Do you remember

the first day

you were alive?

Do you remember


you woke up,

and wondered

why you slept

so long?

What about the pain

when you remembered

the bad dreams

you wished for

and got?


remember your grief.


the prayers

to make it right.

Begging for light,

lurching and reeling,

grasping for the rail,

crying out for a soul,

crying for a spirit.


forgotten self,

no pride,

just shame

and emptiness

and hunger.


remember your heart.



Now there is joy,

and power.

Invisible wings,

victory and battle,

peace and great


Love surrounds us,

friends await us.

The long road smiles

and the sky receives us.

All is light,

we are full to bursting.

But the weeds by the road

are freshly mown.

And voices call from the thicket:

dark voices.


remember your story.


William E. Rushman, November 1996

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Refuse the Mark: 666

So many say it, so few do it…

Perhaps you have seen the bumper stickers that urge you to “”Refuse the Mark.”” If you don’t know what this means, I’ll explain it. If you think you know, please read on, and see if you really do.


Eschatology is the study of things related to the “”end times.”” Christians and scientists agree that the world will not last forever. Science tells us our Sun, like all stars, will not provide light indefinitely, but will either cool down slowly or explode. Science is less certain about the long-term fate of the Universe: will it continue to expand or will it eventually collapse? Christians are certain that everything in the material world will be destroyed at some time, and then restored in a way we don’t fully understand. We refer to this as “”the end of the world.”” The period of time preceding this end is what we call the “”end times.”” Christians differ greatly on when the end times began. Churches that focus on the end times tend to consider the onset fairly recent, or in the immediate future. Some churches appear to have forgotten about it completely, and preach as if no end was to come. The Catholic Church doesn’t say much about the end times, but has reminded us about the end of the world. Generally, it is probably safe to say that our Church considers the end times to have started around the time of Jesus. I would probably say it began with the “”harrowing of Hell,”” when Jesus descended into the underworld after His death, to redeem those who had died before His sacrifice on the Cross. Since death had no hold on Jesus, its power was broken, and that was the beginning of the end for the world as we have known it.

But I digress… In the last book of the Bible, Revelation (or Apocalypse), the end of the world is described in terrifying detail. Many people get very worried about what they read, and their confusion in magnified by their lack of understanding of the imagery in the book. There are several views taken of the Book of Revelation:

  • It’s just another Bible story, harder to understand than most: ignore it.
  • This is a book of prophecies for our time, you can predict the future with it.
  • It is “”persecution literature,”” like parts of the book of Daniel. It was written during intense persecution to give people hope, and remind them that God was still going to save the Church.

For those who take the first view, nothing is to be done, because they have denied the importance of Scripture. For the second, they will be doomed to follow whatever false prophet they happen upon. If we take the third view, what do we get from it today?

In the Book of Revelation, there are mentions of “”The Beast,”” the number 666, and the issuance of a “”Mark”” that will identify those people that belong to the Beast. The number of the Beast, according to at least one scholarly source, refers to the Roman Emperor Nero, but others think of it as a literal number, to be found in computers or credit cards everywhere. Many people that aren’t even Christian get nervous when a purchase equals $6.66 or if some other number happens to equal that amount. Christians with a lot of interest in the end times are prepared to reject this number, expecting the government or big business to require that it be tattooed on their foreheads or hands.

Now, if it should happen that someone tries to get me to have “”666″” printed on my body or even if some government agency tries to get me to carry a card with this number clearly printed on it, I’ll refuse. But does anyone really expect this? And if the number of the Beast occurs in some magnetic image only readable by computer on some document, can I really be held accountable?

Here is the irony, and maybe a lesson… So many Christians interpret this literally, but the simple symbolism should be obvious to a child. Over and over again in the Scriptures we are warned against worldliness: against competition, self-assured profit-taking, neglect of the poor, lending at interest and materialism. We are told that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, and yet some Christians believe they have a right to become rich! Why do we ask God to “”lead us not into temptation,”” and then ask for riches? Isn’t the Mark of the Beast to pursue the world’s ways, and neglect the Way shown us? In that sense, the Mark of the Beast is to become more like the Beast.

By all means, if someone wants us to wear the “”666,”” we must refuse. But far more importantly, we need to refuse the marks of pride, envy, hatred, lust and disobedience to God. In the end, we are judged according to how we loved Christ in all the ways we encountered Him, not according to a number on our credit card.

This just in: don’t believe everything you hear about bar codes: How Bar Codes Work

We have included a response to one of the “”mark of the beast”” sites after the buttons below. Simple logic and a can of soup (that has a 6 in the UPC) can prove to any thinking person that claims of “”evil bar codes”” are wrong. If they lied about seeing “”666,”” what else did they lie about?

