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Time

The most important use of your time is to spend your time on what is most important.

You can’t save time, borrow time, make the most of time, keep time, find the right time, mark time, lose time, take time, or spend time.

You don’t have any time tomorrow, it’s not here yet. and yesterday is history.

The only time you have to do anything is now.

So, the question each of us has to ask and answer for ourselves is:

What’s the most important thing in our life?

I will claim for myself “seek ye FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (food, drink, clothes) will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Do I consistently seek my God first? No. My wife and my family edge out God more than I care to admit. But my heart always longs to make God first. How about you?

If God and His Kingdom is not the one thing that is most important in your life, maybe it’s time to make Him the most important thing. Right now.

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You’re nobody. . .till somebody loves you.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin was an American singer, actor, and comedian. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed “The King of Cool”.

As a singer Martin was probably best known for his rendition of the song “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.”

Martin was a heavy drinker, a womanizer, a gambler and a chain smoker.

I’m sure he never imagined that one of his songs would bring believers so much comfort and peace and rest one day.

You see, as a believer you’re already loved deeply and forever. Almighty God already loves us unconditionally and with a love that will never fade or end. We have been loved since before Almighty God decided to create the heavens and the earth.

This love God has for us is indescribable. It is unfathomable. We can’t understand it. We can’t explain it. All we can ever do is receive it and share it with others. You can’t change it. You can’t refuse it. You can’t stop receiving it. You can never be turned down for it. God is love. He can do nothing else but love.

Here are just a few of the benefits that are part of God’s love for every believer

  • You are accepted just as you are, scars and warts and all.
  • You are totally forgiven for all your sins, past, present and future.
  • You can’t do or say anything that will change God’s unconditional love for you.
  • God makes you a partaker of an inheritance that is literally out of this world
  • You are made holy and blameless and righteous.
  • You are a precious child of God adopted into his family forever.
  • You have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through for you and through you.
  • You possess the mind of Christ and the peace that passes all understanding.
  • God supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Not every child of God believes who he or she is in Christ. For instance some believers have done things they can’t believe God would ever forgive them for. Some believers can’t wrap their arms around the truth that they were created before God created the world and they will neve die.

Whether folks believe all the above stuff or not. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s all true.

It doesn’t matter what you believe about God’s love. It only matter what God says about his love for believers. For everything God says or does is true.

I didn’t include any Scripture references in this post. I’m going to challenge you to seek God’s truth about Him and you in his word. All His truth is there.

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Why God chose Mary, a virgin

God could have chosen from among hundreds of girls or young women to be the mother of God’s only Son on earth. Why did he choose a young teenager from a wide spot in the road village, Nazareth. They said “Nothing good ever comes from Nazareth.”

But now we watch The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, pick this nondescript teenager to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And a virgin to boot.

Jesus’s mother had to be a virgin. It could have happened no other way. Remember with the first bite of the apple in Genesis Adam and Eve died spiritually. So every man, woman and child born from Adam and Eve’s union were born into sin.

“we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3

We all were at one time born into the world children of wrath and were deserving of death.

Jesus came into the world to give us His life. He had God’s love and eternal life to give anyone who would believe in Him and accept the free gift of eternal life Jesus was willing to give them.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

So, if Jesus was born to anyone but a virgin, he wouldn’t have had God’s eternal life to give away. And we would all die without God.

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We have forgotten God

Dr. James Merritt

Dr. James Merritt once quipped, “If we’ve learned anything from history it’s that we haven’t learned anything from history.”

Idols

It used to be that only some off-the-wall religions and pagans worshipped idols. But look at us now. We make idols out of almost anything that satisfies our worldly lusts. Shiny cars, football players and teams, movie stars, singers and music groups, clothes, our cell phones, (yes we do) money, shopping, crystals, astrology, success, personal image, . . .an idol is anything in our lives that we consider more important than God.

Sexual Immorality

We have completely forgotten what God said about marriage, dating back to Genesis

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24…Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that God created marriage as an institution for the purpose of man and woman to fulfill God’s purposes for man–procreation.

