The J.O.Y. Trophy

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Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last (J.O.Y.). We were so proud of ourselves as parents. We had created a trophy to be handed to the child who best demonstrated the selfless act of denying his or herself and putting others above ourselves and of course putting Jesus first. Our children were eager and of course as their parents, we were equally excited.

Oh what a spiritual thought! Oh Jesus must be so happy with us for raising our kids with the biblical thought of Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last. Or so we thought!

Jesus Isn’t First; He is Everything!

In Psalms 27:4 David didn’t say, “There are alot of important things in this life, but Jesus you are at the top of the list, you are number one.” David actually said, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

David’s desire was to exalt Him, to be with Him, to look at Him and to know His ways. David understood if God was his only and final gaze then the rest would be fruit, the rest would work to glorify God.

When we are resting in His performance, hearing His messages from heaven declaring who we are to Him, then consistent behaviors will flow. Consistent behaviors look like taking care of us, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Jesus clearly tells us this in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

The fruit mentioned in John 15:5 is a lighter and freer life for each of us and the results of a lighter and freer life is serving one another.

Jesus is everything

Everything we need is in Jesus, period. God is not looking to use you. He wants to be with you. There’s a big difference between being used by God and being with God. All the fruit of heaven is experienced when we are with God.

Question of the day

In your own words, explain the difference between being used by God versus being with God. If you can, give an example in your own life that would illustrate the difference.

Posted in God's Nature, Identity in Christ, Living Lighter Today, Psalm 27 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Has A Desire

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Santiago, my four-year-old grandson, is such a super-hero fanatic. Nearly all day long and sometimes during the night he wears Batman and Superman outfits with great enthusiasm. He loves to act just like them, whether it’s soaring through the air faster than a speeding bullet or spinning webs to save people being attacked by the bad guys.

One evening Santiago asked a question of his mom. “Mom, is God a super-hero? His mom Julie paused, thought and said, “Well, yes He is!” Santiago then asked, “Does he rescue people, mom? “Yes he does, son,” she responded. Santiago continued, “Does God have big hands to hold people who are afraid?” “He sure does,” said mom. Then Santiago asked a profound question, “Mom, does God have a cape like Batman and Superman?” Julie considered the question and then responded, “Yes Santiago, God is a great super hero who has a cape!” Then Santiago asked one more question, “Mom, I want to be like God and be a super-hero just like Superman and Batman and God.  Can I get a super hero outfit like God?”

HERE IS GOD’S DESIRE

Even before we existed, He longed to join Himself to us, to fill us with Himself, and through us, express all that He is and has. The satisfaction of this desire became the goal of His eternal purpose.

If you are like me, each of us wants Him more than the air we breathe.  Therefore meditating is the key to knowing Him. The greatest tool for renewing your mind and being transformed is meditation.

I promise you this is true because of personal experience and more than that, God promises you, because He never lies (see Titus 1:2). He promises your time invested in meditation will not be wasted. Meditation will eternally shift the way you think, act and respond in life!

Jeremiah 29:13-14 tells us God is worth searching for. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity”. Notice this passage tells us to seek Him, not doctrine. God is into life, not doctrine. While doctrine brings value to us, it is not what moves God’s heart. Doctrine has spiritually wounded many a believer for the sake of knowing doctrine. But, knowing God has brought many a believer life, and by the way life more abundantly.

After years of experience, I have concluded that no matter how much doctrine a believer may know, a person will not experience deep and true victory until he or she has a true sense that God is always good and gracious. It is time to meet the perfect Father and to gaze on His beautiful nature. It is time to know that He actually loves being with you and to be honest He actually “likes” being with you. He enjoys you and He is not disturbed with your immaturities and weaknesses. The most profound life giving way to know Him is through meditation.

I love this quote from Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding California:

“When we pursue kingdom principles above His presence, we are looking for the kingdom without a king.”

Meditation will enable you to “live lighter today”, that’s a promise!

Question of the day:

What is some of your own process of meditation? Please share with me.

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A Certain Quality

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A Certain Quality

There can be no greater question posed than the one asked within chapter 10 of Mark verses 13-16. “What must one do to enter into the Kingdom of God?”

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

One must enter the Kingdom of God with a “certain quality”. You may ask, “What do you mean you have to have quality to enter the Kingdom of God?”