Response to a site claiming “”666″” is hidden in UPC codes:

I was referred to your site by someone concerned about the bar codes. Your information is incorrect. I would like to know where it came from. In the first place, you claim that there are three 6s, but if there are numbers in between it could hardly be considered “”666.”” If you are going to claim that any number with three sixes in it is evil, there are lots of street addresses and phone numbers to worry about. On top of that, your computer has “”666″” all through it. Have someone check your disk. All UNIX computers have code “”666″” on many of their files: it means full read and write access for everybody. Of course, that is in octal (base 8) so it really isn’t “”666″” at all.

Secondly, those “”hidden”” marks you have been told are 6s are start and end marks, and although they have a numeric equivalent (they are 5s), they are not used as numbers, but as start and end markers. All asynchronous data streams use some sort of start and end signals.

Last, look at something with 6s in it. You will see that they don’t match the start and end marks (or the middle). The number 6 is not even represented in the same way on both sides of the UPC!

Jesus is Lord, and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Incorrect information leads people off the path of Life and into superstition. Using lies to scare people into belief is wrong.

You cannot use Satan’s tools for God’s work. Whoever has told you this bad information is at the least ignorant, and may even be evil. Please seek out good Christian leadership. And please pray that all the people you have led astray will find the truth.
 More on bar codes and the response to this letter.

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Raw Material


I’m raw material.

I could be made into something useful,

even wonderful.

But, as it is,

I’m full of impurities

and I cling to them

so that they persist

in spite of your cross

and their bad consequences

in my life.

I long to see your face

but I will be ashamed

because I have done

nothing with all you have given me,

even after you have loved me so much.

I have sought earthly help

from your ministers,

but they refuse to take me seriously.

they pat me on the head

and tell me to be content and pray.

I pray

and my heart is breaking

because it cannot rise higher

being so heavy with sin

or with desires for sinful things.

It is not so much guilt over sin

as frustration.

I have seen saints

rise very high.

Married ones,

single ones,

some farmers,

some priests.

Why must I lie here

in rags and sores,

hearing of a Glory

my own will refuses me?

My God,

please send someone

to release my heart

and train me in holiness.

My God, my God,


do not abandon me.

William E. Rushman, October 1997

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Raised by Wolves

Born without race or culture

the perennial outsider

never knowing the secret code

that unlocks human exhange.

Laughing wrongly,

crying wrongly,

never fawning rightly,

never a proper genuflection.

Perpetual horror

of incorrectness,

never feigning civilization rearing

for long.

Revealed and reviled in youth,

bent and strange to common eyes,

but known and loved

by only one and One.

Raised by wolves,

loved as wolves can give love,

except for the Maker of wolves.

One love for wolf and man

redeems even the wolf.

Outcasts love outcasts,

and know their own.

Some try to be like wolves,

and envy those born to it.

William E. Rushman, June 1996

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Questions about right and wrong

the article I read on ethics were very enlightening, but my question to you is: Where did “”right and “”wrong originate? Maybe you answered this question and I did not understand. Are you saying that “”God gave us “”free Will”” to know the difference from right and wrong. Thank you for your time. C.R.

I didn’t really address it. From a Christian (and some other beliefs) view, God is all good, so that which is in conformity with His will is good, and that which is against it is bad. This is not intolerance on God’s part, but because He is the “”standard””, desires and actions must be measured by comparison with Him. So “”right”” and “”wrong”” are concepts in the mind of Man that have developed as we have examined human actions and motivations (meaning as all rational cultures have examined it). These concepts allow us to more easily describe actions as being consistent with God’s will or against it, although various philosophers would have called it by different names. I don’t mean right and wrong don’t exist, just that the terms we use are limited by language and human reason, so we may sometimes apply them in misleading or incorrect ways.
Of course, the question could be taken differently. Right could be said to originate in God, and wrong to originate in any nature possessing free will that chooses to act apart from God.

Are you saying that “”God gave us “”free Will”” to know the difference from right and wrong.

No, the intellect allows us to know the difference, and the will is what chooses. The intellect informs the will, and the will drives the intellect. The story of the Fall is very important: it was not the desire for knowledge that was the sin, but the desire to act apart from God (disobedience or sin). In the act of disobeying, Man discovered “”wrong””, and this discovery was indeed new knowledge. Until that point, there was nothing “”wrong”” in the world. The story of Pandora’s box is similar in some ways. It wasn’t the curiosity that was the problem, but the desire to act independently from the Good.
I hope this makes sense. I’m not really a philosopher, but I do think about these things a lot. Please write if anything needs more work and I’ll try again.
Thanks again for such good questions!