That means at the end of the day homosexual couples are and will always live outside God’s law and His purpose for man. Gay couples can not procreate, that will always render them shy of God’s original and eternal purpose. But God’s love is for all people and those living in sin will always have the freedom to repent and follow God’s law.

But homosexuality is only the tip of the sexuality immorality iceberg in our society. All you have to do is look) around to get a dose of every kind of immorality. Examples of immorality prevalent in our society: incest, adultery, prostitution (all pornography is merely glorified prostitution), fornication–having sex outside marriage, rape…abuse of women or children, lust after sex, cars, alcohol, drugs, riches, food, covetousness, lewdness. . .and the list goes on.

We have forgotten what God thinks about all this sexual immorality. Much of this disobedience has become commonplace and accepted as normal to many in our society today. Some turn away and claim just not to care or be moved by the behavior or beliefs of another. They claim it’s none of their business what others do.

“If it feels good” they rationalize, “do it” with no regard for who gets hurt.

Iniquity

And we’ve forgotten all about iniquity and how our heavenly Father feels when He sees it in us.

But sin is sin and ours has to be dealt with. We know from John 3:16 that Jesus died on the cross to pay the sin debt for all of us we owed: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But when we’re saved by the blood of Jesus, the rest of our lives we have to make choices every day about how we’re going to live. We will choose to make choices that glorify God or choices that glorify us. Choices that glorify Holy God come with rewards and a heaven full of grace and blessings or those choices that live for us. Those choices lead to disappointments, costly outcomes, unnecessary suffering and regret–never fulfillment.

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Unity please.

We inaugurated a new president, Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris, on January 20.

We’ve just completed the most significant benchmark in our entire democracy–the transfer of power from one presidential administration to another–pageantry we perform and celebrate every four years.

Vice President Kamila Harris
President Joe Biden

The quote that impacted me most in Mr. Biden’s inaugural address, and one I can imagine myself quoting in future blog posts, is what he said about unity. Mr. Biden said, “With unity we can do great things. Without unity, there is no peace.”

Unity please. We so desperately need unity in this country in this day and time, especially since Trump, in his last weeks in office tried to split our country apart even more.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:31 to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

We can’t even begin to change our attitudes about being united with our fellow man until we undergo a transforming change of our collective hearts.

And God is the only one who can do that.

Are you prepared for Him to do that in your heart?

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He never invited her to church

butterfield

How Rosaria Champagne Butterfield met Jesus is an incredible story. This radical unbeliever despised Christians and didn’t believe Jesus was real, according to her story published on the Christianity Today¹ website in their February 7 issue. She calls her story My Train Wreck Conversion. “Stupid. Pointless. Menacing,” she said. “That’s what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus.”

Her story, despite being an amazing work of God in her life, is not what grabbed my attention. Ken Smith, a pastor at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church, wrote Dr. Butterfield a letter. The lesbian radical wrote a vehement assault on Christianity in a local Syracuse, New York paper in 1997 after Promise Keepers came to town.

The story drew both fan mail and hate mail, but Ken Smith’s letter, Butterfield said, was engaging, not condemning, not judgmental. “And he didn’t invite me to church,” she said.

THAT’S what caught my attention.

He didn’t invite her to church.

In a few words, Butterfield and Smith and his wife, Floy, became friends.

“They entered my world,” she said in her story. “They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.”

When I first moved to Alabama and met new people the first thing many of them asked me was, “Do you have a church home?” Regardless of my answer, they’d invite me to church.

Ken Smith, in my opinion, employed the best and most effective evangelism tool–friendship. Ken and Floy knew what Jesus meant when He taught His disciples to “Love One Another.” As a result of their friendship, Dr. Butterfield made a conscious and independent decision to go to church, where she met and accepted Jesus Christ.

She calls her story, “My Train Wreck Conversion”. I urge you to read her full story on the Christianity Today website. Or watch the video version below.

She has written a book about her life and her conversion experience, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

We truly serve an Awesome God, and we never know when, how or who He will draw someone unto Himself.

