Archive for category: John Fifteen

The Way It Is

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THE WAY IT IS

 

Table of Contents

The Author
Introduction

Part One: The Way It Is

Preface to Part 1

  1.    Does It Really Matter?
  2.    “Judge,…. Judge Not”
  3.    Ephesians 4:11
  4.    Spiritual Gifts
  5.    Leadership
  6.    Elders
  7.    The Holy Spirit and You
  8.    The Holy Spirit in the Assembly
  9.    Jesus and You
  10.    Teachers
  11.    Pastors
  12.    Denominations
  13.    Money

 

Part Two: The Way It Could Be
Preface to Part 2

  1.    John Fifteen
  2.    Will You Follow?
  3.    “He Will Guide You”
  4.    Jesus Commissions You
  5.    “Behold the Lamb”

 

 

A Catholic No More – Audio

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RECORDING AND REPRODUCING FOR DISTRIBUTION PURPOSES IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.

Pulpit Power – Audio

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RECORDING AND REPRODUCING FOR DISTRIBUTION PURPOSES IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.

Financing the Great Commission – Audio

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RECORDING AND REPRODUCING FOR DISTRIBUTION PURPOSES IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.

So You Want To Start A House Church – Audio

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RECORDING AND REPRODUCING FOR DISTRIBUTION PURPOSES IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.

Leave or Stay – Audio

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RECORDING AND REPRODUCING FOR DISTRIBUTION PURPOSES IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.

Vines and Branches – Audio

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RECORDING AND REPRODUCING FOR DISTRIBUTION PURPOSES IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.

Far and Near – Audio

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RECORDING AND REPRODUCING FOR DISTRIBUTION PURPOSES IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.

They Don’t Want Him! – Audio

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A Catholic No More

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A   C A T H O L I C   N O   M O R E

 

I N T R O D U C T I O N

 

Yesterday was the last day of August, 2008, and I was walking in a park.

Not much of a park, this park, a ten minute walk-around at a slow pace. I leave my van on the north side, across from Coopers groceries and close to Rutland Health Center, and walk the perimeter counterclockwise, just like thirty years ago.

Thirty years. My youngest grandchild is now about the same age as was my eldest child. Seen so much in these thirty years. Been to hell and back more than once.

There are some changes. The walk-on concrete slabs bearing donors’ names stretched much farther into the park. The tall swings are gone, and the graffiti-laden washrooms are locked up – I guess they just tired of the vandalism. And there’s a new child’s playground at the far end.

The war memorial kiosk is still there, of course, and the same small groups lying on the grass smoking whatever. And the pines, dozens of them, stretching high, screens around the trunks to protect from pine beetles. Lots of grass, lots of shade, lots of pine needles and pine cones.

It was here, thirty years ago, A Catholic No More was birthed.

The Lord had recently spoken three words to me, “Write a book.” That’s it, three words. I instantly sat up from my horizontal position on the couch. Write a book? I had never written a book. Never wrote much of anything.

For two or three months I spoke in tongues, asking the Lord to give me the interpretation in the form of the book He instructed me to write. Around and around (and around and around) this park I walked, praying in the Spirit. Mornings, afternoons, after work, after church – I paced and prayed, prayed and paced, not allowing myself to begin the book, not even in my thinker, until I sensed the pray season had elapsed.

It’s hard to pray in tongues hour after hour, day after day. But this was my first real assignment and I wanted it to be good. I had no idea the book would be based on the words of Jesus, Matthew 7:24 – 27.

Today I begin the task of putting my typewritten A Catholic No More unto my computer (soon to be on my website, larryjones.ca) making changes as I go, adding insight to insight, rewording, deleting, rearranging. Interesting to see how I was back then, the way I perceived, the history I lived.

Since, I have been into and out of evangelicalism. Fortunately, having been burnt sufficiently, I did not entirely leave my skepticism behind and still had eyes to see what most evangelicals were, and are, blind to. There is nothing in A Catholic No More that is not equally relevant to the evangelical, and this book could just as well be titled An Evangelical No More.

From then to now He took me through the storms. I was wounded often, most wounds self-inflicted, and always He applied healing ointment. When my well ran dry He replenished. Always there, always patient, always the faithful and true witness.

To Him – my loving Christ, my hero, my captain, my object of worship – I rededicated this very small work in the hopes He will make much of little.

