Mentoring Minutes

CHRISTmas Stories 2022

And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.    Luke 2:18-20

Have you ever stopped to ponder how those involved in the very first CHRISTmas would have responded?  Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, shepherds? God’s Word shares with us how they responded even though most of them were shocked and maybe even a bit (or a lot) fearful of what it meant to them.  What has CHRISTmas and CHRIST meant to you?

CHRISTmas Players (Luke 2:1-20)

Let me take you back to that first CHRISTmas and just briefly recount the well-known narratives and names.  Then I want to spend the better part of this article on a part of the story that you may have never heard and what we can learn from the lowliest of players in the CHRISTmas story… 

Matthew 1:18-23 – Mary and Joseph engaged; Mary gets pregnant; Joseph chooses to privately divorce Mary which was an honorable thing as he could have had her stoned or exiled from the country and family; the prophecy of a virgin birth is fulfilled and the name of God’s Son through the angel to Mary and Joseph is revealed.

Luke 2:1-20 – the famous CHRISTmas narrative of Caesar Augustus’ census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem and a stable where Jesus would be born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling (poor man’s cloths – many think it was the cloths used to wrap the baby lambs…think about that!?!) likely in a cave or barn that was a stable for animals to fulfill a several hundred year old prophecy; angels and shepherds which bring me to the story I want to focus on as alluded to earlier.

The Real Shepherds of Bethlehem (adapted from a story by Nick Harris)

The shepherds keeping watch over the flocks near Bethlehem would have been quite out of the ordinary.  Because of the stench the sheep were normally kept miles from towns and villages.  There was one great exception to this and it just so happened to be Bethlehem at this specific time of the year!  Imagine that…and even more so think about how God brought all of this together?

The shepherds that “resided” in Bethlehem, along with the very large flock, was specifically culled out for one purpose only.  These were set apart as “perfect” one-year old lambs, belonging to and declared so, by the High Priests to be sacrificed in the Temple!  This was the High Priest’s flock and shepherds!  These were the Passover lambs!

This was likely the largest herd of sheep and required a great number of shepherds to tend them…right there in Bethlehem.  You think God may have been orchestrating something all along?

Two other key components regarding Bethlehem and the shepherds…First, Bethlehem was beautifully situated high on a hill and you could see in all directions.

Second, the shepherds were monitored by the temple priests, seeing as how these sheep belonged to the High Priest and were for Passover.  Typically any shepherd (or anyone else) who defiled himself by mingling with the sheep was considered filthy and unclean and therefore unable to enter into the Temple. 

The priests would “watch over” the shepherds “below” from the MIGDAL EDER or “Tower of the Flock.”  In this way they remained ritually clean and certainly “high above” the filthy shepherds so they could enter the Temple. The shepherds who mingled with the sheep remained filthy and were considered unclean and could not enter the Temple or “God’s presence.” 

Hmm…wonder who God might select to be the first to actually enter into His presence and kneel before the newborn Baby King…God in the flesh?  The ritually “always”-clean priests or perpetually filthy shepherds?  We know the answer.

And God’s answer and plan would have been truly shocking, but as one song says,

“To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth

But Joseph knew the
Reason love had to reach so far…” 

(From Strange Way to Save the World, 4Him)

For more on this, check out this article on the flocks and shepherds in Bethlehem.  With all of this in mind I believe there is much that we can learn from them when it comes to our response to Christ and God’s message to us.   

The Gospel According to the Shepherds

So often in the CHRISTmas story, we focus on the main characters: Mary, Joseph, and of course, Jesus.  But through the short account in Luke 2:8–20, there are four things we can learn from the shepherds that should make the top of our to-do list this and every CHRISTmas, and for that matter, every day of our lives!!!

1) Belief…The angels announced in spectacular fashion that the Messiah was born. As soon as the angels left, the shepherds looked at each other and said: “What are we waiting for? Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened.”

