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It’s our 100th episode of the podcast! We have Pastor Mark Sowersby back on the podcast to celebrate! We are continuing on our series on How To Study The Bible For Abuse Survivors. Mark knows first hand what it’s like to suffer horrible abuse and find his way back to God. We heard his story back on episode 11. He has inspiring and encouraging advice for your journey in reading the Bible and connecting with God. What does a bad restaurant review have to do with Bible Study and the Lord? Well, come and find out!
Reverend Mark Sowersby has been married to his wonderful wife Jennifer for 17 years and is the father of four children. Mark has been an ordained minister with Assembly of God for over 25 years and is currently a Pastor in Massachussets. Pastor Mark holds a BA in theology from Zion Bible College/Northpoint Bible College. In 2019 Pastor Mark went through a time of great healing. He began speaking about the experiences of his past and God’s grace and the transformational work of forgiveness in his life. He now speaks about his story through his ministry, Forgiving The Nightmare.
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Transcript:[00:00:00] Diana Winkler: Hey everybody. Welcome back. I hope that you enjoyed our interview last week. We’re continuing on with our series on how to study the Bible. And this is coming from an abuse survivor concept and abuse survivor perspective. [00:00:30] And I feel that this is a very important topic, very important for our healing. So I have a great lineup. Different folks coming on to the show, folks that some of which have been on our show before, repeat guests. [00:00:55] And these are folks that are [00:00:58] Bible [00:01:00] teachers who love Jesus, nearly all of them have been abuse survivors, so they know where you’re coming from, [00:01:10] and they are trusted Bible teachers. [00:01:15] These are people that I trust that I followed for a long time and can give you clear guidance on, Hey, how do I study the Bible for myself? Instead of depending on somebody else to spoon feed it to me, we have to know the Word ourselves. And it’s an important part of our healing because you and I both know that spiritual abuse is very common in the church. [00:01:53] And it’s because those people up on the pulpit who are [00:02:00] preaching and teaching the Bible, they’re getting away with it because we are not keeping them honest. We are not in our Bibles. We are not studying the Word and checking to make sure that what they’re saying is correct. And you say Diana, isn’t it rude to check the pastor or the Sunday school teacher or the guy on the television that’s [00:02:30] teaching or even a podcast like this one? I listen to a lot of preachers on podcasts. Isn’t it rude to check people? No, it’s not. Because it talks about in the scriptures, the Bereans they were a group of people in the church in Paul’s day, they searched the scriptures daily, whether these [00:03:00] things were so. So even Paul, the apostle is preaching was checked with scripture. [00:03:12] They were in there digging to find the truth. Who is this Paul? Who is Peter? What is he preaching? What is he telling us? Does it line up with what we know already about what God has told us up to this point? [00:03:31] So anyway, yes, it’s important that we check those people that we’re listening to. It’s really easy just to listen, sit there and veg out, especially Sunday. Sometimes we get a little comfortable and we don’t go home and dig into the [00:04:00] Word ourself. [00:04:03] I don’t want to delay in telling you about my guest today, who is a returning guest. We have Mark Sowersby on the podcast today. He is a pastor. He is an abuse survivor. He was on episode 11 last year. He’s coming back on in this show today, and we’re gonna talk about Bible study cuz he has some personal challenges, [00:04:32] that sometimes can get in the way of learning God’s Word, but it doesn’t let stop him. So let me refresh you on his bio here for those of you that have not met Mark. But I do recommend that you go back and listen to episode 11, because we’re not gonna go [00:05:00] into his story at length today. [00:05:03] We want to give Mark as much time as possible to talk about the Bible study aspect. And here is a little bit about Mark. Pastor Mark Sowersby has been married to his wonderful wife, Jennifer for 17 years. And is the father of four children. Mark has been an ordained minister with the Assembly of God church for over 25 years. [00:05:35] Pastor Mark holds, a BA in theology from Zion Baptist college, formerly known as NorthPoint Bible college. In 2019, Mark went through a great time of healing. He began speaking about the experiences of his past and God’s grace and the [00:06:00] transformational work of forgiveness in his life. [00:06:03] He now speaks about his story through his ministry Forgiving the Nightmare. When he isn’t serving his congregation and his community through ministry, teaching and support, you can find him on all the trails in lakes, spending time with his family. This is his book behind me [00:06:26] if you’re watching on YouTube, Forgiving the Nightmare. And it is a fantastic book, great story. [00:06:36] You’re going to love Pastor Mark. An easygoing wonderful communicator and is really a huge blessing from the Lord. So [00:06:46] enjoy this conversation with Mark Sowersby. [00:06:53] I’m so excited to have back on this show. Pastor Mark Sowersby! Welcome![00:07:00] [00:07:00] Mark Sowersby: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m so blessed to be here. It’s good to be back and have an opportunity again, to speak to you and to your audience. It’s such a blessing. Thank [00:07:09] you so much. [00:07:11] Diana Winkler: I can’t believe it’s been a year since you were on the show. [00:07:14] That was episode 11. Wow. You told your story and I encourage all of the listeners to go back and listen to that episode of Mark’s story. It’s amazing. And you didn’t even have your book released when you were here last time. [00:07:33] Mark Sowersby: I did not. And you took a risk in letting this crazy pastor from the Northeast, come on your show and kind of open up his heart and his mouth. [00:07:43] And, you trusted me and you trusted the Lord to be able to share a testimony of God’s grace and mercy. And since then we have been able to go out and speak in many places and share the testimony of Forgiving the Nightmare. And we actually got the book was released and here it is right behind me Forgiving the [00:08:00] Nightmare. [00:08:00] Diana Winkler: Yeah. I’ve got my copy behind me too. You see, thank you. See over there. And when I asked you back on the show for this series, I’m like, well, he’s all fancy and stuff. Cuz he was on the 700 Club. [00:08:16] Mark Sowersby: I don’t know about any fanciness. I’ll never forget. I’ll tell you the story. I got a call and what they did is they have basically [00:08:23] an assistant producer call you and they do an interview with you. So they never tell you’re gonna be on this show. They don’t guarantee it. They kind of do this pre-interview. And as this woman called me from the 700 Club, I literally thought I was