Posts Tagged ‘surrender’

Since Allana was diagnosed with Leukemia this place has been a mad house.  People ask the question and I find myself saying over and over, I have had to redefine what is a good day and what is a bad day.  The new normal for Allana, myself and our family is a bad day by the old standards, every day.  As I sit here thinking about this redefining process and my relationship to God it became clear to me that my relationship with God is the catalyst and the key to it.  This is what God does for us.  This is how he grows and draws us close.  A burning bush redefined life for Moses.  Suddenly a good day was risking his life standing before Pharaoh, or before his very own irate people.  I cannot help but wonder if Moses did not wish for the good old days of tending sheep in the hills of Midian.  Joseph had his days redefined in Egypt several times.  An angel by a wine press redefined a good day for Gideon.  Job, well Job is Job and he is perhaps the poster child for the redefining process.  Jesus redefined a good day for the disciples, over and over and over.  Then He redefined it for the universe by dying on Calvary.  I can almost hear God in his best Jerry Maguire impression on that day speaking to His People:  You know our little venture, well it had a big day, a really big day.  Now I complete you!.  Each of these has a real element of BAD to them.  It is important to realize that God does not want us to suffer, but He USES it and yes ALLOWS it because it serves His purposes in achieving Romans 8:28 which outlines the end result of the redefining process.  The good thing about this process is that it has a core.  It is a core that is made of rock hard incorruptible absolute truth.  It is a core that is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and immutable.  What happens is that in all this redefinition we actually come to a single truth.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?   Micah 6:8

Circumstances change but a good day is when we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.  I cannot say that today was a good day, but We believe and we are learning  God give us grace and power to make tomorrow a good day, no matter what the circumstances are.

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Nisa Faith was born on 12-16-2012 at 9:40 pm.  She was 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 20.5 in. long.  Yet those simple statistics do not in any way define the miracle of faith that she is to this family.  A physical living expression of the journey that God has taken this family on over the past decade.  I have been literally overwhelmed by her presence in our lives and not just by the usual intensity of life with a new baby.  I am going to re-post my blog from July 31st because today I stand with the realization of that post in my arms:

                  (Nisa- Miracle)

Faith

Guidry

We have prayed for this day for 9 years.  We have ached for the losses and doubted our faith.  We refused to give up even when we were labeled as a “Chronic Miscarriage” case.  When the entire world (and even God himself from a purely worldly standpoint) seemed to be saying emphatically NO, the Holy Spirit whispered in our ears to leave it in the Father’s hands.  So we did.  Don’t get me wrong we cried, we wailed, we begged over and over again.  We wanted at times to throw in the towel and act out of our own understanding.  We still do not completely understand, but understand this:  We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

Several weeks ago while in prayer God gave me the name Nisa Faith.  Indeed she is a miracle of faith, not the simple faith of a single prayer or even the cry for healing but the faith of a 9 year journey.  She represents to us the faith of Abraham as he led his entire family to Canaan.  She represents the faith of Joseph as he waited in slavery, in prison for God to act.  She is even now, yet in the womb that miracle, an incredible act of God.

The difficult part to grasp is that my statement about our Father’s love for us is not just true because Nisa is healthy and strong.  It is an eternal truth that is expressed in both the tragic and the joyful.  He does not love us more now than he did on the very days that we miscarried our other seven precious babies.  The reality is that our journey to the fulfillment of the call that He had placed on our lives led us directly through David’s “Valley of the Shadow of Death”.  While we might prefer a detour around the Valley, God does not promise that.  He does promise that he will be with us, standing by us with His rod and staff and even more importantly for New Testament believers dwelling in us.  Many times it is not until after we are through the Valley that we are able to look back and see that God wielded His rod and staff on our behalf as we walked that  difficult road.

