Jun 22, 2017

Q|A Session 3: Forgiveness, Focus, & Stress

Welcome to the third week of our Q|A series! We are spending time this week trying to answer your questions about life in general. You have asked for advice on certain issues, and we are trying our best to guide you through these complex teenage years.

If you need to catch up on our Wednesday night class, click the link below to listen to an audio recording of the class and follow along with the notes and Scriptures below. When you're done with that, be sure to check out our weekly answer video where Brady and I answer more questions that we couldn't get to in class.
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How do you let go of something you’ve held onto for a really long time?

Matthew 6:14-15 | For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

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.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 | Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians 3:8-14 | But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
     Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
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How do you stay focused on God when most of the time God seems like an afterthought?
Hebrews 12:1-3 | Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Colossians 3:1-4 | Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Romans 12:1-2 | Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
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How do I handle stress & anxiety the right way?

Have you tried...
  • Yoga Breathing Exercises
  • Eating Right
  • Exercising
  • Getting Enough Sleep (not too little or too much)
  • Prayer & Meditation
  • Professional Mental Health Counseling
  • Prescription Medication
Matthew 6:25-34 | “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
     “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Philippians 4:6-7 | Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

OTHER HELPFUL SCRIPTURES:
Psalm 3
Exodus 14:14
John 16:33
Psalm 31:1
Jeremiah 29:12-13
Psalm 139:23-24
Isaiah 43:1-2
Isaiah 46:4
Isaiah 41:10
Matthew 11:28-30
John 14:27
Psalm 55:22
Hebrews 13:5-6
Psalm 56:3

HELPFUL ARTICLES:
Five Ways to Deal with Anxiety

Q|A Session 3: Challenges, Truth, and Quitting

I encourage you to watch in YouTube to see the additional Scripture resources and notes in the video description.

Jun 16, 2017

Q|A Session 2: Life & Faith

This week we answer your questions concerning life and faith. These are some great, challenging, and important questions. I hope Brady and I can give you answers and advice that you can use. Ultimately I pray that your faith will be strengthened and that you will grow more in love with God each day.

But living a life of faith isn't easy. If it were, everyone would do it! Take some time to listen to last Wednesday's class below and check out the Scripture notes that accompany each question. When you have done that, be sure to watch our follow-up video where we answer questions we didn't have time to get to in class. Be sure to watch it in YouTube so that you can see the Scripture notes in the Description box below the video.

If you find this helpful, be sure to pass it along to your friends. Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

But enough chit-chat. Let's answer some questions, shall we?
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How do you know when you’re ready to be baptized?

Romans 6:1-7 | What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Acts 2:38-39 | Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Matthew 16:24-27 | Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
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How can we as Christians remain strong in a fallen world? // What can you do to make sure you stay devoted to God through high school/college?

2 Corinthians 5:17 | Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Ephesians 4:11-12 | So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...

Proverbs 22:6 | Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
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Why does God put us up to such high standards? Does he know we can’t/won’t fulfill them? How is God so full of forgiveness even though we fail time and time again?

Exodus 34:6-7 | And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Matthew 5:17-20 | “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 7:14 – 8:4 | We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Luke 18:9-14 | To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Psalm 103:6-12 |
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
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Why does God sometimes seem so far away when we are going through hard times? // Sometimes it’s easier to talk to God and turn to him when things aren’t going so well. But when things are going good, it’s sometimes harder to turn to God. How can I fix that?

Leviticus 26:11-12 | I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.

Acts 17:24-28 | “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Hebrews 13:5 | Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 8:10-18 | When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down... You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

James 1:17 | Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

1 Chronicles 16:34-36 | Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior;
    gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
    and glory in your praise.”
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
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Jun 8, 2017

Q|A Session 1: Friends & Relationships

We began a series this summer where real-life teens submitted their questions about faith, life, relationships, science, religion, and more. No question is off limits, and they asked some GREAT questions. This summer we are doing our best to give some answers. Each week in class we will answer four questions. Then Brady and I will make a video answering some of the questions we didn't get to in class.

After all that, I will post on this site a link to the audio from class for those who couldn't be there, along with some scriptures to accompany the questions. I will also post the video so you can watch us answer even more related questions. All of the Q|A resources will be right here in one place!
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For this first session, we answer real questions from real students about real relationship issues.


What are some ways to get through a really hard breakup?

Proverbs 3:5-6 | Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 34:18 | The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 | He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
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What can you do when you don’t want to be a part of a certain group of friends, but they don’t know that and you don’t want to hurt their feelings?

John 15:9-17 | As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

Proverbs 27:17 | As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

1 Corinthians 15:33 | Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Exodus 23:2 | Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.
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How do you bring up an awkward subject in friendships or a relationship?

Ephesians 4:14-15 | Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:5 | You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.

James 5:12 | Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
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How do I tell my friend I’m worried about their behavior outside of church/school?