Pulpit Power

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INTRODUCTION

A pastor, a plumber, a pulpit

Bryden Falls Community Christian Center

Bryden Falls…..skirting the Canada-U.S. border……somewhere in western Canada

The Challengers……a church men’s baseball team……in a secular league

Challenging American baseball supremacy

Financing the Great Commission

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FROM THE AUTHOR

This book is dedicated and addressed to the student of the Word.

Not every Christian is a student of the Word, though each should be. I define a student of the Word as: a serious inquisitor into the ways of God by the study of the Bible for the purpose of embracing those ways into his or her life in a determined effort to obey the Lord Jesus Christ.

The student of the Word does not study that he might know, but that he might do. He not only says, “Your word have I hid in my heart”, but he says, “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” He is not on a head trip. He is not a hearer only.

There are certain qualifications required to be a student of the Word. The student of the Word is free. Spiritual freedom is actually a rare commodity in the body of Christ. Paul was free and he said so: “I am free from all men.” If man is master, one is not free to follow after God. Prejudice, partisanship, fear of man – each of these disqualify the Christian from being a student of the Word. Such is merely a student of man.

The student of the Word loves God more than anyone or anything. “You shall have no other gods before me.” A person follows after the one he loves. The Holy Spirit is continually leading into truth, but only the one who loves God will follow. If man loves his church more than God, he will only follow the Spirit into truths having the endorsement of his first love, his church. No one will be able to say, “Excuse me, Lord, I didn’t know”, for He could well reply, “You didn’t know because you refused to be taught. You refused to be taught because you preferred deception. You preferred deception because you loved another more than Me.”

The student of the Word has a settled confidence in the Bible. He is convinced the Bible [the original manuscripts] is the pure, infallible Word of God. If there is a crack in one’s conviction, satan will surely find it. The student of the Word is a rare breed even though it is so easy to become one. Make this your prayer and you will become a student of the Word:

 

 

“Father, I come to You in Christ’s matchless and holy name. Forgive me for the times my mind and heart were closed to Your truths. I hereby declare before You that I choose in my heart of hearts to be a student of Your Word. I will obey the truths of Your Word as the Holy Spirit reveals them to me. I will study the Bible without fear or favor of man. If and when You unveil a misconception in my thinking, I will turn from that misconception and obey Your Word, even if in so doing it will cost me the approval and favor of others. I believe as I say this prayer, You are giving me the strength to be unwavering in this decision, and I receive that strength now, by faith, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

You are now a student of the Word. Congratulations! And this book is dedicated to you.

Many times you will be tempted to renege on your decision. It’s not easy to be a student of the Word. It’s not easy to stay free. It really isn’t. But God’s grace “is sufficient for you.” Should you ever stumble, simply get up and get going again.

This book deals with finances.

Your income costs the amount of time it took you to earn it. Spending income is spending life. Your money can buy so much or so little. Hopefully this book will help you spend with wisdom.

No, this book is not like many others you may have read on the subject of finances. It is quite different. You will [probably] be challenged as never before. Anyone less than a student of the Word will not finish it.

Now enter into this book. Come on in! I ask you to explore its logic with a free and open mind. Challenge. Sift. Weigh. You are responsible for you.

Note: The King James Version is used with some variance; thou and ye has been changed to you, hath to has, as he purposeth in his heart to as he purposes in his heart, etc.

To God be the glory [that is, may not one tiny fragment of recognition or praise fall upon any man, but rather may God almighty, the King of kings and Lord of lords, receive His full due, one hundred percent of the glory for any wisdom, knowledge and understanding the reader may derive from this book]!

So You Want To Start A House Church

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Article # one: Intro

So you want to start a house church. Could be a good idea. But first….

Perhaps it would be wise to inquire of the Lord Jesus, “Lord, I (we) would like to start a house church. Do You approve? Will You give me (us) permission to initiate this work?”

A house gathering having the Lord’s approval will be much more rewarding than the one that doesn’t. Believe me, you don’t want to get involved in something He hasn’t birthed (through whoever). You don’t want to waste more years. More than wanting the Lord to bless your good intention, you want to bless the Lord by your obedience. Obedience can sometimes mean accepting a no. (For me, a non-reply is a no.)

Much is done out of ‘religious ambition’ (a term I picked up somewhere) and there is a huge difference between religious ambition and obedience. Obedience is walking the path Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, has, in His sovereignty, placed before us. Religious ambition is following a path of our own making, noble or otherwise.

This is not to discourage, but to caution. It is quite possible “the head of the church” could approve of you starting (or attending) a house gathering. It certainly is more in accord to His Word than the evangelical way, and has the potential to be much more edifying.

