It stinks to be out of the loop. We all have a craving to belong and to be in the know, but before salvation, we were all on the outside looking in spiritually. That’s one of the most exciting things about making Jesus Lord.  We’re not only saved from hell, we’re now insiders, with unprecedented access to the God of the universe!

1.Now that you’re an insider, come boldly to God’s throne.

Ephesians 3:12 [NLT] “Because of Christ and our faith in him (now that we’re insiders), we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”

Q. Take a minute to think about the words you use when you pray. When you talk to God, do you speak as an insider – a child with full access and expectation for a response – or as an outsider hoping for a crumb to fall off of God’s table?

Q. How would the prayer of an insider sound different from that of an outsider?

Q. How would the expectations and faith of an insider differ from those of an outsider?

2.Now that you’re an insider, invite other people in.

Ephesians 3:6-7 [NLT] “And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.”

Q. What’s the name of a person you interact with who’s living without the benefits of an all-access pass to God?

Q. Take a minute and practice how you might share your experience with them: Why did you make the decision to accept Jesus as Lord? What are your favorite benefits, now that you’re an insider? How could these benefits make this person’s life better?

Now that you’ve thought through it – look for a God-opportunity, and invite them to be an insider like you!

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for inviting you into His family and filling your life with the benefits of being an insider. Ask Him (boldly!) for the power and opportunity to invite others to new life.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that… ‘If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!” 

Watts Up: “Don’t Hold On To Grudges – Make Things Right!”

This week, we continue the series called, “Ouch!” This week, we learn that when we hold on to grudges and anger, it will do nothing more than hurt us. Instead of allowing anger to make us bitter, we must forgive others, just like God has forgiven us.

2. Bible Reading

Genesis 37-43  “So Joseph went to look for his brothers. He found them near Dothan. But they saw him a long way off. Before he reached them, they made plans to kill him. ‘Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to one another. ‘Come. Let’s kill him. Let’s throw him into one of these empty wells. Let’s say that a wild animal ate him up. Then we’ll see whether his dreams will come true.’ The traders from Midian came by. Joseph’s brothers pulled him up out of the well. They sold him to the Ishmaelite traders for eight ounces of silver. But the traders from Midian sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt… captain of the palace guard… he became very angry. So he put Joseph in prison. It was the place where the king’s prisoners were kept… the Lord was with Joseph. He gave Joseph success in everything he did. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘God has made all this known to you. No one is as wise and understanding as you are. You will be in charge of my palace. All my people must obey your orders.’ People from all over the world came to Egypt. They came to buy grain from Joseph. So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain there. Joseph recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. Joseph looked around… He continued, ‘May God be gracious to you, my son.”’

3. Discussion

Q. What happened to Joseph? Did he have the right to be angry? 

Q. When he was second in command of Egypt, who came to see him? Did they know it was Joseph? How did Joseph respond?

Anger is an emotion we all deal with. However, Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount, “Anger is murder!” So what does that mean? Does that mean if you are angry, you are a murderer? Well, not exactly. What Jesus is saying is that when you hold onto your anger and allow it to turn into a grudge, THAT is the sin! Allowing your anger to control you can lead to a lot of heartache.

4. Prayer Focus

Have you ever held onto your anger?  What do you think Jesus wants us to do with our anger?

Pray for your child if they have been holding bad feelings and unforgiveness in their hearts toward others. Encourage them that they may need to go to the person this week and tell them that they are forgiven.

Holy Spirit Empowered

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Sharing your faith with friends and family can be intimidating. “What if they don’t believe me? What if they think I’m crazy? What if I totally mess up the message?” On our own, it would be impossible to fulfill God’s vision to reach people who need Him. The good news is, we’re not on our own – the Holy Spirit is with us!

1. The Holy Spirit will give us boldness to share the message.

Acts 1:8 [ESV]  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Being filled with the Spirit is not just about speaking in unknown languages – He works in us to give us courage to speak up, and the right words to say. Even if you’re naturally timid and soft-spoken, He will help you to share with the people in your life who need to hear it.