being pranked by my friends. And they said, Hi, I’m calling from CBN. I thought, yeah, [00:08:42] right. I could sell you a bridge in New York too, I thought really, so, but it turned out to be a real call. And about two weeks ago the episode ran on the 700 Club. It was exciting. [00:08:55] Diana Winkler: Yeah. I watched that. It was pretty neat. And I’m gonna put the link in the show notes for [00:09:00] the episode. So you were on the 700 Club. Other stuff happened to you this year? Update the listeners on how you’ve been doing. [00:09:09] Mark Sowersby: Well, basically we’ve been sharing the same testimony. Testimony of forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love. We’ve been talking to people about Jesus and how the love of God can help us through those trials. [00:09:20] And those hurts in our life that they’re real and we have to negotiate through ’em and we don’t just come to church and put a plastic smile on and pretend they didn’t happen. But we go to God and we lay ourselves at the altar if you would. So that’s been the message since the beginning that God is great. [00:09:34] God is big. And because we shared Jesus Christ, he’s opened up some doors Mark Battison, the author of The Circle Maker got a hold of me. He’s a New York time bestseller. He read my book and he told me he liked it and he endorsed my book for me. So now we’re endorsed by Mark Battison. Yeah, that was exciting. [00:09:52] CTN down in Florida had us come in. They had us on a program. We’re gonna be on another program in a couple weeks on CTN Christian [00:10:00] Television Network, able to go out to North Carolina, spoke at some great treatment centers out there and some wonderful churches. Real hard for me. I had to speak at Myrtle Beach. [00:10:10] That twist my arm, that was difficult. But but then, we were able to go to Atlanta. We spoke on a program called Atlanta Live and that was exciting. And a Cornerstone Network has invited us to go on. And we were excited about that. So just a lot of opportunities. They published us in a magazine called Influence Magazine. [00:10:26] So God’s just given us a voice and a platform to be able to share this message. But like I’ve shared with many, my testimony of the abuse I went through and the journey to forgive those who trespass against me is not my story. Now. I know it’s my story. It’s my narrative. I’m not a fool. [00:10:44] I understand that. I’m the one who went through it. But I mean it in a figurative way, it’s not my story. The victory of my life is what God’s done through me. It’s God’s story. I’m a sinner saved by grace. I got pulled out of the mirey clay. Only by the love of God. I’m not [00:11:00] special. I don’t have a special dispensation. [00:11:02] God’s love could pour out to me as he poured out to anyone. And God pulled me out and done a good work in me. So we’ve been able to lift it up and say, we serve a real God that loves us. Who’s there for us. So that’s kind of where Forgiving the Nightmare’s gone and it’s continuing to go. And I got to get back on this awesome [00:11:21] podcast. [00:11:22] Diana Winkler: Yeah. I’m so glad that you’re back on the show and your enthusiasm is contagious. Your excitement for the Lord is catching. And I saw on social media this morning, you baptized your girls yesterday. [00:11:39] Mark Sowersby: I did. And I’ll say, in my real life, I am not an author. I’m a guy who wrote a book, but in my real life, I’m a pastor. [00:11:46] I pastor at church. A real church, blue collar people with a blue collar neighborhood, serving a perfect God. And we had a great baptismal service yesterday, the traditional kind. The tank, the pastor, the preacher, the worship [00:12:00] team. We baptized a handful of people, but a part of that group was my children. [00:12:05] So of course a proud dad, a proud pastor, my wife and I were the middle of smiles and tears. I was thinking the next time my daughter comes walking down an aisle in a gown, it might be a whole nother kind of ceremony . So, it was an exciting time for our family. And we’re blessed that all three of our daughters went through the water of baptism as a confession of their faith in [00:12:25] Jesus Christ. [00:12:27] Diana Winkler: That is so exciting. It was. And you have four children, correct? [00:12:31] Mark Sowersby: I do. And my son, who just turned 16, the beginning of the end of last year. He just got his driver’s license and he was baptized last year. So now we’re in the thick of life. 16 year old with the driver’s license and he got his first job and now the girls are growing. [00:12:49] Oh man, pray for us. Pray for [00:12:52] us. [00:12:53] People go to my website, they could leave me an email, go to forgivingthenightmare.com. I need [00:13:00] advice. Okay? Any parents that are listening that raise teenagers? My wife and I, we need advice. Leave me an email there and say, here’s the steps. [00:13:08] 1, 2, 3. A friend of mine said, hold on loosely. That’s about it. [00:13:12] Diana Winkler: Hold on for the rollercoaster, cuz that’s what it is. That’s it. I remember my dad teaching me how to drive when I was 16, and a stick shift, an Escort, I think. And him yelling at me because I went over the lines and stuff and yeah. [00:13:30] I was a pill when I was a teenager. So you’re gonna need them prayers brother. [00:13:36] Mark Sowersby: Amen. [00:13:37] Diana Winkler: Well, we’re gonna talk about today on our series with Bible study because a lot of our listeners who have gone through abuse and trauma, a lot of that is spiritual trauma. I have been the recipient of some really bad preaching and really bad teaching. [00:13:56] Sure. And a lot of times when we’re under the abuse and [00:14:00] trauma and we’ve come out of that. We wanna, a lot of times throw God out, like the baby with the bath water. Well, I don’t wanna deal with God. That’s true. I don’t wanna read his Word. I don’t wanna pray anymore. He wasn’t there for me. [00:14:14] This is a podcast for those that, okay, yeah, we’ve been through the abuse, but I don’t wanna cut God off. I want to understand. Sure. I wanna understand God. I want to get into his word. I don’t know how to study the Bible for myself. I don’t know how to have a devotional life. [00:14:37] I don’t know all the answers to all the questions that I have, but I want to know the answers to the questions I want to continue the journey with God, even though I’m not sure where it’s gonna go or where I am right now. And so that’s why we’re doing this series. And it’s so important. [00:14:57] I think you can’t really heal [00:15:00] from abuse without God. I don’t believe that you can. [00:15:04] Mark Sowersby: I believe that also. God has to be the center of the core, the rock, the foundation. I believe that. [00:15:09] Diana Winkler: There’s lots of secular sources out there for healing, but I don’t really think that you can fully heal without God. Because we are a soul. [00:15:18] We have a body, and so not taking care of our spiritual side. It’s an incomplete healing, for sure. [00:15:26] Mark Sowersby: Definitely has holes. It definitely have holes. You’re right. A lot of my ministry has gathered and been focused on hurting people, hurting places. And some of