No debate. No procrastination. They don’t decide to sleep on it. They don’t go to the local library (or Temple as they wouldn’t have been given access anyway) to research or ask questions. They just believed. That’s faith. Scripture says without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The angel said, “Peace on earth among people with whom he is pleased.” Who is that? It’s those who respond to God’s gift through faith. Scripture also says, “For by grace you are saved, through faith, not of works for it is a Gift of God….” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Faith means you say yes to all that God did through Christ. Yes, he is the Savior of the world. Yes, he came to die for my sins. Yes, through him I find forgiveness and new life. Yes, I want Christ as my Lord. If you’re not sure, what are you waiting for?

Faith isn’t a spectator sport; it’s actively embracing all that God has promised and given us in Christ.  Which is the second thing the Shepherds teach us…

2) Obedience…The shepherds didn’t just talk about it…they did exactly as they were told. “Go and see…” We often think of CHRISTmas as a tame holiday…“the sweet baby Jesus asleep on the hay.” Everyone loves that because it’s so innocuous and safe. CHRISTmas isn’t safe! Maybe we would react as they did if angels appeared to us…BUT, wait a minute…WE HAVE HIS WORD!  Are we responding in faith…not just showing up at Church but also living it out daily?

That Baby was/and still is the King of kings and the Lord of lords and the angels and His Word tell us the same thing!!! He came to usher in a kingdom that rivals the worldly kingdom – against culture, against the flesh, against self. That’s threatening. He bids those who would follow him to take up their cross daily—to lay aside our own right and deception to rule ourselves and surrender to His rule.

Just as with the shepherds, we can only know/see the Lord through Obedience (FAITH in action – the only real Faith!)…THINK ABOUT THIS – from the time they heard from the angel(s), walking from the fields of Bethlehem, the City of David (City of the King), every step of the way they took in faith based only on what the angel had saidNot until they completed their journey and arrived at the lowly stable, and entered into the filth and stench did their faith become sight. Unless they had walked in Faith they would have never seen the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger.  The same is true of us…and our walk of Faith.  Unless we continue in it we will not see the King.  That’s what the shepherds taught us by walking out their belief in Faith until they SAW Him!

The world loves to celebrate ‘CHRISTmas’, but they hate to obey him as Lord of their lives. Everyone wants to keep Christ in the manger. But the manger is meaningless apart from the Cross and the Tomb…and His Lordship in our lives!

Ben Franklin stated over 200 years ago…“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts! O! ‘tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.”

CHRISTmas is a time for Faith…for obedience! The two can’t be separated.

The third thing the shepherds teach us is that with real faith they…

3) Told others…When the shepherds arrived in Bethlehem and saw the child lying in the feed trough, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” They weren’t preachers; or missionaries…that didn’t matter. They had heard and seen something that meant salvation for the whole world.

CHRISTmas trees, eggnog, and exchanging of gifts are fine (Check out CHRISTmas Memories from last week)! If we enjoy all the trappings but don’t know and share Jesus—if we fail to speak (words and actions) of the real meaning as the Shepherds did; if we neglect to tell others that this Child is Savior and Lord, sent by God to die on the Cross to purchase our deliverance from sin, death, and satan with His royal, divine, human blood; if we neglect to share CHRIST, we miss CHRISTmas.

The angel said that this is “good news of great joy, which shall be for all the people.” If we truly believe it we must share this Good News…this joy.

Finally, the ‘Bethlehem, Passover shepherds’ taught us to…

4) Experience the Holy Wonder…The shepherds were overwhelmed at the angel’s announcement. They experienced holy wonder.

How can we engage in holy wonder? Maybe that means you stop in the middle of your shopping, sit down, and read the CHRISTmas story. Maybe you gather your children around a Nativity scene each night and focus on a particular player or event and the role he/she plays in the CHRISTmas story. Maybe you wake up early one morning and find a place to watch the sunrise as you meditate on Luke 1:76–79

76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

The work of holy wonder is treasuring and pondering that God invaded Earth on a dangerous rescue mission. Let’s do the same…let’s engage in holy wonder.

