Psalm 45:1: My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
SOMEONE once wrote, “the will of God will never take you where the grace of God will never protect you”; then, someone else said, “sometimes, a setback is only God’s setup for your success,” but my favorite quotation comes from the Bible, in Romans 8:28, which declares that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose, and all of these sentiments about the grace, mercy, love, compassion, and faithfulness of God, have seemingly played out in my life, especially in regard to writing, and it all seemed to start back then, when I was eighteen years old, with a proclamation that I made in writing in my senior yearbook, because most of us have learned, from the Bible—the WORD of GOD—from Genesis to Revelation, this infallible truth, that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and He already knows the end of our lives from the beginning, and like Isaiah 55:11 proclaims, His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways His ways, “[f]or as the heavens are higher than the earth,” He says, “So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. ‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (NASB), and this includes the words of promise and prophecy that God has spoken and written over our lives, too, for in Philippians 1:6, we find equally the promise, the prophecy, the comfort, the hope, and the confidence that “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (NASB), and that He will equip us and empower us to fulfill our purpose, our calling, and our destiny in His masterplan, and thus, “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (NASB), even as we make ourselves available and give generously, freely, cheerfully, and liberally, in service to God and in love and edification to the benefit of others, especially in the household of faith, of our time, our talent, and our treasures, and this is where the plot and structure of my life story really begins officially, within the colorful pages and the black-and-white leaves of the annual high school yearbook, which we will call the early chronicles of my life, from 1980 through 1993, from relative anonymity and obscurity to some notoriety and acclaim, at least academically and creatively, and this is my modern-day book of genesis—as a dreamer, believer, musician, singer, bandmember, writer, student, poet, artist, songwriter, booklover, wordsmith, and professor.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved reading and collecting books, and writing extensively, from short to long poems and short stories, to contemporary novels and inspirational devotionals, finally to song lyrics to long letters and fervent prayers, in an ongoing dialogue with God, but in that mustard yellow 1993 high school yearbook, THE STINGER, from my senior year in high school is where you will find the main question(s) from a yearbook writer posed to me as a graduating senior from a relatively small town and even smaller school district, and these were the questions that got me thinking about my future and truly inspired me to dream beyond my humble circumstances, envisioning myself greater than I presently was, as someone stronger, wiser, more courageous, adventurous, talented, gifted, outgoing, influential, and profound that I had yet to become or even imagine being: “Where do you see yourself five years? What do you envision yourself doing?” Naturally, as an eighteen-year-old shy girl, avid reader, notorious booklover, and aspiring writer and romance novelist growing up in the country, in the Deep South, in rural East Texas, that big dreamer, starry-eyed small-town girl, untested believer, and unrestrained trailblazer in me boldly and courageously proclaimed this: “In five years, I’ll be a college graduate, with a couple of degrees in journalism and communications; I’ll be an entrepreneur, and I’ll be a novelist—an author—a writer.” Then, of course, by the time those five years came and went, and I was no longer an eighteen-year-old starry-eyed, small-town girl, untested believer, and unrestrained trailblazer but the lonely, depressed, sleep-deprived, overworked, and overstressed graduate student and teaching assistant, far away from home, with a bachelor’s degree in English and teacher certification in High School English already in hand but still in the process of pursuing a master’s degree in English, as one of the few minority students in the two-year program, solely upon the recommendation of the English Department Chair, who was also one of my favorite college professors, mostly because she had often remarked upon the high quality of my essays, which she always joked about, saying that she had originally thought my papers were plagiarized until she realized how much research, revision, creativity, and effort I consistently put into my writing assignments over the semester, often, exceeding her expectations for an undergraduate writer when I would often turn in a sixteen-page research paper instead of the 8-page paper that she had originally assigned. However, writing college essays was a far cry from where I had originally envisioned myself as a journalist or even a published writer of poetry, short stories, and novels at age 23, and I had to admit finally that I had somehow gotten off track from that most essential part of myself—the writer—and I had somehow morphed into this entirely new person—the college teacher—the English professor—because the college that I attended at that time did not have a creative writing degree nor did it offer an extensive writing program, beyond the traditional English classes, and all anyone at that time told me I could do with my insatiable passion for writing and my love of reading and obsession with books was major in English