Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sparrow, what are your thoughts on universalism?

I want to share something with you, my readers and friends,  in order to be fully honest with you, and so you will know where I stand. 

I have been asked what my view is on universalism and have been asked if I am now leaning towards that, and how I came to the place I'm at right now.  So this post is to hopefully answer that question:

Over the course of the last year, in going through some really hard times in my family with sickness, hospitalization, loss of a family member, I have come through some deep experiences with God and just experienced His presence in such a powerful way, and experiencing the eternal reality in a vivid and life-altering way, it is like God just impressed upon me very strongly that everything is okay deep down in the ultimate sense and that everything will be okay in the eternal sense, for me, for my family, for everyone.  Having this experience of God and of spiritual reality, almost like experiencing a taste of heaven and seeing how the heavenly realm and really God Himself just underlies and holds up all things in the universe, and that since He is perfect and pure love, love is behind and beneath the surface of everything, it just grounded me in a deep way and brought a rest to me, a deep sense of knowing that all is well and all will be well, for everyone..that it's all going to work out okay for everyone in the end..I now don't think anyone will be in hell eternally but that all will end up in heaven eternally.


I know that many consider this heresy and I did for many years, too!  But this is where I am on my journey.  I don't take my change in beliefs lightly, in fact I struggled with such ideas for quite a while and was afraid to believe such things, afraid God would be angry with me, eventually hoping this was so but afraid it wasn't true, then relieved when God assured me it IS true!  Now my experience is a personal one, not something that could be scientifically verified, not something that necessarily will hold water with other people..but it is real for me, it is true in my life, it has brought me such peace and relief.  It has brought an end, finally, to the searching and seeking I've been through all my Christian life, searching for a place of real REST in the arms of God, searching for a way to be able to really, really, TRUST Him ...I have found that through experiencing Him so deeply in that troubling time of family crisis. 

Before, I wasn't able to fully, completely trust Him, because there was a hesitance in my mind, a fear of someone who would allow some  to suffer in hell in eternal torment..it was like there was a dark side to this 'god' that would do such a thing, and I couldn't fully relax, rest in Him, or trust Him because He didn't feel completely, totally 'safe.'  Even after coming to understand Grace, which took away many fears and helped me see Him as love, there was still something struggling to rest completely and fully.  There was somehow still a hidden fear of wrath, a fear He might turn on me...for God seemed willing to reject some and allow them to suffer eternal torment in a place he made called hell...hell remained in my belief system, and as long as it was there, so was my fear!  This was truly the cause of my problems with distrust, with my fear of God, with my inability to rest, with my endless seeking for relief from some undiagnosed angst, but I didn't know it was the cause or root of these problems until God impressed upon me the depth and scope of His grace and love and His assurance that 'all will be well' for all people!  And then I immediately began to rest, to trust, to relax in Him!  The weight of that hidden, nameless, deep fear fell off!  It's so wonderful because now I can really believe Him to be all LOVE, because I know He won't leave anyone out in the cold, He will bring all the people He made, all humanity, for we are all His offspring, home to Him in the end! 

Everything will be okay, for me and for all people..He will get us home no matter what..it isn't up to us but up to Him..therefore we are truly safe, all of us!  He's got the whole world in His hands and we can't fall out, there is not even a place to fall out to, for all of the universe is IN Him, there is no OUT!  What a relief!  Hell dissolves, it never was real, the hell was in our minds as we were only separated from Him in our minds - in other words, we thought we were separated, but it was an illusion, a lie! We never were separated!  All of creation exists by Him, through Him, in Him.  For from Him, and through Him and to Him are ALL things!  Unto Him ALL flesh shall come!  Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world, and He completed the work the Father gave Him to do!  He reconciled all things to Himself, and all flesh shall see it together, the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, all nations will come to Him, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, for He is the spirit in man, He is pleased to reveal Christ IN us, and the spirit RETURNS to God who gave it!