The shepherds departed, rejoicing in all they’d seen as “everything was exactly as they had been told” (Luke 2:20). The same Truth the angels gave the shepherds is in God’s Word for us to experience Holy Wonder and share it with others!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Isn’t it interesting that Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and all involved faced a decision when they heard about God’s plan for CHRISTmas and then a response as it became a reality.  What about you?  What has been your response to Christ in your heart and life?

Love and Lordship…Action Item

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. How does the story of the Real Shepherds of Bethlehem impact your understanding of CHRISTmas?
  3. What part of the Gospel or CHRISTmas Story according to the shepherds describes where you are with Christ?
  4. If you know Christ as Savior and Lord, share Him! If not, find someone to help you fully experience the Greatest Gift Ever Given! Contact us at L&L.
  5. Highly recommend that you take the time to watch this with your family and loved ones…Christmas With The Chosen

BONUS: This week’s Top CHRISTmas list…this week we look at the Top 5 Stressors and how to find peace according to The Prince of Peace and His Word…

5) Calendars – Schedules and Busyness – We all know what it means to “spread our self too thin.”  Stop!  Do what you can and let go of the rest…you’ll be much more at peace – Matthew 6:34 says, “don’t worry about tomorrow.” Great advice, so don’t pile on by adding too much to your calendar.

4) Checkbooks and Credit Cards – The Budget – Here’s another problem similar to our calendar woes…not only don’t do too much but don’t spend too much. Proverbs 22:7 states, “the borrower (credit cards) is a slave to the lender.” Set your budget and stick with it…you’ll be much happier and at peace in the end.

3) History – Ghosts of CHRISTmas past – many struggle with memories of family brokenness, bad relationships, loss of loved ones, etc., which dampens the CHRISTmas spirit. How clever of the enemy to use the very thing CHRISTmas was to bring…Hope, Joy, Peace and Love…and turn them on their head! Remember the message to the shepherds and apply it to your situation – Luke 2:8-14.  Choose Christ and don’t let others dictate your peace and joy!

2) Family – in-laws and outlaws, marriage, children and making it all work. How do you look at those in your family, blood relatives and in-laws, regardless of how they act? You can choose to honor, respect and love them even if they don’t deserve it…just like Christ did for us when He came at CHRISTmas. As a matter of fact, He came out of Love, because we needed a Savior, even though we didn’t deserve it – Isaiah 9:6; John 3:16!

1) Image – Do we have as much or look as good as everyone else? This may be at the core of many, if not all, of the above so if we can solve this one we might solve them all.  Contentment is the key to laying down pride, ego and “keeping up with the Joneses” especially at CHRISTmas. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 gives great wisdom as to what’s really important and the peace and contentment that come with knowing Christ. Make it a great CHRISTmas season with family and loved ones in and for The Lord (Matthew 1:21-23)!

CHRISTmas Memories 2022

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.         Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Before we start this article and CHRISTmas series I want to let you know to look for a Top CHRISTmas list at the end of each article leading up to CHRISTmas!

As I prepare this article I’m listening to Classical CHRISTmas music and I’m reminded each evening when I come home that Ami, my wife, nearly always has the CHRISTmas lights on. She usually asks me if I like it that they’re on when I arrive home to which I always heartily answer, “Absolutely!” Because I really do!

Don’t know about you but I have great CHRISTmas memories…Early on it’s always been about the lights, decorations and trees (which were always live as I didn’t know they had fake trees when I was growing up).  Even if we’d known about fake trees, we likely couldn’t afford them, which probably helped fuel my “obsession” with real trees to this day…that and the awesome smell…even though it’s getting harder to afford those!?!