¹The Christianity Today website story © 2013 by Christianity Today, My Train Wreck Conversion, was the inspiration for this blog post. Direct quotes from her story appear in quotation marks in the post.https://www.youtube.com/embed/hkJZSeUGzWw?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparentAdvertisements

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Who we are–really

identity in Christ


I’ve been living under an assumed name now for years — Christian. God is slowly showing me that Jesus’ last command before returning to His Father was not “Go and make Christians of all nations.” You can’t really find any definition for Christian in the Bible. In fact in the KJV version the word only appears three times.

“Christian” was a derogatory term those outside Jesus’ followers used to call those who followed Jesus around. Jesus’ command was “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Now disciples has a clear concise definition in the Bible. Jesus defined a disciple as followers who loved one another.

Every command, every verse, every lesson, every book, every parable Jesus told, every Bible study we use today. All of it is based on that command: love one another. Love those we like, love those we love, love those we don’t like, love those who don’t worship like we do, those who don’t worship at all, those who rebel.

Jesus loves all those (in fact he hug out with tax collectors and sinners) as much as we who Jesus calls His children. He loves each of us regardless of who we are, what we’ve done, or where we’ve been.

So don’t call me a Christian anymore. You can define a Christian any way you want to, with a bushel full of beliefs,  a plethora of principles, some authentic, contrived rationalized behavior, rituals, rules and regulations.

Instead of calling me a Christian, I want folks to know me to call me a disciple of Jesus Christ or an authentic follower of Christ. That’s my true identity in Christ and my one purpose is to love God and love others.

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God bless atheists this Christmas

A New Jersey billboard, paid for by atheists, depicted three wise men approaching Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in a manger. The billboard proclaimed, “You know it’s a myth! Celebrate reason.”  The atheist group reportedly paid $20 grand to display the message through the Christmas season.

A spokesman for the atheist group said the billboard was not to condemn Christians for celebrating Christmas; it was to encourage atheists to stop going through the motions of celebrating Christmas.

If you’ve ever debated Christ with an atheist or a non-believer you may discover their belief system sounds shallow. But many are adamant believers in their faith in a godless world. Isn’t that an oxymoron? If they have beliefs and faith, isn’t that, well . . . belief and faith in something?

But let’s not go there. I’m not seeking to belittle atheists or their beliefs and faith.

God still blesses atheists. Many of them are successful, well-educated, kind and considerate people. They go to college, raise families, contribute to their communities, volunteer their time and resources for the good of others. They prosper and add to our general welfare. Many are good people.

Like Christians, atheists live by the choices they make. From the beginning I believe God gave man freedom of choice in the Garden of Eden.  Atheists acquired their freedom to choose from the big bang, as they tell it, when their version of man’s ability to choose crawled out of the primal ooze, and, through osmosis, I suppose, seeped into his brain and enabled him to think.

As an authentic follower of Jesus I believe Adam and Eve’s garden experience instilled in every man and woman the ability to choose right from wrong and good from evil.

God, I believe, gave us the choice to believe in Him and Jesus as our Savior, or not to believe.

I believe when I take my last breath I will go to sleep (die physically) and wake up in the arms of Jesus. Atheists believe when they die their bodies will rot wake up in Jesus’ arms, but rather return to the earth as worm food. No afterlife, no heaven, no Jesus waiting to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” no treasures in heaven, no trumpets, no mansion, no streets of gold, no peace.

And they’re entitled to believe that. They don’t have to believe they are God’s children and that He loves atheists every bit as much as He loves true believers.

I also believe, however, that those who don’t believe (like the atheists) will spend eternity separated from God (as He says they will in the Bible) for eternity. Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

But God blesses atheists, and will continue to bless them with life and health and families and 401K’s and good jobs and food and clothing, just like he blesses us.  God will continue to love atheists until they draw their last breath.

Then atheists will discover, the moment after that last breath, whether they were right or wrong.

So will we.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9

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Total peace and serenity

I love snow. Everything about it. The problem is I live in Atlanta. Snow is rare if ever a weather event here. Last year we had three days of winter when the temps plunged into the 30’s. That was it. Our winter.

