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It’s All About Relationship

RelateAn area that the modern church has glossed over is our relationship with the Lord. The Bible describes many levels, yet we seem to think that just because we sing or read about the highest levels, then that’s where we are. We need to relearn what God thinks when He uses these terms.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:23-24

It’s clear from these words of Christ that the Father’s greatest desire is for relationship. But He doesn’t just want the surface relationship that many are satisfied with. He wants us to come to His presence on His level – in the spirit.

I praise God that I can use my mind and my mouth to approach God. But God is a spirit and He wants us to come before Him at that level. I want to look at the way in which a relationship with God was revealed over time through the Scripture. Let’s start at the beginning.

And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:9

In this verse we see the garden that God had created. In the center were two very special trees. In them we see the choice that was before mankind. It was life versus the recognition of good and evil. This is where God placed the first man, Adam.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Genesis 2:16-17

The choice was his. Adam was allowed to eat of any tree he wanted. But he was specifically asked by God not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One tree would give life, the other would bring death. It was all about Adam’s trust in God’s Word.

It always comes down to this single choice. Life and death are both about relationship. It has always been this way from God’s perspective. We are the ones who redefine things for our convenience and self-justification.

Israel got the same choice many years later.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
Deuteronomy 30:15-16

Loving God is to relate to Him. Our life then flows from this relationship. It’s an undeniable fact. I must participate in His plan, and I must allow Him to participate in my life. The two go hand in hand. This is the relationship that Adam had with the Lord.

The choice he had was all about life and death. Life is a relationship with God. At the start of this story, Adam had a perfect relationship with God. God wants worshippers who worship in spirit and in truth. This is how Adam related to God.

Question: How does the choice between life and death work in our Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Who is the Holy Spirit?

DoveHere we are 2000 years from when the Holy Spirit was given to the church. But do we fully understand who He is?

We’ve developed a religious language that’s not based on the Bible. It seems like it’s based on songs and traditions. If you listen to our language you get the idea that there are three Gods.

There is only one God. My goal is to explain some things that may sound confusing at first. But throughout this series I want us to have a clearer picture of who the Holy Spirit actually is.

The fact that we’ve been created in the image of God should give us a foundation for understanding Him. Just like us, there are three parts to His being – Father, Son and Spirit.

Part of the problem is that we like formulas. Many times I’ve heard that we must pray to the Father, through the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus. While there’s nothing wrong with that, a lot of what we do sounds like this…

If you were meeting with a friend, would you say, “I just want to sit down with your body and talk to your mind through your ears.”

We don’t do this in the natural. We simply say, “Can I talk to you?”

Even something as simple as “Who created the world?” sometimes can be confusing.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

We know that God created everything, but we argue over whether it was the Father or the Spirit who said, “Let there be…”

In talking about Jesus Christ, Paul said…

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Colossians 1:15-16

Was it Father, Son, or Spirit who created us? What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter – God created us – all the parts of His being worked together.

That’s like asking; was it my spirit, soul or body who drove my car? I DROVE MY CAR!!!

I think that we get so caught up in the parts of God’s being, that we miss the big picture. God Himself lives in us. I have access into His presence.

I don’t believe that the Lord is as concerned over our formulas as much as our relationship with Him. We must spend quality time getting to know the person of the Holy Spirit.

That’s what the next few posts will deal with.

Question: How would you characterize your relationship with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Creation, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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How do You View Jesus?

JesusDo you know that how you view your relationship with Christ determines your walk? As I was reading Paul’s introduction in his letter to the Romans, it stood out to me. It made me stop and assess how I view the Lord.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:1-4

There’s so much here that caught my attention. The first thing I noticed was that Paul talked about Christ’s human nature as being descended form David. I wondered about that. As a Jew; why not a descendant of Abraham?

I started to look deeper into it and found that this was a big part of Paul’s message.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…
2 Timothy 2:8

The fact that Jesus was in King David’s family was a big part of Paul’s message. It seems to me that Paul placed this on even par with Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The two go hand in hand in the Apostle’s preaching.

This truth is the key to Paul’s attitude toward the Lord. It’s something that we need to return to in our generation. Jesus Christ is King, Lord, and Sovereign. There’s no authority higher than Him in the entire universe.

We like to refer to the Lord in a number of different ways. We call Him Savior, Redeemer, and Friend of sinners. These titles are all true of Christ and speak to us of what He’s done for us. But I refer to them as “safe” titles. They carry with them no inconvenience to us.

