Thursday, November 9, 2017

Reflection - Challenges and hopes in response to His call

Source (book): "Finding rest for the soul", Chapter One, Question 1, Page 32.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
PHOTO: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)
Jesus is not selling anything in Matthew 11:28-29. Neither is He luring us into a trap to spend money. His "Come to me" is an effective way to grab our attention. We have to take the invitation to "Come to Me" seriously, because it comes from our Creator, our Physician, and our Saviour. It is out of His love and grace that He is calling us with the offer of rest, light yoke, provide learning opportunities and even provide rest for the soul.
Despite the challenges in response to His offer of our salvation, Jesus is the only hope to begin our journey towards heaven and eternal life. This in itself is already a comfort, and provides the rest for our soul.
Picture saved by Brenda Clark to ~Quotes and Scripture~ from Photobucket
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https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/27/4e/c7274e92be46117acb44eb720a1a4a33.jpg
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/296463587941588292/



Read Matthew 11:28-29 slowly. Allow the words to enter your heart and soul, until you realise that Jesus is speaking to you personally. Then speak to Him in response. Tell Him about your challenges and hopes. What have you discovered about these things?

Read Matthew 11:28-29 slowly. Allow the words to enter your heart and soul, until you realise that Jesus is speaking to you personally.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)



Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
PHOTO: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)
Picture saved by Lisa Jackson to Word of God, Speak
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https://i.pinimg.com/736x/88/9e/b7/889eb789b8c404001d805d62801ffd06--matthew---my-jesus.jpg
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/211669251209844104/



Jesus is not selling anything in Matthew 11:28-29
Have you walked pass a shop, only to be accosted by a persuasive salesman standing at the entryway? "Come in," he says, with pragmatic friendliness. "There is no obligations," he reassures you, "just have a look." He might tempt the shopper in you by promising a good bargain, pointing out the prominently-placed signboards declaring big discounts on everything. The words "Come in" are often experienced today as an invitation to spend money. [1]

But the invitation that we hear from Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29 is a of a different kind. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," he says. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Jesus is not selling anything and we would be wrong to approach Him thinking we can buy something or get a good discount.



Jesus is not selling anything in Matthew 11:28-29
PHOTO: Jesus is not selling anything in Matthew 11:28-29
we would be wrong to approach Him thinking we can buy something or get a good discount. It is out of His love and grace that He is calling us with the offer of rest, light yoke, provide learning opportunities and even provide rest for the soul.
Picture posted by Rain Tears on 24 August 2014
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http://blog.pianetadonna.it/l67/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/strada-2.jpg
http://blog.pianetadonna.it/l67/migliori-qualunque-quelle-incontri-per-strada-incroci-sorriso/



"Come to me" is an effective way to grab people's attention
I have taken groups to Israel, where we often hire local tour guide. When he brings us to a site of interest, he will gather everybody by calling out, "Come to me", so that we will congregate around him to listen to what he has to say. Perhaps it's a common expression in Israel - maybe even one that Jesus and His contemporaries heard frequently. It's certainly an effective way to grab people's attention. It indicates that our guide is going to say something important, something that we really need to hear. Of course, we could just ignore him and continue with whatever we were doing before, or we could wander off in the middle of his instruction. Either way, we will miss out on whatever the guide is trying to communicate - be it an interesting fact or enduring insight.



'Come to me' is an effective way to grab people's attention
PHOTO: "Come to me" is an effective way to grab people's attention
Perhaps it's a common expression in Israel - maybe even one that Jesus and His contemporaries heard frequently. It's certainly an effective way to grab people's attention. It indicates that Jesus is going to say something important, something that we really need to hear.
Picture posted by LinkedIn Corporation
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https://www.slideshare.net/thingscatholic/it-is-i-jesus-come-to-me-each-new-day



Take the invitation to "Come to Me" seriously
What makes Jesus' invitation so important is the fact that it comes from the most important Person in history. We all know who Jesus is. As His disciple Simon Peter confessed, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). The Messiah, who came to earth to die in our place and win for us true forgiveness, freedom, and eternal life, is one of the three Persons in the divine Godhead. We have to take the invitation to "Come to Me" seriously, because it comes from our Creator, our Physician, and our Saviour.