and, more than likely, teach either in public schools or, with the master’s degree, in colleges and universities. So, I became an English teacher, who would often teach other students how to read, write, and communicate more effectively, and I have been teaching professionally at the public school and college level for more than twenty years, and over time, that writer in me got pushed aside and silenced for a long time, but she eventually graduated from poems, short stories, and songs to novels, devotionals, and blogs, and it was not until recently in 2011 and 2019, respectively with the publication of two contemporary faith-based novels, that she—the big dreamer, starry-eyed small-town girl, unrestrained trailblazer, and aspiring writer in me—actually got to pursue and fulfill some of her earlier dreams, that somehow got delayed for decades, and this is why I am here, at age forty-six, as a post-graduate student in an online program, pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing, because God has redeemed me and He has redeemed my time, and this is my response to the main question posed in my creative writing class for the first discussion thread, regarding ‘why do you write’: Essentially, I write to express myself, get out of my own headspace, and make myself known, especially in regard to my identity in Christ Jesus; I write as part of a ministry of reconciliation, often to share the Gospel and to encourage, instruct, edify, and build up others; I write to tell great inspirational stories about true-to-life characters, who often are imperfect men and women of faith who mature in the will and the way of the Lord and actively apply biblical principles and values in their everyday lives; I write to share messages of hope, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness; and I write intentionally and strategically, to honor and glorify God and to draw others to God, to Jesus, by wielding words for good and the WORD for God, proclaiming boldly to believers and unbelievers alike that God is Good, God is Just, and God is Love.
For the longest time, I did not consider myself a “real” writer, even though that was my passion and what I often spent my spare time doing and what I daily longed to do, because I did not feel qualified or educated enough, due to the lack of formal training, especially in creative writing and more specifically, in contemporary inspirational writing or Christian fiction. Basically, I lacked real confidence in myself and my ability to write or craft a great story—a best-seller—a book that would keep readers up until 3 o’clock in the morning flipping pages, just to find out what would happen in the next chapter. Often, however, it is remarked that God does not always call the qualified, but He does often qualify those whom He has called for a particular assignment, purpose, mission, or ministry, and this is true, more so in regard to the writers of the Bible, and specifically, in regard to my situation, and even in his book, Plot & Structure, in the Introduction, James Scott Bell, mentions the Big Lie that he had to overcome as a writer and educator, and this is the same lie often perpetuated today, that I had to overcome myself, both as an educator and a writer, before I could even get to the point of recognizing or even classifying myself as a writer or an author of anything, especially in regard to inspirational or biblically-based writing—that lie that writing cannot be taught and that (great) writers are born, not made. In the book, Bell initially reveals how insecure he is about his writing, especially in comparison to others, because he is operating under the belief that writing cannot be taught, but through his own course of study and perseverance, he learns that he can not only learn and improve in the “craft” of writing, especially in regard to plot and structure, but he can also succeed and excel in writing, even to the point of teaching others how to apply the same principles and get the same results: best-selling books. Likewise, Bell explains how he learned to write effectively, prolifically, and productively, and how he teaches others to do so, by improving or perfecting the “craft” of writing—which would be the tools or the nuts and bolts of writing—especially in regard to plot and structure—and Bell lists some essential elements in plotting and writing, such as getting motivated, applying what has been learned, being flexible and writing freely, without anxiety and stress, and writing consistently and prolifically, as much as possible. What Bell describes is basically what has occurred with me personally and also coincides with what I have found to be true, even in regard to the writers of the Bible, those from various walks of life, inspired by God through the Holy Spirit, to record and share the greatest Love Story, Rescue Story, and Redemption Story ever told, and for the most part we as believers are part of that story, too, that begins in the Book of Genesis, continues in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and moves beyond the Book of Revelation. First, in 2 Timothy 3:15-17, the apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy, his spiritual son in the ministry, reminds Timothy of the power, wisdom, and guidance to be found in the Word of God, and he recommends that Timothy do this: “Remember what you were taught from your childhood from the Holy Scrolls which can impart to you wisdom to experience everlasting life through the faith in Jesus, the Anointed One! God has transmitted his very substance into every Scripture, for it is God-breathed. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness. Then you will be God’s servant, fully mature and perfectly prepared to fulfill any assignment God gives you” (TPT). Likewise, in Ephesians 2:4-10, we find these words, implying that before we even entered our mother’s womb or even took one breath or even spent one day on earth, God already had a masterplan in place, and He had already imagined who we would be, what we would be doing, and He had already mapped out this divine plan and purpose for our lives, for the WORD of GOD says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (NKJV). That God knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future plays out from Genesis to Revelation, especially in the lives of such notable men and women from the Bible as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Judah, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Rahab, Ruth, Samuel, David, Solomon, Esther, Job, Hezekiah, Josiah, Huldah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Ezra, Nehemiah, Jonah, Deborah, the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, and Paul. More than any of our natural abilities or educational skills and background, God is interested in our availability, and He is searching for faithful men and women who will go all-in, surrendering everything to Him, and committing all they are, all they have, and all they will ever be and become to Him, effectively letting GOD, who loved us and so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life, be the LORD of ALL—which is really the OWNER of EVERYTHING, including our lives, and Romans 14:8 clarifies this concept of being completely “souled-out” for Jesus, for GOD, for it contends that “no one lives to himself and no one dies to himself. While we live, we must live for our Master, and in death we must bring honor to him. So dead or alive we belong to our Master. For this very reason the Anointed One died and was brought back to life again, so that he would become the Lord God over both the dead and the living” (TPT). Even as God gave everything for us, Jesus paid in full our debt to sin, giving everything He had, including His life, so we could be reconciled to God the Father, and the truth is found in the WORD of GOD, coming from the mouth of Jesus, when He declares in John 14:6-7 to Thomas, one of his disciples, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too. And from now on you will realize that you have seen him and experienced him” (TPT). This basically means that Jesus, equally the Son of God and the Son of Man, is the only boarding pass, access code, passport, pathway, doorway, gateway, entrance, highway and pathway to God the Father, and we cannot bypass Him, nor can we as foreigners, alienated from Jesus and from God, gatecrash Heaven either, for in spite of some people’s misconceptions and wishful thinking here on earth, the KINGDOM of GOD—the KINGDOM of HEAVEN—is not really all-inclusive, which most of us would know if we actually did read through most of Jesus’ parables regarding the KINGDOM of GOD, and it does not have open borders, either, for any random person who just wants to show up, usually at the last minute, without the security of the blood covering of Jesus Christ and without the seal of approval and guarantee of redemption of the Holy Spirit, but it does have twelve pearly gates, and some gigantic walls around it, and it does have a Book of Registry, in which all of its legitimately-recognized citizens’ names must be written, maybe even symbolically in red, coated and covered in the BLOOD of JESUS—the LAMB of GOD, slain for the sins of the world—and this Book of Registry is mentioned throughout the Bible as the Lamb’s BOOK of LIFE—and our names must be included in that book for us to even consider the possibility of spending eternity in the presence of God, and generally, those who are really all-in and completely “souled-out” for GOD, loving Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, want to please Him and worship Him in spirit and truth, and they want to praise Him and thank Him and boast more on Him than on themselves, because of His great love, His amazing grace, His outstretched arms, and His compassionate heart. Indeed, He is GOD with us and GOD for us and GOD in us, and when we come to the realization of just how much He has invested in us and just how much He believes in us and just how much He has entrusted to us and just how much He has poured Himself into us, especially through His Son, Jesus, and through His Holy Spirit, then, we really cannot be quiet, nor can we remain passive and still, like any other so-called Christian atheist or lukewarm, undercover Christian; sometimes, we have got to get up, leave that familiar territory, that comfortable church pew and that safe comfort zone; and take that ROAD to REDEMPTION, that HIGH-WAY UPTOWN, where we can always GO GODWARD and LIVE LIFE LOUD for Jesus, for GOD; and we have got to be MOBILE, ENGAGED, MOTIVATED, CREATIVE and COURAGEOUS in sharing the Gospel and the WORD of GOD in truth but also in compassion and love and thus, fulfilling our part in the Great Commission, in Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus offers authority and power to His disciples in His name and gives them one more commandment and divine directive before returning to His heavenly Kingdom to sit at the right hand of God the Father: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (NKJV). Likewise, this divine directive, commandment, and mandate is still relevant and applicable to our mission, ministry, and assignments today, regardless of whether we are evangelists, pastors, apostles, prophets, and teachers in a pulpit ministry or members in the body of Christ sharing the Gospel and our own testimonies, outside the four walls of any church building in lifestyle and marketplace ministry, because we, in walking out our faith, literally, may be the only Bibles some people get a chance to read every day.