Assuming you feel you have been given the ‘green light’ to begin this new work, I highly recommend caution. A mistake at the beginning may not be easily corrected. I repeat, it’s much easier to get it right at the beginning than to correct later. Change often causes injury and strife.

PLEASE NOTE: I offer my service.

I will come and help the small group intent on establishing a house church – assuming they are of the opinion the Lord Jesus has commissioned them to so do. This I will do at my own expense. Of course I must qualify that….

I will, upon invitation and after sufficient dialog, assist the small group intending to start a house gathering AS THE HOLY SPIRIT SO DIRECTS ME. (I think it is safe to surmise only those having read much of John Fifteen would contact me.)

You see, that’s how I try to live out my christianity – under the governorship of the Holy Spirit. I won’t go where He does not lead. That’s how I obey Jesus – by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit whom He has sent. My function would be to come for a time, perhaps 4-6 weeks (Anyone out there have a Class A motor home for sale?), and then leave again, transferring the full responsibility of the house church onto the group.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not suggesting a group needs me or anyone else to start a house church. “My grace is sufficient for you.” I would be thoroughly blessed just knowing insights from this series of articles could be beneficial to anyone daring this step of obedience to the prompting of the Lord Jesus.

C h a l l e n g e : Jesus said to Peter at the time of His arrest, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” Soon after He could say, “I have drank the cup which My Father has given Me.” May you one day be able to declare, “I have drank the cup which my Father has given me.” This is only possible to the one submissive to the Holy Spirit.

P r a y e r : Lord Jesus, on our own we will fail. But with You all things are possible. Help us to drink deeply of the cup the Father has given. And anoint this article with Your Holy Spirit. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)

Leave or Stay?

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Article # one: Intro

Leave or stay?

Leave the evangelical church system (be it denominational or inter- or non-), or stay and make the best of it.

Most likely you have never read a book dealing with this pointed question. (Perhaps such a book has yet to be invented.) Yet surely this issue, cautiously hidden in the hearts of many, should be confronted in print. Surely every issue must be brought under Bible light. And surely those who consider such a move as extreme should, in fairness, examine the rationale of those who do not.

Coming across a christian who does not attend a ‘church’ is becoming less rare, and perhaps will soon be commonplace. Every year hundreds of churches in North America are shutting down due to lack of attendance, and many of those no longer attending church-as-we-know-it are going deeper in the Lord, gathering in homes, having renounced traditional trappings.

The arguments for and against leaving and for and against staying are several, and weighing the matter just might bring to mind a play you have seen years ago:

T e v y e : On the other hand….. (Fiddler on the Roof)

Tevye the milkman was forced to arbitrate between Tevye the traditionalist and Tevye the unconventional father of three unconventional daughters. Just as he was about to come to a firm conclusion, a contrary but reasonable thought would upset his reasoning, and back and forth arguments flew across his distressed intellect. How would much practiced Tevye deal with this thorny issue? Hmmm…..

T r a d i t i o n a l T e v y e : For many, leaving the church system is a first step to abandoning the faith altogether!……………….. On the other hand…..

U n c o n v e n t i o n a l T e v y e : There are some, admittedly few, who have never regularly attended a gospel church, or any church, and their attachment to Christ is far healthier than most. Community unbelief stuffing most evangelical church buildings is contagious and highly detrimental……………….. On the other hand…..

T r a d i t i o n a l T e v y e : We can take comfort there is enough faith and truth in evangelicalism to keep at least most on the straight and narrow and thus assure heaven. Most active apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors as well as those with other gifts operate (admittedly only somewhat) within evangelicalism, and of course only those in attendance can benefit……………….. On the other hand…..

U n c o n v e n t i o n a l T e v y e : Evangelicalism has little resemblance to New Testament writings. It is difficult to be an attendee and not compromise the truths of the Bible……………….. On the other hand…..

T r a d i t i o n a l T e v y e : It is possible to be an attendee and not compromise the truths of the Bible. The local church certainly helps keep one from losing faith altogether……………….. On the other hand…..

U n c o n v e n t i o n a l T e v y e : The local church is a hindrance to the one seeking a deeper life in Christ. Lack of fruit evident in most churches indicates a feeble relationship with Jesus……………….. On the other hand…..

T r a d i t i o n a l T e v y e : The local church does have some good fruit and there is no assurance leaving will bring more fruit……………….. On the other hand…..

U n c o n v e n t i o n a l T e v y e : Jesus reprimanded those choosing tradition over His words. Much, perhaps most, of evangelicalism is based on tradition……………….. On the other hand…..