I don't know how, don't have a clue what some Bible verses mean, don't have it all worked out in my mind, I just know that I know that all will be well for everybody and that grace means something so much deeper than I ever imagined, it really means He will bless us, keep us, love us, save us, no matter what, all of us, bring every last little lamb home no matter what!  Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (for we were lost in our thoughts of loneliness and fear, confused by lies of separation and abandonment) and now I see He truly accomplished His mission and will bring every person home, and that was never in doubt! 

There is so much I don't understand, but this is where I am at right now and where I feel God Himself led me.  It is just my personal experience and I am not asking or demanding that anyone else believe this, not trying to push my ideas on anyone, I hope!  I respect anyone else's belief and I have definitely believed other things for most of my life!  But this is where I feel God has brought me.  I have been relieved and encouraged to find that there are evangelical Christians who believe that all will one day end up in heaven.  This has encouraged me.  But it wasn't through reading books of others that I came to believe this, but simply through a deep experience of God as pure love and grace in time of crisis.  I will never be the same.  It was like a near death experience, coming at the same time as a dear family member was passing into heaven.  I look back on that time now and in my memory, it is just flooded with the light and warmth of heaven. I can't explain it! But anyway, that is where I am at and I feel I need to be honest and share that. 

18 comments:

  1. Hello Sparrow!

    I found what people focus on is what they will gravitate towards. Those who focus on an angry "god" will find scripture appearing to affirm their opinion. Their lives are characterized by their angry god as they can never seem to please him.

    If one tries to balance their god's anger with love then you tend to have one that is typical of humans. You have a loving god but do not cross him. Usually such a view is where anger triumphs love in the end.

    Then we have people like you, who were so touched by the love of God that His love keeps expanding. You are not becoming less convinced of it but thoroughly convinced. The fear of retribution disappears as perfect love casts out all fear. If perfect love casts out all fear then who shall fear a love that nothing can separate us from??

    Do I believe in Universalism? I certainly do 'not' believe in hell as my blogs will make it very clear because it was turned into an after death experience, but many of the teachings on Universalism come across as christless in its message. It probably explains why many universalists I have met are angry and argumentative. I rarely hear the gospel being preached from many of them as their message seems devoted to proving there is no hell and tearing apart anyone who disagrees. I rarely feel the love in forums that they sought to overrun.

    I simply know that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Jesus is the Lamb that taken away the sin of the world, and we know that sin was unbelief. We also know that God concluded all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all proving He has taken it away (Romans 11:32). We know God is the Father of all. Paul affirmed that when a cult said that God birthed us all and Paul affirmed that we are all indeed His offspring. Jesus is the savior of the world. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess. He is the savior of all men, especially of those that believe. God has been reconciled to the world, and is not imputing sins to the world. In Adam all die, but in Christ, the same all shall be made alive. Before Calvary, all have sinned and come short (3:23) but verse 24 states that we were "justified freely." Religion obscures that by how they focus on the word "believe." We simply believe what God affirms. The "all" that sinned are those that are freely justified, as verse 24 is not limiting its extent. The word "freely" means "without a cause." He freely justified the "all have sinned" without reason. The only reason given in Romans 5 is LOVE!!!

    I simply know that nobody ever feared not being reunited with their loved ones. All died with Christ at Calvary (2nd Cor. 5:14) and we know that if we died with Him that we shall live with Him (2nd Timothy 2:11). What happens to the man/woman who wants nothing to do with God is not something I can answer because the bible is silent on the specifics. All I know is that the same love that embraced me embraces them. The "other son" refused to enter the party that was for his sinning brother who returned (prodigal son), but we read that the Father stayed outside with His other son bidding him to the party and not banishing him away. Grace is greater than our sins and if one is forever banished then clearly his/her sins were greater than God's grace that is impossible. Grace is for the undeserving and let us never forget that.

    I guess our beholding God's love is leading us to the same place!