Q. What’s something in life you’d love to do, but are too scared/nervous to try?

Q. Trusting the Holy Spirit to give you courage in the moment you need it, what possibly-intimidating interactions with friends and family could you initiate this week?

2. The Holy Spirit will give weight to our words.

John 6:44 [NLT] “For no one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws them to me…”

The Holy Spirit not only gives you the confidence to share, but when you do, it’s His influence that causes your words to ring true in the hearts of the people who hear. 

Q. Can you remember a time when you heard something at church or from another believer, and you felt like it was speaking “directly to you?” How did that change the way you responded to what was said?

Q. Trusting the Holy Spirit to cause the words to resonate with those who hear, what would you say to your friends & family who don’t know God?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to help you accomplish His mission. Ask Him for boldness to share your faith this week with the people in your life who need Him.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  

Watts Up: “God Is The Judge, And I AM NOT!”

This week, we continue the series called, “Ouch!” This week, we learn not to be a “rock thrower” judging others, but to be a “grace giver” instead.

2. Bible Reading

John 8:1-11 “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives… All the people gathered around him there. He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman… They said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught sleeping with a man who was not her husband. In the Law, Moses commanded us to kill such women by throwing stones at them. Now what do you say?’ They were trying to trap Jesus with that question…. So he stood up and said to them, ‘Has any one of you not sinned? Then you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ He bent down again and wrote on the ground. Those who heard what he had said began to go away. They left one at a time, the older ones first. Soon only Jesus was left. The woman was still standing there. Jesus stood up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Hasn’t anyone found you guilty?’  ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then I don’t find you guilty either,’ Jesus said. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

3. Discussion

Q. Who brought the woman to Jesus & why?

Q.  What was Jesus’ response? Were the Pharisees innocent?

Have you ever known someone that was SO BAD that you thought, “They could NEVER become a Christian!” OR have you ever known someone who had done so many sinful things that you thought, “That person sure does deserve some punishment!”  Well, that’s exactly what the Pharisees thought when they brought the woman to Jesus in today’s Bible Story. This woman had been caught sinning. She had a bad reputation and everyone seemed to know that she was guilty of sin. The Pharisees brought her before Jesus, and they planned to “stone” her.

Q. Have you ever been a “rock thrower” instead of a “grace giver”?

Q. What do you think you could do instead of judging others?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children if they have been guilty of judging others and “throwing rocks” at others. Pray that they will remember that they are sinners too. Pray they will receive forgiveness for their sins (including for judging others) and choose to be a “Grace Giver” like Jesus.

Better Together

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Family Devotional 8-6-17 AdultsFamily Devotional 8-6-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Bible Verse

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT) 

2. Application

We are better together!

The scriptures teach that we are not intended to go through life by ourselves, but rather God intends that we would be a part of a community of faith.

One of the primary purposes of this community of faith is DISCIPLESHIP!

Discipleship is the passing on of biblical truths from one generation of believers to another.


3. Discussion

How is discipleship accomplished?

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NLT) 

Discuss with your family or friends how important friendship based 

relationships are to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Q. How strategic are you about using your relationships for encouraging others in the things of the Lord?

4. Prayer Focus

Lord, reveal to me how I can be a part of friendship/interest based groups and through the relationships built, move people closer to you.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

“Forgiving Others”

Matthew 6:14  “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” 

Forgiving someone for stepping on your toe may be easy, but what about someone who really hurts your feelings?  Jesus taught us that we must forgive EVERYONE in order to be forgiven.  This is an important lesson for our children to learn as they begin to face people who may be difficult to forgive.

2. The Word


Read:  Matthew 18:21-35

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’  “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.  “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


3. Discussion 

Q. How many times did Jesus say we should forgive someone?  What lesson do we learn from the servant in this story Jesus told? 

Q. What was Jesus’ final statement in verse 35?

Q. Do you think it is fair that you should have to forgive people who have hurt you?

Jesus was teaching his disciples and others that we must forgive others, not once but over and over again.  Forgiveness is not an option.  If we want Jesus to forgive us, we have to forgive others who have hurt us. 

