TrustInGod News Feed http://www.trustingod.com/feed.rss.html en 120 It's What we Need http://www.trustingod.com/its-what-we-need.html "It was reported that he [Jesus] was home. So many people gathered together that there was no room, not even in the doorway, and he was speaking the messaage to them." Mk 2.1-2

I was reminded over the last few days how needy we are. As humans, we need a sense of belonging, we need to have confidence in our relationships, we need to love and be loved, and we need direction. We are in need of answers and reassurance. In this world, we are on the alert. We experience inequities, fatigue, and loneliness. We sense there is a cliff to fall from and want to feel secure far from its edge.

This morning as I read the two verses above, I had a feeling of warmth come over me. I'm familar with the story that follows but I could not read on because my imagination and memory wanted to park for awhile and ponder. I'm more of an introvert than extrovert. I've come to realize that I am an outgoing introvert. I say this to explain that no matter our temperament, we were made for one another and for God. We don't have the capacity to shoulder all that comes with numerous relationships, but the resurrected Jesus does. The warmth I felt come over me after reading the words, "so many people gathered" was accompanied by mental pictures of similar gatherings of my past.

Just to name a few... my house was full of teenagers in Hemet California as I taught about Jesus, the same was true in Chino California, and again in Aurora Colorado. Along with these mental slides, I remember the days of baptisms at the various churches where I served, the pacific ocean, lakes, backyard pools and hot tubs, horse troughs, and even a bath tub or two. But one day sticks out most for me at Creekside Church in Aurora Colorado. I will never forget the well over 100 people who where baptized on the same day. Its been my honor baptizing thousands of people seeking what I seek and needing what I need. All of these memories are precious.

I'm in a different season of ministry. I work with leaders around the country in a personal way. Though I still like to teach to large crowds, I long for those living room environments where we all feel safe, loved, and warm. Maybe this is why we are contemplating once again how we can reach out to our nieghbors and invite them into our home. Maybe we never out grow a need to belong in a smaller environment. Fifty people squished into my living room has the same mystical power, maybe even more than a stadium full of 100,000 people. Maybe, just maybe, the Lord is leading us in this same way again.

 

 

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Thu, 29 Mar 2018 11:53:00 -0600 http://www.trustingod.com/its-what-we-need.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
It's Always about Faith http://www.trustingod.com/its-always-about-faith.html It's always about faith. No matter what "it" is, it's always about faith. Being strong enough to do the right thing no matter the consequences is about faith. Believing God is about faith. Agreeing with God is about faith. Accepting disappointment and failure is about faith. Asking is about faith. Accepting the answer is about faith. Participating is about faith. Here's another story illustrating how faith connects us to God and frees us from the bondage of man-made religion: Mark 1:40-42

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,”he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

There are a number of lessons in this short story. In fact, let me just list them:

1. You can go directly to Jesus about your problems. Notice this man in trouble did not go to the religious institution. Notice he did not go to the doctor. He probably already did on both accounts and nothing happened. And it is certainly wise to go to the church and ask for prayers and to go to the doctor and ask for help. But that's not the point. When you're in need, run to God!

2. Faith believes that God "can" even if we don't know that he will. Look again at the leper's words: "If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean". He does not doubt the power of Jesus while at the same time acknowledging that his will is his own. There is much distraught about this issue of God's will. We don't understand how it reconciles with the happenings on this earth. In fact, if we let it, we can become people who see God as uncaring and out of touch, which then leads to an agnostic stance and then to an athiestic posture. What amazes me most about this man is that he seems to know the difference between what he can and cannot control. He seems to do everything he can within his control (get to Jesus and beg for his life) while recognizing what he cannot control (God's final decision). This my friends is faith at the highest level. I wonder if that's at least one reason he was healed?

3. God can be moved. If you've read my book, The Four Essentials of Christian Living, you might remember this is an area of confession for me. This text challenges my most common view of God - the immovable one. The thought that he would care for me and express it in some supernatural way has been something I've sought yet quick to rationalize when there is what looks like evidence of God working in my life. From my studies, my temperament seems to be much like Thomas. You know him. The disciple who was tagged with the nickname "Doubting". But let me clarify. If you remember, his doubts were mostly against the testimony of his brethren about the resurrection. But when he saw Jesus alive he was changed forever. I've got some work to do in this area because if Jesus is the exact representation of God himself as Paul and John taught us, then God is moved with compassion and for the needs of his people.

