Letters

The Controversial Source of the Law.

God offered, “You [Israel] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6) God offered a covenant of equals: you and me, face to face with God with nothing in between. Peers.

They rejected his offer, and counter-offered, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19)


They proposed the intermediary, which is what a priesthood is. And they promised to listen. The original language contains a hint of obedience, but no, this isn’t an express promise (which was probably good).

They rejected the peer relationship, the covenant of equals, and they substituted a vertical relationship: big god with the rules (and therefore the spank stick), and the only way to know him is through a priest. Ick.

So the idea of a priesthood was not God’s idea, but the people’s. And the idea of hearing and obeying rules wasn’t God’s idea, but the people’s. He wanted a face-to-face with every living being, but they threw that back in his face and demanded a priesthood and rules.

So God was backed into a corner: either relate to people through a priesthood and rules, or walk away, wipe his hands clean and start over again.

But he’s not One to walk away.

So he submitted his mighty self to their silly little demands. It was better than no relationship at all.

They wanted a priesthood: Moses started it with Aaron, and it continued on. That’s what Leviticus is all about. Don’t you love Leviticus? Isn’t it fun to read?

They wanted rules. So God gave them a handful. Those rules were never about “Do this and you go to Heaven.” They were “Do this and you won’t get spanked.” (see Deuteronomy 30, and Luke 10:28). “Do this and you won’t be cursed.”

But they broke covenant before the rules were even delivered (remember the golden calf?). Then came more rules. And they failed those, so he had to give them other rules, more specific rules.

If you have rules, then you need to have an enforcer, and that is ALWAYS your god. So God was party to a covenant he didn’t want, and was the enforcer if the people didn’t keep their end of the covenant.

No wonder God was glad to be rid of that covenant. “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13)  He never wanted the stinky old rules or the silly little priesthood in the first place.


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Columns

Peers and Judges

Judging is a technical skill. Like anything else, it requires study and practice.

Parents, teachers, supervisors, even police, landlords, waitresses, and pizza delivery guys operate as judges from time to time. The rest of the time, among peers, we don’t judge; we only have an “opinion”.

If we do well in smaller courts of life and have good opinions among our peers eventually, other people will ask us to judge them. Some call this “job promotions”, others call it “getting the girl”, “respect from children”, or “winning elections”.

It starts with being serious in whatever small things we may judge.  · · · →

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 19, 2017

The big danger brewing in the Pacific this week was not about who was right and wrong, but about optics and perspective.

American college student Otto Warmbier came back from North Korea in a kind of coma. Almost every news story about Otto provides some background of his arrest and sentencing for taking a North Korean government poster one year ago.

North Korea mentioned “botulism” having preceded Otto’s situation. American doctors found “no sign” thereof. While doctors verify details, Otto’s situation of “nonresponsive wakefulness” has to do with levels of brain damage caused by lack of oxygen from the lungs, usually caused by traumatic injury or intoxication. In other words, it could look like Otto was beaten or poisoned, but news outlets can’t confirm this, so they won’t say it. But, that’s how bad it looks.

And, this is the big problem. There is nothing North Korea can say—even if it is true—to stop the West from being more enraged every time Otto is mentioned.

Taiwan is pursuing it’s desire for official recognition in the world and normal relations with China. This is different from the pursuits of China and the Philippines for respect; both have recognition. Taiwan has international respect, but lacks recognition as a legitimate country. Right or wrong lies in the opinion of the beholder. But, right or wrong, Taiwan isn’t going to stop pushing. The threat to China is that China consciously seeks the respect that it knows Taiwan already has.

Now, the  USS Fitzgerald was broadsided from starboard at night. Ships as sea are supposed to yield to approaching vessels on the right, as with road vehicles at a four-way stop.

Why wasn’t someone watching? Why didn’t proximity alarms wake the crew and prevent collision? Is the superior-tech US Navy ready for a confrontation with China? Most of the crew was asleep at the time. Seven are dead. The collision happened right where they were sleeping. Sailors woke up to find the ship taking on water.