Notice how Paul introduces himself in relation to Christ in that first verse. He doesn’t call himself a follower of Christ. He doesn’t say he’s a believer, a minister, or even a disciple. He refers to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus.

This means that above all, Paul’s mission in life was to please his Master. It wasn’t about doing something for the Lord “when he finds the time.” His life was devoted to serving Jesus.

This is the attitude we need to return to in this generation of the church. We need to once again discover the place of servanthood to Christ. Yes, He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our best Friend, and a whole lot more. But we live to please Him.

As we live the life of a servant of Christ, this is one of the fastest ways to receive His power and authority in our lives. We must pick up this attitude – “Lord, not my will, but yours be done in my life.”

Question: What role does servanthood play in your walk with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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You’ve Been Hand-Picked

MixFor the last couple of posts I’ve been talking about Peter’s opening remarks in his first epistle.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1-2

I’ve talked about the fact that we are aliens, scattered throughout the world. Today I want to emphasize that we are chosen. That word chosen means selected, hand-picked, or favorite.

Why has God chosen us? The answer is simply because we responded to His call.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

We are all invitedcalled – but chosen means that you responded and put yourself in the position of being selected.

The Apostle, Peter described this truth in the verse we looked at above. He said that we were chosen according to the foreknowledge of the Father. Then we were sanctified by the working of the Holy Spirit in us.

That, in and of itself, is great news. But he didn’t stop there. He had to put in that tough little word – “for”. That changes everything. That means that there was a reason for all that He did. It can be summed up in one word – purpose.

It turns out that we are strangers, scattered and chosen for a purpose. What is that purpose? According the Peter, the purpose is obedience to Christ.

That word obedience literally means to hear under. You could also call it attentive listening. If I’m an alien, then I must listen to MY King. Being scattered in the world I have to listen for the Lord’s special instructions for me.

If I’m chosen, then I need to listen to the one who chose me. We must listen carefully and follow His instructions. If we don’t, then things will start to go wrong.

The problem is that listening requires time in the Lord’s presence. We live in a fast paced world. We look for the quick fixes. How can I get it done immediately?

The truth is that there’s no technology that can speed up the development of relationship. The only way is by spending time. Whether it’s with another human, or the Holy Spirit, I have to take the time necessary to get to know them. This fact will never change.

I am a stranger, an alien, to this world. I am scattered to be salt. I am chosen by God to obey Him. Therefore, I must listen attentively.

We need these attitudes if we’re going to be effective for Christ. Only then will we see a difference in the world around us. The world is desperately waiting for a church that knows who they are in Christ.

Question: How have you made a difference for Christ in the lives of those around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2015 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, The Church

 

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How Busy is Too Busy?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are so many opportunities in today’s generation. I’m talking about both ministry and recreational activities. How do you know when you’re too busy?

In the book of Revelation, Christ dictated letters to 7 pastors in Asia Minor. The pastor of the church in Ephesus was told the following…

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”
Revelation 2:2-3

The pastor of Ephesus was doing great things. The church was flourishing. The people were being fed and protected. They were overcoming in spite of many adversities. How could the Lord possibly be displeased with that?

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

Very simply put, this pastor allowed the work of the ministry to replace his relationship with the Lord. A great truth that I’ve heard again and again is, “Don’t become so involved in the work of the Lord that you forget the Lord of the work.” God was concerned with this pastor’s lack of relationship. He said that this pastor had forsaken his first love.

This is an easy trap to fall into. As the church began to grow and the demands of the ministry started to escalate, time with the Lord became harder to set aside. Before long his relationship time with Christ got pushed into the corner of “when it’s convenient.”

I’d like to say that this problem was only a part of the early church. But some things never change. I believe that there’s a greater pull on us now to overload our schedules. There are so many opportunities to be involved in good things; that we have very little time for our spiritual walk.

Remember that it wasn’t always like this. When you first came to Christ, you were excited about what He was doing in you. Maybe you spent late nights on your knees in prayer. You prayed for souls to be saved. You prayed for wisdom, strength, and boldness. You knew that you didn’t have a chance of fulfilling the Lord’s calling on your life without His working in you.

Things have changed now. You’ve become wiser – more experienced. Now you know what living for Christ is all about. You feel more secure in your calling as a believer.

Please realize that there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a good thing to become mature in Christ. The problem comes when you no longer feel the need to pray as much. You don’t seem to need God’s help like you used to. You know what living for God is all about now.