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Questions about Mary, the Mother of Jesus

I am studying with a person who claims that Mary should have no role in our prayers to God. This person says that we are to pray through Jesus only and that he only is our intercessor to the Lord. He also claims that Mary has no influence to God or Jesus in Heaven. What can I show this person in the Bible that he has been taught falsely?

Hi, thanks for writing!
I don’t think you will be able to prove anything, because he has probably made up his mind, but here is one way to look at it, and a few possible responses.
First, does this person accept that one Christian can pray for another? I’ve heard from people who believe in Jesus but won’t ask anyone else to pray for them, because they will only go to Jesus directly. In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, Melchizedek makes an offering for Abraham, Nathan is asked to pray for Kind David, and the Maccabees prayed for the souls of their dead (this last one is in a book of the Bible removed by Martin Luther). In the New Testament, we have Simon Magus asking Peter to pray for him (Acts 8:24). People used the intercession of St. Paul through objects he had touched (what we call relics now, Acts 19:11-13). In the second chapter of Mark, four friends of a paralyzed man brought him to Jesus, and Jesus, “”seeing their faith”” healed the man. James 5:14-20 is excellent, too. There are several others: we are told to pray for those who govern and others, too.
Now, if he still won’t acknowledge we can pray for each other, there is no point in continuing.
If he admits we can pray for each other, then does he believe this ends at death? Many believers in Jesus think our prayers for one another end at death, and they can’t be convinced otherwise. Perhaps Hebrews 12:1-2 will help, but maybe not. Again, if he believes the dead cannot pray, there is no point in continuing.
Lastly, if he admits those in Heaven can pray for us, then does he not believe Mary is in Heaven? Some people believe she had no choice in the plan of salvation, and many of these people accept the idea of predestination as meaning that God created some people to be damned and others for glory, certainly not a Catholic idea! Of course, Mary interceded for the bride and groom at Cana (second chapter of John), and she was present through the crucifixion and Pentecost, where she received the Holy Spirit, too. If she was not a believer in her son, why did she receive the Holy Spirit? If this doesn’t establish her credentials, I don’t think you will make much progress with him.
At the same time, remember that the issue is not whether we must ask for Mary’s intercession, but whether we may. The Church does not require us to pray to anyone but God, except in the Penitential Rite at Mass (“”I ask … to pray for me to the Lord our God””). Not every Catholic is devoted to Mary, but none can say she doesn’t matter and still be truly Catholic (“”universal””).
I hope this helps, please let me know if it does (or not), and remember me in your prayers.

I don’t think I will be able to prove anything to him either. It’s not in the Bible. Yes, he believes that one can pray for another. That is not his point though. He says nowhere in scripture are we instructed to pray “”through”” Mary.
Finally, he claims that Mary was just another human like you and I. Yes, she was chosen to be the earthly mother of Christ he says, but that does not put her on a higher level than us. He said that she too felt the need for a savior. He gave me this scripture Matthew 6:9-15. He says that this is how we are instructed to pray and there is no mention of Mary only Jesus. Then he showed me in 1 John 2:1 where it says Jesus is the advocate for the Christian and not Mary. He said Jesus is also said to be the mediator between God and man 1 Timothy 2:5, Mary is not mentioned here. There seem to be some kind of problem with my Catholic belief.

Yes, it is difficult. He is right in many respects, though. The Church considers Mary just like you and I in that she is human, not divine. And the Church defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 1854), which says that Mary needed redemption, too, and that it was provided at her conception through the merits of Jesus (God isn’t limited by time, so Mary could be redeemed before the Sacrifice of Jesus).
Personally, I’d put anybody in the upper room at Pentecost higher than us, and she was there. Mary gave the best advice any human being ever gave, too: “”Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you.””
Clearly, Jesus is the mediator, and we approach the Father through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. You will notice this in the prayers at Mass. Still, we ask others to pray for us, and Mary is not exempt from our family of faith.
Some Catholics say foolish things about Mary, and we need to be careful. Mary will do nothing apart from Jesus, and she can only pray for us, not wield some separate power of her own. So when people say, “”Jesus won’t grant every prayer, but Mary will””, that is wrong. Some also say Mary “”understands”” us better than God, which is blasphemy.
I hope this helps. At least this gives us a chance to think about these things, which is a great blessing and chance for fellowship. Please do write anytime!

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Question on John 3

Guestbook message:

I am wondering about the meaning of John 3:1-21 could you please help explain it to me in modern language? thanx!

