Archive for April, 2013

“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

I had a discussion with a man the other day on the street. He was a nice fellow; a banker type, and he professed to be a follower of Jesus Christ and also a Hindu. He shared how Heaven was a place bound within the confines of his mind and that all mankind is on a quest to unleash some kind of inner joy, peace, and knowledge. Our chat was friendly enough, but when I told him that Jesus Christ was the only way, he responded, “Our God is too loving to limit our choices to just one god.”

I hear that a lot.

The truth of the matter is that God has not limited our choices in order to make Christianity exclusionary, but rather to keep the selection process as easy as humanly possible. Our Father in Heaven has made it simple. As the Deuteronomy passage proclaims, there are 2 possible choices: a blessing or a curse. Here we sit thousands of years later and nothing has changed! Vanilla or chocolate; black or white; light or darkness; good or evil; Heaven or Hell; the narrow road leading to life everlasting or the broad way that leads to destruction…

Which do you want?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

What you may perceive as exclusiveness, God presents as simplicity.


Well for one reason, the Father knows our covetous frame. God knows that if He provided ten ways, we are wired to want eleven; if He gave a hundred ways, someone would rise to his feet and demand a hundred and one. We know this to be true; I hear it almost every day — the guy who says, “Our God is too loving to limit our choices to just one god,” is really saying, “Why aren’t there a hundred and one ways?”

These folks typically counter with something like, “You mean to tell me that all Muslims are following a false god and are going to Hell?”

The reality is that I’m not sharing my opinion on the matter; I’m telling you what God has declared in His word, the Bible. I’m also telling you that I am very grateful that God has provided One way and that He took the time to tell me about it! And I’m telling you that I understand and appreciate that God kept the choices incredibly simple. And finally I’m telling you, God never changes; He is not swayed by public opinion or our emotions.

God is truth.

God is just.

God is right.

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19)

As of right now, this decision you face is not about anybody else; it’s about you — what are you going to do about your eternal future? Are you going to continue to roll the dice and defend the freedom choiceto choose false gods; false gods by the way that you’re not even following (what do you care)? Or are you going to face the reality that Jesus Christ died for you in order to save you for eternity and that His resurrection is proof positive that He is the real deal?

It’s time to decide. Today is the day of your salvation. You are not promised a tomorrow where choosing is still an option. If you die today, where you end up will be based on the choice you make right now.

Choose Jesus.

Ask me how.

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“I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered…The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people…”(Psalm 111:1-4; 7-9)

The Road to Freedom

I was 12 years old when I first heard the Richie Havens song, “Freedom.” It moved me then and it still moves me now.  Later on Havens would recount, “I think the word ‘freedom’ came out of my mouth because I saw it in front of me…I saw the freedom that we were looking for. And every person was sharing it, and so that word came out.”

What do you think?

Want to know what I hear in that song?


Havens lyrically presented a liberating absolute that resonated with the masses — the notion that there is something great to be attained that this world cannot provide. We feel the anguish-laden desire in his voice, we sigh, and then we grasp at it, for it is the very same thing we simultaneously agonize over and long for. We recognize the words of this simple song. We’ve seen them before. They’re scrawled like graffiti upon the walls that define the hole in our heart.

I found this blurb about Richie (and the song) in an article from Rolling Stone (1972) that gives us some much-needed Spiritual insight:

“As the opening act at Woodstock, Richie Havens was supposed to perform for only 40 minutes. But when an unexpected traffic jam delayed the other performers, organizers asked him to keep playing. Three hours into it, Havens had run out of songs, so he started to make one up to the melody of “Motherless Child,” a spiritual he’d sung as a kid.”

Richie’s quote reminds me of God’s promise.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Back to Woodstock

There was another kind of desperation going on this day in 1969. Havens was running out of music to richplay. Havens later said of his performances, “I really sing songs that move me. I’m not in show business; I’m in the communications business. That’s what it’s about for me”.

With that in mind, he wasn’t looking to just fill a space — he needed to dig deeper into his soul and pull out something he knew in heart would move the crowd. It was in this empty place, perhaps in an act of futility, Richie Havens went back to church. The song that morphed forth still draws and captivates us.

Why is that so?