Let’s just say that sailors woke up. In fact, the whole Navy woke up. The world is already waking up to everything going on.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, June 19, 2017

The complaints are mounting, but not sticking. When nothing sticks, the complaints just mount more and more. Eventually, there will be a mountain of nothing that sticks.

In other words, the nation is looking at the early stages of a “cleansing meltdown”.

Usually, the legitimacy of an election is called to question when the minority party in the legislature wins a speakership or presidency. If Congress were full of Democrats, that would be the biggest cause for suspicion. But, the Republican grip on Congress is actually growing.

This, combined with James Comey’s own words and the words of many others, tells us unequivocally that the alleged “Russia Gate” was only a ruse to enrage the defeated.

The people who aren’t busy working have time to complain and get all upset. They are about to make a big, huge, mountainous mess. Then, they will face the people who were too busy, but had to stop working to go deal with the people who weren’t.

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Columns

The Problem of Sovereignty

Among many, one trait fails to set Christians apart from all others: blame-shifting. We all like to blame our problems on someone else—our obstacles, our challenges, our injuries. But, for Christians, we have one bigger problem that forbids us, supposedly, from doing so: The Doctrine of Sovereignty.

God is “sovereign”. He has power over everything—everything! Nothing happens to me which has not first passed through the approving hands of my Father. No matter how painful, unfair, inconvenient—all things that happen to me are for my own good if I am truly a Christian.

That’s hard to accept.  · · · →

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 12, 2017

Most of the news this week was rehashed hype. North Korea is making progress with missiles. This is nothing new. The US presence in South Korea is controversial among South Koreans. This is nothing new. But, the reminders keep coming in and politics never misses opportunity.

South Korea’s new president, Moon, is undergoing his own freshmen shake-ups. His military people didn’t tell him the whole story. US anti-missile systems, namely THADD, put out a lot of juice, having incredibly strong radars that no ham radio operator would be allowed to own. People don’t like living near them.

Two are already in place and are going to stay there. More, reportedly four, are at a US military base in South Korea, can be deployed at any time, and they are going to stay there. Security is not diminishing in South Korea, it is just not progressing as quickly as was scheduled.

The new Korean president is listening to his voters. He wants any additional missile defense systems in places that won’t slow-cook his own people. The delay seems to agree with China’s objection to the far-reaching THADD radars snooping on its own turf. Washington would have us think that South Korea is selling-out to the Chinese. And, China surely will get a big head over this, thinking that their economic threats against South Korea for defending itself against a loose-nuke cannon—that China funds—is finally having sway.

The real story is that time is running out in the “logistics” calculation. The US Navy is waiting. South Korea is irritated and can’t and won’t deploy endless missile defense systems. A China-backed dictator needs to be taken out. China knows it. Trump knows it. And, the Trump-Xi “bromancers” wish they could get North Korea dealt with quickly so they can take off the gloves over the South Sea.

There, in the South Sea, no lie Trump may have told about former director Comey could be as big as the lie Xi told about China’s man-made islands: They won’t be militarized. If the same islands aren’t being militarized then the anti-missile defense systems in South Korea are actually gumball machines and the US Navy is only in South Korean waters to throw a pizza party, which means that China has nothing to fear.

But, the truth is different from how slow-moving takeovers get glossed-over.

The press is moving against China and South Korea more and more, especially with “life inside” and other pro-democracy stories. China’s view is also about logistics. They lack food. China doesn’t have enough land to grow food for its own people. News stories from other countries put China in a worse light than is appropriate.

China’s solution is to expand. But, the Chinese don’t seem to understand the Western concept of expansion: Master what you have first; if you can’t manage your house as it stands, making it bigger will only grow the problem.

Now, China’s silk road is up against ISIS, making a third battle-front for the Chinese. And, after all that bravado against the US, the Philippines are welcoming US troops to help deal with their own ISIS problems. Don’t think that US- South Korean relations are down in the least.