Basically, as I grew up spiritually and matured as a believer, delving deeper into the WORD of GOD, and after I stopped being a silent, passive and lukewarm undercover Christian, I got serious about using my gifts, my time, talents, and treasures to honor and glorify God and to encourage, edify, and exhort others, especially and more specifically, those outside the four walls of any church building, and I got to the point as a believer, artist, creator, teacher, and professor, where the light-bulb in my head finally went off, and I realized my identity was not in what I did—in terms of a secular job or making a living nor was my identity in where I came from or who I knew—in regard to social networking and previous relationships and addresses —but my identity—the essence of who I was could be found foremost in whose I was—and that meant my identity was found in Jesus Christ, and above anything else, including race, gender, and culture, I was a child of God. So, in my late twenties and early thirties, I made the decision that if I was going to write anything creatively or professionally, I would dedicate it to the Lord, thus using writing not only to entertain but to minister to people and draw them closer to Jesus, to God, and so I decided that I would use my words—both spoken and written—for good and for God. Later, after I had published my first contemporary novel, BLESSED (2011), and I was well on the way to getting the second novel published, THE PRIDE PROMISE (2019), and in the process of building an online platform and social media presence, beginning with the construction of a professional website, I finally accepted and decided to tweak and wear well the nickname that one of my worship leaders had called me jokingly and prophetically years ago, because he either did not remember my real name or he just preferred not to use it when I was the quiet, shy girl in the alto section of the church choir, well away from home and still working long hours, both as a graduate student and as an Adjunct English Instructor: The Professor. After he tagged me with that name during the first Thursday night choir rehearsal, that was all anybody at the church ever called me from that point on—The Professor—and it was mainly in reference to my secular job as a college English Instructor—however, years later, in the fall of 2016 and the winter of 2017, when I was trying to figure out how to brand myself as a professional writer—as a real author—that nickname in that church that I had for years felt uncomfortable hearing and unworthy of accepting seemed prophetic in terms of how God was using me and branding me in the present—and from that point on I accepted the new mantle and thus, became a new creation in Christ—GOD’SWORD PROFESSOR—in what the apostle Paul calls a ministry of reconciliation and my mission, message, motto and ministry thus became this: wielding words for good and the WORD for GOD, and boldly proclaiming GOD is GOOD, GOD is JUST, GOD is LOVE. My foundational scriptures became these, from Hebrews 4:12, where it says, “the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It explores our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and his the one to whom we are accountable” (NLT); Ephesians 4:1-16, 21-32, in which the apostle Paul promotes unity within the Body of Christ, urging us as believers to “lead a life worthy of [our] calling, for [we] have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say, ‘When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.’ Notice that it says, ‘he ascended,’ This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself. “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pasters and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love… Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t’ use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (NLT). Likewise, in Ephesians 6:10-18, we learn more about spiritual warfare and the supernatural weapons we as believers have available, especially in terms of the whole armor of God, and the apostle Paul urges us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power,” and to “put on all of God’s armor so that [we] will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, [we must] put on every piece of God’s armor so [we] will be able to resist the enemy in time of evil. Then after the battle [we] will still be standing firm. [We must] stand [our] ground, putting on righteousness. For shoes, [we] put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that [we] will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, [we] hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. [We] put on salvation as [our] helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [We] pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. [We] stay alert and [are] persistent in [our] prayers for all believers everywhere” (NLT); and finally, Colossians 3:12-17, 23-24, which says, “Since God chose [us] to be the holy people he loves, [we] must clothe [ourselves] with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends [us], remembering that “the Lord forgave [us], so [we] must forgive others. Above all, [we must] clothe [ourselves] with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And [we must] let the peace that comes from Christ rule in [our] hearts. For as members of one body [we] are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. [We are to] let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill [our] lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever [we] do or say, [we] do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father,” and we are urged to “work willingly at whatever [we] do, as though [we] were working for the Lord rather than for people,” and to “remember that the Lord will give [us] an inheritance as [our] reward, and that the Master [we] are serving is Christ” (NLT). Therefore, when God blesses us and favors us, when He empowers us and equips us, it is usually in respect to helping us fulfill our mission(s), complete our assignment(s), bless others, and minister to them, often, through encouragement, edification, exhortation, prayer, intercession, and impartation, and God hardly ever calls us to do anything that He has not already been equipping us, empowering us, and preparing us for, and this is found all throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation and even in my own case, with regard to what I write, how I write, and where I write it. The psalmist in Psalm 45:1 creatively expresses the beauty that comes in believers boasting on God verbally and poetically and majestically praising the Lord of lords and the King of kings through our spoken words with such as these recorded and written in the Bible: “Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet” (TLB), but for those of us like Moses, God’s appointed deliverer of the Israelites from slavery and bondage in Egypt and who most attribute as the writer and/or author of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and like myself, who do not like being in the spotlight that much and do not feel comfortable nor qualified standing before a multitude of people and delivering public speeches, the pen and the scroll, the written word and some parchment, some good paper and a keyboard, or a laptop and a printer is all we really need to express ourselves, record family genealogy and history, chronicle the major events in our lifetime, and praise and worship God, boasting on Him and giving Him all the glory and honor He deserves, and as Simon Peter explains in reference to witnessing Jesus’ transfiguration, in 2 Peter 1:16-21, most often, our inspiration, content, words, and prophecy seemingly flow like rivers of running water because they come directly from God Himself, often, through the Holy Spirit, and he indicates such: “We were not retelling some masterfully crafted legend when we informed you of the power and appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we saw his magnificence and splendor unveiled before our eyes. Yes, Father God lavished upon him radiant glory and honor when his distinct voice spoke out of the realm of majestic glory, endorsing him with these words: This is my cherished Son, marked by my love. All my delight is found in him! And we ourselves heard that voice resound from the heavens while we were with him on the holy mountain. And so we have been given the prophetic word—the written message of the prophets, made more reliable and fully validated by the confirming voice of God on the Mount of Transfiguration. And you will continue to do well if you stay focused on it. For this prophetic message is like a piercing light shining in a gloomy place until the dawning of a new day, when the Morning Star rises in your hearts. You must understand this at the outset: Interpretation of scriptural prophecy requires the Holy Spirit, for it does not originate from someone’s own imagination. No true prophecy comes from human initiative but is inspired by the moving of the Holy Spirit upon those who spoke the message that came from God” (TPT).
