to man to God|
For week of April 1, 2012
The weekly newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
Our mission is to lead men to Jesus Christ and provide opportunity for Christian men to grow in their faith and minister to others.
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“My deliverance and glory depend on God. God is my strong rock. My refuge is in God.”
Psalm 62:7 (CEB)
“Many a friendship - long, loyal, and self-sacrificing - rested at first upon no thicker a foundation than a kind word.”
Frederick W. Faber
REASON RALLY’S UNREASONABLE BELIEFS
by Cal Thomas
How appropriate that the “atheist rally,” also known by organizers as the “reason rally” was held so close to April 1, because “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1) April Fool’s Day, get it?
These people had every right to rally and speak about their faith in no God, but what should have shocked the media was their open hostility to people of faith. We have been repeatedly told by the secular left that it’s those crazy right-wing religious zealots who are intolerant of any ideas and expressions, save their own. But the signs at the atheist rally told a different story. Some are not fit for what used to be called a “family newspaper,” but others said things like “so many Christians, so few lions.” Other signs and songs were blasphemous in the extreme.
My question is: if they believe God does not exist, why are they so angry? I will answer my own question. On occasion before GPS navigational systems were developed for cars, I would get lost in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Sometimes attempts to find my way out and back to a familiar road were unsuccessful. I would grow increasingly frustrated and sometimes angry that I was lost.... Read this in full at
IN USA, CHURCHGOERS BOAST BETTER MOOD, ESPECIALLY ON SUNDAYS
Americans who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report experiencing more positive emotions and fewer negative ones in general than do those who attend less often or not at all. Frequent churchgoers experience an average of 3.36 positive emotions per day compared with an average of 3.08 among those who never attend. This relationship holds true even when controlling for key demographic variables like age, education, and income.... Read this in full at
KNEELING BEFORE THE KING
“Picture men on their knees before a king in humility and dignity. The monarch says to those kneeling before him, ‘I knight thee,’ and forever after, these men are knights, made so by the honor conferred by their king, made so by accepting who the king says they are.
“Now picture this: You are asked to kneel before the King of heaven - the King of kings and the Lord of lords. You bow before the one who created you in his image. You can no longer hide anything - not the lies, not your failures, not your desires, not your pride, nor your self-indulgences or sins, nothing at all. So you present what you have, which is yourself and the meager collection of treasure you have stored in your heart.
“You can worship your own image no longer because your eyes now behold the glory of the King standing before you. In his hand is the sword of truth, honor, and courage, and his eyes flash with authority. You come to this moment with so little. What you bring, frankly, is embarrassing. Before this great Master and King, there remains one simple, honest prayer and hope of your heart.
“In that moment, as you kneel before him, he says in the strongest yet gentlest voice you have ever heard, "Welcome, my son. I hereby confer on you your manhood. It is a gift for which you were created but could not attain. Thanks for bringing me your treasures. I now give you mine. If you accept the exchange, stand up and enter the freedom I have created for you."
“Try it. Try bringing him everything. Everything. Dare to hold your hands open before the one true and living God and say, ‘Lord, take from my hands anything not pleasing to you and place into my hands only those things that are pleasing in your sight. Do anything you want to bring my life into harmony with the original design.’
“These are the prayers of genuine manhood. You will not be disappointed, I promise.”
Wes Yoder in Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather, and Sports
THE KING WHO WASHES GRIMY FEET
“There were many surprises in store for the disciples that evening [of the Last Supper] as they moved through the Passover ritual.
“As I read John's account, I keep coming back to a peculiar incident that interrupts the progress of the meal. ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power,’ John begins with a flourish and then adds this incongruous completion: ‘so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.’ In the garb of a slave, he then bent over and washed the grime of Jerusalem from the disciples' feet.
“What a strange way for the guest of honor to act during a final meal with his friends. What incomprehensible behavior from a ruler who would momentarily announce, ‘I confer on you a kingdom.’ In those days, foot washing was considered so degrading that a master could not require it of a Jewish slave. Peter blanched at the provocation.
“[Author M. Scott Peck writes,] ‘Until that moment the whole point of things had been for someone to get on top, and once he had gotten on top to stay on top or else attempt to get farther up. But here this man already on top — who was rabbi, teacher, master — suddenly got down on the bottom and began to wash the feet of his followers. In that one act Jesus symbolically overturned the whole social order. Hardly comprehending what was happening, even his own disciples were almost horrified by his behavior.’