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Encore of Revival: America, June 12, 2017

Donald Trump has been and always will be a business man at heart. His interactions with Comey reflect a boss gently steering one of his top employees. But, Washington doesn’t work that way. The president can fire an FBI director, but he may not steer him. Many Americans will see this as an “endearing and harmless mistake”—evidence that the nation finally has a president who doesn’t think like a lawyer. Trump is guilty of thinking like the people rather than an old stone that has sat in the beltway so long that it looks like a pile of moss.

In his testimony, Comey verified what we already knew: Russians did not meddle with cast votes or vote count. If there was voter fraud, it wasn’t from Russia.

So, there was no “Russian hack” of the electoral process. There were hacks during, after, and before the election, along with a lot of other events that didn’t make the news. So, why the big news?

The news media couldn’t not cover it. They hyped it. They had to cut into profits to pay for it because they had gotten themselves in too far not to. Pictures of Comey and a scene with the press taking pictures of the press taking pictures proves that there’s a lot of press, something the press still needs to prove these days—especially with Fox News having cannibalized itself right out of first place.

Moderate Republicans and mainstream Democrats work on the same basic ethic: effort wins. Republicans want the people to see that they are “trying”, but they won’t do anything. If the Republicans took action it would be a first.

Likewise, Democratic voters are enamored with the Comey hearing. Comey is looking Trump in the eye. He is going to go say things. That’s courage. That’s really bold, and stuff. In-yer-face, toothless, uber-rude bravado is much more important than actually winning—at least when you can’t win. To a young ultra Liberal, boldly accomplishing nothing is much better than winning anyway, that is if you’re still angry about having lost.

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Letters

Maturing in Discernment

Not long ago, we were talking about how discernment is becoming more important in the lives of believers. It’s my opinion that the western church has generally not done a great job of teaching discernment. Somebody asked, “How can you grow in discernment?” Made me think.

There is a secret to begin with: If you want to learn discernment, practice discerning. Hebrews 5.14 points out that “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil..” Discerning is part of maturing, of growing up, but it’s developed by “constant use” and “train[ing] themselves.”

It’s work.
 
Somebody has asked, “Wait! If it’s a gift (1Corinthians 12:10), then why do we need to practice? The gift covers that!”

Yeah, tell that to someone who is a gifted musician, a gifted teacher, a gifted athlete. They still need to practice, to study, to exercise. The gift is the raw material that’s capable of becoming a masterpiece. The skill to make it into that masterpiece includes our own responsibility.

Any skill we practice many, many times, we're likely to with more excellence and less uncertainty than things we only do when we're backed into a corner.

The second is this: provision the gift. If we don't give our "discerner" the material it needs, it cannot function well. Hebrews 4:12 reveals that this is the Word of God, which includes, but is not limited to, the Bible. We need to be fueled up for discernment to work right. For me, that’s ongoing conversation with the second person of the Trinity, many hours of listening to the Scriptures, and fewer hours studying the scriptures. Your regimen will likely be different.

Then there’s the question of how does the data from the discerning process reach your conscious mind? Yeah, that's  an interesting one too.

First, don't assume that it actually needs to reach your conscious mind. Don't assume that unless you can put it into logical words, it's not valid: that's discerning by the soul (the mind), not by the Spirit. Do not dismiss the subconscious “nudges” that you get. Listen to them, learn their language, recognize their voice and learn to distinguish it from your own voice, from Father’s voice, from the accuser’s voice.

Second, learn God's language, learn how he speaks to you in this area. Discernment is a gift from God (1Cor 12:10). Since God gives gifts for use (not for decorating our mantel), he will also give to make best use of the gift if you ask him for it. If he speaks to you in dreams, learn the language there. If he speaks to you through physical sensation, learn that language. Learn the nudges, the hesitations in your spirit or in your soul. For me, it came down to the spiritual sense of smell. It likely will come down to something else for you.