T r a d i t i o n a l T e v y e : Sometimes Jesus shows up in the services……………….. On the other hand…..

U n c o n v e n t i o n a l T e v y e : Many eyes are being opened, even those who have been in church leadership, to the pitfalls of being attached to the evangelical system……………….. On the other hand…..

T r a d i t i o n a l T e v y e : Most recognized and respected names within evangelicalism strongly advocate staying……………….. On the other hand…..

Well that was fun. We could go on and on. Perhaps it’s suffice to say there are drawbacks and advantages, possibilities and dangers, to both leaving and staying. It is an issue of increasing relevance. It is a subject warranting study. It is the focus of this series of articles.

C h a l l e n g e : Where you interact will help determine the person you will become. Do you remember what has been said in other articles about being submissive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Jesus has a personal path for your personal christianity. You will not find it without sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

P r a y e r : Father, in His name, the precious name of Your Son and our Elder Brother, give us understanding on this most crucial issue, Leave or Stay?. May Your hand be upon this entire series. May only Your words come forth. Thank You, Father. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)

Vines and Branches

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Article # one: Intro

Jesus called Himself a door (“I am the door”), bread (“I am the bread which came down from heaven”), light (“I am the light of the world”) and a vine (“I am the true vine”). We walk through Jesus the door to enter the Father’s kingdom, we eat the “bread of life” that we may have eternal life, we walk in the light to escape darkness, we attach ourselves to “the true vine” so we may bear fruit.

John 15 is the only chapter in John’s gospel that is entirely red ink. Jesus alone is speaking. Do you recall the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 7:24 – “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man.” John 15 is the pure words of our Teacher, and we would be wise to build our lives on what He is saying to us in this chapter.

Jesus directed these chapter 15 words to the twelve-minus-one after the Passover meal while Judas was about his nasty business of betrayal. However these words are also directed to each of us. It is important to see that, as Jesus was talking to them, He is talking to you whenever you read His words attentively. Otherwise the words would not have been recorded.

When Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Peter, for example, was to take this personal and realize from his Master’s perspective he, Peter, is a branch. Likewise you and I. From your Master’s perspective you are a branch. Jesus Christ calls you a branch and a branch is what you should consider yourself to be.

Jesus spoke John 15 to you as certainly as he spoke it to the eleven, as certainly as He spoke to anyone who is His. These words are not to the world but to the church. They are grand words, no words loftier, yours to be prized.

Jesus had been raised in practicality and knew about such things as shepherding and fishing and farming and agriculture, though apparently He was most familiar with carpentry. He was a man (Man) of the land who assimilated His surroundings. He not only noticed the widow who gave her last, He noticed the fig tree not bearing fruit and the healthy grape branches that did.

In this series we study His words, specifically verses one to eight. As John 3:16 is crucial to the world, so these words of John 15:1-8 are crucial to the church. Without the truths taught here, as taught elsewhere in various expressions, we cannot (cannot, cannot) bear good fruit. I strongly suggest you memorize these verses.

J O H N 1 5 : 1 – 8 :

  1. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
  2. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
  3. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
  4. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
  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.
  6. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
  7. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
  8. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

 

C h a l l e n g e : This series of articles is about abiding. At this moment you are abiding in, receiving nourishment from, someone or something. Perhaps you are attached to more than one ‘vine’, even several. Who you are is a result of who you have been fastened to during your christian years. Your God is a jealous God, jealous for you and your affections. Your Master, your Teacher, your King, Your Lord speaks to you through John chapter 15. If you seriously consider His words, and make room in your life for His words, you will prosper. You will be different to the degree you embrace them.

P r a y e r : Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God, anoint the reader and anoint my words, in Your priceless name I pray. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!)

Far and Near

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Article # one: Merf and Mannie

Far or near. Far from Christ or near to Christ. Or somewhere in between.

Positionally, we are equal. The Lord has given everyone everything. We are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” But not so relationally. Whereas our position is determined by Christ, our relationship is determined by Christ and us. It’s the and us part of Christ and us that’s the problem.

Relationally speaking, we each have as much of Christ as we desire. If we wanted less we would have less; if we wanted more we would have more.

No two have the same ‘amount’ of Jesus.

There are a hundred men at a christian business luncheon. Financially, no two are worth the same. A few are wealthy and a few are broke and most are somewhere in-between. The majority is near average, but no two are exactly the same.

Likewise is the value of their relationship with Christ. A few are rich, a few poor and most somewhere in-between. The majority is near average, but no two are exactly the same.