“Later that same evening a dispute arose among the disciples as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Pointedly, Jesus did not deny the human instinct of competition and ambition. He simply redirected it: ‘the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.’ That is when he proclaimed, ‘I confer on you a kingdom’ — a kingdom, in other words, based on service and humility. In the foot washing, the disciples had seen a living tableau of what he meant.”
Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew
CHRISTIANITY’S JEWISH FOUNDATION
Brad Young is an associate professor of Judaic-Christian studies at Oral Roberts University. He says, “It's crucial for pastors, Christian educators, professors, seminary leaders to study the Jewish roots of Christian faith.” .... Watch an interview with him on this topic at
AUTHORITY, SIN, AND WISDOM
by Clare De Graaf
“Is it a sin to kiss?” I was as surprised at the question as you are. Asking it was a young woman, a high school senior, in a meeting with a dozen other students and myself in an informal question and answer session after I spoke at a high school in Florida.
“Why do you ask?” “My parents have told me I may not kiss a boy until I’m engaged,” she said. I then asked the other kids if any of their parents have made a similar rule. None had.
So, I turned back to the girl and said, “Then for you to kiss is a sin, but it’s not for the rest of you.” They were as shocked as the girl at my answer.... Read this in full at
JIMMY CARTER DISCUSSES BIBLE WITH SOUTHERN BAPTIST LEADER
Former President Jimmy Carter said he believes that the Bible is divinely inspired, but the biblical writers did not understand facts now known from science, in a wide-ranging interview with Southern Baptist seminary president Albert Mohler.
Carter, described as the world’s most famous Sunday school teacher for Bible studies he led while in the White House and since then at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., said in a podcast interview released March 26 that the biblical authors’ assumptions like the earth was the center of the universe and that stars were small twinkling objects hanging in the sky are “obviously ... not factual,” but that such “discrepancies” are “insignificant” in interpreting the Bible’s core meaning.
“I believe the basic thrust of the Bible, the basic message of the Bible, is epitomized in the life of Christ and in the teachings of Jesus Christ,” said Carter, whose latest book, The Lessons from Life Bible, recently hit bookstore shelves.... Read this in full at
PANEL TO REVIEW WYCLIFFE AND SIL BIBLE TRANSLATIONS
A panel has been formed to carry out an independent review of Wycliffe and SIL International's translation of "God the Father" and the "Son of God."
The World Evangelical Alliance, which works in 129 countries, was asked to establish the panel in the light of the controversy surrounding the translation of "Father" and "Son" for Muslim contexts.
In Arabic and Turkish translations of the Bible, "Father" is replaced with "Allah", while "Messiah" is used where "Son" would appear in standard translations.
It’s been suggested that direct translations of the term could be understood by some Muslims to mean that Jesus was the result of God's procreation with Mary.
Critics of the changes, including John Piper and Vern Poythress, argue that the translations blur the Trinity.... Read this in full at
CHRISTIANS QUESTIONED WAR RESPONSE IN 1812, TOO
For the 1812 Bicentennial Peace Committee, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is an opportunity to remember the very different ways Christians took a stance against hostilities.
The peace committee was formed to bring together three historic peace denominations — Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in Christ — to commemorate their common history.
Historian Jonathan Seiling, chair of the committee, has been researching the varied ways Christians took a stance against the conflict.
He explains the three denominations were granted explicit exemption from militia service and instead required to pay a militia tax worth about two month's income. While Mennonites and Brethren in Christ often paid the taxes, many Quakers refused—facing jail time and in some cases death behind bars due to harsh conditions.
"Christians didn't all respond the same," he says. "They were often faced with very difficult decisions — not choosing between good and evil, but choosing between varying degrees of evil." .... Read this in full at
“... the world cares nothing about doctrine. And that is especially true in the second half of the 20th century when, on the basis of their epistemology, men no longer believe even in the possibility of absolute truth. And if we are surrounded by a world which no longer believes in the concept of truth, certainly we cannot expect people to have any interest in whether a man's doctrine is correct or not.”
Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), The Mark of the Christian, Inter-Varsity Press, 1976, p. 16
2012 CHRISTIAN BOOK AWARD FINALISTS ARE ANNOUNCED
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) is pleased to announce 40 finalists in seven categories for the 2012 Christian Book Awards, representing Christian publishing’s finest books and Bibles of the year. The debut of the “New Author” category resulted in six finalists from both fiction and nonfiction, and represents a new opportunity of exposure for new voices in Christian publishing. One new author title, “Kisses from Katie” also appeared on the New York Times bestseller list in the past year.