the churches I’ve pastored have been hurting churches because of the theology and the teaching that they’ve been taught. [00:15:45] Good people of good intentions with intelligent minds, capable gifts have been deceived are because of some of the poor teaching or the lack of teaching or discipleship [00:16:00] or even discipline. And it often causes confusion, anger, and frustration. So I definitely understand what that’s like to come beside people who wholeheartedly serve God with everything that they were, being pointed in a position that would rob from them, the joy of their salvation. And I’ve seen it. And it’s leaves us many times as a victim. Who do we trust? One of the first casualties in any kind of trauma, my trauma was child abuse, and those don’t go back or heard more about it. And one of the first casualties in any kind of trauma is, it’s the first thing we lose. [00:16:35] Right? I don’t wanna trust anybody. I don’t wanna trust anyone, anything. I don’t wanna trust the church. I don’t wanna trust anything. So trust is one of the first things that’s stolen from us from trauma. It’s usually the last thing you get back. It’s the thing that takes the longest to get back. And I would say in my journey, when I first came to God, I was raised in a home full of dysfunction. [00:16:58] As you can imagine, [00:17:00] my abuser abused me in every way, shape or form. But my [00:17:03] abuser, [00:17:04] his language was lies. He didn’t just tell lies. His language, his tongue, his native tongue was lies and everything he did was deception. So I grew up in a home that was about lying and deception. So when I came to God, I wanted to know the real God. [00:17:22] Now I didn’t know even know which way to look. I was not a strong reader. I graduated high school with a third grade reading level, a dyslexic, still am today. So I, I didn’t know where to go, but I just started to talk to God. I didn’t know if I talked to God right or wrong. I just started to talk to God. [00:17:38] Like I’m talking to you now. And I didn’t seek forgiveness. I didn’t seek gifts. I didn’t seek position or power or title. I just wanted God. And I said, God, if you are real, I think we’ve all said, that God, if you’re real, that’s the God I wanna know. Now I learned later on, seek you first, the kingdom of God and all this shall be added onto you. [00:17:58] I didn’t know that then, but [00:18:00] by seeking. God started to help me in my journey. He started to reveal to me his love. He started to reveal to me his truth and I got confused and I didn’t understand. And what does this mean? And why do you say it this way and that way, but I just didn’t give up. I just kept seeking. [00:18:15] Now, there was good days and bad days. One step forward, two steps back, good weeks and bad weeks, bad months and good months. Of course, I’m human. I had all those expressions, but I just kept putting God first. What I get questioned a lot is cuz I called my book forgiveness and I can say by the grace of God, I’ve forgiven those who’ve wounded me so. And people say, how did you do it? I didn’t start my journey off seeking forgiveness. I started my journey off seeking God and God’s love and grace and his son, Jesus Christ brought me through forgiveness. And that’s journey that we all are on. I didn’t want something. I’ve wanted God. And in finding God, it gave me everything else. [00:18:58] If that makes sense. So, yeah[00:19:00] I’ve seen a lot of abuses and where do we find the truth is only in the Lord, right? The truth sets us free. I’ll say this and I’m a pastor and I’ve heard it all. And I’ll say, I’ve heard bad theology, bad worship, poor teaching, abusive teaching, manipulative, teaching, controlling teaching. [00:19:18] And it’s horrible. But I like to eat. I don’t know about you guys in Arizona, and I like to eat. And I’ve been to a few bad restaurants. I could tell you it’s some bad restaurant stories. I’ve had poor waitress or waiter. I’ve had a bad meal. I think I even got food poisoned. One time I went to a restaurant. [00:19:38] Guess what? I didn’t stop going to restaurants. Right? I’ve been to a couple bad ones. I’ve had some bad meals. I’ve had some rude service. I’ve had some dirty places. And when I went, I said, guess what? I’m not gonna go back to that one again. But I sure do still go to a restaurant. I sure do [00:19:56] like taking my wife out for a little candlelight. I surely like ordering [00:20:00] tonight. Me and my friend, Larry going for a big steak. So, we’re going someplace tonight. So it’s okay. I didn’t give up going to restaurants because I had a couple bad restaurants. And sometimes we give up on God because we’ve had some bad teaching. Now that bad teaching needs to be dealt with. [00:20:15] It needs to be healed in us. And I understand the psychological and the spiritual battle, but don’t give up on God, cuz there’s some good teaching there too. There’s some good, wholesome, godly preaching, Amen. [00:20:28] Diana Winkler: That’s a great place to start. I’m glad you mentioned all those things. I’m thankful for the church I’m with now. [00:20:35] I have a very healthy church and they’re not perfect, but they love the Lord in there. Trying to teach the word correctly. And it’s been a real blessing. Let’s get into the nitty gritty. [00:20:47] Mark Sowersby: Come on, sister. Come on. Let’s go. [00:20:50] Diana Winkler: Okay. So when we go to the Christian bookstore, you’re on Christian book distributor.com online, and you’re trying to pick out [00:21:00] a Bible to read. And you’ve got all these choices, too many choices, [00:21:05] in fact. Where do you start with a bible? Which one do I pick? [00:21:11] Mark Sowersby: Well, I would start from my perspective. Okay. Now, when I say my perspective. I am a dyslexic who graduated high school at a third grade reading level. God has not healed me from that. And I still wrestle with reading. [00:21:25] I read out of discipline. I rarely read out of enjoyment. So my perspective may be a little different from somebody else’s . But from my perspective, what’s the one I can understand? What one is my ability gonna help me understand what God’s saying? That’s the first thing. Can I comprehend it? [00:21:45] I could buy the most beautiful Bible and read the hundred different versions, but I can’t comprehend it then what’s it mean? That’s the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is that we have to know the difference between a translation, right? What’s a [00:22:00] translation of the Bible and what’s a paraphrase? A paraphrase that somebody has collected [00:22:06] the Bible and kind of given it back to us in their own perspective, which there can be some great things we can glean from that and learn from it. But sometimes there’s difference between what I would call a paraphrase Bible and a translated Bible. So that’s the first thing. I think if you’re starting off, what’s something that’s been translated. [00:22:24] And then you want to go back to finding a kind of the Bible, a translation, you first can understand. The one that makes sense to you. I guess, the ESV, a lot of people love the ESV. Yeah. I’m gonna tell you something and your viewers are gonna say, boo, I like the NIV. The