I grew up in a small farming town in Southwest Iowa (5,000 souls). We had snow. Lots of snow. In fact snow was responsibifle for one my most precious childhood memories.

When a snowfall started filling up our yard and the yard next door I walked into our laundry room and looked out the window at the snow falling outside.

It was as if God turned off the sound. It was total stillness. Quiet and complete stillness.

It was as if God said to me, “Here, Steve, this is what total peace and quite feel like.

And I loved it. I’ve rarely felt so serene and in God’s peace. Often I’d gaze transfixed by the snow and stand at that window for hours. Several times I think I stood there till the snow stopped.

What a blessing. Even today I’ll call up those memories of looking through the window at the falling snow and rekindle that peace and serenity and feel it all over again.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

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Who’s in charge?)

What a mess!!!

So many conflicts. ballot challenges, accusations of cheating, stealing votes, lying politicians (of course that’s nothing new), more wild demonstrations, law suits, divisiveness, hate, protests, racism, a fractured church, a polarized society and culture, failure to communicate, a media gone mad…

How and when will it ever end? In my opinion it won’t. It Can’t. We’ve gone too far. I believe our wonderful constitutional democracy is witnessing it’s waning days. Congress can’t fix it, the courts can’t fix it, the president can’t fix it, Billy Graham or James Dobson or Dr. Phil can’t fix it.

I’m even beginning to wonder if 1st Chronicles 7:14 will still work:

“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.” My people” can’t even agree with each other. The church today is about as fractured as it’s ever been. How are they ever going to be unified enough to humble themselves and pray as a unified body of believers–the church?

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

“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.” Philippians 4:6-7

There are oodles of scriptures in God’s Word that affirm God’s absolute sovereignty and that Almighty God is still on the throne and in complete control of everything.

Remembering that and abiding in it, I believe, is our only hope today and in the future.

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Does age matter?

COVID-19 has taught us a lot of things about life. One thing we’ve learned is that age is not a factor when we need to reach out and help other people. (Read Job 12:12; 32: 6-10.) Here are four quick examples:

Cavanaugh Bell is a first-grader in Maryland. He heard about the coronavirus, and he started thinking about what he could do. He had $600 in savings. He asked his mom to go shopping with him. He bought cartloads of hand sanitizer, snacks, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. He made 65 care packages.

Cavanaugh then went to his grandmother’s senior living community and passed them out. He observed all the social distancing guidelines. He wore gloves and a mask and kept his distance. He said, “I like giving back. That’s my passion.”  How passionate are you about giving back?  

10-year-old Chelsea Phaire was quarantined at home when she decided to use her time wisely to find a way to turn a tough situation into a terrific solution. She started Chelsea’s Charity. She sends out art kits to kids in homeless shelters and foster care facilities. In the past three months, this first-grader from Danbury, CT, has shipped more than 1,500 packages containing coloring books, crayons, markers, and other materials.

Chelsea says that she hopes her kits will give other children something creative and fun to do when they’re feeling down. She said, “Whether I’m happy or sad, art is always there for me.” God has something there for you. Are you willing to see it, use it, and make somebody else’s life better?

Meet Anna Adcox and her sister, Francis Trimble. They live in Dadeville, Alabama. They are 95 and 87 years old respectively. They are very productive. They spend their mornings working in their garden, and in the afternoon, they sew dresses and shorts for children around the world. These two ladies have finished about 7,000 dresses!

You’ll never hear Anna and Francis saying, “I’m too old, I can’t do that, I don’t know how.” They are continually learning, serving, and making a difference in the world. Several thousand boys and girls are glad they didn’t know how old they were!

Tom Moore is a 99-year-old World War II veteran who wanted to do something for Britain’s National Health Service. He decided to walk 10 laps around his garden every day and complete 100 laps by his 100th birthday on April 30,2020. His goal was to raise $1,000. Tom’s 16-year-old grandson, Benji, shared his vision on social media. Donations started pouring in. I saw the TV clip of him walking his laps with his walker and several British Military officers saluting him. He raised over $36,000,000!