In addition, judging results in the Non-Fiction category yielded a three-way tie for a total of seven finalists in that category. Other ties were in Inspiration, New Author and Bible Reference. “This year’s 40 finalists and five ties, represent the strength and quality of content our industry continues to produce, in both seasoned and new voices and from small, mid-sized and large publishing houses,” stated ECPA President Mark Kuyper. “We congratulate each author and the 16 publishers represented on this list!”
The 2012 Christian Book Award finalists are:.... Read this in full at
REGRET AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
“Regret is inescapable in a world of imperfection, failure, and loss. But can there also be redemption? Can a life gone wrong because of loss be made right again, however irreversible the loss itself? Can people with regrets be set free and transformed?
“I believe that there can be redemption, but only under one significant condition: People with regrets can be redeemed, but they cannot reverse the loss that gave rise to the regrets. People can be changed by the unchangeable losses they experience. Thus, for redemption to occur, they must let go of the loss itself and embrace the good effects that the loss can have on their lives. They must somehow transcend what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead, directing their energies toward changes they can make now. In other words, they must seek personal transformation, which comes only through grace.
“Regret [can] lead to transformation if we view loss as an opportunity to take inventory of our lives. Loss forces us to see ourselves for what we are.
“For about four months after the accident I spent a great deal of time reviewing the quality of the marriage relationship I had with Lynda. Most of what I reviewed pleased me, though not all. I also explored my family history and observed patterns in my past that kept repeating themselves from one generation to the next. I looked hard at the kind of person I was. I kept asking questions and evaluating. I gained insights that were troubling to me. I saw how manipulative and self-righteous I was and how often I tried to impress and win others. This period of reflection proved to be liberating for me. I am more free from the past now than I would otherwise have been. Yet this freedom did not come from denying the past but from looking at it squarely, taking ownership of it, and allowing myself to be transformed by it.
“Yet a holy God imparts forgiveness if we sincerely ask for it; a just God shows us mercy and embraces us in love. If such a God can forgive us, then surely we can forgive ourselves. If such a God lavishes us with grace, then surely we can stop punishing ourselves and live in that grace. Divine forgiveness leads to self-forgiveness.”
Jerry Sittser in A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss
CHURCHES LOST $1.2 BILLION IN RECESSION
Even as membership remains relatively stable in US churches, the effects of the recession have caused contributions to drop by $1.2 billion.
According to the 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, the almost $29 billion contributed by church members represented a 2.2% decrease in terms of per capita giving.
The $1.2 billion decline in 2010 was nearly three times as large as the $431 million in losses reported in 2009, and "provides clear evidence of the impact of the deepening crises in the reporting period," the Yearbook's editor, the Rev. Eileen Lindner, wrote.
The Yearbook is produced annually by the National Council of Churches and is considered one of the most authoritative sources of church membership. The 2010 figures, released March 20, were collected from 228 US denominations in 2011.... Read this in full at
CHURCH GIVING ON THE REBOUND
The recession has caused a decline in church offerings in recent years, but a new study shows that giving to congregations bounced back in 2011.
According to the fourth annual "State of the Plate" survey released March 27, 51% of churches last year saw an increase in giving, up from 43% in 2010 and 36% in 2009. " is the first time we're seeing an upswing after three very hard years," said Brian Kluth, founder of MAXIMUM Generosity and the "State of the Plate" research (http://www.stateoftheplate.info/media2012.htm).
The survey included small and large churches, although more than half had fewer than 250 members. Church leaders attributed the increase in giving to better attendance, which was reported by half the churches surveyed. Many others also cited their efforts to address giving and generosity with the congregation.... Read this in full at
MISSISSIPPI IS MOST RELIGIOUS USA STATE
Mississippi is the most religious U.S. state, and is one of eight states where Gallup classifies at least half of the residents as "very religious." At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states, and are two of the five states -- along with Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska -- where less than 30% of all residents are very religious.... Read this in full at
“[The enemy] comes and whispers suggestions of evil to us, - doubts, blasphemies, jealousies, envyings, and pride, - and then turns round and says, ‘Oh, how wicked you must be to think of such things! It is very plain that you are not trusting the Lord; for if you were, it would have been impossible for these things to have entered your heart.’ This reasoning sounds so very plausible that the soul often accepts it as true, and at once comes under condemnation, and is filled with discouragement. Then it is easy for Satan to lead it on into actual sin. One of the most fatal things in the life of faith is discouragement. One of the most helpful is cheerfulness.”
Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911), Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, London: F. E. Longley, 1876, p. 136
TIMELINE: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ACTIONS AFFECTING USA RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The past year has marked a shift in religious liberty debates, one that previously centered on hiring rights but became focused on health care requirements. When President Obama first took office, faith-based groups were especially concerned that organizations that discriminate in hiring based on religious beliefs would become ineligible for federal funding. In 2011, the President indicated that he would not rescind an executive order on hiring rights. Just a week later, though, Health and Human Services ruled that religious groups other than churches must provide their employees contraception, triggering lawsuits and petitions. But contraception is not the only religious freedom issue faith-based groups are eyeing. The following timeline shows a number of actions the government took in the past year, setting precedents and priorities on various issues, including sexual orientation, health care, and hiring decisions.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake.”
Philippians 1:29 (CEB)
“Faith, like light, should always be simple and unbending; while love, like warmth, should beam forth on every side, and bend to every necessity of our brethren.”
JEFF FOXWORTHY TO HOST 'THE AMERICAN BIBLE CHALLENGE' ON GSN
The Game Show Network (GSN), has signed stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy to host its new game show, "The American Bible Challenge," which will test contestants' knowledge of the Bible.
"I am excited to be hosting a show about the bestselling book of all time. It will be interesting to find out what people really know, and an opportunity to present the Bible in a fun and entertaining way," said Foxworthy, who has also hosted Fox quiz show "Are You Smarter than A Fifth Grader?"
The one-hour game show is still in development, but its format will be straight-forward and recognizable to most viewers – contestants will be asked questions designed to acknowledge and celebrate the Bible's continuing importance in contemporary life and culture. Contestants will be split into different teams, with each playing for "a worthy faith-based organization." .... Read this in full at
TEBOW, A CAREFUL EVANGELICAL
Tim Tebow may be the most popular Christian in sports. He is a cross-cultural phenomenon, a preacher in a football player’s body.
Whether religion is at the core of his popularity is debatable. But between the caricatures on one end and the deification on the other end, those with an opinion of Tebow — and that counts just about everyone — may not have an understanding of his religious beliefs beyond the broad label of evangelical Christian.... Read this in full at
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF SUFFERING
“In the Old Testament, faithful believers seemed shocked when suffering came their way. They expected God to reward their faithfulness with prosperity and comfort. But the New Testament shows a remarkable change. As Peter advised suffering Christians [in 1 Peter 2:21, ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’]
“Other passages go further, using phrases I will not attempt to explain. Paul speaks of ‘sharing in his [Christ's] sufferings’ and says he hopes to ‘fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regards to Christ's afflictions [Colossians 1:24].’
“Harry Boer, a chaplain during World War II, spent the final days of that war among marines in the Pacific Theater. ‘The Second Division saw much action, with great losses,’ he writes. ‘Yet I never met an enlisted man or an officer who doubted for a moment the outcome of the war. Nor did I ever meet a marine who asked why, if victory was so sure, we couldn't have it immediately. It was just a question of slogging through till the enemy gave up.’
“According to Paul, at the cross Christ triumphed over the cosmic powers - defeating them not with power but with self-giving love. The cross of Christ may have assured the final outcome, but battles remain for us to fight. Significantly, Paul prayed ‘to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings’ - embracing both the agony and the ecstasy of Christ's life on earth (Philippians 3:10).
“We will never know, in this life, the full significance of our actions here, for much takes place invisible to us. When a pastor in an oppressive country goes to prison for his peaceful protest, when a social worker moves into an urban ghetto, when a couple refuses to give up on a difficult marriage, when a parent waits with undying hope and forgiveness for the return of an estranged child, when a young professional resists mounting temptations toward wealth and success - in all these sufferings, large and small, there is the assurance of a deeper level of meaning, of a sharing in Christ's own redemptive victory.”
Selections from Grace Notes: Daily Readings with Philip Yancey
OUR SIN NATURE
“Original sin is in us, like the beard – we are shaved today and look clean, and have a smooth chin; tomorrow our beard has grown again, nor does it cease growing while we remain on earth. In like manner original sin cannot be extirpated from us as long as we exist. Nevertheless, we are bound to resist it to our utmost strength, and to cut it down unceasingly.”