Most importantly, my greatest memories every year always draw me back to the Nativity, the angels, the shepherds, the manger and the Biblical account of CHRIST’s Advent, His coming to earth in the form of a helpless Baby ultimately to save us!  More on that throughout this series!

Memory #1 – CHRISTmas? A Bundle of Switches and a Lump of Coal

Many memories of CHRISTmas flood my mind and fill my heart but there are 2 specific CHRISTmas memories that push to the forefront of my thoughts as I begin this series.  The first is one that hopefully few but likely many can relate to…I was 7 years old, my brother, 5, and sister, 3.  We came running, and I was jumping, down 10 steps at a time not even worried I might go right through the front door. I remember we’d not been, let’s just say, particularly good that year and sure enough, as promised, Santa had us on the “Naughty List.” He left us each a bundle of switches under the tree and a lump of coal in our stockings hung on the fireplace mantle. 

What?!?  Was it really true that Santa Claus would leave these “gifts” to children that were disobedient and maybe even a little defiant?  Yes He would. 

After my parents made us go to our rooms to think about it and making sure that our tears and remorse were real, they called us back downstairs.  Much more slowly than our earlier pace, we sadly sauntered down to offer heartfelt apologies.  To our childish delight, presents had magically appeared and our stockings were full!  I remember getting a Big Wheel that year – what better gift is there for a 7-year old boy!?!  My brother and I wore out the heavy duty plastic wheels before the next summer was over!  How could I ever forget that CHRISTmas or the related lessons?

Year after year, no matter how difficult, CHRISTmas was always special and I have nothing but wonderful memories of the season. Sadly, I know that’s not true for everyone and maybe that’s why my wife and kids think I go just a little overboard each year but I love everything about it!  

I like to be first on my street, if not neighborhood, with lights and tree up! Sad, but can’t help it.  Even more sadly I must admit in full disclosure…a couple years ago I lost to a blow up Santa and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer display! I love it! 

Memory #2 – Our First Family CHRISTmas…spent in a Hospital

The second vivid recollection was the year our first child was born.  He was born on December 21 and the plan was to be home by CHRISTmas Eve and celebrate our first CHRISTmas as a family.  I had decorated the house prior to heading to the hospital.  The team I was coaching at the time had given us a white rocking chair for the occasion and I had come home on the last day of practice before CHRISTmas break and fallen asleep on my wife’s pregnant lap. 

A couple of hours later she awakened me and said, “It’s time!”  I helped her into the already packed car and we headed to the hospital.  From the moment we arrived we should have known it was going to be memorable.  It was all worth it as I held our son while my wife slept soundly for the first time in weeks.

The doctor came in the next morning and said they would need to place our son “under the lights” in order to help him overcome the jaundice (infection) that he had.  He was placed in isolation on December 23 and was there for 3 full days. 

There went our “perfect” CHRISTmas plans in our new home with our first child.  We ended up staying on the top floor of the hospital, which had been converted into a “hotel” type setting for just such occasions to accommodate the family of patients that needed to stay under hospital care. 

To exacerbate the situation, except for a limited holiday staff, we were the only ones on the entire floor! 

As CHRISTmas Eve rolled around, my wife (neither of us had been able to hold our newborn since the first few hours after his birth) became understandably dejected and tearfully expressed, “This is not how I envisioned our first CHRISTmas as a family to be.” 

I truly believe The Holy Spirit gave me my next idea.  I went to the greatly reduced holiday staff on the floor and asked if I could gather any/all CHRISTmas decorations on the floor (except for those at their workstation) and put them in our room?  They gladly consented and I grabbed a couple fake trees (maybe the only time ever?!?), garland and lights and every other CHRISTmas décor that I could find and brought them into our room.  It was beautiful and right on queue, as we looked out our window, God blessed us with a snowfall that glistened through all the lights as we looked out over the city from our seventh floor room. 