Children have a habit of crashing adult parties. 

The story begins when some parents came to Jesus with their children, seeking Him to simply touch them. The disciples intervened. After all, there was work to be done and miracles to be performed and sermons to be preached and demons to be cast out. They figured that only “important people” should see Jesus. Certainly there was no time for something as mundane and as useless as a bunch of soiled diapers and runny noses.

Jesus rebukes them for it. Jesus was indignant. He became emotionally involved. Whereas the disciples had been rebuking the parents, now Jesus rebuked the disciples. Why? Because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

A child has a “certain quality”, which is necessary for anyone who would desire to enter into the Kingdom of God. Jesus said. “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

In what way must we enter the kingdom like a child? What is it that draws Jesus to a child?

A “Certain Quality” of Trust.

Have you ever seen a child leap into their father’s arms? That child doesn’t say, “Are you certain that you have the right timing and motor control to catch me in a safe manner in accordance with OSHA Standards?” There is complete trust and abandonment.

A “Certain Quality” of Being Un-Powerful.

There is nothing so powerless as a baby. The smaller the child, the more helpless that child is. The more that parent takes an active role in feeding and changing and nursing and burping that child.

A “Certain Quality” of Being Teachable.

The mind and soul of a child is a sponge, ready to soak up knowledge. You know the familiar saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” We grow up and we become set in our ways and we become un-teachable. If we ever become un-teachable, then we cease our spiritual growth.

Jesus looked at the disciples with their growing sophistication and their doctrinal knowledge and He pointed to these children and said, “You need to be like that.”

What is being like that?

Have the unquenchable “certain qualities” of a child and you will enter the kingdom of God and “live lighter today”.

Question of the day:

What are times in your life when you have been like a child in the kingdom of God? What did it look like?

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Let’s Just Laugh at This Lie: It’s Hopeless

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This article is from Steve Backlund at Bethel Church in Redding, California. I am posting this article because of the clarity of truth proclaimed in this article. Enjoy and may the Holy Spirit renew your mind!

“LET’S JUST LAUGH AT THIS LIE: IT’S HOPELESS”  

Laughable Assumptions Behind This Lie:

This situation is impossible. There are no answers.

I am destined for disappointment and unfulfilled promises.

My unworthiness and wrong choices block all solutions coming to me.

There are no such things as breakthroughs, successes or “suddenlies.”

I was born to fail for such at such a time as this.

If I don’t see God doing anything about this, it means He is not doing anything.

THE TRUTH

Nothing is hopeless because all things are possible with God.

1) God called Abram the “father of a multitude,” though he was 99 and had a barren wife. A year later, Sarah gave birth to Isaac (Genesis 17:21).

2) Joseph was hated by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, accused of rape, and sentenced to prison; yet he remained faithful and was promoted to the palace (Genesis 37:41).

3) Moses stood with a body of water before him, approaching enemies behind him, and complaining Israelites beside him; but the partnered with God to see the waters part and the Israelites experience freedom (Exodus 14).

4) The three Hebrew children miraculously survived the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).

5) Lazarus was resurrected after being dead for four days (John 11).

STRATEGIES FOR OVERCOMING THIS LIE:

Take inventory of your hope

Any thought in our mind that is not sparkling with confident hope indicates that it is under the influence of a lie (Romans 15:13). If you feel hopeless, ask the Holy Spirit to expose the lies that are being believed.

Capture lies and hopeless thoughts

Every thought that does not align with Christ, we have the authority to capture (2 Corinthians 10:5). What we think, we become (Proverbs 23:7). We can’t afford to think anything that we do not want to become. Replace lies with God’s truth to become free and to release freedom (John 8:32).

Believe there is hope for every situation and every person –

He who possesses the highest levels of hope will have the highest levels of influence. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reveals that God has “the way” (hope) and an answer for every situation.

Declarations to Renew Your Mind and Change Your Mind-sets:

1) Nothing is impossible with God.

2) The Holy Spirit lives inside of me, and He says nothing is hopeless

3) All things work together for my good.

4) My heart and mind are glistening with confident hope, joy and expectation.

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I Doubt It

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I remember a conversation I had with my wife and admittedly I was not giving her the attention she was looking for. The conversation went something like this.

Becky said, “Honey, are the kids coming over for dinner tonight at 6PM?”