The truth be told, Richie Havens was drawing upon something that was not of himself, regardless if he realized it or not. The old negro spiritual that he borrowed in desperation was so thick with desperation, that when he touched it, he got it all over himself. In turn, he got it all over us.

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long ways from home
A long ways from home
True believer
A long ways from home
Along ways from home

 Sometimes I feel like I’m almos’ gone
Sometimes I feel like I’m almos’ gone
Sometimes I feel like I’m almos’ gone
Way up in de heab’nly land
Way up in de heab’nly land
True believer
Way up in de heab’nly land
Way up in de heab’nly land

 Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long ways from home

There’s praying everywhere

(from « American Negro Spirituals» by J. W. Johnson, J. R. Johnson, 1926)

I suppose there’s not much more desperate than the life of a slave; agony far beyond my capacity to fathom. But like I said earlier, this stuff is like tar; so thick, so prevalent, when you’re near it, it just gets on you. We all identify with it, not because we have it in massive quantities, but because we all have (at least) a wee portion of it, and it grieves us. We know intuitively that there is freedom from it. The slave; the man or woman who first sang this song, put all their hope in freedom’s future. They knew of a place that was not of this world, but a sure haven for the true believer.

Richie Havens, consciously or not, tapped into it. When we heard it, consciously or not, we tapped into it to. Did Havens know ‘Who’ he was singing about? Perhaps. After all, he sang, “I got a telephone in my bosom and I can call him up from my heart.” I pray he knew Him, but that’s not really my point. Whether or not Richie Havens was a follower of Jesus Christ, we’ll likely never know, but God knows. The only pertinent question to ask at this juncture is whether or not you are a follower of Jesus Christ.

It could rightly be said that “Freedom”, was an anthem of a generation, but it could also be said that by and large, the word was misappropriated. How do you define freedom and where do you see its source? If you said true freedom is found in Christ Jesus alone, you have answered wisely. If not, consider what God has to say…

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

Therein lies our freedom and our hope — Jesus Christ is the only One who can provide the eternal respite we all long for. Let’s face it: to deny Jesus is to forever embrace desperation. Jesus alone holds the cure for our bondage problem. If you want to know more about inviting Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, please drop me a comment below.

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Jim-Elliot-and-FriendsJim Elliot, (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Waodani people of Ecuador. He once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 

So profound.

Jim Elliot wound up being murdered by the very same people he was attempting to share the Gospel with. After his death, and the deaths of fellow missionaries, their wives returned to these jungles and continued the Lord’s mission. As a result, the tribesmen responsible for the murders received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.


When I read Jim’s quote today, the Holy Spirit moved me to consider time. The first thing that crossed my mind is the obvious — it is something we spend regardless if we desire to or not. Time is not a thing that can be hoarded, for it is constantly being taken away. Despite the world’s claims to the contrary, we cannot keep it or save one bit of it. As we reckon and reason with time, the most effective thing we can do with it is first recognize its true owner.

Is it my time, is it the boss’s, is it the spouse’s or the family’s, or is it all really just God’s time?

I believe it is this recognition that will ultimately determine the eternal worth of the time we clockinescapably spend. We’re going to give it whether we want to or not, so should we not capitulate wisely? Before it flies, can we not determine its direction and course?  More accurately, should we not submit to the direction and course our Father wants it to go?

We should submit, and for at least two very good reasons: it pleases the Owner and He is taking notes. In light of how Jesus Christ spent His time on the cross, spending our time wisely is our reasonable service.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

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One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. (Proverbs 11:24-25)

God is Good

Most of the folks that frequent this blog are christians, so to them the notion that God is good is not a foreign concept. It’s reality. God is. And God is good. Anyway, all that is to say, Christ’s goodness was clearly evident today, which is not to say it always isn’t evident, but that today the Father provided a double portion and then some.

So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 

Today, the temperature reached a breezy 72 degrees and as I set out this morning it just felt like a Red Bank kind of day. So I loaded the guitar into the truck along with a handful of tracts, and a testimony or two and headed north. Why Red Bank? The answer is kind of silly actually — they have park benches on benches-070612their sidewalks. It seems the towns around my neck of the woods have removed most of them. Of course the boardwalk down by the beach is loaded, but’s it’s not quite boardwalk weather yet. Soon, but not yet.