    Be sure to visit my new website Sparrow:

    http://pureunadulteratedgrace.net/

    Blessings,

    Dave

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  2. Dave, thank you so much for your rich response to this post! You are so well-versed in scripture and have been studying and pondering these things for so long, and I really appreciate so much what you shared, it helps clarify things for me! I love what you said about the vision of God's love continually expanding for me - YES! That is how it feels, I am realizing over and over again that His love is so much bigger, better, and far-reaching than I ever dreamed! The good news just keeps getting 'gooder and gooder!' He's such an awesome Papa, isn't He? I love the picture you drew of the Father standing outside the party with the older brother..knowing how tender and loving and patient that Father is, I know no older brother could resist His persuasions to come join the party..it certainly didn't take this 'older sister' very long before His love overwhelmed me and I found myself enjoying that party..starting here on earth and to be continued for all eternity, wow..what a lovely thought..thank you for all your insight and thank you for your continued friendship and encouragement, my brother! This idea of all coming into the party at last is such a new and wonderful idea for me, yet so grounding and happy and peaceful..I have never been so in love with God, life, other people and even my own dear self..isn't HE so wonderful? Love wins, it really has in my life, what a beautiful thing to be won over by His love that never gives up on us, never stops pursuing us, and never never ends towards us! Held by a love that will not let us go, how safe we are.. Blessings to you, Dave! I will check out your new website!

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  3. Sparrow , I really don't know what to think about this ,but I will come back sometime and weigh in on it . This is heavy stuff , LOL . No matter what tho , I will always love you . There have been so many times after reading your blog that I felt peace .You rememeber the time I almost died in the hospital ? It was your blog that kept my spirits up . Im trying to trust that you are really on board with this universalism thing .
    Mathew

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  4. Mathew, please don't worry about any of this if it's not on your radar right now, or if it makes you feel unsettled in any way..you had asked what my thoughts were and I wanted to write down where I am at right now, but these are simply my thoughts and I want to be humble and teachable and know that I could be wrong about some things..I think we can all have different ideas and have different things we are thinking of and that's fine, the simplicity of just knowing Christ and knowing God's love and grace is really all that matters and what truly binds us together in friendship and joy, don't you think? We know Jesus and grace and that's all that matters deep down, wouldn't you say?
    Thank you for your uplifting words about my blog. I am so glad that any thoughts here about God's grace and love helped you when you were in the hospital..God ministered to you in His great love, that is so beautiful..you are such a fine son of His that He is so proud of! Wonderful to be in God's family together, isn't it!
    I hope that nothing I said upset you. The main thing is always God's love, and this blog will always be about that. I never want this to be a place of division, arguing doctrinal points, etc. Just a place to celebrate His love for us!
    In Him, Sparrow

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  5. Sparrow , No ,Nothing you said upset me .LOL You don't know it but I have thought the same thing at times because like you I have been through some extremely difficult and tough lonely times in my life and all I had was him and he kept me afloat even through i wanting to just give up . It was these times that I got to know just how much he loved me ,that he will never give up on me, ever . So I actually lean toward universalism because I know him closely and I know he is so good ,I read all the scriptures you wrote above to . however ,there are those scriptures like it is only through Jesus that we are saved that cause me from jumping all in to universalism . I really don't think about it much though . I was talking with someone a while back and was joking with him and i said ,"you have it all figured out ,don't you?" and he said "I do for me " What he said really made me think and that's how i feel to LOL I found the treasure went back and sold everything i have and bought the field . I just leave it all up to God these days and trust that he will work it all out in peoples lives . He is Good, he is love .
    Your friend
    Mathew

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  6. Mathew, what a perfect thing you wrote, that is how I feel too, like I don't have it all figured out, I just have it figured out for me right now! I take your words to heart about leaving it up to God, knowing He'll work things out in people's lives..that is how I feel too! We will never get all the answers in this life, yet we are somehow completely fine with that, just knowing HE has it all 'figured out' and that is enough, because He is GOOD! Isn't it great to know that the One holding this whole universe, and everyone in it, is simply, purely, ecstatically, splendidly GOOD! Nothing to fear, God is here, and God is GOOD!
    Blessings to you and thank you for all you said, it really encouraged me, my brother Mathew!
    Sparrow