The diagnosis is that your relationship with the Lord has grown cold and it grieves the heart of your Lord and King. Have you become so busy with the work of the Lord that you’ve forgotten the Lord of the work? Test yourself. You need to be brutally honest. Has your time with the Lord suffered?

It’s wonderful that you’ve grown in maturity, but that’s not the issue. The question is; are you spending TIME with the Lord as you used to?

Question: How would you rate the quality and quantity of time you spend with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer

 

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God and the Candy Machine

 

CandyThis is the first of six reposts of my most read articles. This one is from 2013. It was originally from a series dealing with how similar our modern attitudes are to the crowd in John Chapter 6. They seem to have their eyes on the temporary, while Christ is trying to point them to the eternal.

Click here to view the original series.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:35-40

Notice that Jesus repeats Himself here. Two times He said to them, “I will raise them up at the last day.” It’s a very simple statement. It’s so simple, in fact, that most Christians miss it as well.

He told them that if they come to Him and put their trust in Him, He’ll give them eternal life and He’ll raise them up at the last day. The key is that you must have this eternal life in you BEFORE you enter the grave. If you have this eternal life in you, then death will not be able to keep you any more than it could hold on to the Lord.

He said it twice yet they didn’t hear him. Look at their reaction.

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
John 6:41

It went right over their heads. They missed it. The Lord said you can have eternal life and that He’d raise you up at the last day. All they heard was that He thinks He’s bread that has come down from heaven. “What does He mean He’s bread coming down from heaven?”

They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:42-44

Jesus is desperately trying to get it into their head that He wasn’t emphasizing bread coming down from heaven. He was trying to get them to embrace eternal life. Over and over again He said, “I’ll raise him up at the last day.” They just didn’t get it.

I think, that just like us, they didn’t want to get it. They could tell that what Jesus was talking about meant change. They would have to change their views and attitudes about God. The Lord would no longer be that big “candy machine in the sky,” but a friend with whom you must spend time cultivating a relationship.

Question: How do you deepen your relationship with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Sonship is about Relationship

 

 

CrossI’ve been posting about our position of Sonship from the Scripture. In my last post I talked about the freedom we have as sons and daughters of God.

But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
Hebrews 3:6

This is another important part of our position as sons in God’s house. It must never be forgotten that Sonship is a position of relationship. In this relationship Jesus Christ is the eldest Son OVER the house. He’s the One from whom and through whom all power and authority flows. Never forget this.

There’s a beautiful example of the power of Sonship that occurred during Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.
Luke 19:1-3

Here we see Jesus entering the town of Jericho. There was a man there who wanted to see Jesus. The problem is twofold. First of all he’s a tax-collector. While that’s a respectable job in our society, that wasn’t the case back in ancient Israel.

The closest I can come to showing you how people felt about Zacchaeus is by comparing him to a modern day drug dealer. That’s the perception that the average Israelite had toward this profession. He was a man both hated and feared by most of the townspeople.

Yet, the Bible says that he was seeking to see Jesus. The reason it was a problem to him was because he had a small stature. Because of this, and the fact that the crowd wouldn’t let him through, Luke states that he did not have the power to see Jesus.

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
Luke 19:4

Notice how he handled the situation. We should learn from him in our walk with the Lord. He saw where Jesus was headed and went in that direction so he could meet the Lord when He got there.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
Luke 19:5

The words of Christ are very important. He literally said to Zacchaeus, “I must abide, remain, dwell with you today.” This is the very call that Christ is making to each one of us. It’s His heart’s desire that we make our dwelling place with Him. That’s where we find the power that can transform everything.

In my next post I will wrap up this series by showing how the story of Zacchaeus beautifully illustrates our position as sons and daughters of the Lord.

Question: How does Sonship change your view of yourself?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Power of God, Sonship

 

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What’s God Looking For?

BinocularsThis is the last of my series of posts dealing with the subject of personal revival.  David has shown us the progression it takes.

Starting with seeing ourselves as needing a touch from God, we then receive the forgiveness and purifying from the Lord’s hand.  After we have been changed, we allow the power of God to spill over into the lives of those around us.

The final part is the attitude that permeates revival.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:16-17

We’re sometimes lead to believe that following God is all about working, serving and giving.  While these things are a part of our Christian walk, they’re not the main things that God is looking for from us.

There are some who feel that once they’ve attended church and given their offering they’ve fulfilled their obligation to the Lord.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Revival brings us to the realization that it’s not about the things we do, but about relationship with the Father.  I have to come to the point where I see that God is not after my money or my stuff.