4. Prayer Focus

Sometimes, forgiving people who have hurt us isn’t easy.  Jesus isn’t saying forget what they have done to you, but He is saying forgive them.  Forgiveness is possible because Jesus has forgiveness us.  He can help us to forgive others who have hurt us.  Ask if anyone in your family has someone they need to forgive.   Pray together that God will help you forgive others.

Love Your Neighbor

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Family Devotional Adult 5-28-17

Family Devotional Kids 5-28-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Loving people who love us is easy. Loving those who are different, who dislike us, or who intentionally hurt us, that’s a different story. To love these, though, is to prove that God’s love and grace are at work inside of us.

2. Bible Verse 

Matthew 5:43-45a [NLT] “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”

Q. Looking back over your life, who would be some “enemies” on a personal level? Without God’s help, how difficult would it be to love them?

Q. What are a few groups, nationalities, or cultures which seem like enemies to you? (i.e. urban gangs, terrorist organizations, foreign dictators)

Q. What pressures are there from your own group, nationality, and culture to treat these people with hostility?

3. Application

Matthew 5:45b-48 [NLT] “For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Jesus called us to share the good news with everyone, even our enemies. When we remember our own need for God’s grace and forgiveness (things we don’t deserve), we can more easily extend grace and forgiveness to those who are hard to love.

Q. Who is more loved by God: you or the people from the list you made earlier? Who is more in need of God’s grace? Who is more deserving of it?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for extending grace to you. Ask Him to help you love those like the people on your list, and to share the good news with them.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

For this devotion, you will need a flashlight or lamp, and a TV or radio. Have your entire family go into the darkest room of your house and then ask them what they see.  Depending on how dark it is, they may or may not be able to see anything.  Hand the flashlight to one of your children (or have someone turn on a lamp or overhead light) and ask them again what they can see.

2. Bible Verse

“The Holy Spirit Will Give Me Power!”

Acts 1:8 “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…”

Then talk about the following questions:

Q. Why couldn’t we see much at first?

Q. Why did turning on the flashlight or lamp help us see better?

Q. What caused the flashlight or lamp to be able to light up? (electricity)

Q. Could you see the electricity? (No, but you could see what the electricity did.)

3. Application & Talking Point

Have your family move into the room where the TV or radio is.  Tell one of your children to turn on the TV or radio.  Listen for a few moments, and then have someone turn it off.

Ask the following questions:

Q. How does the TV or radio work? (Most children and adults won’t be able to answer this question very well, and that’s the point: we don’t really know how they work, we just know that they do.)

Q. What does the TV or radio need in order to work? (electricity)

Explain to your children that the Holy Spirit is kind of like electricity. When we become Christians, it’s like having a power plant in our hearts!  Although we may not fully understand how He does it, the Holy Spirit guides, convicts, comforts, and teaches us.  He also gives us the power we need to do what God asks us to.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together, thanking God for giving each member of your family the Holy Spirit as a power source in your lives.

Moving Away from God

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I was thinking about a few conversations that I’ve had over the past few days. In the background of my mind during these conversations was the fact that we have been praying for the past 48 days for revival and desire for God to renew and restore not only the relationships of people to himself but to draw thousands to himself. It’s the mixture of these conversations and our revival that brings me to raise a question.

Why do we always, after enough time, move away from God?

In the process of thinking this through, I went to the story of the golden calf in Exodus 32. If you’re not familiar with this section of scripture let me give you a short summary. God has led the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery under Moses’ leadership. God performs unprecedented, visual miracles to not only deliver them from Egypt but also to provide for them during their journey away from Egypt and toward the land that He was giving them. God leads the people to a mountain named Sinai and with Moses on the top of the mountain and the people in the plain below, over a forty-day period the Lord gives Moses the law including the Ten Commandments.