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  7. Dear Sparrow,

    Last night I found myself re-reading the passage about the Tree of Life and its leaves healing the nations. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

    I’ve often thought this about your writing, and sometimes want to tell you! Lately I’ve been a little more aware with my eyes closed in the silence, of an image of a stream flowing within me, flowing within us all, or would do if we’d only be still, believe and let it.

    I also believe that what we can see in others, individually, the same is true for all of us collectively (Maybe that’s just my heart wishing it so!), that when we open our eyes, the eyes of our heart’s, then we begin to see that this river of Life is flowing in the midst of us collectively too, with an abundance of healing leaves.

    I can’t pin this onto a particular post of yours, it’s not Reconciliation really, and it’s not really Universalism either. I suppose it’s more of a ‘looking at the picture from God’s point of view’ as Corrie would have said! (Boy, has that Lady touched my life!) And yet it IS a Universalist viewpoint, where all labels are left behind, all religions, races, doctrines… where there is no difference between ANY of us, no age difference, no gender difference. For our Father sees behind all opinions, all arguments, behind all preferences and despite all of our apparent physical differences or emotional choices, loves us all equally, individually, collectively, as ONE.

    I guess I just love to see Jesus in our midst, the seed that he planted in the midst of us long ago in time, but right here and now in Eternity too where there is no need of time!
    Sorry if this is a little 'off topic'! :-)

    Best wishes.

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  8. Sparrow you just made my day!!!!! While I was reading your post and all the comments..it struck me..the Bible says that God is Omnipresent..which means of course He's everywhere ALL THE TIME. Now I know bad things happen all over the world and it's because we live in a fallen world, and I'm sure it breaks God's heart. But, most churches teach that God is omnipresent like I said, but at the same time teach that in "hell", God is nowhere to be found..They say (I've heard it all my life) if you wind up in hell, (imagine I'm using my hellfire and brimstone voice) THEN YOUR THERE FOREVER AND AWAY FROM GOD FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER!!!! Wait a minute..I thought you just said that God was omnipresent? And you see? The contradictions begin.. I'm done rambling, thank you Sparrow for sharing that beautiful post!!!

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  9. Woolly, I love what you said about the tree planted within that is growing and thriving in and through and among us all as we float in the river of life - wow, God's presence in, around, among and through us! What a beautiful picture - I never saw it quite that way before, but it's so wonderful..He truly IS the One under, beneath, within and flowing forth, He truly sees us beyond all issues, doctrines and disagreements..we truly are ONE in Him with is the One Life upholding us all! Talk about universal! Your words made me think of it in such a deeper way..thank you so much for sharing that and yes, I think it is a fitting comment!
    Blessings to you my brother!
    Sparrow

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  10. Drew, that is so awesome and makes such perfect sense - so obviously true - how can we be separated from One who is omnipresent - YES! I love that! There is no place where He is not!...He will never leave us or forsake us, it's impossible because of His very nature of omnipresence..this makes hell (I've always heard it defined as 'separation from God') fly out the window and be seen as something that could never have existed anyways, something man must have made up in his fear that he was abandoned..but we never were abandoned, it's impossible! I think of how when He incarnated as a baby human He even told us His very name is Emmanuel - 'God with us' - what a reassurance that we can never escape Him, will never be abandoned, never were alone and never will be! We have always been IN Him for there is no 'out of' Him! Wherever we are we are in His presence, and in His presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore...the presence of the Lord is liberty, freedom, expansiveness...in Him is Life, and Life more abundant That's heaven/eternal life indeed, yippee!
    Thank you so much for sharing that! It gets me so excited just thinking about it! Wow!
    Have a great day in Him!
    Sparrow

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  11. Hi Sparrow,
    If you don’t mind I’d like to share something with Drew? I loved his ‘hellfire and brimstone’ voice by the way!