I called our families and they sacrificially but excitedly agreed to bring all the gifts, food and trimmings the next day…CHRISTmas Day…to celebrate with us in the little hospital/”hotel” room!  It was magical, except that we couldn’t hold our son…

Until 2 days later when he was released in good health and we took him home!  The evening of December 27, I sat rocking my son in our brand new white rocking chair right next to the CHRISTmas tree as his eyes locked in, literally, for minutes at a time on the twinkling lights on that tree!  Tears ran down my face as I thanked God for CHRISTmas and His greatest gift as I sat rocking a very similar gift in my arms. 

For these memories (the good and the bad) and all the others, I choose to see everything…time with our families, the lights, trees, decorations, food, stories (even Santa and all related stories – St. Nicholas – real life ‘St. Nick’), my CHRISTmas ties, the music (love it) and every memory in light of The Spirit of CHRISTmas and the real reason for it…CHRIST…God With Us.  I encourage you to consider doing the same thing, no matter what past experiences or memories hold.

The Greatest CHRISTmas Memory and Gift

How do you choose to see CHRISTmas and how does it affect you and your family?

The Greatest Memory and Gift of course is that CHRISTmas is CHRIST!  That’s what we’re going to unpack in some unique ways over the next two weeks leading up to that most wonderful of Holidays in which we received the Greatest Gift of all – Jesus – God as a Baby in a manger…God in the flesh!  After all, that’s what it’s really all about – God dwelling with us, making a way through His Son (Immanuel – God With Us) and His Spirit (abiding in us) – this is CHRISTmas and if we choose we will see it all around us throughout the season and beyond, even in the tough times.

This CHRISTmas is one of the most difficult and even while I’m sad it only heightens the meaning and Joy of CHRISTmas.  In the last four months two dear and precious family members passed away – one was my 80 year old Mom and grandmother to my children and nephew. Her final days were full of Joy because she knew Christ had made a way for her and she had fully accepted this Babe in a Manger as her Savior and Lord. I know where she is and I will see her again some day because Jesus came!  The other was my wife, Ami’s, stepfather who passed away very peaceably at the age of 89 after two to three years of gradual decline. We are assured both at this season and all year long because the prophecy and promise that came true on that First CHRISTmas… Matthew 1:21-23

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What are your favorite CHRISTmas memories?  Which memories are not so pleasant?  How have you chosen to view the memories and how has that affected you, your faith and your family? 

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. Journal how your CHRISTmas past has impacted your CHRISTmas present.
  3. What will you choose to do with the memories or feelings that bring you down?
  4. List some things you can do to experience the Love, Joy and Peace of Christ this CHRISTmas for you and your family. Follow through even when it’s not easy.

BONUS: All-time Top 6 CHRISTmas movies…let us know your favorites!

  1. The Nativity (2006) – brings the True story to life!
  2. A Christmas Carol – starring Alastair Sims (1951) – how Christ changes lives!
  3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (animated, 1965) – The Biblical story read on TV!
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – the difference one life can make!
  5. Miracle on 34th Street (both versions, 1947/1994) – the need for Faith!
  6. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (animated, 1966, 2018) – really about loving each other!

Bonus: I highly recommend you take 24 minutes to watch The Chosen’s “The Shepherd – The story of the First Christmas.” See it here – You will be blessed!

Make it a great CHRISTmas season with family and loved ones in and for The Lord and God bless in Christ (Isaiah 9:6)!

Giving Thanks – Our Ultimate Identity in Christ

Giving Thanks – Our Ultimate Identity in Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and look forward to CHRISTmas, because of Christ and who we are in Him we have everything to be thankful for. Stay with me here as we wrap up our series on our identity in Christ and I pray you are not only thankful but are becoming more confident and content in who you are in Him…and loving the new self He has recreated you to be in His Kingdom!

Because I am a believer and follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ, I am a personal witness to Him in and through my life (Acts 1:8).