 

Take the invitation to 'Come to Me' seriously
PHOTO: Take the invitation to "Come to Me" seriously
The Messiah, who came to earth to die in our place and win for us true forgiveness, freedom, and eternal life, is one of the three Persons in the divine Godhead. We have to take the invitation to "Come to Me" seriously, because it comes from our Creator, our Physician, and our Saviour.
Picture posted by God's Minute Station Network
https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-R3qb5FrOL0I/WgQPC66x50I/AAAAAAAAofs/eDLGUOqvYU8-wWYx_Ru8z1NFQMpWolZBwCLcBGAs/s1600/ninos-jesus.jpg
http://minutodedios.fm/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ninos-jesus.jpg
http://minutodedios.fm/una-imagen-vale-mas-mil-palabras-142/



Then speak to Him in response (to the calling of Jesus). Tell Him about your challenges and hopes.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

The calling and offer is targeted at us who are weary and burdened, which includes everyone of us. For whatever methods we use, we fall short of the requirements to enter heaven and to receive the inheritance promised by God. We clearly need His help and grace which he provided by sending His Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us so that we can be saved and have eternal life in heaven. Believe, faith and trust in Jesus Christ is the only way for our salvation. While we are willing to answer to the call, there are challenges.

Challenges in response to the calling of Jesus
Lack of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ

Since young till my present middle-age, there were many challenges in whatever tasks I am doing. Study results from school were not among the comfortable passing level. Often there were hard struggles to meet the requirements to proceed to the next stage. Everything seems difficult and almost impossible to achieve. After my school days, there was no relief in my working life either. Long hours and stressful demands made life in this world unbearable. There were fierce competitions and I mostly ended up as the loser and were rejected in incentives and advancements. Compared to my friends, colleagues and peers, I am nowhere. They have successful careers, families and healthy lives. I am out of job, single and with poor health. . I am fat, old, ugly and without wealth. No class, no standard.

It is hard to believe that there is somebody who can offer rest, light yoke, provide learning opportunities and even provide rest for the soul. I has been trained to accept that nothing is free and there will be intense struggles waiting around every corner. I therefore hesitate to response to the calling of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29 because of the fear to invite more troubles into my life. There are so many scams in this world that make us suspicious of any free goodies. Those scams are potential traps that can lure us into misfortunes and losses. Lack of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ prevent me from responding to the calling enthusiastically.


Lack of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ
PHOTO: Lack of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ
We need to overcome our shortcoming, especially our poor response to God's grace, and lack of trust and faith in Him. The best way to this problem is through prayer and reading His Word. But when our prayer is done we may still feel worried and scared about it. We may not be able to help how we feel but we can help our actions.

When we pray about a problem try telling God we trust Him for it. Then tell God that although we may not feel like we trust Him, we are going to act like we do. That’s when our feelings have to be lined up with our actions. We have to act like we trust God and soon our feelings come under the control of our actions.
Picture posted by Grace Communion International
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https://www.gci.org/files/chasm.jpg
https://www.gci.org/disc/02-faith
http://veryfatoldman.blogspot.sg/2017/06/reflection-decisions-make-following.html



The world add more obstacles
Our development to perfection by God's will and the work of the Holy Spirit takes time. While still far from being perfect we need to attend church and feel uncomfortable during the worship. Unable to sing and afraid to join in group activities causes more uneasiness. I am not as holy as the others in the church and feel out of place. I don't like to to be near to the pastor at the front, but somehow this is where I will be, without the "safety distance".

Just imaging sitting near the boss of your company. It is always about what he wants, being belittled with embarrassing moments and conversation beyond our ability to manage. It is a very stressful and regrettable experience. The fear of uncomfortable times at the church following the acceptance of Jesus in my life is one of the obstacles.



The world add more obstacles - nasty bosses and peers
PHOTO: The world add more obstacles - nasty bosses and peers
It is always about what they want, being belittled with  embarrassing moments, and conversations beyond our ability to manage. They are very stressful and regrettable experiences.
Picture posted by Xray on 15 November 2011
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https://www.toonpool.com/user/33044/files/workplace_harassment_1500705.jpg
https://www.toonpool.com/cartoons/Workplace%20harassment_150070



Spreading good news can bring many happy moments. I remembered when our Health Promotion Board announced the commencement of the "Step Challenge Season 3", I and my sister were very happy.