“I doubt it”, I responded.

Becky asked perplexed, “Are Jason and Julie coming for dinner as well”?

“I doubt it”, I responded.

Even more perplexed, Becky asked, “What are you planning on cooking tonight, BBQ?”

“I doubt it”, I responded.

Frustrated that I was hearing her, but obviously not listening to her, Becky said in a louder voice, “Are you listening to me?”

“I doubt it”, I responded.

Well, I apologized; and the good news was, I didn’t have to sleep on the couch that night.

SO FILLED WITH DOUBT

We live in a culture full of doubt. We doubt the plane will leave from the airport on time. We doubt the San Francisco Giants can win the World Series for the third time in four years. We doubt the friends who are consistently late will be on time to our Saturday morning walk. These doubts and more speak about the real and practical life issues we sometimes encounter.

YOUR DOUBTS

Your doubts are not as strong as the blood of Jesus and the promises of God. There is no doubt in the magnificent power of the blood of Jesus. As the old song declares, “There is power, power, wonder working power, in the blood, in the blood, there is power, power, wonder working power, in the precious blood of the Lamb”.

There is simply no doubting the One who never lies and the One who upholds all of His promises. There is no doubt Jesus suffered so we wouldn’t have to. There is no doubt He is coming back as a King. You see, every thing that God has ever done, supersedes all of our doubts, Wow!

Now, that will bring you closer to Him and remembering this truth is, “living lighter today”.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Here is a simple question for you. What have you ever doubted God for and what did He teach you?

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Pain…Enemy or Friend?

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I had just purchased a well-worn pickup truck. This truck was well experienced with many a road, but nonetheless, I sure appreciated having a pickup truck after years without one.

On the day before Christmas 2012, the temperature outside was so cold we actually had icicles forming in California. On this icy day, I drove my truck to a friend’s auto mechanic shop to have it checked over. My friend Doug was the only one in the shop since it was so close to Christmas. As Doug lifted up the sizable metal doors to the shop, he directed me to drive in where the temperature was slightly warmer.

After a few moments of chatting, Doug took my truck out for a test drive to check things over. As I stood in the somewhat warmer shop (trust me, it wasn’t that much warmer inside than outside), I positioned myself right next to a propane heater. As I stood alone in the shop, I didn’t know what temperature was emanating from the heater, but it was a cookin’!

Doug does not yet know who Jesus is to him, so I often pray for him. So, as I was about one foot from the heater I began to pray over Doug. About fifteen seconds into praying I could feel the intense heat on my pants legs, so as any half way intelligent person would do, I turned to the side. I was previously twelve inches from the heater, but as I continued to pray over Doug, I didn’t realize, I had moved closer to the heater.

About 10 seconds later, I detected something burning and immediately, I felt a razor sharp pain on my right leg. As I moved away from the heater, I looked down to find my pants on fire. I quickly started patting my pants with my hands. As I am patting my upper leg the flame is screaming down to the bottom of my leg.

After about ten seconds (which seems like an eternity when your pants are on fire) the flames were all out and I stood there in shock. I just knew I was going to wake up and this was all a bad dream. But it wasn’t, I looked at my left hand and three of my fingers were severely burned and my upper leg was boiling.

Right about that time, Doug returned from testing my car. I was still in shock when Doug got out of the truck and yelled out, “Ken what happened?”

IS PAIN YOUR FRIEND?

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word pain as: Mental, physical or emotional pain causing distress due to trauma or injury.

Pain lets us know when something is wrong or under distress. We can all relate to some level when it comes to physical pain. Whether we have a broken leg, back pain, an earache, or any other physical pain to our bodies, pain can be relentless and traumatic.

Pain can also manifest in our emotions. Some of us have learned how to avoid emotional pain or to vainly attempt to erase it. It is easier to stuff the pain than to deal with the hurt. The truth is, we can’t erase pain as if it were never there. Pain in our emotions is still designed to let us know something is not right. Pain really is our best friend. Listen to the description in Matthew 4:24 of emotional pain.

The news about Him (Jesus) spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. (Matthew 4:24)

Do you see the word “epileptics”? We usually associate this word with someone having seizures and physical trauma. In this case the Greek word for “epileptics” is the word for “moonstruck”. This word means “One who suffers from emotional trauma, or one who is insane and believed to be put under a spell or be affected by the moon” This is where we get our word for Psyche.