Earlier, in 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter suggests that believers should engage in lifestyle evangelism and put their faith into action, through pursuit a pursuit of Christ-like virtues, and he recommends that this course of action be taken: “devote yourselves to lavishly supplementing your faith with goodness, and to goodness add understanding, and to understanding add the strength of self-control, and to self-control add patient endurance, and to patient endurance add godliness and to godliness add mercy toward your brothers and sisters, and to mercy toward others add unending love. Since these virtues are already planted deep within, and you possess them in abundant supply, they will keep you from being inactive or fruitless in your pursuit of knowing Jesus Christ more intimately. But if anyone lacks these things, he is blind constantly closing his eyes to the mysteries of our faith, and forgetting his innocence—for his past sins have been washed away. For this reason, beloved ones, be eager to confirm and validate that God has invited you to salvation and claimed you as his own. If you do these things, you will never stumble. As a result, the kingdom’s gates will open wide to you as God choreographs your triumphant entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah” (TPT), and in 1 Peter 4:7-11, he says, “since we are approaching the end of all things, be intentional, purposeful, and self-controlled so that you can be given to prayer. Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins. Be compassionate to foreigners without complaining. Every believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another as faithful stewards of the many-colored tapestry of God’s grace. For example, if you have a speaking gift, speak as though God were speaking his words through you. If you have the gift of serving, do it passionately with the strength God gives you, so that in everything God alone will be glorified through Jesus Christ. For to him belong the power and the glory forever throughout all ages! Amen” (TPT). This sentiment of imitating Christ Jesus and serving the Lord with gladness and with excellence, surrendering our lives to Him, letting Him live and work through us, offering our time, talents, and treasures to Him, and committing all our works to Him, from a fisherman-turned-minister-turned-writer with no formal training coincides with similar messages presented throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and found in many of the letters of the apostle Paul, especially in Colossians 3:16-17, 23-24, which has already been presented and in Galatians 5:22-26 which lists the fruit of the Spirit, we as believers are supposed to bear and exhibit, especially in terms of lifestyle evangelism, for the passage indicates that “the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. Keep in mind that we who belong to Jesus Christ have already experienced crucifixion. For everything connected with our self-life was put to death on the cross and crucified with Messiah. If the Spirit is the source of our life, we must also allow the Spirit to direct every aspect of our lives. So may we never be arrogant, or look down on another, for each of us is an original. We must forsake all jealousy that diminishes the value of others” (TPT).
Furthermore, in the Book of John, we learn of the high esteem that God has for words, especially His own word(s); we learn of His extravagant love for us; and we learn of the spiritual impact and supernatural power we as believers have available when we activate our faith and make declarations, proclamations, decrees, and prayers in alignment with the will and purpose of God and in agreement with the Word of God, especially in spiritual warfare; and finally, we learn in the last prayer before His crucifixion, how Jesus uses His words, especially in prayer, strategically, specifically, intentionally, and proactively, to combat, cancel, hinder, disrupt, block and counter the plots, schemes, plans, and attacks of the adversary against the believers, the children of God; and He also gives some great insight into the relationship between Him and God the Father; the connection knowing God intimately and personally in terms of relationship and spending eternity in His presence; the ongoing mission and ministry of destroying the works of the adversary; and the real reason we as believers and disciples are created, called, and chosen, generation after generation, for such times as these. First, in John 3:14-17, Jesus reveals during his private meeting with Nicodemus the extravagance of God’s love for us, when He says, “And just as Moses in the desert lifted up the brass replica of a venomous snake on a pole for all the people to see and be healed, so the Son of Man is ready to be lifted up, so that those who truly believe in him will not perish but be given eternal life. For here is the way God loved the world—he gave his only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. ‘God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (TPT).
Later, in John 17:1-26, we actually get to eavesdrop on Jesus as He prays to God the Father, and we see how Jesus crafts His words masterfully and prays strategically, specifically, effectively and intentionally as He intercedes on behalf of his disciples, present and future, and wields His words wisely to combat, cancel, hinder, block, and destroy the works of the adversary against the children of God, for, indeed, Jesus prays fervently, passionately, and proactively as such: “Father, the time has come. Unveil the glorious splendor of your Son so that I will magnify your glory! You have already given me authority over all people so that I may give the gift of eternal life to all those that you have given me. Eternal life means to know and experience you as the only true God, and to know and experience Jesus Christ, as the Son whom you have sent. I have glorified you on the earth by faithfully doing everything you’ve told me to do. So my Father, restore me back to the glory that we shared together when we were face-to-face before the universe was created.
“Father, I have manifested who you really are and I have revealed you to the men and women that you gave to me. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have fastened your Word firmly to their hearts. And now at last they know that everything I have is a gift from you, and the very words you gave to me to speak I have passed on to them. They have received your words and carry them in their hearts. They are convinced that I have come from your presence, and they have fully believed that you sent me to represent you. So with deep love, I pray for my disciples. I’m not asking on behalf of the unbelieving world, but for those who belong to you, those you have given me. For all who belong to me now belong to you. And all who belong to you now belong to me as well, and my glory is revealed through their surrendered lives. “Holy Father, I am about to leave this world to return to be with you, but my disciples will remain here. Holy Father, each one that you have given me, keep them in your name so that they will be united as one, even as we are one. While I was with these that you have given me, I was guarding them and keeping them in your name. Not one of them is lost, except the one that was destined to be lost, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
“But now I am returning to you so Father, I pray that they will experience and enter into my joyous delight in you so that it is fulfilled in them and overflows. I have given them your message and that is why the unbelieving world hates them. For their allegiance is no longer to this world because I am not of this world. I am not asking that you remove them from the world, but I ask that you guard their hearts from evil, for they no longer belong to this world any more than I do. “Your Word is truth! So make them holy by the truth. I have commissioned them to represent me just as you commissioned me to represent you. And now I dedicate myself to them as a holy sacrifice so that they will live as fully dedicated to God and be made holy by your truth.”
