Jesus and the Ten Lepers – Help me be the one

I saw God today as I read the scripture in Luke 17:11-19.  A familiar scripture about the ten lepers that were healed by Jesus but only one came back and was thankful and praised God for the healing.

But what God showed me today was looking at this story differently.  Instead of thinking negatively about the other nine lepers who I have always seen as ungrateful…. today I saw them differently.

These men called out to Jesus to have mercy and Jesus response was probably not what they expected.  Jesus did not say: because you believed you are healed, it was not some miraculous moment where Jesus took the dirt and made mud and put it on their skin and then they were healed, Jesus didn’t tell them to go and dunk themselves in water and they would be healed.  Instead, Jesus said: “Go and show yourselves to the priest.”

I thought about how many times I had called out to Jesus to have mercy on my own situation and waiting for an appropriate response, one that I would recognize.  One that would answer my plea according to what I imagined it would be, the solution that I had dreamed up, in just the right timing.

The scripture says that “as they went, they were made clean”.  But how far had they gone? Had they traveled long enough to lose hope?  So much so that they didn’t see Jesus in their situation at all, thinking that Jesus had given up on them?  Perhaps thinking that Jesus didn’t have time for them so He sent them to see the priest instead.  Did they feel rejected?

It is our human nature to respond this way.  Only one out of ten did not lose hope, only one out of ten kept believing, only one out of ten never lost hope, watching and knowing that eventually he would be healed.  So when it happened, he knew exactly who had healed him and returned to give thanks and praise.

Are we any different today?  Things not happening the way we expected or in the time frame we expected, and so we lose hope, fall into dis-belief, fall away from God, sometimes feeling rejected and so we reject back?

Here is what really struck me, no where in any version of scripture does it say that Jesus took the healing back.  Jesus still blessed the other nine, still healed them, still loved them and still longed for a relationship with them.  And I rejoice because I know that it is the same today, Jesus never gives up on us!  Even when we lose hope and our faith is weak, even when we walk about from Him, Jesus never gives up on us.

I think about the times that I looked back on a situation and realized what God had done and it looked very different from my solution and my time frame.  And I am thankful that God took care of me.  God has a better plan for me than I could ever have for myself.

Lord God, help me be the one, then one that never looses hope, never looses faith knowing that you have my back in all my situations good and bad.  I am thankful and praise your name for all my blessings.  In Jesus name, Amen!

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God Whispered…Jesus Loves Me

We had a wonderful opportunity to go to Magnolia Community Service to administer ashes to the 253 adults with special needs.

To logistically take all of these adults to church would not be possible. So God opened the door so that we could go to them.  In order for this to happen it took many hands, this was where connectionalism in the United Methodist church came together.

We had a plan! Everything well planned out who was going to do what and when. All the adults came into the room where we were set up. We were waiting on one group to come and everyone began to get a little restless. In my spirit God whispered, sing Jesus Loves Me, so I asked them if they wanted to sing a song, and they said yes. I asked them if they knew Jesus Loves Me, and only half of them raised their hands, wow only half. So we sang Jesus Loves Me and by the end everyone was singing the words and it was just a trans-formative magical moment.

Our plan went out the window and the message of the day was Jesus Loves Me.

When God has a plan ….he will work through you to make it happen…are you listening to his whispers?

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I can’t hear very good – speak up

I saw God today at the mechanic shop.  We had a sweet old man waiting on his car and every time I would speak to him he would say, “I can’t hear very good – speak up”  so I would speak louder.

I sat at my desk doing some paperwork while he waited for his car to be repaired.  We had K-Love Christian radio station playing.  I began to notice that he was tapping his foot, and realized that Old Church Choir was playing.

Yes indeed, God speaks up when you can’t hear very good!  He was so happy when he left, God lifted his spirit.

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Cross Roads

I saw God today when someone reminded me of this.  All of us at some point in our lives get to a cross road, when we have to make a decision to go right or left.  And sometimes we look back and think, I should have gone the other way.  Here is the good news, that no matter which path we take, God is always with us, and provides another cross road in our future.  He has a good plan for us!  Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Lord help me make the right choices to go the right path, but when I don’t thank you for going with me anyway and loving me anyway and providing a “do over “with another cross road.