Even more than she represents the miracle of life to us, she is the miracle of faith itself.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that she is an expression of miraculous faith.  Faith inspired by the ongoing presence of God in our lives.  It is the faith that kept Abraham going on his 400 mile journey.  It is the faith that kept him in relationship with God even when he arrived only to face famine.  It is the faith that saw the birth of Isaac and the substitution of a ram for his only child on the mountain before God.  It is not a faith of the perfect life or of perfect people. It is a faith that traverses pitfalls and carries us through our own mistakes; faith that originates not with us but in the very heart of God and comes to us as a gift from the hands of our heavenly Father.  It is Nisa Faith.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lied down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

PSALM 23

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“He has done it!” ends David’s psalm 22.  The New American Standard Bible labels this Psalm: “A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise”.  David accepted  that all suffering is simply the path to the miraculous for those who are followers of Jesus.    Nisa will be for us a miracle of new life.  Our family in many ways is born again with the impending birth of this precious girl.  This is an attribute of the miraculous.  It brings rebirth to those it impacts.  Our very transformation from beings steeped in sin and unacceptable in the presence of God to children of the living God and those who are guaranteed an eternity in His presence is perhaps the greatest miracle of all.

If one dares the term, lesser miracles also carry this sense of new beginnings.  They are those points in our lives when our cries of anguish turn to songs of praise.  They are intended to transform on a spiritual level not just impact our physical beings.  It is this spiritual aspect of the miraculous that is so confusing to us.  When we approach the miraculous as simply God impacting our earthly lives (perhaps as reward or even punishment) it fogs the very nature of the miracles.  We become magicians searching for the “spells” or the correct formula of prayer (or behavior) that will manipulate God into acting the way that we conceive that he should.  Paul was singing praises in prison not because he thought this would enable, encourage or force God to act on his behalf.  He did it because he anticipated the miraculous in whatever form it would come.  (Acts 16:25ff)

Right now I can only anticipate and imagine the incredible joy that I will feel when I hold Nisa in my arms.  I am living in the confidence of Paul.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

Paul gives this statement as a basis for his ongoing joy.  He anticipated the miraculous.  Our ability to live out this type of anticipation is a function of the degree to which we embrace the initial miracle of our rebirth into the family of God and our ability to keep our spiritual eyes focused on Jesus.  It is the understanding that the miraculous is not so much about our physical circumstances as our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.  The miraculous operates within its own economy, one established and ordained by God.  It is an economy that ensures  joy for those who live by faith and anticipate the miraculous.

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“Go take for yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry’ for the land commits flagrant harlotry forsaking the Lord.”  Hosea 1:2b

For the complete text of this study including extensive scripture references click here

 

The word of the Lord which came to Hosea the son of Beeri during the days of…”  Hosea 1:1

 

The formula “the word of the Lord” is of paramount importance to who we are as the people of God.  Without this formula Christianity simply becomes a collection of well thought out doctrines without divine power.  It appears Eleven times in Acts, Seventeen times in the New Testament, only once of which is a direct quote from the Hebrew Scriptures ( 1 Peter 1:25 ).

(See full text for references)

It appears Thirty two times in the Minor Prophets and constitutes the very base of their message and core of the authority by which they spoke.  Unfortunately it is very clear that this formula was also utilized by those who spoke falsely, for personal gain or from fertile imagination, often without immediate repercussions.

(See full text for references)

This formula is used Nine times in the Pentateuch.  Twice it refers to a personal message from God to Abraham.  Twice it refers to those who feared or respected God through his messenger Moses.  Three times it refers to the specific will of God concerning a situation and then twice it is used to denote the general commands of God.  In all cases it is something that should be greatly respected, immediately and continuously obeyed and contains the combination of promise and consequences involved in obedience or disobedience.

(See full text for references)

“The word of the Lord” appears Seventy Five times in the Historical Books of the Old Testament,(See your Bible for references) defining a theme of the redemptive history of the Bible.  Add to it the Four appearances in Psalms and the One Hundred and Twenty appearances in the Major Prophets (See your Bible for references) and we have a biblical formula that must not be ignored.  (This gives a grand total of 267 in the NAS)  Yet it is one that I am afraid is down-played in our modern times.  In fact I would even go as far as to say it is largely ridiculed, relegated to examples of crazy ranting, embarrassing exclamations or simply inappropriate use. However the message of the Bible is clear.  The Word of the Lord is IMPORTANT.  It contains promise, command and consequence.  It brings real love, real judgment and real salvation to a humanity that fell in the garden, abandoned God in the Flood, rejected God at Babel and throughout the redemptive record has struggled with the concept of “The Word of the Lord.”