I parked on the south-end (before the parking meters begin) and walked down to Starbucks and settled into a recently painted, but dry bench. I don’t frequent Starbucks (that’s a topic for another blog I probably won’t write), but they get a lot of foot traffic. Today’s agenda, for lack of a better word, called for foot traffic. I met a couple nice folks to chat with, but after about an hour or so a guy comes along with his dog and asks if I would please move. Apparently, I was in his spot. Drew was his name and he told me that he comes to this bench regularly to ask for donations for disabled vets. Sure enough, he had a coffee can with a handmade label on it that said, “Please Donate to Our Disabled Veterans.”

There ya go.

We talked a little and he invited me to stay, but I thought I’d probably cramp his style, so outa respect for this older gentleman, I acquiesced. I handed him a Gospel tract and he indicated he a was non-practicing Jew ‘waiting’ for the Messiah. I reminded him that as luck would have it, Jesus was a Jew! Apparently he had heard that before. I shared with him some Old Testament Bible prophecy and told him how Jesus fulfilled all of it with His birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection. Drew wasn’t buying too much of it, but I sensed the wheels were turning inside his head. As I left I challenged him to GoogleOld Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ‘ and ask the Lord to reveal Himself in those Bible scriptures.

As I walked away Drew called to me, “David, from now on, you and me are friends!”

His words meant a lot to me. Please pray for Drew that he would follow through with the prayer and prophecy challenge.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I crossed the street and headed south and settled in by a Chinese restaurant called Temple. The restaurant has tables set up outside on the sidewalk, but it was still early and the place was seemingly closed. I broke out the guitar and started praising Jesus. This actually turned out to be a better spot, at least as it pertained to striking up conversations with pedestrians. I’m thinking that back over at Starbucks most of the folks were on a mission: to get inside to get their coffee or to get back to wherever they were going so they could drink it before it got cold. The people walking over by Temple didn’t seem to be as focused.

“Hey Dave, how ya doin?”


As it turns out, George, an old friend, is a waiter at Temple. I knew this, but  because of the early hour I temple-081812didn’t expect to see him. He greeted me over the shrubbery that separates the dining area from the rest of the sidewalk. George is a Christian, a recent college grad and a stellar musician in his own right. He’s also one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet — truly, I’ve never heard a foul or angry word come out of this kids mouth — never. Back in the day when I was assisting with youth-group stuff at a friend’s church, George was one of the regulars. Looking back, I guess he had to attend regularly, as his dad was the youth pastor. 

We chatted briefly and he got back to work. In the meantime I had some more wonderful conversations with folks; some believers, but mostly unbelievers. It was just one of those days where I really felt the power of God mingling through all the exchanges we were having. At one point a psychologist (and atheist) sat down and chatted with me. Quite a cheery sort actually, but my heart ached for him because he would not budge from his ‘God is not’ position; to him Jesus Christ was nothing more than an aberration; a placebo for the weak-minded. At one point I felt I was in way over my head with him, but God imparted His peace to me; our words to each other were pleasant and edifying.

“From one musician to another.”

Perhaps an hour went by and George appeared from behind the Temple bushes carrying a ‘takeout’ bag. I assumed he was making a delivery. He took about ten steps and stopped right in front of me, handing me the bag saying, “From one musician to another.” Earlier when we said our hellos, I had teased him about bringing me out some pot stickers.

So what do you think was in the bag?

That’s right — a huge order of fried dumplings (aka: pot stickers). I cannot begin to tell you how blessed this kid made me feel. First, for suggesting that I was a musician (just trust me, I’m not. I play 4 chords and sing loud to cover it up). And second, for feeding me! I had to get up and hug the kid right there on the street. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with him — so much God-given talent, so personable and kind, and such a refreshing sight in this occasionally ugly world where the wicked leave bombs on sidewalks to blow up children.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

I handed out my last tract and headed home, filled today in so many glorious ways. Thanks be to God.

Without question, God is good.

If you have a moment, check out some of George’s original music HERE.

By the way, the dumplings were great!