For this explanation, let’s look at the text first and point out a few things. Then we can look at how this all fits together. Since I don’t know your background, I’ll possibly explain too much.

The following may be an odd way to read Scripture in the view of many. Use it if it helps. Essentially, we try to put ourselves in the story, understand it in view of other Scriptures, and take the evangelist’s style and apparent purpose into account. It is a method as old as the Church.

1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “”Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.””
The point is often made that Nicodemus came at night because he didn’t want anyone to know he was talking to Jesus. The Pharisees tended to be prideful and considered themselves the true followers of Moses and Abraham. Most of them did not believe in Jesus.
3In reply Jesus declared, “”I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.””
Nicodemus makes a statement of faith, and Jesus says something provocative and mysterious. If this doesn’t make sense to you, that’s good. It didn’t make sense to Nicodemus, either. Part of reading Scripture is entering into it, so we feel confused when someone in the story does. Maybe the implication here is that Nicodemus senses something important but doesn’t see it clearly. Jesus may be telling Nicodemus how to see it clearly. Go take a look at Mark 10:51 and answer this question: “”What did Bartimeus want to see?””
4“”How can a man be born when he is old?”” Nicodemus asked. “”Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!””
This is typical John. Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus. On the other hand, this is understandable because John’s Gospel is full of puns and double meanings. “”Born again”” can also be translated “”born from above.”” Here is what is so cool about this story: Jesus draws Nicodemus into a better understanding by speaking in a way that causes him to ask more questions. Jesus could have just given Nicodemus a simple, direct answer, but Nicodemus would not have grasped the deeper lesson.
5Jesus answered, “”I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Now Jesus reveals what is really important, but he is still drawing Nicodemus in. Remember that when a baby is born, water gushes out (the amniotic fluid). Is Jesus saying that there must be a physical birth and a spiritual birth? Or is he saying that an anointing of the Holy Spirit must accompany Baptism?
6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
This is similar to the style in Proverbs, where everything is said twice, with minor differences. It may seem now that Jesus was speaking more of physical and then spiritual birth, but the baptismal allusion is still there. Remember that John should be read like poetry, because of the economy of words and the layers of symbolic language.
7You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’
Read as “”born from above.””
8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.””
Here is another double meaning. The word here in Greek is pneuma, which can mean “”wind”” or “”spirit.”” Now take a look at Genesis 2:7. The man is brought to life by the breath of God. Remember that to the ancients, a person was alive if breathing. In other words, if pneuma was in them. Also look at Acts 2:1-4, and notice the reference to the sound. Have you wondered why some people are full of the Holy Spirit (as evidenced by their joy) and others are bitter and depressed? “”The Spirit (wind) goes (blows) wherever it pleases.””
9“”How can this be?”” Nicodemus asked.
Now is a good time to read John 4:4-26. Do you see the similarity?
10“”You are Israel’s teacher,”” said Jesus, “”and do you not understand these things?
Nicodemus knew the Scriptures of the time, and should have recognized this as foretold by the prophets. Take a look at Joel 3:1 as an example. Remember to think of “”wind”” when you see “”spirit”” and “”spirit”” when you see “”wind.”” In a sense, Jesus was speaking in a code that Nicodemus should have understood. We don’t know for certain if he finally came to faith, but he did help prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39) so it seems likely.
11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
Jesus could speak of heaven and the Holy Spirit with authority because he knew.
12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
Jesus has told him about the Kingdom on earth, and Nicodemus has not made a profession of faith. There is so much more (John 16:12) to tell, but Nicodemus will have to have some faith to accept it.
13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.
Jesus alone knows. Remember the gates of Heaven are closed until the Passion, Death and Resurrection.
14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
Read Numbers 21:5-9. Again, this reference would have been very familiar to Nicodemus. It would have been even more meaningful as Nicodemus saw Jesus crucified later.
15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
As in Numbers, looking at the cross brings healing and life.
16“”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Poetic text. This states the purpose for the Incarnation, and restates the love of God for us in very human terms. There may be a reference to the Jewish understanding of the coming of the messiah: they expected the messiah to destroy the Gentiles and all evildoers. Instead, Jesus came to save them. This was completely unexpected, and part of the reason many people didn’t believe in Jesus. He didn’t live up to their expectations. A good lesson for us. Do we refuse to let go of our ideas about Jesus when they conflict with the Gospel?
19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.””
This is simply the truth.

In summary, Jesus uses Nicodemus’ misunderstanding to draw him into asking the right questions. It is worth noting that the early Church expected people to receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism, but exceptions did exist, such as in Acts 10:44-48.

I hope this helps. Please write again if you have more questions.