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”  Matthew 23:37

 

Those who have carried this Word have been dismissed, ignored and persecuted throughout history.  So rarely have they been embraced as to almost make it suspect when the general public (even of the People of God) embrace their words.  Today the lack of respect continues even within the church in a land where we have more Bibles per capita than perhaps ever in the history of the world.  We quibble about translations.  We reject inspiration.  We modify to fit our experience and common choices.  Can the end be any different from those who throughout time have rejected the very authority of the Word of the Lord?

The importance in this modern world of the declaration “The Bible is the Word of God” is primary. It is the watershed of modern theological controversy. On the right of this mountain peak are all those who believe that the Bible is the revelation of God and is infallibly inspired. They may differ on many details of interpretation of that revelation, but they agree as to its authority. On the left of this peak are all those who reject the Bible as the primary authority in faith and life, substituting for it any one of several forms of authority ranging from the human mind to the common experience and agreement of the church. Some of these on the left may hold with us as to the truth of every primary doctrine of Scripture, but they themselves do not belong to us because they accept those doctrines on a ground which is insufficient, and if the pressure of the battle becomes too great, they will relinquish those doctrines such as the virgin birth, the unique deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrection, the second coming, etc. Therefore, though we may differ in many details with those who are on the right of this watershed, we belong together and must recognize this modern division in the theological world. Only on the basis of the Bible as the Word of the Lord can we ever have agreement on Christ, on the way of salvation, and on ecclesiastical matters. When we reject the Bible as this authority, it results in the “don’t care for doctrine” attitude of the liberal.”  Dr. Harold John Ockenga  (http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_word_ockenga.html , 10-6-2012)

For Hosea the entry of the Word of the Lord to his world was a life changing proposition.  This was true through out the Bible and continues to be true today.  If one were to research each of the biblical references for this formula I am guessing that one would find someone whose life was changed.  This would indeed be the case for our protagonist Hosea.  He was about to embark on a life journey which would express the heart of God and the depth of His plan for the salvation of a lost world.  It would be an embarrassing and difficult journey.  Disrespect for the Word of the Lord is nothing new.  False prophets, crazy prophets and mistaken prophets clouded the vision of God’s people then even as they do now.  Skeptics doubted and the intellectual explained away the impact of God on Israel, relying instead on the might of nations, the power of wealth and the scheming of men to preserve the nation.  Hosea had a Word of the Lord for them.

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“So then does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  Galatians 3:5

Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of this new life that God has called me to at The Lewis House is one that I should have had in my Christian life regardless of my profession.  It is one that I am still learning to embrace because (unlike my beautiful wife) I am a bit too logical in my make up and a big part of me want to live on the basis of logical observation instead of spiritual expectation.  God is teaching me to walk in the miraculous.

When we truly hear the Gospel with faith there should be an expectation of the miraculous.  It is part of the package.  This is not a mystical toy store or the ability to bend God’s power to our will for our happiness.  It is simply expecting God to act in my life and then walking out my faith and getting to watch Him moving and working in an around me.  The cool thing is that the miraculous looks a little different every time.  I think that one of the mistake that we often make is when something miraculous happens in our lives we run around expecting that very same thing to happen over and over or even just one more time.  This may be in part to our desire to control the miraculous.  Humanity has always had an inherent fear of the things that we cannot control.  Better to have a god who responds to our requests exactly the same way all of the time, speaking into our lives in the ways that we want Him too (as opposed to in ways that sanctify us, ever conforming us closer and closer to the mind of Christ).

The author of Hebrews reveals the purpose of the miraculous.  “…how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?  After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”  Hebrews 2:3-4  It confirms to us our salvation.  This approximates Paul’s statement in Galatians that we already looked.

The other amazing thing is that God will not be put in a box.  Sometimes we mistake the fact that he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow for the fact that we will be able to manipulate and predict his actions in our lives.  This error is revealed in Isaiah, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways, My ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways And my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9  Does this mean that we just drift along being pushed here and there by a capricious God?  Not at all!  We cry out our needs, concerns, suffering and desires to God and the open our spiritual eyes wide and watch Him work.  It will be amazing, and often in ways that we least expect.