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“Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.  A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 24:3-6)

In my last blog I shared how Mark Cahill, a full-time evangelist, and Christian author and teacher, encouraged me to step it up a notch in regard to sharing my faith more conversationally. As a result I Mall-of-America_1_0found myself heading off to the local mall with Bible, testimony, and tracts in hand. Long story short, (you can read yesterday’s blog here), it was an incredible blessing from the Lord.

Anyway, when I had listened to Mark speak, he had shared how New Jersey was one of only 3 states that allowed free speech in the mall. By that he meant that shopping malls are technically private property and therefore in most cases, they have the right to say what can or cannot be shared on their property, but New Jersey (praise be to God), was the exception to the rule!

Give That to Me in Writing

I suppose it’s the ex-cop in me, but I wanted to see the law. So I dropped Mark an email. He didn’t have the citation on hand, but he directed me to the Christian Law Association (CLA). As per their website, “CLA provides free legal assistance to Bible-believing churches and Christians who are experiencing difficulty in practicing their religious faith because of governmental regulation, intrusion, or prohibition in one form or another.” I wasn’t having any difficulties; I just had a question about the law and glory to God, they answered my question in less than 24 hours!

Here’s the response I received from CLA and I wanted to share it with you.  I hope you find it helpful — especially if you’re a Christian living in Jersey.

Here it is:

“Thank you for contacting the Christian Law Association regarding your right to witness and distribute literature in shopping malls in New JerseyOnly a few states have declared shopping malls to be a traditional public forum permitting free speech rights.  New Jersey is one of those few states.  This means that in New Jersey, your free speech rights are protected in shopping malls as well as in private universities and hallways in residential buildings.  (See State v. Schmid, 423 A.2d 615, 631 – 633 (N.J. 1980); Guttenberg Taxpayers & Rentpayers Ass’n v. Galaxy Towers Condominium Ass’n, 688 A.2d 156 (N.J. Super. Ct. Ch. Div. 1996), aff’d, 688 A.2d 108 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1996).

Please note that in most states no free speech activities are allowed in shopping malls without permission of the owner.  The law in most states categorizes malls as private property and permission must be obtained before conducting any witnessing activities.  This includes getting permission to place leaflets on cars parked in a store’s private parking lot.

Federal courts have held that the right of private property owners to control activities on their property outweighs the right of free speech.  This will likely continue to be the case with respect to privately owned businesses and their parking lot areas in states who have not declared shopping malls to be a “traditional public forum”.

 That’s great news (for New Jersey), isn’t it? I also found this little blurb about our ‘first amendment rights and NJ malls’ from a website called the First Amendment Center.

Question: Do individuals have First Amendment rights on others’ private property?

Answer: Generally no. The Bill of Rights provides protection for individual liberty from actions by government officials. This is called the state-action doctrine. Private property is not government-owned. Restrictions on individuals’ free-speech rights on private property do not involve state action.

However, a few states have interpreted their own state constitutions to provide even greater free-speech protection than the federal Constitution offers. For example, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that individuals have free-speech rights at privately owned shopping malls. Most state supreme courts that have examined the issue have disagreed. In April 2002, the Iowa Supreme Court refused to extend its definition of public property to include large, privately owned shopping malls.

Here’s what I found…

I went to the mall yesterday without any of this data, and freely witnessed to a bunch of people and handed out Bible tracts. I passed several security guards (or they passed me) and they seemed quite indifferent to what I was doing. The truth be told, they probably had no idea what I was doing because I wasn’t just handing out Bible tracts willy-nilly, but was engaging folks in one-on-one conversations. The good news (pun intended) is that I could have stood there and handed out Bible tracts willy-nilly, because the NJ Supreme Court has ruled in favor of that issue as long as we don’t block  stores, and/or impede the general flow of traffic (which of course is a reminder to be good stewards of this privilege). I was excited to learn that we can do the same thing on college campuses!

Final Admonition

I hope you found this information to be as enlightening and encouraging as I did, but you might want to take advantage of the situation while the NJ law is still on your side, because I suspect in the not too distant future these laws will be repealed.