He wants ME!  All of me.  He wants everything that I am, just the way that I am.  He wants my weaknesses as well as my strengths.

Don’t ever get the idea that you’re not good enough to be intimate with God.  You can’t make yourself more acceptable to God.  He loves you just the way you are.

He wants to begin His work in you from the ground up.  How foolish we are to think that we can impress God by our striving after Him.

Let the truth of David’s experience with the Lord speak to us.  The church needs revival – right here and right now.  It will only come about in God’s way, not ours.

It’s time to lay our lives down before the Lord in submission and humility.  Stop the striving and just allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in you that only He can do.  Prepare yourself for the revival fires of the Lord.

Question: What’s your first step toward a personal revival in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Worship – Escape or Preparation?

Pray1I’m posting about how worship takes place around the throne room of God. Then we’ll apply it to our own experience with the Lord.

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 4:1

After being called upward, John was told that in this place of worship he would be shown what was to take place beyond his generation.

Not many people realize this, but worship is preparation for the future. In the presence of God, John learned what was needed for the church to be ready for Christ’s return. He got a clear revelation of what was going to happen – most of which we’re still trying to sort out.

In Christian circles we sometimes think of worship as an escape from the problems and demands of life. People talk about just wanting to “run away” to the place of worship.

The reality is that it’s preparation for what’s coming just ahead. When we talk about worshipping in heavenly realms there’s a special work that takes place in us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

Because we’re in Christ, God wants to bestow upon us all of the spiritual blessings that were purchased on the cross. It’s the place of worship that reveals these blessings to us.

The fact is that we don’t know what is going to happen later today, tomorrow, or a week down the road. But in the spirit we can see what Christ has in reserve for us. Then, when it’s needed we’ll have the faith for it. That’s because our spirit has already laid claim to it in the place of worship.

This is such an important concept. We were created to worship God. It’s probably the most important part of our relationship with Him.

For us to think that it’s an optional thing – something that I’ll do when I find the time – it’s like ignoring a call to your boss’s office. Especially when your boss is about to give you a raise or a new promotion. God calls us upward into His presence to equip us in ways we could never do on our own.

You can’t ignore this call and expect to complete your destiny in Christ. Run to that place of worship. Spend the quality time needed to prepare for the glorious future that God the Father has already set up for you to enjoy.

Question: Why do we find it so hard to set aside the time for the worship of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Faith, Prayer, Worship

 

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Sonship – Position vs. Walk

Different AnointingIn my last post I talked about women and sonship. Now I want to talk about sonship in a more general way.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

This is a great truth of the New Covenant. When we came to Christ and received His salvation, we also received the Holy Spirit within us. At that point we were adopted into the family of God.

This is the foundation for the concept of sonship. But we need to understand it. In listening to what a lot of people are teaching, it sounds like a son is a son is a son. There’s no difference in any of our relations to God.

While the relationship of a son to a father is constant, what we fail to realize is that the dynamics of that relationship change over time. The Bible speaks about different levels of sonship. There are Greek words for adoption, son, infant, toddler, child, and fully matured adults. We miss the full impact of the Gospel when we treat all the levels of our relationship with God as the same.

In the original language of the above verse, the Holy Spirit was called the Spirit of Adoption. The concept of adoption into the family of God is very important for the believer. The word adoption literally means to place in the position of a son. When we received Christ as our Savior, and He placed His Spirit within us, we were brought immediately into the position of a son of God.

Remember – Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of God. However, we have been placed into the position of a son of God. This gives us all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the family of God. At that point we’re saved from our sin and on our way to Heaven. But we have to realize that we’re only in the very early stages of our relationship with the Father.

Knowing your position in Christ is important. We are placed in the position of being righteous before God. This means that we can come into His presence at any time, for any reason.

We have also been placed into the position of being holy before God. That means that we have been set apart by God for His purposes. This is great news, because in my own works I could never even hope to attain to such a high calling.

The problem comes in when we fail to understand that there is a vast difference between the position of righteousness and holiness – and the walk that is characterized by those qualities. I cannot assume that I’m living a holy life just because God calls me holy by position. The Apostle John makes it clear as he talks about the walk of righteousness.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

Many are being led astray in this generation, thinking that because they have been placed in the position of righteousness, it also means that they are walking in righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your position and your walk are two different things.

It is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the position of righteousness and holiness a present reality in our daily walk.

Question: How does the walk of righteousness differ from the position?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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