4. God can change things in a moment. We see in this account that Jesus was not only willing to heal, he healed instantly. This is encouraging and sometimes discouraging for us in the 21st century. Here we are carried back to the first century and rejoice along with the witnesses but then we wake up from that short day dream and look to our left and look to our right realizing that for most of us this is an experience we have not encountered. But be encouraged by the title of this blog: It's always about faith. Let me explain...

God can and does heal today. But it is also true by our study of history that God seems to move in certain ways and at certain times in manners we do not always recognize. But here is what you need to embrace: Having faith in the God of the Bible is always the issue regardless of the season in which you live on this planet. It takes just as much faith to live for God in the 21st century than it did in the first. No matter the century in which you live, without faith it is impossible to please God. Let's be careful to trust in God no matter how he is working, what he is working on, and why he is doing it. It's still about faith. Can you see him working today?

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Tue, 09 Jan 2018 09:56:00 -0700 http://www.trustingod.com/its-always-about-faith.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Being Your Best Self http://www.trustingod.com/being-your-best-self.html It seems I have two continuous thoughts about living my best life, being the best version of myself, living with purpose and on mission, being a person guided by values and vision, etc., etc. My two thoughts are aligned and get me moving in the right direction yet one thought comes to mind when I'm being a jerk and the other thought comes to mind when I'm doing well but need more faith. One thought is "Without Christ I can do nothing" (that's the one I get when I'm being a jerk) and the other thought is "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (this is the one that answers my self doubt).

I think a lot about these kinds of things. I don't like the typical pulpit answers I often hear and perhaps I'm guilty of sharing some of the same from my own pulpit. Even those who do not follow Christ, they are still empowered by him to breathe and think, to walk and talk, to exercise their strengths, and to choose. So, it is true that without Christ, we simply fall to the ground and perish. That's true for all of us.

Here's the problem. Some of us choose to live at that level of empowerment. I'm talking about people who believe in Jesus (you know what I mean, that he is God the Son). I do it to. I can get in a place where I consciously forget that I have a choice. I have a choice to live my life with an unconscious presence of Christ or to live and be led by the Holy Spirit in a conscious, dynamic, real-time relationship.

To live without the power of the Spirit is to constantly be fighting for what I want, what irritates me, and it includes all my appetites, grudges, wounds, etc., etc. That kind of life is just frustrating and it turns you into a jerk.

To be like Jesus we have to live the way he did. We have to be led and presently, consciously, convicted and conversing with the Holy Spirit. The results are amazing (yet I still forget and go back to basic survival and tactical humanoid living more often than I want to admit). Walking with Christ, I can overlook an offense, I can live in the present and active state of forgiveness, I can dream amazing dreams, I can be full of faith, I laugh more, I love more, I'm simply more likable.

My message this Christmas is to seek Jesus. Look for him. Ask God to guide you. Ask the Spirit to empower you. To make you bigger than this life. You can be bigger because you can do all things through Christ! Merry Christmas!

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Fri, 22 Dec 2017 11:20:00 -0700 http://www.trustingod.com/being-your-best-self.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Mass Shooting - First Baptist Sutherland Springs http://www.trustingod.com/mass-shooting-first-baptist-sutherland-springs.html First Baptist Sutherland Springs. Another mass shooting. Our heads are on a swivel. They turn from one part of the country to another. We go through a variety of emotions... shock, fear, protest, anger, sadness, denial, and maybe numbness.

We protest. We protest death because internally and spititually we just know that we were not created to die. When people tell us that dying is part of living, we pause. Part of us agrees because its the only experience we have. Yet there is another part, for most of us, that fights the reality. While we have strength we do everything we can to push away aging and poor health. We hate dying.

We protest. We protest evil. Evil comes in many forms. Some we try to explain and some cannot be explained. Either way, we know evil exists and we hate it. We hate it even when we participate in lighter forms of it. We hate it when we compromise what we know to be right. We hate it when we are not true to self. We hate it when we sense that we are not living up to our Creator's design.

We protest. We protest the fall of humankind. You know what I'm talking about... it's that old old story of the garden. The enlightened call it a fable. They say we have created God in our own image. They say we are growing and changing. Are we? The wars look different but the feeling is the same. Hate.