NIV? [00:22:43] And then, the NIV purists will ask me what year? 1980 version, 84, 86 91 version. I like the NIV. King James. If that’s you, my mother’s generation, my mom, I did not know that she knew the word of God. And while she was [00:23:00] passing away, she asked me to go to a room and read the 23rd Psalm. So I did, and I read it from the NIV. [00:23:07] And my mom stopped me and she said, Marky, read it right. I said, I am reading it right. She said, Noah says, Thou. So, yeah, that’s what she was used to. So again, I first, what can be comprehended? That’s important also make sure it’s a translation, not just a paraphrase, some great paraphrases, but they’re not translation. Somebody or some organizations throwing some opinions in. It’s okay. Just know it. Right? So I’d stay with them. Solid translation and one, you can comprehend. [00:23:42] Diana Winkler: That’s great. I laugh when you talk about the NIV, cuz I came from a denomination that was King James [00:23:49] Only. You know why? [00:23:51] Mark Sowersby: Cause that’s what Jesus spoke. [00:23:53] Diana Winkler: Yeah. Right. And they wore suits and ties too. [00:23:56] Yeah they used to bash the NIV all the time [00:24:00] and until I actually read the NIV for myself. I’m like, that’s not true. That’s not what it says, cuz they always said that, oh, it takes out the Virgin birth. No, it, it doesn’t, that’s another translation I found out. But but I laughed. [00:24:17] Mark Sowersby: There’s so many, those Bible groups they really try to get into some of the translations and I don’t think, [00:24:25] again, I’m a simple pastor preaching, just a simple church. I am not a Bible scholar. I have my BA, which I’m really happy at. I don’t have a hundred masters or doctorate degrees by my name. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that Bible translators are waking up in the morning, waxing their mustache going, [00:24:44] how can I deceive, maybe there’s a few, but I think earnestly, many of them are trying to give a scripture that’s full and complete. But I would tell you again, people would say, well, King James says this and the NIV doesn’t have it like [00:25:00] that. And then you go ESV. [00:25:02] If you are a reformist, the ESV. [00:25:04] So there’s a lot of different translations and but I guess for me, for my little sliver of the world, for whatever it’s worth, buy me a cup of coffee and we’ll talk Bible. [00:25:15] Diana Winkler: Yeah. That’s great advice. [00:25:18] And we don’t have to freak out that, if we pick the wrong translation that, that we’re terrible Christians or whatever, cuz some groups, that’s how they make you feel. [00:25:29] Mark Sowersby: They do. They do. I’ve I’ve heard the whole argument of translations. I’m sure some people are loving me and some people wanna stone me right now. [00:25:39] What do you mean kid? [00:25:39] Diana Winkler: We gotta get, yeah, I’m probably gonna get some emails. [00:25:44] Mark Sowersby: Don’t send any to me, send all to her. [00:25:47] Diana Winkler: I’m the host. So yeah, send ’em to me. Y’all [00:25:49] Mark Sowersby: So I ask for advice, they’ll say, I ask for advice, they’ll say, have your kids read King James Only? [00:25:56] Diana Winkler: Yeah. Right. So along those lines, [00:26:00] do you have to be a a Greek scholar or a Hebrew scholar? [00:26:07] How does the original languages come into play? [00:26:10] Mark Sowersby: Well, obviously there’s a role in that and it’s good to know it and be aware of it, but you’ll hear people say, God works in mysterious ways. I’m sure we’ve all heard that phrase. That’s not a biblical phrase. It’s not in the Bible at all. [00:26:24] The closest thing is the Bible says, God’s ways are higher than our ways, but no way is God mystical. And God’s not trying to hide himself from his people. He’s not trying us to jump through hoops and become wordsmiths for us to know him. God wants us to know his word. He wants us to know his love. [00:26:44] He wants us to know his son. The word became flesh John 1:1. So the word isn’t hidden in a mystical magical kind of way that only a select few with a degree and this and that can decipher it. Now again, it does enhance. [00:27:00] It does help explain there’s a role and yes, when you learn the Greek and the Hebrew and the relationship and how it’s all put together and how it was presented, that just enhances your understanding. [00:27:13] But there’s been simple guys like me getting saved forever and all, they don’t know the Greek, the Hebrew, the Latin, and the lexicon. They don’t know the Textus Receptus. They don’t know all that, but what they know is Jesus loves them. So yes. Are those tools great? Are they helpful? Should those that teach desire to know those things? [00:27:33] Sure. Because it helps us to present the gospel in a greater way but I think the simple word of God. That’s not simple at all. The Word that gives us the conviction and the compassion that calls us to call on his name, the move, the spirit that brings us to a place of confession that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior has never been hidden. [00:27:56] It’s the simple gospel. So I don’t know if that helped, but that’s what I [00:28:00] think. [00:28:00] Diana Winkler: Yeah. There are a lot of online tools out there that you can look up the original Greek or Hebrew, but there’s always that Nimrod that, they’ll sit there and they’ll take some word and some passage in the Bible and they’ll have this obscure meaning that they found and changes the entire meaning of the passage. [00:28:21] In fact entire doctrines are made out of some obscure translation of one word in the Aramaic or something. [00:28:28] Mark Sowersby: And that’s the thing with translation, sometimes in the English language, we translate different than they did in the Greek or the Hebrew or the Latin. [00:28:38] And they can have one word that has different meanings. Like, like we have one word love and we say, love. I say, I love you to my wife. I say, love you to my children. I say, I love you to my friends. Well, obviously we know the simple that in Greek, there was many different forms of expressions to love. [00:28:54] The kind of love that you would use for your wife was a different kind of word. The kind of love you would use [00:29:00] for your children as a different kind. Philadelphia, right? Brotherly love. Right? So when they’re translating, are they translating with the correct word that was applied there. [00:29:08] That’s where people kind of say, well, no, it could have been this. And if it was this, therefore it could have been all that. So, and there’s a place for that. There’s a place to understand that. There’s a place to, to study that and no way am I minimizing that or not make it, there is a place to truly understand good hermeneutics or homeletics. [00:29:26] And as we study, we should understand it, but it doesn’t make us only a select few. God’s word is revealing. It’s engaging, it’s not exclusive. It’s inclusive. [00:29:37] Diana Winkler: Very well said. Now, we’re sitting down and reading a passage of scripture. What are some basic rules of interpretation that you really should have in front of you, [00:29:55] so we are interpreting