 

 

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How Jesus Responded to Rejection

We all have felt the pain of rejection.  Whether it was when we were in school and did not get picked to be on a particular team, or as an adult overlooked for that job position and never acknowledged for the work you do.  So many forms of rejection.

It is one thing to be rejected by a stranger, but quite another to be rejected by people who know you and care for you, your own people.  Jesus felt this type of rejection from his home town, his own people.  And he teaches us in Mark chapter 6 how to respond to rejection, with compassion.  In this scripture Jesus did not reject back but loved back.

Today Jesus continues to be rejected and his response is the same, with compassion and grace.

As disciples he teaches us to do the same.  He sends us out, but not alone, together as a community of faith, so that we can strengthen and encourage one another, comfort each other in times of rejection, lift each other up and be in discernment with one another so that we are stirred to action fully relying on God for the journey.

Lord help me to be this type of disciple, that I do not reject people, especially when they have rejected me,  but love them in all circumstances.

Have you ever felt rejected and were able to responded like Jesus?  Share your story with me.

 

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The Story within the Story – Blind Faith

I saw God today as I read a familiar scripture.  Mark 5:21-43 shares about the story of the unnamed woman who reached out and touched the hem of Jesus garment.  Most of the time when reading this scripture this is where the focus is,on the woman.  But in the book of Mark this scripture also shares about a man named Jarius who is a synagogue ruler whose 12 year old daughter is about to die.  This is the story within the familiar story. 

Jairus falls at Jesus feet and ask Jesus to save his daughter.  They are traveling to Jarius house so that Jesus can see his daughter when the unnamed woman arrives.  An unexpected delay for Jarius.  While Jesus is speaking with this woman some people from Jarius house came to tell him his daughter had died.  During this unexpected delay, his daughter has died.  Spend some time thinking about how he felt in this moment.  The men that came to give him this news tells him to leave the teacher and go home – in other words Jesus can’t help you now.  But Jesus looks at him and says “don’t be afraid, just believe”.  At this point Jairus has a choice to make, to either follow Jesus or turn away and go home.  In this situation which choice would you make?  Jarius decided to follow Jesus with no expectations, there was no reason to believe that Jesus could raise his daughter from the dead, but he believed and had faith that Jesus had a good plan for him, he couldn’t see the details of the plan, he followed with blind faith.

 

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Distracciones

John 2:13-19 es una historia familiar para algunos de nosotros cuando Jesús entraron al templo y se convirtió en enojo.

Era el momento de la Pascua judía y personas viajaban desde todas partes a venir a Jerusalén para la fiesta de Pascua, un festival de la semana. Era un tiempo cuando recordaron lo que Dios había hecho por ellos, liberado de la esclavitud y les sacó de Egipto. Cuando deja reposar todo y pasan tiempo con Dios, un tiempo donde podían adorar a Dios, pasar tiempo en oración, acercarse a Dios, confesar y traer sus pecados a Dios para perdón, donde se necesitaba un sacrificio animal.

Desde personas viajaban desde todas partes, una distancia lejana, traer un animal que era conveniente para un sacrificio a Dios que fue intachable no siempre fue posible. Así que algunos comerciantes aprovecharon esta necesidad y venden animales para el sacrificio en el área del templo y muchos eruditos creen que fue por un mayor precio que pagarías en otros lugares. Todos los que vinieron tuvieron que pagar un impuesto del templo así que había una necesidad de cambistas y muchos eruditos creen que cobraban una tasa de cambio durante este tiempo de necesidad.

Así que estos mercaderes fueron convenientemente situados para la gente que había venido para la Pascua y les ofrecía lo que necesitaban para su conveniencia por supuesto. Y parte de la ira de Jesús era evidente. La codicia de los comerciantes, y que había convertido la casa de su padre en un lugar de mercado.