J E S U S : I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. (John 15:5)

There are degrees of abiding. Abiding implies relationship.

J E S U S : According to your faith let it be to you. (Mat. 9:29)

There are degrees of faith. Faith goes no deeper than relationship.

In this series we compare the christian who walks close to Christ with the one who distances him/herself. How different is his life on earth. How different will be her eternity.

Merf and Mannie will help illustrate far and near. Merf and Mannie are my imaginary friends, a married couple, both inching toward forty, together they run a home business. A flip of the coin tells me Merf will be near and Mannie will be…. well you know, Mannie. Heh-heh.

C h a l l e n g e : “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

P r a y e r : Father, bless this series of articles. Not only because it’s relevant. Not just because it contains a degree of Your perspective. But because I ask it in the name of Jesus. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)

They Don’t Want Him!

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Article # one: Intro

There is something wrong.

The born-again experience should initiate a fruitful christian lifestyle. The babe in Christ should soon become an adult warrior. Childhood is something to be passed through. The intended outcome of the newborn is an adult, a woman or a man, mature and able. Paul was such a man.

Paul was a man. Though threatened, stoned, beaten and incarcerated, he did his job, finished his course, and did so without whining. He never pampered himself. A man keeps his body in submission.

Paul was a man. He lived fully. There was zest in that soul. Though bruised, he conquered. Though rejected, he preached. He was faithful.

Is there someone akin to Paul in your christian community? Look around. Do you see spiritual men or sucklings? Women or wimps? Soldiers or civilians? Are the faithful or the careless the majority?

There is something wrong. Seriously wrong. Can’t you see it?

Miracles occur elsewhere. Sick christians become dead christians. T.V. “is the opium of the people.” The prayer closet is a storage room, god comfort is king, the preacher’s well is dry, the lost stay lost. What is wrong?

I think I know.

“They don’t want Him! They don’t want Him!”

Let me explain.

I was talking to a family friend – well, truthfully, I was talking at a family friend – my mouth was motoring pretty good, saying stuff like, “What is missing in the church is none other than Jesus Christ.” And, “I call Him The Forgotten One.” Etc.

She is a seasoned christian, this family friend, classy, her speech layered with grace, certainly not radical or opinionated. Had I gone too far, said too much? And then she responded:

“They don’t want Him! They don’t want Him!”

That’s all she said. What is she talking about? Who is Him? Who are they? Perhaps she hadn’t been hearing me. Days later – yes, days later – I got it.

Him is Jesus Christ. They are christians (yes, the born-again type, the only kind there is). Wow! Even I had never said, or even thought, something so extreme. But she was right! “They don’t want Him!” is both the problem and the bottom line within evangelicalism and beyond.

I would add one word to “They don’t want Him!” Enough. They want Christ, but not enough.

Enough for what? Enough to seat Him on the throne of their lives.

But again, who are they?

First, they are not everyone. Some, praise the Lord!, want Him….. enough. Who love Christ more than life. Who is their life.

But they are definitely the majority. They are Joe and Jill Average Christian, family and friends, acquaintances and customers. They attend church, don’t swear or smoke or spit, and don’t hang with those who smoke and swear and spit.

They are the lukewarm, the spiritual sleepy, less than conquerors. For sure, they are as in as the fervent….. in God’s grace, in the family, in the book of life. As the faithful, they are never ignored by the Lord.

But life is a travesty. Not only will they – I am speaking of the majority! – miss their destiny, their high calling, they won’t even know, this side of heaven, what that destiny is. I think there are multitudes in heaven who would trade they places, consider it a privilege to enter once more the battle zone for men’s souls. You see, up there there is only fervency.

There is something wrong, and that something is a lack of want for our beautiful Jesus. The answer is conversion – again. The answer is not ahead – some experience not yet had or teaching not yet heard – but behind, an altar once a dwelling place, a fervor once kept. We know a viable relationship with Jesus is attainable because we once attained it. He was the center and can be again.

Thus this series of articles. (Thus this website.)

C h a l l e n g e : Perhaps you are fervent or perhaps you are not. No matter who you are, there is more. If your life is worth a hundred dollars it could be worth a thousand. If it’s worth a thousand it could be worth a million. Christian, there is more. In Christ (with Christ, by Christ), there is more. You can run and complete, influence and conquer, gain and win. In Christ. Only in Christ.

P r a y e r : Holy Spirit, words fall ineffectual to the ground without Your unction. To the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, anoint the truths of this message. To Him be all praise. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)