the passage correctly? [00:29:59] Mark Sowersby: [00:30:00] Well, I think there’s a couple things, first of all, just start with the most simplest of all context, right? Just like when you buy the house, what’s the most important thing about buying a house? Location, right? [00:30:09] You could buy a house. You could buy a small house in front of a huge pond. That house is gonna be worth a lot of money. Location. The same thing about translating. You have to know contents, understand where the audience that Christ is speaking to. [00:30:23] Each gospel has a different audience. Each gospel writer is writing to somebody else. So we could spend hours and boy, I’m excited. I could really get into this. We don’t have enough time, but really know the audience, know the purpose. Know the context of what he’s saying. [00:30:41] Why did Christ say this way to this group and say it a different way? He’s not contradicting himself. He’s presenting it different ways to different groups. So, as they said to me in Bible college, you always know your audience. Always know your audience. [00:30:56] Diana Winkler: Yeah. So it’s important because it [00:31:00] drives me nuts when somebody takes a passage of scripture that is for Israel and applies it to the United States ,when that’s not what it says. [00:31:15] you’ve probably seen examples of that. [00:31:17] Mark Sowersby: I have seen, when I was in Bible college the professors said to us, How many believe that God knew them in their mother’s womb? And we all raised our hands. And he said, why do you believe that? And we said, because it says in Jeremiah that I knew you in your mother’s womb. [00:31:36] And the professor said, he told Jeremiah that, not you. Wow. So he said, it’s not wrong, but now teach me, he taught us how to interpret. So do we hold onto promises? Then we can understand them. So he wasn’t dismissing that scripture. He was teaching us how to [00:32:00] interpret and how to have proper hermeneutics and homeletics when it comes to preaching. [00:32:05] So that’s, again, you wanna apply the right scripture to the right situation, right? [00:32:13] Diana Winkler: Paul Granger was on last week and he picked on Jeremiah 29, 11 [00:32:21] It’s everybody’s favorite verse, yeah. [00:32:24] Mark Sowersby: God knows the plans he has for me. I’m not gonna listen to that guy. Come on. I don’t like it. I want my scripture! He knows the plans he has for me plans to prosper me. Right? Of course. Amen. [00:32:36] Diana Winkler: Yeah, I think we, we gathered that it’s okay to like that version, apply it to our life, as long as we understand what the what the reality of the passage is, and where it came from. [00:32:47] Yeah. [00:32:47] Mark Sowersby: Good interpretation. Good contents. [00:32:50] Diana Winkler: So let’s talk about, passages in the Bible that are really difficult. One to understand, or maybe difficult to [00:33:00] swallow. What do you do when you encounter those kind of passages in the scriptures? [00:33:06] Mark Sowersby: You want the real answer? [00:33:08] I turn the page and say, God, I can’t think about that right now. No. Now, when I come to the scripture, I come saying the scripture’s correct. And I have to be willing to apply myself. So the scripture’s the Word of God, the logos, then the Word became flesh. Now, yes, there has to be proper interpretation. [00:33:28] There’s cultural interpretation. There’s all kinds of forms in where the Bible is applied in the context that it’s spoken. So I’m not, I’m not saying you just use one ruler to measure the whole thing because there’s poetry in the Bible. There’s narrative in the Bible. [00:33:43] There’s all forms of literature discipline happening in those 66 books. And you have to measure it or apply it within its own context, if you would. But when I go to that, basically I realize I have to apply myself to the Word of God. I’m not gonna change [00:34:00] the Word of God. The Word of God’s there to change me. Now, it doesn’t make me ignorant or a robot. [00:34:06] It doesn’t tell me to shut off my brain. It doesn’t tell me to stop thinking. The Bible says, come let us reason together, forever studying, but never learning, but you know what? At the end of the day, those hard scriptures that I don’t like, cause they kind of they don’t feel good. I don’t wanna talk about em. At the end of the day, if it’s God’s word, it has to trump Mark’s likes or dislikes. [00:34:31] Diana Winkler: Yeah, I get all the time. Well, what about Noah in the flood? What about Abraham sacrificing his son, Isaac? And God’s a horrible God. And I said, well, if you study Abraham’s life or the scriptures or you study Noah and his life and the scriptures in the Old Testament, God is not [00:34:53] just a God of wrath. He’s a God of love. If you are just looking for it, you can see that. [00:35:00] God is love, mercy and forgiveness. You’re just looking at one part. [00:35:04] Mark Sowersby: And there are hard parts. To think as a parent, that God would say, put your baby on a altar, but didn’t God the father put his son on an altar? [00:35:14] Yes, he did. Didn’t God, the father watch his son die? So, there’s a lot of reasons why these things happened. He called Abraham a friend of God, so I don’t understand. I won’t try to give an answer, I’m sure whatever answer would never be good enough. [00:35:33] But all I would say is that I don’t know. God’s ways, his ways are higher than my ways. They’re not mysterious, but they’re higher. They’re greater. And God works in ways that will always glorify himself. And so when he asked those servants to do those incredible things. Now here’s the good thing, right? God provided this sacrifice. [00:35:57] Yes. So even though that Abraham brought [00:36:00] his son on top of that mountain, even though he raised that, that knife, if you would, God said no. And he offered a Ram in the thicket. And even though Jonah fell into the water and got swallowed by the fish, whale fish, we’ll get into that. Oh, come on. At the end of the day, the greatest revival in all the Old Testament took place that when Jonah came upon the land of Nineva, he told them to repent, the Bible says even the animals. [00:36:28] So the greatest revival in all of the Old Testament, we don’t read it from that perspective because we read it from Jonah’s perspective, going, Hey, this is no good. But when Jonah landed on, Nineva the greatest revival at all, no New Testament took place. So, God has a plan and I can’t pretend to be gone. [00:36:45] Yes. I tell people I’m in middle management, I’m in middle management. [00:36:48] Diana Winkler: Middle management, funny. Yeah, we just have to trust the Lord and seek the answers, cuz he’ll tell you. He will tell you if you’re seeking the answers. But some [00:37:00] things we’re not gonna know this side of eternity. [00:37:03] Mark Sowersby: Hebrews chapter 11, those that were commended for their faith. There’s always a faith aspect. And I sometimes we don’t want that. No, I want black and white, left and right, up and down, one and one equals two. I wanna know that. I know that. I know that I know. And as soon as you sprinkle faith in that, but the gospel and the Word of God in following the Lord, no matter