In July, Queen Elizabeth II used the royal sword to bestow knighthood upon Tom Moore. At 100 years old, he did ask if he could remain standing during the ceremony, saying, “If I kneel down, I may never get up again.”

If your age is between Cavanaugh and Tom – you’re the right age to make a difference!

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The thing about corn

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Our afflictions

I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction
. Isaiah 48:10

Raise your hand if you like afflictions

Nobody. Right? Well guess what? Afflictions are good for us. So are trials and tribulations and struggles. Before you click off my blog and tell me I’m crazy. . .

keep reading
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Without Love

The Doobie Brothers recorded a song in 1973 called “Long Train Runnin”. One of the lyrics in the song is “Without Love, where would you be right now?” Think of all the things, places and people in our lives to which we ascribe love.

That lyric begs the question, “Without love where would we be right now?

Imagine for a moment marriages without love. Think of all the people places and things to which we ascribe some form of what we believe is love.

I love my wife with compassionate, unconditional devoted love. I love my children. I love to listen to Gospel music. I love rock and roll. I love fried chicken and corn on the cob.

I love pizza, I love chicken salad. I love to watch college football, I love our church family, I love chocolate. I could go and on about the things in my life to which I attach the emotion of love.

It is a worldly misconception that love means different things to different people.

ALL love of every kind, for any person, place or thing comes from God in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no other source. There is no other definition or meaning.

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

James 1:17

God is the creator and source for all love.

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What brand of nacre do you use?

No, it’s not misspelled. What brand of  n-a-c-r-e  do you use?

 Of course that begs the question,  what on earth is necra?

Nacre is the filmy layer of goo an oyster secretes to cover a grain of sand that has embedded itself in the oyster shell and become a nasty irritant.  The necra eventually hardens around the irritating grain of sand and exerts so much pressure on the  grain of sand  that it over time it becomes a beautiful diamond.of inestimable value.

Back to the main question– what brand of necra do you use?  Of course we don’t have any necra laying around when things irritate us to the point of distraction. Walmart doesn’t carry it. either. And there’s no limit to  the kind or severity of irritants we experience. The irritant can be is pesky as a snoring spouse or a banging toilet or a neighbor who parks two of his wheels on your grass.

Admit it. Things and people  irritate us almost every day.

Unlike the oyster we don’t have any goo to make the irritation go away or turn it into a sparkling diamond. If we don’t dispatch that pesky irritation, it will continue to fester and gnaw at us and make us miserable.

Let me  share  a two-step process it is guaranteed to minimize or completely eradicate any irritation you might experience.

Bathe yourself  in Psalms

It doesn’t matter which Psalms you read.  Just open your Bible and start reading Psalm after Psalm. . The Psalms will begin changing your attitude and lifting your Spirit.  Reading Psalms will give you an entirely new perspective of your irritations and give you God’s perspective and scriptures on how to handle them.

Remember, recite and meditate on Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 is not just a promise God makes to us. It is something God does for us in our daily lives.  First of all every choice we make and everything we do gets filtered through God’s love and grace for us. And he uses our choices, decisions and actions for our ultimate good.  So if you are dealing with irritations in your life keep in mind  that God is going to turn it all into something for our good.

And bye bye irritations .If you don’t believe this method will work for you, try it and prove me wrong.

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The Cone of Uncertainty

cone of uncertainty 2They can’t tell you where the storm will strike, when the storn will strike, or how bad the storm will be. Weather savvy meteoroligists at the TV station draw this wide cone on the screen hedging their bets with their best scientific guesses. It’s called the cone of uncertainty. It’s used to describe where weather experts believe the eye of the storm could possibly travel.

Despite all the sophisticated high-tech weather stuff, their “best” guesses are still uncertain. Continue reading

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I’m going to write a post on procrastination . . .tomorrow

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Thou shalt love the Lord how much?

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5 + 2

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The majestic, simple Gospel

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3 things Vacation Bible School taught me

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When we see The Father for the first time

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Why forgive?

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Why do you read your Bible?

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How do we get right with God?