In Christ I have been given the power (the Greek word for power that is given to all true believers is “dunamis” where we get our word, “dynamite”…now that’s powerful) of The Holy Spirit in me to shine The Light of His Truth and Love (these are inseparable) to the world.

My life should reflect in every way that He is my Lord and His Truth and Love comes through me in every motive, thought, decision, action and relationship. In this way I am a testimony of His Love and Authority for others to see in every situation I engage or encounter…in your home, across the street or around the world!

God has chosen to partner with us in Truth and Love to show the world Who He Is. The way we think, choose, act and relate every moment of every day reveals whose Lord of our life and reflects, positively or negatively, on what others see of Jesus in us.

How awesome is it that God chose us, you and me, to be a testimony of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world! Do you realize your identity in Him?

What is your witness of Jesus Christ? Savior only and you live the way you like otherwise…not possible according to Scripture. Do others know He is Lord of your life…spouse, children, family, church, coworkers, acquaintances, even enemies?

Is your life a living witness of His grace, mercy, Truth and Love in and through you so others might know Him as Savior and Lord?

Think about this…because God values you and me so greatly as His temple, His workmanship, a personal witness of Christ, chosen and appointed to bear His Kingdom and Spirit fruit…and so much more, He has called and equipped us to be salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:13-14)!

This is one of the very first proclamations that Jesus made in His public ministry in what we have come to know as The Sermon on the Mount. If you doubt it think of what those who heard Him said at the end of that message…”they were amazed because He spoke as one who had great authority” (Matthew 7:28-29).

Salt sharpens, enlivens and preserves. Light illuminates, clarifies and exposes. In some cases we like salt and light…and in others we don’t. However, in both cases God has a great and perfect purpose for us to be both salt and light to a sin-ridden, lost and dying world. Sin must be exposed, Truth must be revealed and we are His witnesses to graciously make Him known.

Don’t let your salt lose its saltiness and be good for nothing but the manure pile. Don’t let your light…His Light in you be dimmed and extinguished. He has a great purpose for you in His Kingdom!

Are you salt and light to those around you? Do they see Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life and the only way to The Father (John 14:6) through your life and mine?

As we conclude our 2nd series on fulfilling the Greatest Commands (Mark 12:29-31). The 1st series was the Names of God that began on Oct 18 and ran through that latter part of January with nearly 70 or so names to encourage us to know and love Him more and with all our being and to worship Him alone (1st and Greatest Command).

This 2nd series has been on our identity in Christ and through His Word He has shown us very plainly and graciously that we are fully accepted, totally secure and of great value and significance to God in Christ and by His Holy Spirit in and through us!

As we wrap up all of this comes together in this final assurance of our great value to Him…He has reconciled us to Himself (we have an intimate, personal relationship with Him) in Christ and He has given us this same ministry of reconciliation to share with others (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Think about it…God has made you a brand-new creation in Christ and has entrusted you with the Gospel of Christ so that you can minister to and help others be reconciled to Him just as you are in Christ.

You are made righteous in Christ and are recreated to help reconcile others to this same new creation and righteousness in Him! Whatever else He entrusts to us in terms of time, wealth, abilities, etc., the greatest thing that He can trust us with is the eternal souls of men and women so that we can point them to the reconciled relationship they can have individually and we can have collectively as Christ’s Body, The Church, with God in Christ! How absolutely awesome is that?

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – A few questions to reflect on as Food for Thought on our Identity in Christ… How are you doing with this great trust that God has given to you as a new creation in Christ? Do you know and are you sharing Christ, the Great Reconciler, with others so they can be in an intimate, loving, personal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  

Love and Lordship…Action Items

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. Journal what you’ve learned about your identity in Christ in this post. 
  3. Write down what it means for you to be a witness to Christ, salt and light of His Truth and Love.  
  4. Take time to meditate on who you are as a new creation in Christ. If you have not accepted Him as Savior and Lord, find someone to talk to find out more.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns and we’ll walk through them together in The Lord and His Spirit.

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