Pero cuando nosotros hurgar un poco más vemos algo más, estas personas habían recorrido un largo camino para hacer lo que, para adorar a Dios. El templo fue donde conocieron a Dios, es donde la gente vendría a adorar, a conectar con Dios y acercarse a él y recordar todo lo que Dios habían hecho por ellos, trayendo de la esclavitud. Estos mercaderes y acciones de los cambiadores de dinero estaban provocando una distracción que les impide poder hacerlo.

Jesús estaba enojado porque la gente se les impidió poder adorar a su padre.

Así que Jesús es no sólo limpiar el templo, él está haciendo una forma de adoración.

Hoy durante la Cuaresma hacemos lo mismo, pasamos tiempo recordando lo que Jesús hizo en la Cruz, para quitar los pecados del mundo, mío y tuyo, por lo que podemos ser libres y vivir. Es un tiempo cuando hacemos sacrificios para eliminar distracciones de nuestra vida para que verdaderamente podamos adorar a Dios.

Hacemos compromisos durante estos 40 días de Cuaresma para leer un diario devocional o asistir a un estudio de la Biblia, tal vez para pasar más tiempo en la oración o asistir a los servicios de culto. Para algunos de nosotros, nos resulta difícil mantener estos compromisos, porque las cosas se ponen en el camino.

¿Cuáles son hoy nuestras distracciones?

Tal vez el ritual común de salir a comer a un restaurante de mariscos en la noche del viernes en Nueva Orleans durante prestado, de pie en línea, comer en medio del ruido, donde usted no puede escuchar a alguien hablando en la mesa, esto es un sacrificio durante prestado para que podamos enfocar en th e sacrificio de Jesús muriendo en la Cruz o lo ha convertido en una distracción?

Max Lucado escribe en su libro “La oración de bolsillo” que es un enclenque recuperación de oración. Escribe… “dormitar apagado cuando rezo. Mis pensamientos zig zag luego zig otra vez. Las distracciones del enjambre como mosquitos en una noche de verano.” Si el trastorno por déficit de atención se aplica a la oración, estoy afligido”cuando oro, creo que de 1 mil cosas que tengo que hacer. Me olvide una cosa me puse a hacer: orar. ” Materia de medio ambiente – consigue en un lugar donde usted puede despejar su mente y centrarse en Dios.

Tal vez cuando nos sentamos a leer las escrituras o la lección de la Biblia que ser distraídos por el teléfono que está siempre con nosotros, hace un ruido y no podemos evitar pero… a ver si alguien texted, enviado por correo electrónico o ha gustado nuestro post en Facebook o Instagram.

Tal vez nuestras distracciones son las emociones como cómo no estar enojado con alguien, guardando rencor, está molesto porque tenes una factura inesperada en el correo, muchas cosas pueden distraernos.

Tal vez muchas distracciones han acumulado con el tiempo y lo reconocemos pero no estamos seguros de qué hacer al respecto nos deja sentir culpable y avergonzada. En lugar de acercarse a Dios corres a esconderte? Pero Jesús dice: “Venid a mí todos los que están cansados y pesados cargados y daré usted descanso.” Le mostrará el camino de vuelta a mí.

Dios nos encuentra donde estamos no donde pensamos que deberíamos ser.

Cada uno de nosotros tiene un conjunto de cosas que tratamos de abordar en nuestro caminar cristiano. Muchos de nosotros tenemos problemas para afrontar estas distracciones y hemos fracasados u o quizás no porque incluso no reconoce que el cambio es necesario.

Por esta razón es importante estar en una comunidad cristiana, que en un grupo pequeño donde nos podemos ayudar mutuamente en nuestro cristiano caminar no sólo durante la temporada de Cuaresma pero todo el tiempo. Así que si no estás en un grupo pequeño, ahora es el momento para orar y pensar en unirse a uno.

Durante este tiempo bíblico personas tuvieron que venir al templo a adorar a Dios, para estar en su presencia.

Hoy venimos a adorar a Dios en nuestras iglesias en nuestro Santuario, pero la iglesia es sólo un edificio y estará vacía después de que dejamos. La presencia de Dios está en la iglesia porque estamos allí.