We mourn. Death, Evil, and the devastation of the Fall of mankind is our reality. Mourning is not the changing of our mind. It's not repentance but it opens the door. Mourning death, evil, and the Fall makes us low and humble.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Jesus

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." Apostle Paul

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Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:37:00 -0700 http://www.trustingod.com/mass-shooting-first-baptist-sutherland-springs.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Prayer brings about Purpose http://www.trustingod.com/prayer-brings-about-purpose.html Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. Mark 1:35-39, NLT

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I don't pray enough. I'm not even sure it's possible to pray too much! 

Jesus gets up early to seek the Father after a late night of serving (see previous verses). I probably would have seen it as an opportunity to get some rest and sleep in for awhile. Maybe even pat myself on the back for being such a good guy... but anyway, Jesus is driven to seek fellowship with the Father. He gets up before the rest of his team and there he is... praying, until...

It's Peter. He finds Jesus (I can hear him panting and out of breath even now) and with a perplexed tone, says: "Everyone is looking for you." It's interesting how much we exagerate to try and get our point accross. "Everyone" was not looking for Jesus but obviously many were. It seemed obvious to Peter where Jesus needed to be instead of hanging out with God. There was work to do and it was looking them right in the face. How much more obvious can things get?

I can idenitfy with Peter. Maybe you're not like me but I like getting things done. I'm a checklist kind of guy. I feel better when I can mark things off of my to-do list. My list stares me right in the face. It's obvious what I need to be doing and that's to get these things done! Is it?

Notice Jesus' response. He does not go back with Peter and the gang; instead, the disciples follow him to another place to continue the ministry. Several things go through my mind after considering this story. First, there is no end to work. There is no end to ministry. There will always be needs to satisfy. There will always be people to serve no matter where you are on this planet. Second, What seems to be an obvious priority or task to be done may not be important at all. Sometimes we get in such a rut we are unable to see over the ledge of our self-made canyons. Third, Jesus knew what his purpose was and he knew how to accomplish it. He knew his purpose and his priorities because he did opposite of what so many of us do. We get up and get going! Jesus got up to slow down.

Prayer is such an amazing opportunity to allow the creator to speak to us by reading his Word and pondering his thoughts. By casting worries and cares at his feet in faith. By allowing him to redirect our steps. Make no mistake. This was habit for Jesus, not a quick fix. If we desire to be led by the Spirit then fellowship with the Spirit is what that requires.

Blessings

 

 

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Tue, 05 Sep 2017 08:30:00 -0600 http://www.trustingod.com/prayer-brings-about-purpose.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Miracles: Does God still heal today? http://www.trustingod.com/miracles-does-god-still-heal-today.html Some of us... more than you realize struggle having faith in the stories we hear about Jesus. But if we look to historical evidence, we will be encouraged and strengthened. Dr. Mark Strauss, a New Testament scholar, professor, and teacher explains:

- The historical evidence that Jesus was renowned by his contemporaries as an exorcist and miracle worker is overwhelming [obviously New Testament accounts and associated source documents]. Sources outside the NT also refer to Jesus' miraculous activity. Josephus states that Jesus was "a doer of startling deeds"... a probable reference to his miracles. The Babylonian Talmud claims Jesus was executed because he practiced magic and led Israel astray. While this passage is a strong polemic against Jesus and Christianity, it admits as reliable the tradition that Jesus performed supernatural acts... Even Jesus' opponents had to acknowledge that, whatever the source of his power, Jesus had extraordinary authority to perform miracles. (brackets and comments within are mine to shorten - quote taken from Mark (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Mark L. Strauss)

Now for the text: That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak. Mark 1:32-34, NLT

There is much we can say about these few verses but I will discipline my comments to what I consider the big idea. What is going on here beyond the obvious working of miracles? The miraculous is the micro topic, even as GREAT as they are; they're so so small! What's the big picture stuff? I know, the big picture doesn't sound too exciting if it was your loved one being healed... you'd probably say, "Bless God!" and that would pretty much wrap it up. Give me a chance here... the big idea is so big it effects you and I in a personal - micro way as well.

Jesus' miracles... they are the inauguration of the kingdom of God - the restoring and renewing of a fallen world. And this is just an appetizer of what is to come!

God's mission here is not just physical, it is cosmic - that's why the demons are freaking out... there's a new sheriff in town! Jesus silences them not because of what we always hear... it's not his time yet... well of course... but there's more... he dictates the terms of his mission... no one else.