how you express that, that worship, if it’s more conservative or lofty or charismatic, no matter how you express it, there’s always a measure of faith. [00:37:42] There’s always a measure of faith. And boy, that can be challenging to say I’m a grown man. And I believe somebody got swallowed by a fish. I’m a grown man and I believe somebody walked on the water. I’m a grown man and I believe somebody raised from the dead. I’m a grown man and I [00:38:00] believe God could feed the 5,000. [00:38:02] I’m a grown man and I believe I’ll be at heaven someday. And all those beliefs have built not just by our own intellect. It’s built by the faith that God’s put inside us all. [00:38:13] Diana Winkler: Amen. Amen. Now we already talked about false teachers and bad teachers. What is a way that we can recognize if we’re under a false teacher or somebody that we need to run the other way because this teacher is sure going down the wrong path. [00:38:34] Mark Sowersby: The best way to recognize counterfeit is to know the original. That’s the best way to know counterfeit. Right? So I’ve heard, and I’ve only read this, I heard stories about it that those who search after counterfeit money, they spend all their days are studying the original. [00:38:51] So they can quickly recognize counterfeit. The secret service, they have a whole department of people who study money, the $20, the $50, the [00:39:00] $1, and they know the original so well that when they see a counterfeit, they can pick it out a mile away. And I would say, that’s still the same for us. Let us know the original [00:39:12] so well. Know the love of God. Know the grace of God. Know the word of God. Know the volume, know the spirit, know how it reflects and moves and reacts. Not that it’s always the same all the time. But the more we know God, the more we can recognize the anti, see Jesus is called the Christ because it means Anointed One, right? [00:39:34] It’s not his last name. It wasn’t Jesus Christ, Christ is his title. It says, Jesus Christ, Jesus, the Anointed One . And then he tells us later be careful of antichrist, anti anointed. And how do we recognize the antichrist? Small anti-Christ or big antichrist or The Anti-Christ. [00:39:55] However you wanna define that, but how do you recognize that? By [00:40:00] recognizing the original. The more we know the Christ, the more we’ll recognize the anti-Christ [00:40:04] Diana Winkler: yeah. Some definitely believe some heretical teachings and I’m not sure how they came to those conclusions, but [00:40:14] I knew that they were heretical teachings because I had studied the Bible for so long. That’s not how God works or that’s not what that verse means. [00:40:27] Mark Sowersby: Sure. A lot of us like our Christianity, a la carte, right? We wanna pick and choose like, when you at the restaurant again, and they come by with dessert at the end, it’s called a la carte. [00:40:37] They have all kinds of desserts on it and you can pick one or two can be ice cream or cookies. Well, a lot of people like that, they’re Christianity. They want Christianity, a la carte. I want a whole lot of grace. But I don’t want, I don’t wanna eat too much sacrifice. I want a whole lot of love, but I don’t wanna give a whole lot of discipline. So we want Christianity, a la carte. I remember when being in the ministry, I had a guy come up. Bingo. [00:41:00] I believe in about 8 of the 10 commandments. I’m like, well, they’re not negotiable. They’re not like we get to pick and choose. They’re 10 commandments for a reason. [00:41:09] Yeah. But eight of them, I’m pretty solid. These other two, I don’t know if I agree with. And I can imagine that there’s a lot of people that come, I like four, the other six, I’ll throw ’em away or, Hey, I’m good with three of ’em, so a lot of people do that. [00:41:22] Many people walk around with a Christianity that’s behind glass, that’s break in case of emergency. I remember one day I watched, it was a snowstorm here in New England. I know you are Arizona. People don’t know about that, but we had about a foot of snow down. The plow just went down the street and I looked out my window. [00:41:40] It was freezing. It was below zero. And there was this young lady running down the street in a jogging outfit. And you know what I thought to myself? This is not her first day running. Nobody would’ve woken up that day and said, Hey, you know what? I wanna start today? It was a part of her life. It was a habit. [00:41:59] It was who she [00:42:00] was. Running was a part of her. So even though the storm was bad and it was cold outside, within her, she had to run. A lot of us, we just break out our Christianity in the midst of the problem. You know what? Oh, somebody’s sick, or I got fired and God meets us in those places. I’m not making that small. [00:42:19] But, when we’re walking with God all the time, when the storms come, we’re still putting on our cloak of praise. We’re still putting on that garment and worshiping. So when the pink slip shows up, even though it hurts, and even though it’s hard, and even though we weep, we go, I got a faith. That’s gonna hold me up. [00:42:36] Even though when the doctor gives the x-ray and it hurts and we’re crying and we go, how? But I got a faith that’s gonna hold me up. Even when there’s trouble and strife. And there’s issues. We got a faith that holds us up. So it’s gonna happen. Problems are gonna come in. This world, [00:42:53] you’ll have many troubles. Fear, not Jesus said, because I’m with you always. [00:42:59] Diana Winkler: Hm, [00:43:00] amen. Such great truths. I’m gonna have a lot of guests on the show that have different denominations, maybe some different beliefs, as far as Christian doctrine. Like, for example, the, end times. I’m a pre millennialist, pre tribulation, I believe in the rapture, but I have friends and family members that don’t believe in the rapture. Or they believe different for the end times. [00:43:32] Mark Sowersby: What’s the difference between, this is a variation on a basic Christian doctrines with a little bit of a little bit of leeway, without it being, like we say, heretical teaching. Does that make any sense? [00:43:47] Sure. Yeah, [00:43:48] I think so. Boy, you’re making me put on [00:43:50] my theology cap here today, bringing me back to college, which is great. I guess I’ll just, again, talk from my perspective. What does it profit a man, to inherit the [00:44:00] whole world that loses eternal soul. Those are important questions and how we interpret those questions and how we’re going to express our faith and what we’re prepared for and how we live. [00:44:10] So again, I’m not undermining those questions that are important, but there is so many variations and so many variables, and there’s, again, these things are gonna be discussed from now until Christ comes home. Either the trumpet will blow, or be raptured or will be put in the grave and the dead in Christ shall rise. [00:44:27] But it’s going to happen one way. What we need to focus on is the gospel. You could be a staunch reformist, a 5 point tulip, Baptist. You could be an evangelical Cal Armenian, but if you let us preach Jesus Christ crucified as the message that we’ve been called to preach, go