Jesús hizo un camino para la adoración para los judíos y él hace una manera para nosotros para adorar hoy al darnos el Espíritu Santo. Dios nos dejó el Espíritu Santo que vive dentro de nosotros y nos convertimos en el templo. I Corintios 6:19 19 ¿no sabéis que vuestros cuerpos son templos del Espíritu Santo, que está en vosotros, el cual ha recibido de Dios?

El espíritu de Dios vive dentro de nuestro cuerpo frágil, imperfecto, temporal. Cuando una persona trata de una fe personal en Dios el padre, el hijo y el Espíritu Santo, Dios capacita a su espíritu para vivir con nosotros y para influir en nosotros.

Dios no vive en un edificio aquí en la tierra; Él tiene su hogar en nuestros corazones.

Es ese espíritu que nos ayudará a identificar y superar nuestras distracciones. Dentro de nosotros es la capacidad de crecer y acercarse a Dios para que podamos adorarlo. Pero si nos quedamos distraídos por el mundo, a veces no podemos reconocer cuando el espíritu habla. Es como un ángel en un hombro y el diablo en el otro, que uno conseguirá nuestra atención…, la enfocamos.

Los cambistas y los mercaderes habían cambiado su enfoque sobre cómo hacer dinero y se convirtió en codiciosos en lugar de centrarse en Dios y hacer un camino para el culto para otros. Hay acciones causaron otros no sean capaces de adorar a Dios.

Cuando distraídos, cuando permitimos que las distracciones en nuestras vidas cuando nuestra atención se convierte en cosas del mundo y no de Dios muchas veces nuestras acciones reflejan la avaricia, pecado, causando distracciones como los comerciantes y los cambios de dinero en el templo. También hacemos las distracciones de la otra gente adorar a Dios.

Donde otros encuentran Dios, en ti y para mí! Somos templo de Dios, somos sus manos y pies y no sólo hacer buenas obras, sino para mostrar que él es a través de nuestras acciones. Podemos ser la única Biblia otros leen. No somos perfectos y nunca va a ser, es por eso que siempre tenemos que mantener nuestro enfoque en Dios y la fuerza de otros cristianos que nos ayude en este viaje.

La Cuaresma es un tiempo de proceso de renovación que nos permita que Dios nos transforme para que podemos seguir ser sus manos y pies en el mundo, revelarlo en nuestras acciones y poner a otros en una relación con él.

La Cuaresma es un tiempo de reflexión para identificar y buscar cambios en nuestras vidas. Todos necesitamos ayuda para despejar las distracciones.

Yo desafío a todos nosotros, para pasar unos días de esta semana y mira duro las distracciones en su vida que puede guardarle de adorar a Dios, lo que le está impidiendo pasar tiempo en la escritura, de pasar tiempo en oración, de cantar canciones de alabanza en casa , de reflexionar sobre todo lo que ha hecho para usted, de reflexionar sobre nuestras propias caídas por lo que podemos llegar a él con un corazón arrepentido. Esto es lo que fortalece nuestra relación con Dios. Y esta es la razón que Jesús murió en la Cruz, no sólo para quitar nuestros pecados, pero al hacerlo él nos restauró a esa relación íntima con nuestro padre.

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John 2:13-19 is a familiar story for some of us when Jesus entered the temple and became angry.

 

 

 

 

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Distractions

John 2:13-19 is a familiar story for some of us when Jesus entered the temple and became angry.

It was time for the Jewish Passover and people were traveling from all over to come to Jerusalem for the Passover festival, a week long festival.  It was a time when they remembered what God had done for them, freed them from slavery and brought them out of Egypt.  When they set aside everything else and they spend time with God, a time where they could worship God, spend time in prayer, draw closer to God, confess and bring their sins to God for forgiveness, where a sacrificial animal was needed.

Since people were traveling from all over, many a far distance, to bring an animal that was suitable for a sacrifice to God that was unblemished was not always possible.  So some merchants took advantage of this need, and sold sacrificial animals in the temple area and many scholars believe it was for a higher price than you would pay elsewhere.  Everyone that came had to pay a temple tax so there was a need for money changers and many scholars believe they charged a higher exchange rate during this time of need.