God has compassion on us - We have a creator who is also our redeemer. No matter our failures and shortcomings, our weaknesses, our faithlessness, and our doubts, he has compassion.

Not all hired shepherds care for the sheep. In fact, most flee at the first sign of danger. Thieves come to steal and kill. Our shepherd, the true One has authentic concern for each of us. He is not motivated by self-interest and wages but by self-sacrificial love for his sheep. So, for us who call ourselves pastors, we must not be motivated by anything other than love for God and compassion for people.

Now back to the title of this post... How should we view miracles today? There seems to be two extreme ways of thinking.

1. Some say Jesus' ministry was a special time in history and should not be considered part of God's plan today. His miracles were to prove his identity and therefore increase faith in his followers. The problem with this kind of thinking is the same Spirit that worked in and through Jesus and his apostles is the same Spirit with us today and to think Jesus needed to prove anything misses the whole point of his coming. 

2. The other extreme thinking says something like this: "If you have enough faith, you'll be healed." It's that simple. While I would agree that one can argue faith is required for healing, there is no sound doctrine that tells us God always provides healing. Remember the apostle Paul? Did he not ask for his "thorn in his flesh" to be removed? Yet God responded with a different answer (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). 

Christians should realize God still heals today and answers prayers. He is the same God today as he was in the first century, at creation, and even before. We should pray for healings. Scripture tells us to pray for the sick. The Scripture teaches us to touch and serve. In the end, we pray "Your will be done". After-all, we appreciate this life as a gift from God; how much better must life be in heaven?

Blessings

 

 

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Wed, 23 Aug 2017 21:20:00 -0600 http://www.trustingod.com/miracles-does-god-still-heal-today.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Health is a big deal http://www.trustingod.com/health-is-a-big-deal-mark-129-31,-nlt.html It's sometimes fun to listen to a motivating speaker attempting to light the fire inside of his audience. "You can do anything you set your mind on! You have as much potential as your vision will allow!"

Some of that is true but most of it false. Try to share those lines with the person battling cancer or the family dealing with a very ill child. For these, survival seems to be a grand vision.

I've enjoyed pretty good health for the first 38 years of my life (almost two decades ago) and then it began to unravel. One thing after another. Since then, life has been seasons of feeling great and seasons of learning how to deal with ailments and all that comes with them. I was pastoring a fairly large ministry when my health began to decline. Most people were in the dark about my struggles. For the most part we as a family kept my struggles private. 

So, I can identify with Peter's mother-in-law in the following short story:

After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them. (Mark 1:29-31)

The big idea here is Jesus' power and compassion. And for those who have struggled with health, the whole world changes when they feel better - even if just for another season. Here's a few of my thoughts in regard to this text and my personal experiences. I know these should seem obvious but for those who struggle with a lack of empathy, these thoughts might help improve interpersonal skills and insight:

1. Healthy people have a God-given dose of energy and positive vision

2. Unhealthy people struggle with thinking about the future; they are dealing with the realities of today

3. All of us are limited; we are limited by our capacities often effected by our health status

4. Serving those in poor health is to love as Jesus loves just as he demonstrated in this story

5. We should be slow to make judgments about those who seem to be less than they once were... do we know what's going on?

6. We must embrace and express gratitude for good health; it will help us make the most of our days

Finally, if you're struggling, know that God understands. Seek his grace and spread it the best you can just as Peter's mother-in-law did as she could.

Blessings -

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Sat, 12 Aug 2017 09:17:00 -0600 http://www.trustingod.com/health-is-a-big-deal-mark-129-31,-nlt.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Demons - Mark 1:21-28, NLT http://www.trustingod.com/mark-121-45,-nlt.html Sport is competition. When we sign up to play a game we expect resistance. But for many we are surprised when we experience push back while trying to live a Gospel life. We're shocked to see opposition, even hate, to the message of Christ. We shake our heads in disbelief.

In this text, Mark 1:21-28 we find Jesus' teaching interrupted by a man consumed by a devil.

Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.

23 Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil[a] spirit cried out, 24 “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” 28 The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee.

Let's notice a few facts worth bearing out:

1. The demon knew who Jesus was and expressed his identity openly when he said, "I know you are the Holy One of God!"

2. Evil knows God exists but simply chooses to oppose Him.

3. Evil is no threat to God but it does delight in the decay and destruction of human souls and anything that might bring glory and honor to God.