In other words, Jesus came to heal those suffering from various diseases, pains, demoniacs and paralytics. But also, Jesus came to heal all those who were experiencing emotional pain.

So my friends, don’t attempt to hide your pain, whether it’s physical or emotional pain, but come to Jesus with it and watch Him heal you. He is the great psychologist of all eternity. He made you, therefore He understands you.

Jesus can make living life lighter, a reality for you, come to Him, He is closer than your breath.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

How have you come to Jesus with emotional pain? What has He done for you concerning your pain?

 

 

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Many Say They Don’t Know What This Word Means

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The word is: Redemption

So often, we call Jesus our “redeemer”, yet this word is rarely used in our culture. But, this word is so profound, powerful if you will. Redemption always involves going from something to something else. In this case it is Christ freeing us from the bondage of the law to freedom of a new life in him.

The streets of heaven will be filled with former captives who, through no merit of their own, find themselves redeemed, forgiven, and free. Slaves to sin have become saints. No wonder we will sing a new song—a song of praise to the Redeemer who was slain.

Look at these passages using the word “redemption” or “redeemed”:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written (Galatians 3:13)

…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

King Saul imposed the penalty of death upon the person who ate food before evening. When his son Jonathan admitted to having eaten food before evening, Saul was going to enforce the penalty of death. However, the people of Israel instead ‘ransomed Jonathan’, so he would not face the penalty of death. Whether it was money used to ransom Jonathan is irrelevant. The point is this: a ransom was not given to an evil-doing hostage-taker. The ransom was paid so the person who had broken the law could be free from the penalty the law required.

To redeem someone refers not to the price itself, but it refers to the act of freeing or releasing someone from a penalty.

Christians who claim to hold the “classic” perspective of the “ransom” see it as God paying a ransom (Jesus) to Satan (the hostage-taker) in order to free the people he kidnapped (humanity). But, this is not true redemption.

God was not deceptively pulling a bait-and-switch, as if he were handing Jesus over to the Satan in exchange for humanity, only to say “Gotcha!” while grabbing Jesus back at the last moment.

GOD DOES NOT OWE ANYTHING TO SATAN

To imply that God owes Satan anything implies that Satan had ownership of humanity. Scripture says that Satan is a “thief” (see John 10:10). A thief doesn’t own any thing; he only steals, kills and destroys what is rightfully not his.

So, now you have a closer look at the word redemption. What Jesus did has set you free from sin and death. Now, this will bring you closer to Him and remembering this truth will cause you to be, “living lighter today”.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

How does your understanding of the word redemption cause you to live lighter today?

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Modern vs. Old Fashion

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MODERN VS. OLD FASHION

I was having a discussion with my youngest son Jason and my wife Becky about the move towards digital books. I mentioned hardbound and paperback books as we know them are beginning to decrease. I even suggested that over time they may become a thing of the past (though I wasn’t willing to predict when). I told them they needed to convert to eBooks because this is the wave of the future.

Amazon states eBook sales are up 70% over last year, and with the advent of the Apple’s iPad, the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Nobles Nook and the list never ends, digital book sales are skyrocketing.

After I touted all the statistics and market shifts, my wife said, “I know all the hype about eBook sales, but there is nothing more relaxing and more cozy than sitting in front of the fire enjoying a hot chocolate with my legs curled up, thumbing through the pages of my paper book. An electronic book simply doesn’t offer the same emotion that my paper book does.”

I had nothing I could say to her comment except, “ I can tell that’s important to you, but to me, it doesn’t matter.”

Interestingly, some 12 months later my wife reads all of her books on her iPad. She confesses finding the convenience worth letting go of the emotions of sifting through the paper of her “old fashioned” books.

SO WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

So why am I writing about modern technology versus the old school approach to reading a book?

I just got back from traveling to South Africa to teach and equip the church in South Africa. This is what I do and I love to do it. As a teacher you need a bible, but this particular trip I left my bible on my desk in my office. As I was boarding the plane, in my mind’s eye I could see it sitting there on my desk.

When I arrived in South Africa and began to teach, I was without my old friend. You see, my old friend (my old fashioned paper bible) has tattered pages, it has parts of pages ripped out and hundreds of underlined verses. As a new believer I can remember making notes in the front cover of my bible to ask Pastor Phil about such topics as “What are tongues?”,  “What is the fruit of the Spirit?”, and of course, “What about the rapture?”