Every new participant would have a step tracker upon joining the event. With the tracker a participant could start counting the number of steps taken every day when moving around. Up to a maximum of 10,000 steps per day, points would be awarded. When the number of points accumulated over the days reached the required minimum amount of the lowest new tier, it could be used to redeem for shopping vouchers. When all the tiers were completed, the participant could redeem a "completer's kit" comprising of a T-shirt, a new tracker with heart monitoring functions, and a table calendar.

We knew taking 10,000 steps daily could be accomplished and in less than a month a participant could already  redeem the first voucher, and has started repeating the same process. The event would last for the next five months. A participant might be able to walk to a healthier life and redeemed as much as $35 of shopping vouchers. However a handphone was required to synchronise the reading of the tracker and the tracker needed to be charged regularly.

We spread the good news to whoever we knew, to collect the free tracker and to start walking and accumulating points to redeem the shopping vouchers. Many responded and all got the trackers. Then problems started to come. Many were unable to pair their devices with their handphones. They became very agitated and some  threw away the trackers. Some found us and asked for solution which we tried to offer. Some of the cases were due to incompatible versions of old handphone which we were unable to help. We could only refer them to the warranty center to solve their problems. After analysing we realised that while offering the good news with good intentions, things did not turn out well. Some forms of troubles were created and some ugly situations might occur.



We realised that while offering the good news with good intentions, things did not turn out well.
PHOTO: We realised that while offering the good news with good intentions, things did not turn out well. Some forms of troubles were created and some ugly situations might occurred.
Picture posted by wikiHow
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https://www.wikihow.com/Handle-Angry-Customers#/Image:Handle-Angry-Customers-Step-1-Version-2.jpg
https://www.wikihow.com/Handle-Angry-Customers



That was only regarding a small tracker which we could physically held and most probably a solution would be ready in the near future.

Problems may not be the same if we accept Jesus and start to proclaim the good news of the gospel. We can expect the world to react many times more harshly and violently. In the worst case, some may call the police to intervene because we are harassing their belief and opportunity to achieve eternal life. The best scenario will be an increase in the number of believers of the faith in Jesus Christ. But there is the potential risk of facing unbearable problems. This again is another obstacle of this world that makes would-be Christians hesitate in accepting the offer of Jesus.



We can expect the world to react many times more harshly and violently if we try to spread the good news from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
PHOTO: We can expect the world to react many times more harshly and violently if we try to spread the good news from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Picture posted by Health Media Ventures, Inc.
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https://imagesvc.timeincapp.com/v3/mm/image?url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn-img.health.com%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fstyles%2Fmedium_16_9%2Fpublic%2Fstyles%2Fmain%2Fpublic%2Fdos-donts-anger-400x400.jpg%3Fitok%3DCPTXiAwB&w=700&q=85 - (image.jpg)
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20581256,00.html


All these are my true personal feeling about the challenges of responding to Jesus' calling with the offer of rest, light yoke, provide learning opportunities and even provide rest for the soul.



Feelings may be the whisperings of Satan.
PHOTO: Feelings may be the whisperings of Satan. Built our faith on the Word of God.
Picture posted by Abraham Israel
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http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KULG3JdPTt0/T60TXPaKyrI/AAAAAAAAEGk/OFpajS9-GRg/s1600/Faith%2BVs%2BFeeling.jpg
http://www.apostolicrevelation.info/2012/05/hidden-message-of-god-in-trials.html



But finally I still choose to accept Jesus as my Saviour and become a Christian because amidst the difficult challenges we still have hope in God's love and grace. His grace is sufficient to cover all our sins. Upon acceptance of Jesus’ offer of redemption, we are guaranteed to be saved and considered as perfect with righteousness to enter heaven.