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The Revolution Will Not Be…

The Revolution Will Not Be Online
(apologies and thanks to GSH)

You will not be able to stay home, brother and sister.
You will not be able to log in, friend it and unfriend it.
You will not be able to lose yourself in YouTube or Facebook,
Put on your bluetooth headphones and download it,
Because the revolution will not be online.

The revolution will not be online.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Apple,
Microsoft or Intel in versions one, two, three or seven.
The revolution will not show you movies of Johnny Depp
riding the Afflac duck with Christian Bale as Batman
while bin Laden followers make suicide videos.
The revolution will not be online.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
National Endowment for the Arts and will not star
Tom Hanks and Jennifer Aniston or Matt Damon and Megan Fox.
The revolution will not give you whiter teeth.
The revolution will not get rid of belly fat with one rule.
The revolution will not have you broadcast yourself,
Because the revolution will not be online, brother and sister.

There will be no pictures of you and Lindsey Lohan
driving SUV’s through Starbucks for frappuccinos,
or staggering at Coco de Ville.
CNN online will not predict Armageddon at 8:32,
show the poll results for what is truth,
or have analysts comment on the approval rating
for the incoming administration,
because the kingdom will be in the streets,
living out the new way.
The revolution will not be online.

There will be no videos of Rick Warren purposefully strolling down
the streets of paradise.
There will be no videos of John Spong transforming
Episcopal churches into entertainment venues one stone at a time.
There will be no music videos of Cardinal Mahoney riding the
immigrant-only float decorated with aborted babies down
Figueroa wearing a helicopter-themed robe
while liturgical dancers act out his accomplishments
as conservatives shout protests in Latin.

Wikipedia, Twitter and blogs will no longer be the source for truth,
and no one will care if Avril quit her marriage or
which celebrity went into rehab this week.
Nothing worth having will be sold on eBay and
Google will have no hits at all because people
will be finding what they searched for.
The revolution will not be online.

There will be no soundbite media clips
or CNBC analysis of sign-waving conservative
or liberal nutjobs. 
Mother Teresa will not salve Wall Street’s wounds
while Bishop Sheen excoriates protesting master catechists.
The soundtrack will not be written by Elton John,
Danny Elfman or Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The title song will not be sung by Beyonce, Britney,
or Rascal Flatts.
The revolution will not be online.

The revolution will not be right back after a 15-second advertisement
about evolving, cavemen, or finding pants that fit.
You will not have to worry about saving $400 on car insurance,
renegotiating your mortgage, or town hall meetings.
The revolution will not be life on Blackberry.
The revolution will not expect more and save money.
The revolution is not the network.
The revolution will be where it begins.

The revolution will not be online, will not be online,
will not be online, will not be online.
The revolution will be no most popular video, brothers and sisters;
The revolution will be live.

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Gluttony and Lust

On Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 3:48 AM,  a guest wrote:
thank you so much for this web site please keep me posted of any new info you post thanks. one question i have is i have struggled with gluttony and the temperance my boyfriend struggles with lust huge issue how do we break free i see them tied together. oh yea and like i dont care attitude wow how do we break free

Hi, thanks for writing!

To break free is a great way to look at it. The deadly sins hold us back from true freedom. Just as it took the Civil War for the United States to break free of slavery, so the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ is required to break free of the slavery of the flesh, whether gluttony or lust. The only freedom is to claim the gifts of God, and begin to walk in His way. Rather than trying to be good, just accept that God offers His infinite power at every moment, and all we need to do is accept it. To sin is to fight against God, so it should be easier to be good than sin, but we have developed habits. For both gluttony and lust, fasting is helpful, and so in every action consider first whether it is pleasing to God, then act accordingly with joy and gratitude.

For gluttony, it may be helpful to remember that consuming more than needed really does take it away from those who need it. By the laws of supply and demand, our unnecessary consumption drives the price of food higher, beyond the level the poor can afford. It can be overcome if our love for God is greater than our love of pleasure.

For lust, it is a great deadener, an anesthetic for the mind and soul, so that over time the conscience goes to sleep in other areas as well. Love and marriage are diminshed in the mind, and we become more like dumb animals, unable to control our urges. Certainly, porn is a problem, and masturbation, but many couples have become quite comfortable with sexual behavior outside marriage, and not only intercourse. There should be no genital contact between unmarried persons, certainly, and any attempts to control lust without quitting the most obvious behaviors will end in failure.

It is so easy to put other things before following Jesus and living eternal life now. We are called to live like Jesus, and keeping our eyes on him is the best defense against sin. Please write anytime, and I will remember you in my prayers today. May you be abundantly successful in finding true freedom in Christ today.



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