The astonishing part is that even after the amazing, undeniable miracles leading them out of Egypt as well as the things taking place around Mount Sinai during the forty days that Moses is on the mountain, the people still move away from the worship of God and move back into practices that bring God’s anger and judgment.

In only forty days their hearts have moved away from God!

This is a cycle that we see over and over throughout the scriptures and throughout human history.

Flash forward to my conversations over the past few days. We’re still doing it. Yesterday and today I have been involved in a number of conversations, in person and electronically, that have a common thread. In each one someone was looking for justification to do something other than move towards God. Some of the topics were certainly not sin and in fact are perhaps permissible scripturally and yet not beneficial (1 Cor. 6:12). Others were absolutely sin and as such should be avoided by a believer and yet in both situations believers were defending their opinions and positions. Ultimately, it seems, we still fall for the same unending pull of our fallen, sinful natures.

Some might say, ‘Yes, that’s why we needed and why Jesus provided grace!” and they would be absolutely right, and yet grace has more than one aspect. Grace not only removes the penalty for our sin, but it’s also intended to draw us from our sins. God’s kindness in the extension of the precious grace provided by Jesus also draws us away from our sins.

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4 (ESV)

Repentance is a turning away from the sinful lifestyle. We as God’s people are not ultimately looking for loopholes or permissions, we are looking for pathways into deeper fellowship and communion. Our pursuits are not ones that reveal more of our fallen human nature, but more of the nature of Christ. Christ-followers are just that. Also, these pursuits and life habits are not motivated from legalism nor any empty tradition, they find their fuel in the love, grace, kindness, adventure, and warmth of the Father’s embrace and a living relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Having basked in that love, light, and communion our desire becomes singular, bring others into this same consuming experience. Things that have even the smallest chance of hindering that pursuit slowly, as we linger in this relationship longer, begin to be discarded. The things that we are reaching and searching for begin to change over time. Gone is the search for license and loopholes and in their place there is self-motivated discipline. Discipline not grounded in fear but in love.

It’s the lack of this that causes us to need revival! We need to once again regain our focus on the pursuit of God rather than the pursuit of justification and vindication for our move away from Him.



Hidden Faults

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Last night I was reading through a wonderful section of scripture and I thought it would make for a great blog.

In Psalm 19:12-14 we read…

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

This is exactly like what we were considering in yesterday’s sermon. (listen here)

First, we all have patterns of behavior that we fall into that lead us into sins that we are unaware of. Yesterday we were discussing how the things that we say about other people can actually become a tremendous stumbling block and hinder the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Satan uses our very nature against us and convinces us that we are totally justified based upon what another person has done to us. However, this is simply not the way we as Christians behave. Ever!

If we’re not very diligent these patterns of behavior and subsequently speaking can become a hidden fault. We don’t realize that we are acting in a sinful way and as such, sin rules in our lives without our knowledge. David asks God to reveal his hidden faults to him. This would be a great practice for each Christian to engage in every day.

“Lord, reveal my hidden faults to me so that I may repent and change.”

Second, David asks God to keep him from willful sins. These are those things that we know are sinful and yet we do them anyway.

In this dispensation of grace in which we live, we have a powerful propensity to go too far. There are those who teach that the power of God’s grace is so great that there is no way for us to offend it. There is a part of me that absolutely believes that. However, for me it’s a matter of sequence. If there is something in me that consciously moves toward sin because I think God will forgive me and I do so over a Spirit-originated conviction, I am walking a very dangerous line. Not because God will withdraw his grace because I believe He never does, but rather because I run the risk of slowly callousing my heart to that grace and damaging my faith. I believe that I can completely erode my faith in God and the things of God and as such I can become unsaved. I’ve done nothing to change God’s grace, but rather I’ve removed my own faith by my actions. Ephesians 2:8-9 indicate to me that both grace and faith are necessary for my salvation.

Therefore, David prayed that God would give him the strength to avoid both the sins he was unaware of and those that he was fully aware of and then he would be innocent of “great transgression.”

That’s where I want to live! Free of great transgression!