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Yes FM Morning Munch Devotional August 13th – 17th

Monday  –  Passionately Involved

Tuesday – The Hard Questions

Wednesday – Ready to Listen

Thursday – Ready to Believe the Unbelievable

Friday – Obedient

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“Then a revelation from the Lord came to him: ‘Leave here, turn eastward, and hide yourself at the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan.  You are to drink from the wadi, I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.’  So he did what the Lord commanded, Elijah left and lived by the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan.  The ravens kept bringing him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening, and he drank from the wadi.”  1 Kings 17:2-6

We all have pretty developed concepts of what are appropriate avenues for God to provide for us.  They are engrained in us culturally as we grow up.  We tend to follow economic paths that fall within that cultural upbringing.  Unfortunately, particularly as Christians (but not solely limited to us) we spiritualize those concepts and values and label them as Christian.  I know that since God called me to full-time ministry, and more particularly to the Urban Mission field he has been rocking my world in this area.

I can imagine Elijah’s reaction as God began to use him as a prophet to Israel.  He probably gave himself a high-five after dressing down Ahab and congratulated himself on his appointment as Yahweh’s Weatherman for Israel.  But the call to the service of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ has certain life style and life view changes that come as part of the package.  The next revelation from the Lord probably hit Elijah with as much joy as Jonah’s call to Nineveh.  Elijah already had a plan going, outlining how God could provide for him through the drought and ensuing famine; perhaps a nice cushy spot on the coast somewhere with cool deep spring and lots of fish that just jump onto the beach.  Then it comes:

“Hey Elijah, yeah you. This IS Yahweh and as you expected I have made provision…no …nope not the coast, though that would be very nice.  Nope sorry no rich family with lots of storage and living space.  I have the perfect spot, head out-of-town east.  Yes into the wilderness.  No, no spring but there will be a wadi (dried up stream bed that only runs when it rains hard) Oh yeah and I will send Ravens to feed you.”

“SEND WHAT! Ravens are going to feed me, with bread and meat in their mouths.  Have you seen a raven?  Surely there is a mistake here, I don’t eat stuff that comes from the mouth of an animal that eats mostly DEAD things.  Oh and wadi’s only run when it RAINS.”

Now of course my dialogue here is completely fabricated and probably bears a much greater resemblance to conversations that I have had with God over the way that we should be provided for but I think that the inferences are reasonably valid.  When we teach it in Sunday School it seems so cool.  Wow Elijah got to be fed from the beaks of ravens! This is the reaction of someone who has not connected raven with the bird picking at the roadkill you just drove by on your way to church!  I can continue with the proposed water source.  A creek bed that flows into the Jordan only when it rains.  This is wilderness runoff not refreshing spring water.  Consider Naaman’s reaction to just bathing in the Jordan River: “Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?.” (2 Kings 5:12)

However no matter what his gut reaction was to God’s plan, Elijah was obedient to his God and entered the spiritual stream of provision that would provide for him and eventually for the widow of Zarepath and her son.  But what if Elijah had turned his nose up at God’s initial provision plan?  Maybe he would have been able to eke out the time and perhaps come out still used by God but he would have missed the miraculous wonder of God’s provision and of God’s almighty healing hand.  God loves rocking our world with spiritual truth before rocking our world with spiritual blessing.

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                  (Nisa- Miracle)

Faith

Guidry

We have prayed for this day for 9 years.  We have ached for the losses and doubted our faith.  We refused to give up even when we were labeled as a “Chronic Miscarriage” case.  When the entire world (and even God himself from a purely worldly standpoint) seemed to be saying emphatically NO, the Holy Spirit whispered in our ears to leave it in the Father’s hands.  So we did.  Don’t get me wrong we cried, we wailed, we begged over and over again.  We wanted at times to throw in the towel and act out of our own understanding.  We still do not completely understand, but understand this:  We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

Several weeks ago while in prayer God gave me the name Nisa Faith.  Indeed she is a miracle of faith, not the simple faith of a single prayer or even the cry for healing but the faith of a 9 year journey.  She represents to us the faith of Abraham as he led his entire family to Canaan.  She represents the faith of Joseph as he waited in slavery, in prison for God to act.  She is even now, yet in the womb that miracle, an incredible act of God.