and sin, no more turn and repent and come to your savior. [00:44:55] Now you may say, I recognize my election, or you may [00:45:00] say, I ask Christ into my life. However, you express that. May Christ be your guide. A friend of mine. He is a good guy. I love him with all Mahar. He’s a Reformed preacher and I am an Assembly of God, preacher. So you can imagine our conversations. A lot of love, a lot of friendship. [00:45:19] And every time I was in the room with him, I would say, I know brother, I didn’t ask Jesus Christ in my life. I recognized the election that I received from God. And so, but you know what? God saved me, saved me either by, election or by confession. He saved me by grace. He saved me by the grace of his son, that went to the cross to pay the price for my sin to set me free. [00:45:46] And guess what? There’s gonna be a million more books. There’s gonna be a million more preaching. But when Christ is not in the sense when Christ is not being lifted up, when man’s doctrine becomes louder than God’s [00:46:00] Word is a big red flag. To any denomination that God must be the center and we lift God up and we lift up the gospel and we make room for all to come to the kingdom of God because Christ. [00:46:15] Well, you did a really great job answering that question, Mark. Yeah, a lot of people are like, what’s a tulip? Y’all can Google all that stuff. [00:46:23] Diana Winkler: All those big words that we just mentioned, that people are like [00:46:26] Mark Sowersby: They can’t be that big cuz I understand them, believe me. [00:46:29] Diana Winkler: So, but that’s exactly the answer that I gave to one of my relatives. I was discussing some really complicated doctrinal stuff, which we disagreed on. And I said that very thing. [00:46:44] I said, you know what? What’s important is our salvation and loving others as Christ loved the church. Loving your neighbor and obeying what we do know, obeying the [00:47:00] commandments and our quiet time with the Lord, our prayer, communicating with God. All this other stuff over here, [00:47:07] nobody cares. [00:47:09] Mark Sowersby: One of my favorite stories, I will put it that way in the Bible is about the man that was blind, who got healed. Jesus heals him from being blind in a miraculous, a miracle way that happened with the splendor of God’s miraculously mercy. And they drag him in before the Sanhedrin, before the, the leading groups and they start grilling him all these theological terms, like we’re talking now, what did he say? [00:47:33] What did he do? What did he mean? Where did he go? What’s he confessing? What, how did he heal you? And the blind man goes, listen, guys, listen, I don’t know really anything you guys are talking. I don’t know all these theological terms. I don’t know if I’m talking to Pharisees or Saducees. [00:47:49] Am I talking to head drawn? I don’t know what you guys are talking about. All I know Jack is I was blind and now I could see, and I think that sometimes, you and I have [00:48:00] these great conversations and I love them. I love to have this and chew on that. Talk about reform theology and evangelical theology and a Calvinist and an Armenian and all the different facets of that. [00:48:12] There’s a fun place for that. And we could discuss it, but at the end of the day, I was lost, but now I’m saved. Amen, brother. How’d that happen? Jesus Christ died for me. Well, are you called? Are you elected? Did you confess? Or did you proclaim? All I know, man, is this broken kid that grew up in abuse that was under a heavy hand, that hated himself for a long time. [00:48:38] They couldn’t get out of his own way and was wrestling with insecurity and fear for most of his life that when Jesus impacted my life, I’ve been changed and made new. How did it happen? Jesus Christ. That’s all I know. [00:48:53] Diana Winkler: That’s that’s right. We got all the hard questions out of the way. As a pastor, [00:49:00] what resources do you like to use in your Bible study? [00:49:06] What tools do you use? [00:49:09] Mark Sowersby: Well, there’s a lot of good things written about the Bible, but really I try to stay in the Word. I try to say now again, I try to get all those things we talked about. I try to find out culturally, I try to talk about the audience. [00:49:24] I try to give the historical aspect. I look at those things, all those commentaries, but at the end of the day, there’s always somebody else’s opinion. They’re great opinions. Some of them are dead on. I’m not saying they’re wrong opinions, And we have to pray and say, but Lord is this where you’re leading me? [00:49:41] Is this where you’re leading our church? Is this where you’re speaking to us? Is this where your Word says? Am I trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Is this what I want it to say?. Or is this what it says? God, I don’t wanna preach that hard word because people won’t love me. [00:49:56] But if that’s what your word says, I have to preach a full gospel. So, [00:50:00] there’s a lot of me in it. There’s a lot of God in it, but you know, at the end of the day I use a lot of different resources. I remember going to a seminar one day and they asked, who do you use? [00:50:09] And I raised my hand. I was like the Bible [00:50:14] so yeah, it’s maybe because I’m not a strong reader. Again, I told you, reading for me is a discipline, not a joy. So I’ve kind of been forced to put myself in this view and that, and I’m sticking to it, I guess. [00:50:28] Diana Winkler: Well, I say that because when in my previous churches, Fundamental Baptist churches, we were never allowed to have a Bible that had footnotes in it. [00:50:40] We were not allowed to use commentaries. And the only thing that we were really allowed to have was a Thompson Chain. What the references to other verses. And I think that handicapped me quite a bit because I lost out on a lot of stuff I’m discovering now: the cultural [00:51:00] stuff, geography and the Hebrew. The Bible is written from a Hebrew point of view, not from an American view. [00:51:09] Mark Sowersby: That’s right. [00:51:10] Eastern thinking book. It was not written with a Western thinking. [00:51:13] Diana Winkler: No, it wasn’t. [00:51:14] Well, I shouldn’t say missed out. I did learn a lot with just reading the Bible. But I think I struggled quite a bit. [00:51:22] Mark Sowersby: When you read outside information, outside commentaries, you have to chew up the meat and spit out the bones. Not everybody and everything you read from everyone, except Forgiving the Nightmare. [00:51:36] No, I was just kidding. Not everything you that you’re going to agree with. Right? There could be a real great point the author is making on page one, but on page two, you’re thinking, what were you thinking? So, but we study, we read it. We’re able to apply it. We pray on it. and then we go in. And again, there’s disciplines to preaching. [00:51:57] Again, anybody that listens today that are in the [00:52:00] ministry would know those terms, hermeneutics and homeletics and interpretation and Greek and Hebrew. And all those things are very important in no way am I undermining those things. There are very important. There’s people that are gifts to the body