But don't ask until you're ready to be stretched. It’s very likely that God will move you outside of the box that you think you’re already out of. I suspect that when he begins to school you, it will be an unsettling season for you, and that you’ll have difficult assignments: embarrassing choices, awkward conversations, unexplained changes to your lifestyle.


But continue past the stumbling blocks. This is part of your becoming mature. The Body of Christ needs you mature, needs you operating in full potential, all of us working together. 
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Letters

Maturing in Discernment

Not long ago, we were talking about how discernment is becoming more important in the lives of believers. It’s my opinion that the western church has generally not done a great job of teaching discernment. Somebody asked, “How can you grow in discernment?” Made me think.

There is a secret to begin with: If you want to learn discernment, practice discerning. Hebrews 5.14 points out that “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil..” Discerning is part of maturing, of growing up, but it’s developed by “constant use” and “train[ing] themselves.”

It’s work.
 
Somebody has asked, “Wait! If it’s a gift (1Corinthians 12:10), then why do we need to practice? The gift covers that!”

Yeah, tell that to someone who is a gifted musician, a gifted teacher, a gifted athlete. They still need to practice, to study, to exercise. The gift is the raw material that’s capable of becoming a masterpiece. The skill to make it into that masterpiece includes our own responsibility.

Any skill we practice many, many times, we're likely to with more excellence and less uncertainty than things we only do when we're backed into a corner.

The second is this: provision the gift. If we don't give our "discerner" the material it needs, it cannot function well. Hebrews 4:12 reveals that this is the Word of God, which includes, but is not limited to, the Bible. We need to be fueled up for discernment to work right. For me, that’s ongoing conversation with the second person of the Trinity, many hours of listening to the Scriptures, and fewer hours studying the scriptures. Your regimen will likely be different.

Then there’s the question of how does the data from the discerning process reach your conscious mind? Yeah, that's  an interesting one too.

First, don't assume that it actually needs to reach your conscious mind. Don't assume that unless you can put it into logical words, it's not valid: that's discerning by the soul (the mind), not by the Spirit. Do not dismiss the subconscious “nudges” that you get. Listen to them, learn their language, recognize their voice and learn to distinguish it from your own voice, from Father’s voice, from the accuser’s voice.

Second, learn God's language, learn how he speaks to you in this area. Discernment is a gift from God (1Cor 12:10). Since God gives gifts for use (not for decorating our mantel), he will also give to make best use of the gift if you ask him for it. If he speaks to you in dreams, learn the language there. If he speaks to you through physical sensation, learn that language. Learn the nudges, the hesitations in your spirit or in your soul. For me, it came down to the spiritual sense of smell. It likely will come down to something else for you.

But don't ask until you're ready to be stretched. It’s very likely that God will move you outside of the box that you think you’re already out of. I suspect that when he begins to school you, it will be an unsettling season for you, and that you’ll have difficult assignments: embarrassing choices, awkward conversations, unexplained changes to your lifestyle.


But continue past the stumbling blocks. This is part of your becoming mature. The Body of Christ needs you mature, needs you operating in full potential, all of us working together. 
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Letters

Maturing in Discernment

Not long ago, we were talking about how discernment is becoming more important in the lives of believers. It’s my opinion that the western church has generally not done a great job of teaching discernment. Somebody asked, “How can you grow in discernment?” Made me think.

There is a secret to begin with: If you want to learn discernment, practice discerning. Hebrews 5.14 points out that “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil..” Discerning is part of maturing, of growing up, but it’s developed by “constant use” and “train[ing] themselves.”

It’s work.
 
Somebody has asked, “Wait! If it’s a gift (1Corinthians 12:10), then why do we need to practice? The gift covers that!”

Yeah, tell that to someone who is a gifted musician, a gifted teacher, a gifted athlete. They still need to practice, to study, to exercise. The gift is the raw material that’s capable of becoming a masterpiece. The skill to make it into that masterpiece includes our own responsibility.

Any skill we practice many, many times, we're likely to with more excellence and less uncertainty than things we only do when we're backed into a corner.