God's love and grace is enough for our salvation.
PHOTO: God's love and grace is enough for our salvation. His grace is bigger than our sins. That is why I accepted Jesus as my Saviour and become a Christian amidst the difficult challenges.
We are covered by grace, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. When God looks at us He does not see all the ugliness that our lives have wrought, all He sees is the divine rectitude of the redemptive Christ. Christ’s shed blood covers all our sins.  When God looks at us, He sees Himself as is if He was looking in a mirror; He sees the righteousness of Christ covering us by His grace. Once dirty, beaten and broken by sin; we are beautiful in God’s sight as we are clothed in His grace.
As sinners we are pardoned and accepted as righteous; not on account of anything we do ourselves, but on account of what Christ has done for us. We are redeemed as the merits of Christ’s suffering and obedience, and grace is imputed to us as the grounds for our justification. [2] - by darrellcreswell on 02 October 2013
Picture posted by David J. Stewart on January 2009
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http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Basics/sinful_yet_justified-transparent.gif
http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Basics/unconditional_love.htm



The Hopes. in response to the calling of Jesus. What have you discovered about these things?
Call for a Personal Response [1]
Jesus died so that we can receive forgiveness and be reconciled with God. But you need to response: only when you place your trust in Him and seek His forgiveness, can you then enter into a new relationship with Him that will begin your journey towards heaven and eternal life.



Jesus died so that we can receive forgiveness and be reconciled with God.
PHOTO: Jesus died so that we can receive forgiveness and be reconciled with God. But we need to response: only when we place our trust in Him and seek His forgiveness, can we then enter into a new relationship with Him that will begin our journey towards heaven and eternal life.
Picture posted by Sharon Baptist Church
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http://www.sharonbaptisthamptonva.com/uploads/2/7/7/0/27703389/2251852_orig.jpg
http://www.sharonbaptisthamptonva.com/salvation.html

 

God through the death of his son Jesus Christ on the cross had provided a saving grace for everyone that freely accepts it.
PHOTO: God through the death of his son Jesus Christ on the cross had provided a saving grace for everyone that freely accepts it.
Do the following to accept the saving grace that God is freely offering to mankind:

  • Acknowledge your spiritual need – recognize you are a sinner and can’t save yourself,
  • Recognize who Jesus is and what he did for mankind – believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross
  • Repent and be willing to turn from your sin.
  • Receive Jesus and invite him to come into your heart and take control of your life.
If you believe, say this simple prayer of faith:
"Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins. I repent and renounce my old way of life. I invite you to come into my heart and take control of my life from now on. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen."
Posted by The True Vine Ministry Inc. [6]
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http://www.iamthetruevine.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/steps-of-salvation.jpg
http://www.iamthetruevine.org/the-saving-grace/



That is what Jesus meant when He said, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).



John 11:25-26.
PHOTO: John 11:25-26. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?
Picture posted by Utah Valley Church
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https://utahvalley.church/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/John-11-18-44.png
https://utahvalley.church/john-1118-44-resurrection-and-the-life/



We all have to answer this question personally. When you look at the cross of Christ, do you realise that Jesus took your place on the cross, accepted your punishment, and removed the curse on your life?



Jesus took our place on the cross, accepted our punishment, and removed the curse on our life.
PHOTO: Jesus took our place on the cross, accepted our punishment, and removed the curse on our life.
Do you believe this? We all have to answer this question personally.
Picture posted by arquapetrarca

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https://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/1-jesus-on-the-cross-david-arment.jpg
http://www.arquapetrarca.info/pages/j/jesus-dying-on-the-cross.asp



Before he founded the Methodist Movement John Wesley, a pastor, had gone to America as a missionary. But he was not at peace, and knew he was missing something. One evening, however, he had a life-changing experience, which he later described:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before mine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. [4]

That evening, Wesley found his true Saviour. He realised he was not dealing with a concept, but with the very Person of Jesus Christ. At Aldersgate Street, he finally met the true Saviour in person. "He had taken away my sin, even mine," he wrote.