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

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“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

This past weekend I was really encouraged by three Bible-based teachings: two from Mark Cahill and one pastorsfrom Pastor Joey Rozek. As a result, I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to ‘step it up a notch’ in regard to my evangelism efforts. The Lord used Mark Cahill to emphasize the importance of faith-filled discussions, as opposed to faith-filled presentations, while the thing that stood out from Pastor Joey’s message was his definition of the word ‘responsibility.’ He described it as, “Our ‘response’ to His ‘ability.’ ” I found that to be very profound, and also Biblically accurate.

So prior to today, much of what I’ve done in this regard revolved around playing the guitar and singing ‘Jesus music‘ on the street and/or handing out Bible tracts, but without too much dialog. I will continue to do that, but today, compelled by the love of Christ and the guiding of the Holy Spirit, I set out for the mall. Just prior to setting out, I asked my Facebook friends to pray for some Divine appointments.

Well, they must have prayed, because I met some wonderful people and had some great conversations. I met one young guy named Rich who was filling out an application in front of the pretzel place. After talking for about 15 minutes, he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Praise be to God!

Another guy I met named John expressed a desire to recommit his life to Jesus. He was working one of those cell phone kiosks in the middle of the mall, but our conversation was interrupted (he was working after all), so I wasn’t able to pray with him.  I did encourage him to return to church and follow through with the things we were discussing.

I also had ‘pleasant’ conversations with a Muslim and a Jehovah Witness who each took a Bible tract and agreed to ‘investigate’ some of the issues we covered. Additionally, I met some Christ followers and had some nice fellowship time. All in all, about 6 or 7 people agreed to stop and talk with me. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there was also about the same number who did not want to chat. I found walking up to people and initiating a conversation rather easy, but simply saying, “Okay,” and walking away when they didn’t want to talk to be the difficult part. It was there I had to fight the urge to start a debate.

Anyway, I hope this didn’t come off sounding prideful, as in, “Hey, look what I did today,” but encouraging.  The testimonies I heard this past weekend encouraged me and I wanted to encourage you. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and that’s exactly how I found it to be — light and easy! Most importantly, I’m here to tell you that my fears of being arrested at the mall for handing out Bible tracts and witnessing o strangers, never came to fruition.

Again, praise be to God!

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Please STOP telling people that being a Christian is hard.

If you feel your walk with Jesus is hard or your calling is a heavy burden, ‘you ain’t doin’ it right.’ It was Jesus who proclaimed, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)

Take a step back — allow Jesus to search your heart as only He can and trust He will let you know wherein your problem lies. If you’re suffering so, there is a good chance you’re operating in the flesh, and not the Spirit.

Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

dogQuestion: If two dogs have a fight, which one is going to win?

Answer: The one you feed the most.

So it is with the flesh and the Spirit. If we feed to the Spirit, the Spirit wins. If we feed to the flesh, the flesh will win. But what happens if we feed them equally? Frankly, it’s the worst possible scenario — the fight lingers on and on.  This kind of fight is going to be a ‘hard‘ and ‘burdensome‘ match, quite contrary to what Jesus taught us.

Consider what Jesus meant when He spoke these words in Luke 9:23,

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Our daily struggle is between our flesh and our Spirit. For this reason, Jesus reminds us that at the start of each day, we must remember our baptism. That is to say, our flesh was ceremoniously crucified and we now desire to walk in the Spirit. As we daily pick up our cross, we are reminded of at least two very important things: we have reckoned our flesh dead and that feeding a corpse is imbecilic and ill-advised. And lest we forget, the power to achieve this is from God, through the Spirit.

The reality is that those who continue to pronounce that Christianity is a hard discipline and a heavy burden, are likely feeding their flesh far too much or they are having difficulty in distinguishing flesh from Spirit and visa versa. Again, these folks need to stop. The fact that they are saying something converse to what Jesus has taught demonstrates that they are actively feeding their old man.

Listen, we’re all guilty to some degree (again, which is why Jesus wants us to hoist our cross daily), but have we not been taught…

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

If you find this scripture lesson to be a hard teaching or a heavy burden to bear, there’s a very good chance your flesh is sated today. Two things: stop feeding your flesh and stop telling everyone the Christian walk is difficult.

Walking in the flesh is difficult. Period.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent. Revelation 2:5

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