So these merchants were conveniently located for the people that had come for the Passover, and offered them the things they needed for their convenience of course.  And part of Jesus anger was obvious.  The greed of the merchants, and that they had turned His father’s house into a market place.

But when we dig a little deeper we see something else, these people had come a long way to do what – to worship God.  The temple was where they met God, it is where the people would come to worship, to connect with God and draw closer to Him and remember all that God had done for them, bringing them out of slavery.  These merchants’ and money changers actions were causing a distraction, preventing them from being able to do so.

Jesus was angry because the people were prevented from being able to worship his father.

So Jesus is not just clearing out the temple, He is making a way for worship.

Today during Lent we do the same thing, we spend time remembering what Jesus did on the cross, to remove the sins of the world, mine and yours so that we could be free and live.  It is a time when we make sacrifices to remove distractions from our lives so that we can truly worship God.

We make commitments during this 40 days of Lent to read a daily devotional or attend a Bible study, perhaps to spend more time in prayer or attend special worship services.  For some of us, we find it difficult to keep these commitments, because things get in the way.

What are our distractions today?

Perhaps the common ritual of going out to eat at a seafood restaurant on Friday night in New Orleans during lent, standing in line, eating in the midst of the noise where you can’t hear anyone speaking at your table, is this a sacrifice during lent so that we can focus on the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross or has it become a distraction?

Max Lucado writes in his book “The Pocket Prayer” that he is a recovering prayer wimp.  He writes…“I doze off when I pray.  My thoughts zig then zag then zig again.  Distractions swarm like gnats on a summer night.”  If attention deficit disorder applies to prayer, I am afflicted” When I pray, I think of a thousand things I need to do.  I forget the one thing I set out to do: pray.”  Environment matters – get in a place where you can clear your mind and focus on God.

Perhaps when we sit to read scripture or our Bible lesson we become distracted by our phone that is always with us, it makes a noise and we can’t help but look…to see if someone texted, emailed or liked our post on Facebook or Instagram.

Perhaps our distractions are emotions like not getting over being angry at someone, holding a grudge, being upset because you got an unexpected bill in the mail – so many things can distract us.

Perhaps many distractions have built up over time and we recognize it but we are not sure what to do about it leaving us to feel guilty and ashamed.  Instead of drawing closer to God we run and hide?  But Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”  I will show you the way back to me.

God meets us where we are not where we think we should be. 

Every one of us has a set of things that we try to deal with in our Christian walk.  Many of us have trouble dealing with these distractions and we have been unsuccessful or unable or perhaps unwilling because we don’t even recognize that change is needed.

This is why it is important to be in a Christian community, to be in a small group where we can help each other in our Christian walk not just during the season of Lent but all the time.  So if you are not in a small group, now is the time to pray and think about joining one.

During this Biblical time people had to come to the temple to worship God, to be in his presence.

Today we come to worship God in our churches in our sanctuary, but the church  is only a building and will be empty after we leave.  The presence of God is in the church because we are there.

Jesus made a way for worship for the Jews and He makes a way for us to worship today by giving us the Holy Spirit.  God left us with the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us and we become the temple.  I Corinthians 6: 19 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

God’s spirit lives within our fragile, imperfect, temporary bodies.  When a person comes to a personal belief in God the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit, God empowers His very spirit to live with us and to influence us.

God doesn’t live in a building here on earth; He makes his home in our hearts.

It is that spirit that will help us identify and overcome our distractions.   Within us is the ability to grow and draw closer to God so that we can worship Him.  But if we get distracted by the world, sometimes we can’t recognize when the Spirit speaks.  It is like an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, which one will get our attention…., the one we focus on.

The money changers and the merchants had switched their focus on how to make money and became greedy rather than focusing on God and making a way for worship for others.  There actions caused others to not be able to worship God.

When we get distracted, when we allow distractions in our lives when our focus becomes on things of the world and not of God many times our actions reflect greed, sin, causing distractions just like the merchants and money changes in the temple.  We too become distractions from other people worshiping God.