The second is this: provision the gift. If we don't give our "discerner" the material it needs, it cannot function well. Hebrews 4:12 reveals that this is the Word of God, which includes, but is not limited to, the Bible. We need to be fueled up for discernment to work right. For me, that’s ongoing conversation with the second person of the Trinity, many hours of listening to the Scriptures, and fewer hours studying the scriptures. Your regimen will likely be different.

Then there’s the question of how does the data from the discerning process reach your conscious mind? Yeah, that's  an interesting one too.

First, don't assume that it actually needs to reach your conscious mind. Don't assume that unless you can put it into logical words, it's not valid: that's discerning by the soul (the mind), not by the Spirit. Do not dismiss the subconscious “nudges” that you get. Listen to them, learn their language, recognize their voice and learn to distinguish it from your own voice, from Father’s voice, from the accuser’s voice.

Second, learn God's language, learn how he speaks to you in this area. Discernment is a gift from God (1Cor 12:10). Since God gives gifts for use (not for decorating our mantel), he will also give to make best use of the gift if you ask him for it. If he speaks to you in dreams, learn the language there. If he speaks to you through physical sensation, learn that language. Learn the nudges, the hesitations in your spirit or in your soul. For me, it came down to the spiritual sense of smell. It likely will come down to something else for you.

But don't ask until you're ready to be stretched. It’s very likely that God will move you outside of the box that you think you’re already out of. I suspect that when he begins to school you, it will be an unsettling season for you, and that you’ll have difficult assignments: embarrassing choices, awkward conversations, unexplained changes to your lifestyle.


But continue past the stumbling blocks. This is part of your becoming mature. The Body of Christ needs you mature, needs you operating in full potential, all of us working together. 
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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, June 5, 2017

At this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China sent a lower-ranking delegation than in years past. Previously, China’s representative was a deputy chief from Joint Staff; this year Beijing sent a lieutenant general. India did not attend.

US Defense Secretary Mattis’ comment that China’s man-made islands undermine stability and that China has contempt for other nations’s interests and disregards international law. As expected, China took exception, calling the remarks “irresponsible”.

More interesting were the responses of the under dogs…

Small players know they are in a tug of war between the US and China over who has rights to which waters. Malaysia’s main reported talking points seemed to be on regional safety and rule of law. When Malaysia’s Defense Minister commented that a China-only “code” would not prevent all clashes, China’s lieutenant general rebutted with a question of what a “perfect code” would look like.

This is telling. It becomes more and more clear how China views itself in these talks, as a lieutenant general among ministers and rebutting Malaysia as one would a peer. China is clearly withdrawing, responding to the international community as already being an outcast. While the West and the press have tried to paint China as the villain, much more so than may be appropriate, China’s response only perpetuates that view among Western taxpayers and now smaller players in China’s back yard.

A group affiliated with Taiwan’s Association of University Professors are calling for Taiwan’s president to declare Taiwan’s sovereignty. This comes in the over-lapping contexts of regional talks and the ongoing situation of China having arrested Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲). The group called for Taiwan to boycott some upcoming talks with China to make a point to the international community.

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Encore of Revival: America, June 5, 2017

The facade of debating whether to do “good things” has run out of time. One of the best-kept secrets in American politics is that both Democrat and Republican voters support the same goals; their disagreement is about history. The Paris Agreement was as much about climate as the Affordable Care Act was about affordability or health care. They were only ever about dismantling America.

Trumpists in America did not and do not ever dissent on one, single selling point of laws that get rammed-through Congress—neither the Affordable Care Act nor the Paris Agreement, nor SOPA, PIPA, nor TPP for that matter. They objected to the foreseeable doom that snake oil being shilled by Charlatans would never deliver.

The political polarity’s axis in the United States is becoming apparent. We don’t have pro-democracy and pro-republic. We don’t have pro-labor and pro-business. We don’t have pro-growth and anti-growth. We don’t have anti-establishment and pro-establishment. We have pro-foundation and pro-facade.