4. If you choose to follow in the way of Christ, you will be on a path of both resistance and of fellowship with God.

Ever wonder how a person becomes demon possessed? Me too. We don't know for certain but we can be thankful that even when one is found in that state, God can heal and free one's spirit from such bondage. Thank God for his mercies.

I believe there is a larger message in this story that will be helpful for us all. For those who decide to live godly we will encounter opposition, discrimination, ridicule, and even hate. That's par for the course. The fall of man has invited evil and devastation into our world, that's a fact awaiting God's judgment and removal in the final day. Let us be a people who mourn the condition of man but also offer hope. Far be it from us to return evil for evil. Let us never be guilty of spite or hate. Let us be people who stand in the light always reaching out with deeds of love and sacrifice, not simply words. Isn't this what Jesus did?

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Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:57:00 -0600 http://www.trustingod.com/mark-121-45,-nlt.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Mark 1:16-20, NLT http://www.trustingod.com/mark-116-20,-nlt.html One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men. Mark 1:16-20, NLT

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This text feels personal for me. I experienced it. Jesus did not visit me by the lakeside and call me away from fishing but he did change the course of my life. It was in my mid-twenties when I started to pay more attention to Christ. I already knew a lot about the Bible and Christian thinking but that was mostly "head" stuff. It was my heart that began to embrace the progression of transformation: repentance (changing my mind about almost everything), faith (living by faith over the concrete), and service (I was made to serve). 

We all are made to serve. It's true that we can get confused about this in today's culture. You don't have to go to Bible school, seminary, and become an ordained minister with one of our many denominations to serve. You don't even have to serve within the structure of your nearby institution. You don't have to serve at all but if you don't you will slowly start the erosion of your soul. Your soul will decay because it's not doing what it was made to do - serve.

Notice something else about this passage (not obvious unless you read all the gospels). This is not the first time these men saw Jesus. They had already invested time hanging around him, listening to him, and deciding within themselves who he was and what he was doing, and where he was going. Maybe they could not articulate it in such a way but they knew it was real and that they were to be part of it. That might be what God is doing in your heart right now.

You've been slaving away trying to survive or thrive or conquer or something... but serving has caught your attention. Make no mistake, that is Jesus pulling you toward him. Though serving is important, don't miss the main event. The main event is that Jesus is calling you to him first and foremost. He is calling you into an intimate faith relationship with God. These men had already responded to the relationship. They were already faithful in that aspect. Then and only then comes the call to serve.

Remember the order: repentance, faith, service. One more thing. Serve the Lord faithfully right where you are. No need to move. There are all kinds of needs right around you. Serve there until Jesus says something different.

Blessings -

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Sat, 05 Aug 2017 08:25:00 -0600 http://www.trustingod.com/mark-116-20,-nlt.html Jim Piper / Trust In God
Mark 1:14-15, NLT http://www.trustingod.com/mark-114-15,-nlt.html Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:14-15, NLT

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Jesus continued the message where John the Baptist left it. But it's probably not what you think. It's not a message of religion - do's and dont's but of course all manners of life include those. No, this is a message of faith. It is a calling of faith. It is to become a person who lives by faith. It is about living an inspired life of faith.

The Gospel is not about getting out of Hell... it's not about fire insurance... it's about entrance into fellowship with God. It's really good news! Real faith zooms by escaping from something and looks more like moving toward something else. It's like: "Are you kidding me, I can have a personal relationship, a fellowship, a communion with the Creator of all things?" Yes, it's that kind of good news!

Now let me ask you. If you by faith can have this kind of daily experience, would you want to learn more and more and more? Of course you would; otherwise, you must be spiritually brain dead!

Sin (all things that fall short of God's perfection) is destructive like cancer. Sin is not a slave, it is a master. The good news of Jesus Christ is an opportunity to change the address of your soul from the residence of sin to the residence of heaven. Once your heart address has been changed (repentance), then your transformation continues as you continue to learn how heaven operates.

Jesus' message in modern words: here I am as promised many moons ago. Believe it, receive it, rejoice in it, live it, for you are now friend. Believe. Have faith. If this is alive in your heart, it changes everything. It's a game changer. The most amazing story ever told... God visits earth in Jesus Christ and says... follow me... it doesn't end here! 

Blessings.

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Fri, 04 Aug 2017 09:53:00 -0600 http://www.trustingod.com/mark-114-15,-nlt.html Jim Piper / Trust In God