that could bring that that deeper understanding if you would or interpretation. [00:52:16] But God is not a mystery. He wants to be found. His love is abundant. His grace is fresh and new every day. And yeah, so, I’ve read some people that I’ve loved page three and six and nine and 10, but the other pages I’m like, no [00:52:34] Uhuh [00:52:36] Ask me, most days I’m definitely a 3 point TULIP. Most days. Some days I’m a 4 point TULIP guy. [00:52:43] That is how I’m, but I’m never a fifth point TULIP guy, and I’ll let you figure out the fifth point later on. But I’m always the 3 point TULIP some days, a fourth point, but never a fifth point. So, so, [00:52:55] Diana Winkler: yeah, I appreciate answering that. It sounds like, the way that [00:53:00] you approach Bible study is don’t sweat the small stuff. [00:53:05] Oh, that’s gonna take care of itself. And if we’re seeking the Lord, he’s gonna show himself to you. If you’re in the Word, trying to understand and seeking the truth. [00:53:17] Mark Sowersby: You’re right. That’s the million mile view, that’s the high thousand mile a hundred mile away view, but at same time as a pastor, You do have to watch the margins because there could be some crazy theology that’s built in the margins. [00:53:31] So yes, ultimately, like you said, I have the hundred mile view and God, we are gonna focus on the big things and God’s gonna figure out all the rest. That’s probably where I like to live, but at the same time, I’m not so ignorant to say I, I’m gonna ignore the edges because again, weird theology, I’ve heard people read the Bible and the Bible says, and you’ll do greater things than Christ. [00:53:54] You’ll do greater things than me. And they’ll literally close the book and go, I could do [00:54:00] greater things than God. And then we all know we have narcissistic friends, right? Yes. Look so, oh yeah. So there are important truths on the margins as important truths on the mile view. So it’s important. [00:54:13] And I understand a shepherd, a pastor is to protect. So one of the jobs of the shepherd. When David refers to God as a shepherd, he refers to God with two tools a staff and a rod, and the rod is to beat off the the foxes and the wolves. And the staff is to pull ’em on out of the way. [00:54:31] And every shepherd should be carrying a staff and a rod. And we should use the rod to beat off the wolves. And some of that poor theology we need to watch out. So yeah, ultimately a million mile view, the hundred mile view, but at the same time, let us not be ignorant and let small little things pop up that build greater confusion for the body. [00:54:53] God’s not a God of confusion. So when confusion takes place, that’s not of God. [00:54:59] Diana Winkler: Oh that’s a very [00:55:00] good point. Yes. And I know we talked about a lot of things today. I threw a bunch of stuff at you and you just hit them out of the park as I expected. And is there anything else about Bible study that we didn’t talk about that you wanted to mention? [00:55:18] Mark Sowersby: Well, I tell people all the time that when we start walking with God, we are on a journey. If we really want more of God, then we have to be really ready for that. And on that journey, we’re gonna find different crossroads, if you would. And that first crossroad we’re gonna come to is going to be sacrifice. [00:55:35] Are we gonna really sacrifice our heart, our time? Then the next crossroad we’re gonna come to is submission. And boy, that’s hard, right? Am I gonna submit myself. And then another crossroad we’re gonna come to is confidence. We’re gonna know that God could do what he says he’s gonna do. And then another crossroad we’re gonna come to is humility. Because we know God can, and we’re gonna claim it and proclaim and say, I know my God can. And God’s gonna say, Hey, but I’m gonna do it in my [00:56:00] time. [00:56:00] And in my way, not your way. So you, when you’re walking with God know, the love of God has saved you and then you are growing to be that disciple. Let God can transform you and make you. He is the Potter and we are the clay. And let the Word of God give you the peace for it’s still the light to the world. [00:56:19] It’s still the answer to the world. And it’s still the hope of my spirit, for it’s the rock I build my house on. And it’s still the sword in my hand that helps me fight off the enemy. So I hope I shared a little bit today. [00:56:33] Diana Winkler: Amen. This was fantastic. Enjoyed hearing your responses and your wisdom. So tell the folks how they can get in touch with you and get your book. [00:56:44] Mark Sowersby: Well, a couple different things about me. [00:56:46] Again, I pastor in Massachusetts. So we say wicked awesome. And how you parked the car, how you park the car at Harvard yard. That’s how we talk, right? Go Socks. The Celtics broke my heart this year. So we’re in Massachusetts. [00:57:00] So you can find me at our church at Calvary Community Church at Dudley Mass. [00:57:04] You can go there or you could find me at my website for my ministry called forgivingthenightmare dot.com . We got a book. You heard us talk a little bit about it today, about learning to forgive and the process and the genuine reality of the journey and trusting God. If you wanna know more about the book or check it out, you go on Amazon. [00:57:21] You can buy the book on Amazon, Forgiving the Nightmare. And then we’re also on all the social media. We’re on Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. So check us out Forgiving the Nightmare. [00:57:34] Diana Winkler: All right. Awesome. And Mark, thanks so much for coming on the show and I definitely have the the Phileo love for you brother. [00:57:44] Mark Sowersby: Oh, thank you, Sister. [00:57:45] Diana Winkler: Brotherly love there. You’re always welcome to come back on this show anytime. [00:57:50] Mark Sowersby: And I just wanna say, Congratulations, a hundred episodes and that is a milestone. You have been faithful to your podcast or your audience and [00:58:00] lifting up the name of Jesus. [00:58:01] So I’m gonna celebrate a little with you. So God bless you and thank you for letting me be a part. [00:58:07] Diana Winkler: Amen. Now, if I could ask you to say a prayer for our listeners for their journey to Bible study. [00:58:17] Mark Sowersby: Father God, we love you so much. And we thank you that you’re not hidden from us. [00:58:21] That Father, you desire to reveal your Word, your grace, your mercy to us, Lord God. So Father, I pray as we study, we will find you. As we knock on that door will be open to us. As we ask, we shall receive, Lord. And I pray for those that have been wounded by poor teaching and theology, manipulative spirits, Lord God, that Father, they may know that they could trust you. [00:58:45] They could run into those big arms of Jesus. They could put their head upon your chest. And may they hear as John heard, Lord God, as Peter heard, Do you love me? Lord, may they hear that today. So I pray, Lord, you [00:59:00] bless us, be with us ,As we trust in the name above all names in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. In Jesus name. [00:59:08] Amen. God bless you. [00:59:10] Diana Winkler: Amen. God bless you.