As real, true, genuine steps begin to actually clean up the air and water and actually bring quality health care to more Americans, supporters of the old facade show their true colors—they never really wanted health care or clean air as much as the destruction of their own country.

But, people who love their country have what it takes to protect their country, which was why a facade was never really going to fool enough people. Even if James Bond stories were reality and Russia did install Trump, that would only have been possible because facade politics is failing.

The facade didn’t stop terrorism. The novices blame the current president mainly or the previous president at most. Few believe that decades of policy affect today. Everyone capitalizes and politicizes.

It’s hard to say no to anyone in times of trouble. Globalists call for globalism. Arms dealers call for arms. Lawmakers call for laws. Bankers call for investments. Builders call for infrastructure. Voters call for elections. Unpopular politicians call for elections to be suspended. A dying news industry makes more fake news.

And, there is no shortage of fake news. Terrorists blame the West and so do personalities in mass media. So far, no one has called for haters and fakers in the news to be “regulated”. The economy will do that all on its own.

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Columns

Why Say What You Do

Walking your talk isn’t easy. Best to just make your walk first, then talk from it. Never make any commitment until you’ve determined that you can and will do whatever it takes to keep that commitment.

But, why is it so important to keep every commitment?

What promises are most important—promises that promise the greatest return? The most important promises to keep are whatever the most difficult are to keep. Keeping challenging promises, makes us challenging promise keepers.

Only God keeps every promise. He reserves the most promising promises for people who keep theirs, especially the small and difficult.  · · · →

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Prophecy

A Season of Bumbling Around

One of the things that I do is I look at the seasons, the “big picture” view of what’s going on in the Spirit.  

This is an interesting one.  I call it the Season of Muddling Around. My brother Craig refers to “fuzzy-fog of not-quite-sure-what's-next.”

It’s a season where God doesn’t seem to be giving as much direction as he has in other seasons. You may experience it as “OK, what do we do next” in your home group or your church gathering. Or you may be having a hard time finding clarity in life choices or in addressing perplexing situations.

Paul went through a similar season. In Acts 16, Paul and his traveling ministry team finished one project, and had trouble finding the next one. They were “kept by the Holy Spirit” from ministering in Asia, and “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them” to minister in Bithynia. This was a challenging transition season for him.

What’s this? The Holy Spirit is preventing them from preaching the gospel? That’s the Great Commission; God can’t be stopping them from obeying what they’re called to do! Yep, that’s what it says.

It seems like a number of believers are experiencing this sort of thing: just trying to do the thing that God has called you to do, but God’s not blessing it, God’s presence isn’t in it, or he stops you before you ever get started.  

So a lot of us are in a season of “bumbling around.” We’re trying this new thing, or that tried-and-true thing, and it’s not working. It’s easy to get frustrated in this season.

If you’re feeling some of this, let me say a couple of things to you:

  1. No, there’s not something wrong. God does different things, or does the same things in different ways, in different seasons. This is that season. This isn’t because of sin, or because you’ve “missed God.” Remember, this is a transition period. It’s temporary.

  1. This is actually a season of promotion. You’ve been maturing, growing up. You don’t need as much direction from Daddy as you used to need. You can make more decisions for yourself and for your place in the Kingdom. Think of this as a season of taking new “baby steps” and learning to walk as mature sons and daughters.

  1. Of course we stay plugged in with God, we stay intimate and connected, eyes on Jesus and ready to hear. Paul eventually had a dream that told him where to go, and it led to a surprising new ministry.  The end result of his transition was pretty awesome.

  1. Don’t be shocked if God leads you in a surprising new direction. Don’t freak out if he takes you in an entirely new and unexpected direction. Likewise, don’t choke if he takes you in the direction you expected, but it turns out to be completely different than the way you thought it would be, or than it has ever been before.

  1. In the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing, and keep your ears open. Stay in healthy relationship with solid people, and keep talking together about what God is doing, what he’s saying.

  1. And stay ready to change gears, quickly if necessary.

So congratulations on the new place in God! Well done! Now, are you ready for the next step? 

nwp


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