The difficult part to grasp is that my statement about our Father’s love for us is not just true because Nisa is healthy and strong.  It is an eternal truth that is expressed in both the tragic and the joyful.  He does not love us more now than he did on the very days that we miscarried our other seven precious babies.  The reality is that our journey to the fulfillment of the call that He had placed on our lives led us directly through David’s “Valley of the Shadow of Death”.  While we might prefer a detour around the Valley, God does not promise that.  He does promise that he will be with us, standing by us with His rod and staff and even more importantly for New Testament believers dwelling in us.  Many times it is not until after we are through the Valley that we are able to look back and see that God wielded His rod and staff on our behalf as we walked that  difficult road.

Even more than she represents the miracle of life to us, she is the miracle of faith itself.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that she is an expression of miraculous faith.  Faith inspired by the ongoing presence of God in our lives.  It is the faith that kept Abraham going on his 400 mile journey.  It is the faith that kept him in relationship with God even when he arrived only to face famine.  It is the faith that saw the birth of Isaac and the substitution of a ram for his only child on the mountain before God.  It is not a faith of the perfect life or of perfect people. It is a faith that traverses pitfalls and carries us through our own mistakes; faith that originates not with us but in the very heart of God and comes to us as a gift from the hands of our heavenly Father.  It is Nisa Faith.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lied down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

PSALM 23

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I recently participated in a discussion of Galatians 2. While the discussion narrowed in on 2:20, it was 2:18 that caught my eye.

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.1But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 1For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.  

This chapter cycles through some of Paul’s relationship with the other Apostles and the leadership of the Jerusalem church.  It begins with their acceptance of the Gospel message that God had commissioned Paul to deliver but then moves into a point of contention between Paul and Peter.  As I read through the chapter and came to verse 18 I was reminded of a TV show that I watched as a child, The Six Million Dollar Man.  The main character had been physically destroyed in a horrible accident, those of you who are old enough will remember the tag line, “We can rebuild him, we have the technology.”

Paul called Peter out for being a bionic Christian.  When we commit our lives to Christ our human nature, our sinful nature is destroyed.  In this process we hand over everything that we are, will be and hope to be over to God.  But our nature strongly opposes this process.  Just as the scientists were driven to use their technology to rebuild Steve Austin physically, we are tempted to rely on our own abilities to justify ourselves before God.  The corollary is that we often believe that we have arrived and need to hold others accountable to this standard also.  Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Christ we rely on ourselves to rebuild us; hoping to achieve an improved model.  We become bionic Christians and so end up mired in sin so subtle that we believe we are headed in the right direction.  When we rely on our own understanding and abilities we negate the very core of the Gospel. We rebuild the very thing that separated humanity from God in the first place, our will over His.

 

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Perhaps the next time that someone asks me about what we do at The Lewis House I will say, “We meet Julius where he is at.”  I first met Julius on the sidewalk in front of TLH.  He asked me for $10.00 and then moved on when I said that we could supply food and personal items but that we did not deal in cash.  Several days later he stopped out front and asked again for money but this time did not decline the offer of a meal.  Since then he has become a regular visitor to the house.

There are many ways and places to meet people.  As I read the Bible I see a recurring theme.  While it is true that some followed Jesus everywhere, they followed Jesus as he went to meet them where they were at.  Whether it was on the hills of Judea, up in a tree, coming to a well in the heat of the day, across the sea naked in a graveyard or up on a rocky crag named Golgotha, Jesus was ready to meet them exactly where they were at.  He came to feed them, to eat with them, to speak truth to them, to free them and ultimately to die and rise again for them.  Then when it was time for him to return to the Father he passed the torch on to the disciples,  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20) while still assuring them (and us) that he would always be here to meet them where they are at.  Being missional is just about that, meeting people where they are at.  While God has placed us here in Toledo at TLH, He has also placed every person reading this blog somewhere that has people who need God’s love and a little truth in their lives.  Once we live God’s love and speak God’s truth then it is up to the Holy Spirit.

There has been no radical change, no epiphany for Julius, but his stories seem a little truer and he keeps coming back.  He listens a little longer and is just a little softer with each visit.  That brings me to the other important part of meeting them where they are at, prayer.  The Holy Spirit can meet Julius wherever he is at, at any time and won’t you join me in praying that He does?!

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