Aldersgate Street as it is today
PHOTO: Aldersgate Street as it is today
At Aldersgate Street, John Wesley, a pastor, finally met the true Saviour in person. "He had taken away my sin, even mine," he wrote.
God’s grace and love provided the means to carry this out, historically on the cross, and effectually in the heart by the Holy Spirit. [7]
Picture posted by Church Growth Modelling on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 at 17:51

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http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-46kYo2lMCjo/U-uS7fRKf8I/AAAAAAAAAH0/z46a47IxSPQ/s1600/DSC_0065.jpg
http://churchgrowthmodelling.blogspot.sg/2014/08/conversion-hearts-strangely-warmed.html



John's brother Charles had experienced something similar three days earlier. When reading Galatians 2:20, Charles Wesley had noticed something for the first time - the word "me". "I have been crucified with Christ and  no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (emphasis added). He too had met Jesus as the One who loved "me" and gave himself for "me". It became a personal truth for him.



John's brother Charles Wesley had moticed something for the first time - the word 'me'.
PHOTO: John's brother Charles Wesley had noticed something for the first time - the word "me". "I have been crucified with Christ and  no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (emphasis added). He too had met Jesus as the One who loved "me" and gave himself for "me". It became a personal truth for him.
Picture posted by Heartlight, Inc for Saturday, 20 February 2016
https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JNXLebCsOfQ/WgQO_brwHFI/AAAAAAAAofE/3LZYG18PLmgA_3xTbmG7PIGHHBUMeYSyACLcBGAs/s1600/1636.jpg
http://img.heartlight.org/overlazy/creations/1636.jpg
http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/02202016/



It is to let us experience this salvation in such a personal manner that our Saviour beckons us to come and meet Him personally. Only then can we be saved from our sins and the second death. The more we deny that we are sinners, the more we distance ourselves from the only One who can save us. As St. Augustine confessed, "[My] sin was all the more incurable because I did not judge myself to be a sinner." [5]

 

Dear Lord, I know that I am separated from you because of sin. I confess that in my sin, I cannot save myself. Right now, I turn to you alone to be my Saviour. I ask you to save me from the penalty of my sin, and I trust you to provide eternal life to me. I also accepted the offer of rest, light yoke, learning opportunities, and rest for my soul. Through Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!
PHOTO: "Dear Lord, I know that I am separated from you because of sin. I confess that in my sin, I cannot save myself. Right now, I turn to you alone to be my Saviour. I ask you to save me from the penalty of my sin, and I trust you to provide eternal life to me. I also accepted the offer of rest, light yoke, learning opportunities, and rest for my soul. Through Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!" [3]
Painting by Philippe de Champaigne - Saint Augustine, 1650
The Flemish artist Philippe de Champaigne portrays Augustine in his studio. In one hand Augustine holds a feather pen, and in the other, a flaming heart. The flaming heart – a heart on fire for God – was one of Augustine’s traditional attributes.
Latin motto “VERITAS” has the meaning “Verity” or “Truth”
Picture posted by Parishes Toulouse Cathedral

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D79FZELgVKA/WgQPDVbOAtI/AAAAAAAAof0/13yPIwIEtMgzPEmaockozkkV2H_L1IUvgCLcBGAs/s1600/saint-augustin.jpg
http://paroissescathedraletoulouse.fr/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/saint-augustin.jpg

http://paroissescathedraletoulouse.fr/home-2/vocation/

Reflection - Challenges and hopes in reponse to His call
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


Reference
[1] From "Finding rest for the soul" Responding to Jesus' Invitation in Matthew 11:28-29, Copyright © 2016 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-709-5, Part I: Come to Me, Chapter One "Who is Calling?", Page 17-32.

[2] Darrellcreswell, The Merit and Value of Grace – A “Perfect Love” – Bible Inspiration, posted on 02 October 2013, https://darrellcreswell.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/the-merit-and-value-of-grace-a-perfect-love-bible-inspiration/

[3] Sharon Baptist Church, The Greatest Story Ever Told, http://www.sharonbaptisthamptonva.com/salvation.html

[4] Johm Pollock, Wesley the Preacher: A Biography (Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1989), 98.

[5] St. Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine, trans. Hal M. Helms (Brewster, MA: Paraclete, 1986), 38.

[6] The True Vine Ministry Inc., The Saving Grace, http://www.iamthetruevine.org/the-saving-grace/

[7] Church Growth Modelling, Conversion – Hearts Strangely Warmed, posted on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 at 17:51, http://churchgrowthmodelling.blogspot.sg/2014/08/conversion-hearts-strangely-warmed.html

 
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