Where can others find God, in you and me!  We are God’s temple – We are His hands and feet and not just to do good works, but to show who He is through our actions.  We may be the only Bible others read.  We are not perfect and never will be, that is why we always need to keep our focus on God, and the strength of other Christians to help us on this journey.

Lent is a time of renewal process where we allow God to transform us so that we can continue to be His hands and feet in the world, to reveal him in our actions and bring others into a relationship with Him.

Lent is a season of reflection for us to identify and seek changes in our lives.  All of us need help with clearing out distractions.

I challenge all of us, to spend some time this week, and take a hard look at the distractions in your life that may keep you from worshiping God, what is preventing you from spending time in scripture, from spending time in prayer, from singing songs of praise at home, from reflecting on all He has done for you, from reflecting on our own downfalls so that we can come to him with a repentant heart.  This is what strengthens our relationship with God.  And this is the reason that Jesus died on the cross, not only to take away our sins but by doing so he restored us to that intimate relationship with our Father.

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Iced Cold Tea

In prayer I was complaining that my plan was not going the way I wanted, in others words I wanted my own way!  God reminded me that He has a good plan for me.  I had just promised to be still and trust His plan, and then a couple of days later complaining again.

I then remembered that when I was a little girl, if I did not get my way I would hold my breath until I passed out.  Can you believe it?  My mom got enough of that and began to pour a cold pitcher of iced tea on my face. Well I stopped that mess.  My mom knew what was best for me and sometimes that meant iced cold tea.

Dear God, pour some iced cold tea on me when I pitch a fit trying to get my own way.  Help me to trust your plan, believing and knowing that your  plan is always better than my plan.  In Jesus Name – Amen!

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Bah humbug

One of the sermons during Advent was about being bah humbug.  Wondering, what happened to Ebenezer Scrooge to make him  bah humbug.  Perhaps when he was a child he had wanted something for Christmas such as a red truck and  oh how he wanted it.  He told his parents, his teachers, everyone at church, he prayed about it, and even wrote a letter to Santa to make sure there was no doubt what he wanted.  Certain that he would get this red truck he was full of anticipation.  Perhaps on Christmas morning with great anticipation he opened his presents one by one, but there was no red truck.  He did not get what he was sure he would get, so for the rest of his life he began to have a bah humbug attitude.

Perhaps we are that way in our spirit.  When we go to God in prayer about certain things we want, a new job, a promotion, a relationship that never happened.  Sometimes when we don’t get those answered prayers could it be that we become bah humbug in our spirit?  Perhaps thinking why did that other person get that promotion and not me, I am faithful why did I not get what I asked for becoming bah humbug in our spirit.

But the gift of Christmas is Jesus, the greatest gift we will ever receive, much better than any red truck, or promotion at work.  At Christmas time we are reminded of this gift because it is socially acceptable to talk about it during this time.  But what about after Christmas, when the tree is taken down, the decorations are put away, do we also put away Jesus in the attic, because we didn’t get what we wanted?  Have we forgotten about the greatest gift of all and leave it behind after Christmas.

Sometimes we just can’t understand why things happen the way that they do and it leaves us with a bah humbug spirit preventing us from having an intimate relationship with God. But God has a good plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11).

You see He loved us so much that He emptied himself and came to us in human form, in the form a baby, baby Jesus.  He walked with us and talked with us and showed us how to live our lives.  He grew up to die on the cross to take away the sins of the world, for me and for you.  He did this because sin stood in the way of an intimate relationship with God, the one that was lost in the Garden of Eden when sin entered the world.  Jesus took away the sins and defeated death by rising again and promises to go and prepare a place for us in heaven.  It is the relationship that is the gift.  Let us not be bah humbug in our spirits and miss the relationship gift that Jesus died on the cross for.  Let us be in that relationship all year long, every day.  John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Let us have peace all year long by being in relationship with God.  

Challenge:  What will you do with this gift in 2018?  How will you stay in relationship with the one that died for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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