And, of course there are the inevitable highlighter markings in my bible and the small notes scattered within the pages, reminding me of previous thoughts and studies. I have had only one bible since being saved in 1979, my wife had it recovered for me some 20 years ago. That delighted my soul.

As I used my iPhone Bible App while in South Africa, I was struck with how much emotion I had attached to my “old fashioned” bible. Yes, I love the ease of use from my Bible App, but there was something missing.

I am an avid lover of technology and I must confess, I love the simplicity of Bible Apps and I will continue to use my iPhone App for the Bible , but there is nothing quite like my old friend, my old fashioned paper bible.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

I know where things are going technology-wise, but can you relate or are you now fully committed to Bible Apps? Share some of your thoughts; there are no wrong thoughts.

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What Is The Difference Between?

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What is the difference between integrity and character?

Integrity:

Webster’s Dictionary Definition:

in·teg·ri·ty noun \in-ˈte-grə-tē\

A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, values of incorruptibility

We have all heard such phrases as, “She had the integrity to refuse to compromise on matters of principle.” Or, “He’s a man of the highest integrity.”

WHAT IS INTEGRITY?

The righteous who walks in his integrity, blessed are his children after him! (Proverbs 20:7)

We all desire to be known as one having integrity.  Integrity states and implies you will adhere to God’s ways and His commands. This means you have complete desire to walk with Him and to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. Integrity means you want Him more than the air you breathe.

Character:

Webster’s Dictionary Definition:

char·ac·ter noun \ˈker-ik-tər\

A moral excellence and firmness and the mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation

We have all heard people say, “That person has such high moral character.”

WHAT IS CHARACTER?

With upright heart (character of heart) he (David) shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand. (Psalms 78:72)

David was a man of character because every time he sinned he repented before God. The difference between David and Saul was, Saul was always finding a way to get away with his sin. Character means if you make a mistake, you admit to it and equal to that, you take the steps to make it right. God is fully aware of the difference between immaturity and rebellion. David sometimes moved in a life of immaturity but God ultimately matured him to become King of Israel. God loved his character. You can be immature in the ways of God and still have character. God’s desire for you is that you move into life with character and character will increase as you walk with Him. Remember, He is very patient with you, just like He was with David!

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Integrity says you will follow his ways fully. Character says, if you blow your integrity, you will acknowledge the mistake and where necessary make it right. So my friends, God’s desire is for us to walk “living life lighter”. This will be manifest as you walk in integrity and where needed, adopt character.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you have any comments? I would love to hear from you!

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What Are Commodities?

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I was in South Africa recently teaching at a DTS (Discipleship Training School) for YWAM (Youth With A Mission). The topic I often teach on is “Identity in Christ” or “Who God says we are to Him” and this time of equipping was no different.

As I was saying goodbye to one of the students, I said to her, “Remember, God believes in you”.

She responded with, “Yea right, how could He believe in me?”

I run across people all over the world who have a difficult time connecting with the reality that God actually believes in them, and on top of that, He trusts us.

Let’s see if the scriptures communicate to us that God believes in us.

In Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus describes what kingdom people look like and acts like, in other words, the “Beatitudes”. But in Matthew 5:13-14 Jesus doesn’t just describe kingdom people, He makes a shift and actually begins speaking directly to them.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Notice Jesus speaks directly to us and says, “You are. He calls us salt and He calls us light. There is nothing to work up. He is calling us what we already are. He simply wants us to remember and agree with Him. It only makes sense that you would act like who you are.

A VALUABLE COMMODITY

Jesus is calling us the most valuable commodity on the earth. The people listening to Jesus would have been blown away to hear Jesus call them salt and light. Salt and light were both extremely valuable commodities in Jesus’ day. Nowadays we take salt and light for granted.  Salt sits on our tables and with a flip of a switch we have light. Romans soldiers in Jesus’ day were paid with salt and they didn’t have utility bills. Jesus has not changed His mind about us; He still believes in you.

You cannot be hidden my friends, so rise up into who you are and you will experience “Living Lighter Today”.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Share the revelation God is giving you right now. What is He telling you concerning you being salt and light?

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