2 Timothy 2:22-26 | Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Galatians 6:1 | Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

James 5:19-20 | My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Matthew 7:3-5 | Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 18:15-17 | If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
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And for the questions we didn't get to:


May 23, 2017

VOICES, pt. 2: Podcasts

Anyone who knows me well knows I listen to a lot of podcasts. As dorky as it may seem, I look forward to the weekly updates. I get to hear men and women who are a lot smarter than I discuss and teach on topics of great interest to me. About half the podcasts I listen to are straight up sermons/Bible classes from pastors and preachers I respect and look up to. The other half are podcasts about faith, Christianity, etc. There's one I listen to simply for fun, but it's also dubiously educational.

Here's a rundown of my weekly podcast subscriptions.
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INFORMATIVE

Ask Science Mike - a weekly Q & A podcast about science, faith, and life. Listeners submit questions, and Mike McHargue (AKA "Science Mike") does his best to give thorough, thoughtful, scientifically sound answers. Science Mike also has a book out that I highly recommend: Finding God In The Waves, but I'll come back to that one in a later post.





The Liturgists - Mike McHargue (of Ask Science Mike) and Michael Gungor (of the band Gungor) produce an incredibly insightful and conversational podcast on hot button issues of the day. These topics have included LGBTQ, racism, sexism, able-ism, spiritual trauma, and many more. Each topic is approached at the intersection of science, faith, and art/culture.





The Road Back to You (Looking at Life Through the Lens of the Enneagram) - Ian Cron and Suzzane Stabile interview guests on the show who fit a certain enneagram number. The podcasts seeks to inform listeners about what life is like for certain enneagram types, how each type processes emotions/events in their lives, and how we can learn more about ourselves in the process. If you don't know about the enneagram, visit their website to learn more.





The Art of Manliness - Brett McKay started up theartofmanliness.com blog several years ago and turned it into a twice-weekly podcast in which he interviews leading experts, authors, and innovators in various fields. Each podcasts focuses on a different aspect of what it means to be a man in the 21st century. It's always something informative, inspiring, and practical. I highly recommend this one for all the guys out there.





Newsworthy with Norsworthy - Want to keep up with the latest trends, the newest research, and the movers and shakers within the church at large? Luke Norsworthy is your guy. His weekly interview podcasts features authors, scholars, and pastors from across the spectrum of Christianity. He has interviewed everyone from NT Wright to Richard Rohr to Rob Bell to Rain Wilson.






The Bible for Normal People - This is a brand new podcast (only 10 episodes in as of this writing) hosted by Pete Enns and Jared Byas. Pete Enns is the author of nearly 20 books on Christianity, the Bible, etc. This podcast is an interview style podcast which brings in voices from across the religious spectrum to discuss the basic question, What Is The Bible?



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SERMONS

The Hills Church (Fort Worth, TX) - Rick Atchley and Taylor Walling

Fourth Avenue Church of Christ (Franklin, TN) - Patrick Mead

Otter Creek Church of Christ (Brentwood, TN) - Josh Graves

Rochester Church of Christ (Rochester Hills, MI) - Adam Hill

Highland Church of Christ (Abilene, TX) - Jonathan Storment
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JUST FOR FUN

Dear Hank & John - It's a comedy podcast about death where Hank and John Green answer your questions, bring you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Seriously, if you haven't been following the work of John and Hank Green, you are missing out on a wonderful part of internet culture. John Green is the author of Y.A. books such as The Fault in our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines. But together they have forged an entire community of nerdy awesomeness across the globe. In addition to the weekly podcast, they also host the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel, Crash Course, SciShow, and others. Their entire life goal is to "Decrease world suck." And with a mantra like "Don't Forget To Be Awesome," they just might make that goal.
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I listen to a lot of podcasts....

But one I don't listen to is also worth checking out. It's the Mitchell Church of Christ podcast. I don't listen to the podcast because...I'm there. But you can subscribe and listen to our sermon podcasts as well as my Young Disciples Wednesday night classes.

What are your favorite podcasts? Let me know in the comments!

May 5, 2017

VOICES, pt. 1: You Are Who You Listen To

Do you hear voices?

What a ridiculous question. Of course you do. So do I. We all do.

The better question is, what voices are you hearing?

I am becoming more and more convinced that we embody the voices we hear. This could be a parent telling you how proud they are of you - or how disappointed they are in you. This could be a classmate complimenting your outfit - or sarcastically degrading you in front of everyone. The voices include movies, books, TV shows, bands and music artists, teachers, preachers, news anchors, sportscasters, celebrities - the list goes on.

And now more than ever, we are able to curate for ourselves our own little world of voices. We "subscribe" to podcasts, newsletters, and YouTube channels. We "follow" friends and celebrities on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. If you don't like something or someone, we block them. We create for ourselves an echo chamber where everything we already want to believe is simply echoed back to us multiple times a day.

We get to choose what voices we want to listen to. Are you choosing to listen to "other" voices with conflicting ideas or new and different perspectives?

I'm going to spend a little bit of time telling you what voices I choose to listen to over the next couple of weeks. Maybe you'll find some helpful resources. If nothing else, it could help you understand more about me and what voices I am embodying.

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel."
[Proverbs 12:15 | NASB]