    A few years ago because of my religious upbringing, I was convinced that I when I died I would be, like you said, in hell forever and ever. This terrified me so much and I could see no way out of it that my life started breaking down. It consumed my every waking thought. In the end I would get up in the night and walk in the countryside in the dark until dawn and even then I couldn’t face life. There was no one who came to me, no friend to comfort me, no one in my family understood what was inside my head. There was no doctor or counsellor to understand me. I was terribly alone. It was terrifying. I didn’t drink or take drugs to get away from it – where could I go anyway?
    There didn’t seem to be a Psalm to save me or a promise that I could hold up as a shield.

    Then in the early hours one morning in the midst of my despair, for I knew that I was as far away from ‘God’ as someone could possibly be, it was so dark inside me, there was such an abyss, (there’s no pit so deep…) I heard a far off small voice clearly tell me to get up. I don’t mean, ‘get up out of bed’ or out of the house, but more like ‘get up and go and live’ or ‘get up and go and have life’ This was my own inner voice and yet it didn’t come from anywhere in me that was affected by the doubts and fears and anxiety and terror. Simply ‘Get up’

    Which can only mean that He was in there all along – I mean, I don’t believe for a moment that I’ve been walking around like an empty carcass since I’ve been born, and I don’t believe that His light was there only once I’d said the ’Jesus I take you into my heart’ prayer, or ‘accepted Jesus as my Saviour’ or when I was baptized first or second time, or when I was ‘born again’ whenever that was/is/will be!  So ‘the Light that lights all men’s hearts that comes into the world’ must be in all of us, always has been, always will be. God with us – all ways, all times, every-where, every-One. Yeah, omnipresent means omnipresent!
    To me it seems as if there’s so not any real separation at all that we are actually ALL One with Him already we just don’t realise it yet!

    Thanks for indulging me,
    Woolly

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  12. Wow, that a wonderful account of what happened to you, Woolly! He has always been there and always will be..what a comforting relief...I just want to say those words over and over..it brings to mind the Bible verse where Paul says God revealed Christ IN him..He has been there all along and reveals Himself in such beautiful ways, at just the right moment, and darkness becomes light around us, eternity breaks forth and shines in our hearts on the light of His face within, and a spring of living water that has always been within bubbles forth and we are able to 'get up and go and have life' as you so beautifully said!
    "To me it seems as if there is not any real separation at all, that we are actually ALL One with Him already, we just don't realise it yet!" Wow, I love that!
    Thank you for sharing that, I am sure Drew and everyone else will be encouraged..I love how we build each other up here and there is no word of discord or anger but only of support and kindness here under the waterfall of His grace and love...
    Sparrow

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  13. That was awesome Woolly! Thank you for sharing with me and everybody on here, when everything is said and done..LOVE WINS. Like you and Sparrow and everybody else, I don't have everything figured out, most assuredly never will, but God had it ALL figured out before time even began, so resting in Him "should" be getting easier every day..but I know how us humans work..LOL. Have a great day everybody!! JESUS IS LORD!!!

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  14. Yes, Sparrow, there just hasn’t ever-even-been-a-single-teeny-tiny-moment’s-separation from His point of view! And you KNOW that yourself when you get a glimpse in the silence and stillness. And if it that experience was true for you for just one instant in your life, then it follows quite naturally that it is always true for all time. And if it’s true for you - when you did nothing to earn it or merit it or make the Light live in you, then why not for the next person who might think in an entirely different way from you?

    I certainly don’t have the answers, but I believe that the answer is inside of us ALL anyway! Somehow we just need each other to bring the answers out!

    Drew, I don’t know if you get it where you live, but when I look up at the night sky and see the wonderful Northern Cross, which is made is partly by the constellation of Cygnus, it SO speaks to me of the KNOWING of what was to come, even before time began. Next time you look at it just imagine ”He KNEW even way back then!” Blows me away!