Martin Luther (1483-1546), in The Life of Luther, M. Michelet, London: David Bogue, 1846, p. 267
JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF ISRAEL: NO PASSPORT REQUIRED
A Bible scholar who has led more than 70 trips to Israel and the Middle East is inviting travelers to join him for the adventure of a lifetime ... a 30-day journey that traces the footsteps of Jesus, exploring the world in which He walked. You don't even need a passport.
Thirty Days in the Land With Jesus: A Holy Land Devotional (Moody), takes readers on a month-long spiritual expedition through the Holy Land and the Holy Bible, led by author and guide Dr. Charles Dyer.
"The more you are able to place the events in the life of Jesus into their proper historical and geographical context, the more you will understand the message of the Bible," Dr. Dyer explains.
Reading our geographical understanding into the Bible can lead to a misunderstanding of the story, the author says: "When you read about events on the Sea of Galilee, you might mistakenly picture a much larger body of water -- Lake Michigan, for example. Or when you read about Jesus' baptism on the Jordan river, you might substitute the Mississippi or some other river you think might match the grandeur of events in the Bible." .... Read this in full at
THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES FAITH ADVISORY COUNCIL
The Humane Society of the United States announces the formation of its Faith Advisory Council. Collectively, the impressive 13-member council includes leading scholars and representatives from a range of religious denominations, faiths and backgrounds.
“Religious leaders have led the way in confronting cruelty to animals, and they’ve always had a prominent place in our organization,” said HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle. “The Humane Society of the United States’ new Faith Advisory Council continues this legacy with a diverse and exceptional group of caring individuals who have committed to providing moral and spiritual guidance for the organization and its supporters.” .... Read this in full at
NEW RELIGIOUS-FREEDOM COUNCIL PICKS CRITICIZED
Two new commissioners appointed to an independent panel that advises the State Department on international religious freedom violations are drawing criticism for holding views described as out of the mainstream.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) picked Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, for his choice on a bipartisan panel appointed by leadership of both houses of Congress and the White House.... Read this in full at
WHAT WOULD JESUS BREW? LOTS, BEER MAKERS SAY.
All this talk of beer was making the former seminarian thirsty.
"Cheers," said assistant brewer Christopher McGarvey, taking a sip from his pint of golden ale. Then he continued his lecture on the history of beer in ancient Samaria to a crowd of about 90 on the third floor of Wilmington, NC's Front Street Brewery.
McGarvey is a recent seminary graduate, a cantor at St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church and the brains behind the "What Would Jesus Brew" class each Tuesday evening in March.
The class is part of a yearlong Heavenly Homebrew Competition of Churches for Charity. It will culminate in church teams brewing individual beers for a fall event benefiting Lower Cape Fear Hospice & Lifecare Center in Wilmington.
McGarvey said the competition is about learning how to brew beer in the context of how the drink was used historically in the church. All in moderation, of course.... Read this in full at
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
VERSE TO PONDER
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.”
1 John 1:9 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: CROSS OF JESUS
Words: William J. Sparrow-Simpson, 1887
Music: John Stainer, 1887
Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect Man on thee did suffer,
Perfect God on thee has bled!
Here the King of all the ages,
Throned in light ere worlds could be,
Robed in mortal flesh is dying,
Crucified by sin for me.
O mysterious condescending!
O abandonment sublime!
Very God Himself is bearing
All the sufferings of time!
Evermore for human failure
By His passion we can plead;
God has born all mortal anguish,
Surely He will know our need.
This — all human thought surpassing —
This is earth’s most awful hour,
God has taken mortal weakness!
God has laid aside His Power!
Once the Lord of brilliant seraphs,
Winged with love to do His will,
Now the scorn of all His creatures,
And the aim of every ill.
Up in Heaven, sublimest glory
Circled round Him from the first;
But the earth finds none to serve Him,
None to quench His raging thirst.
Who shall fathom that descending,
From the rainbow circled throne,
Down to earth’s most base profaning,
Dying desolate alone.
From the “Holy, Holy, Holy,
We adore Thee, O most High,”
Down to earth’s blaspheming voices
And the shout of “Crucify.”
Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect Man on thee did suffer,
Perfect God on thee has bled!
>from NetHymnal at
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”
Francis of Assisi
PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
DAILY BLESSING PACT
Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.
I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Estates & inheritances
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase
"And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deut. 28:2).
[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you'd like us to add you to our prayer chain to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness. I'll add your name to the list for the time you'll be away.]
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I told my family I never want to depend on a machine and fluids to keep me alive...that's when they took away my computer and coffee maker!
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
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