    Be awesome!

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    1. I was going to add something but then I realized that the words shared already are perfect just as they are..blessings to you all!

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  16. Hi Sparrow,

    So everybody's not going to agree and I'm glad you don't want to force your beliefs on other people. I know you can also argue different positions from the Bible but I don't want to do that. However you may say that God revealed to you that everyone would make it to heaven but then someone else will say that God revealed to them there is a hell and people are going there which is why it's not a bad idea to search these things out for ourselves and go to God for ourselves. So on that note do you get your answers from the Bible or just as God reveals these things to you. Personally I can't understand how a loving God could send people to hell but if people make that choice themselves knowing that Jesus paid the price for everyone and they refuse His gift then it begins to make more sense. I still don't like it but some people would rather earn their way into heaven instead of getting in freely. I also know there's many things we don't understand as well for example I never understood how God could send the flood but then I heard a pastor talking about the people back then having mixed DNA and how no one was 100% human except Noah. Basically if they were still around we might have Greek mythical creatures living like cyclops or something else that was crazy and I don't think that's too farfetched considering the way some angels are described in the Bible. Anyway the flood makes more sense in that kind of scenario or else none of us might be here today. So again do you just get your answers by revelation or the Bible or how else? And what do you think about all the contradictions we have as Christians between different denominations? I hope I'm not being argumentative. Just trying to understand where you're coming from.

    Peace

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  17. Hello there Hesed777, and thank you for your thoughts and comments..no I do not find you argumentative...I think we all have honest questions and it's good to ask them and see where the other person is coming from. I don't have answers to your questions or thoughts really, but do find them interesting and intelligent thoughts. For me, I get my ideas from the Bible but really and truly the revelation is something that is weighing in the most strongly on this issue. I can see several Bible verses that seem to say the opposite, yet perhaps it was only my interpretation of them that made it seem this way. I know far too little about the Bible to really say a certain interpretation is correct, in fact I think the more years go by, the less I feel I understand about the Bible, lol! I just know that when I was in the midst of a very dark time, something happened, and experience, and I came out of it with an inner knowing stronger than words or thoughts or reasonings, and inner knowing that 'all is well, and all shall be well..' and it was life-changing..for me it's like a great weight of fear and anxiety is gone from my life and I can finally relax and really trust God and just live my life with peace and joy, not having to worry about the future and some possibility of a 'bad ending' to come. In that dark time I experienced God and He was all love and He spoke to me deeper than words, He spoke to my spirit simply by His presence, and after experiencing Him like that as pure love and safety and strong supportive arms beneath me, I KNOW that I KNOW that everything is going to be okay for me and everyone. I can't really explain it! And after that I could see how some verses in the Bible that I'd interpreted one way could now be interpreted in another way. But really, the truth is, having to get all the verses to line up seems less important to me. It's like my mind isn't frantic over that anymore. My mind is at rest. More deeply at rest than maybe it's ever been! I think it is great where you are in your thoughts and beliefs and I am so happy for you in the peace you have believing as you do. I think we can have differing thoughts and that is fine, don't you? I think that is what is going on with the differing denominations, people are just honestly believing as they do based on the information and experiences and teachings they've been exposed to up to that point in their lives. It seems that God isn't too perturbed by all the differences in beliefs, He just seems to love hanging out with His kids, no matter what they think on different matters! He seems to care far more about friendship with us, sharing life with us in all its ups and downs, rather than getting all the theological p's and q's just right, don't you think? We are all siblings in God's family and that's what matters in the end. There are many things I believe that I have changed my mind on over time, so maybe one day I will change my mind on this, I really don't know. I just know this is where I am at right now. I could be wrong. I am just honestly going on my understanding and experience and interpretation of scripture right now. This is where I am at, and I celebrate where you are at, my friend! Sending peace and joy to you! (Hope I answered your questions sufficiently!)

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14