“And I ask not only for these disciples, but also for all those who will one day believe in me through their message. I pray for them all to be joined together as one even as you and I, Father, are joined together as one. I pray for them to become one with us so that the world will recognize that you sent me. For the very glory you have given to me I have given to them so that they will be joined together as one and experience the same unity that we enjoy. You live fully in me and now I live fully in them so that they will experience perfect unity, and the world will be convinced that you have sent me, for they will see that you love each one of them with the same passionate love that you have for me.
“Father, I ask that you allow everyone that you have given to me to be with me where I am! Then they will see my full glory—the very splendor you have placed upon me because you have loved me even before the beginning of time. You are my righteous Father, but the unbelieving world has never known you in the perfect way that I know you! And all those who believe in me also know that you have sent me! I have revealed to them who you are and I will continue to make you even more real to them, so that they may experience the same endless love that you have for me, for your love will now live in them, even as I live in them!” (TPT). As we see again, throughout Jesus’ intercessory prayer in John 17, God’s love is extravagant, relentless, prevailing and unfailing, because even on the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prays, not merely for Himself but for others, and He does not waste one single word, nor does He waste one single minute, as He puts on the mantle(s) of an intercessor, a mediator, and a prayer warrior, and He masterfully wields the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, effectively, skillfully, and strategically, using every word for good and every word for God.
Even as early as Psalm 139:13-18, we learn from the psalmist that God has known us, from the beginning, in the spiritual realm, which is outside of time but inside of eternity, and even there, God has already thought about and determined how He wants us to spend our time on earth, for the psalmist says, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You,” and later, we find out in Jeremiah 1:4-10 that in spite of our insecurities, especially in regard to our gifts, talents, and abilities, God always has a plan of preparation and a pathway to qualification that will override any excuse and all of our objections to accepting and moving into the divine purpose God has created us to fulfill, the assignment He has called us to complete, and the mission He has chosen us to pursue, for Jeremiah says, “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’ Then said I: ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.’ But the LORD said to me: ‘Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant (NKJV).” In this passage, we learn that God hardly ever speaks to our current condition, circumstance, or situation, but He almost always speaks to us from the vantage point of who He created us to be and according to what He has called, chosen, and commissioned us to do, thus He usually speaks to us from our moments of greatness, with His greater-than, all-knowing, all-seeing perspective instead of from our moments of inferiority, insecurity, and low self-esteem, with our less-than, limited and often, distorted, narrow, and warped mentality and mindset.
In essence, God sees the great worthy warrior in us, not the weary, worn worrier; the victor, not the victim; the conqueror, not the coward; the prince, not the pauper; the princess, not the prostitute; the son, not the servant; the child, not the orphan; the original, priceless, royal masterpiece, not the worthless, fake imitation nor common knock-off. Before any earthly parent conceived us, in time, God, the heavenly Father, conceived us, outside of time, in the spiritual realm; He penned His hopes, His dreams, His desires, and His vision for us, in the heart of our very being, and He inked our names in the Blood of His Son, Jesus, and every moment of our lives, from eternity to life, from spirit to body, from death and redemption to resurrection and everlasting life, He recorded in books in His heavenly library; then, He branded us, calling us His own, and He stitched us in time, in our mother’s womb, with the seed of His love already within our hearts, with the fruit of His Holy Spirit, already planted firmly in our slumbering spirits, with everything we would ever need already sown supernaturally into the fabric of our being, hidden like treasure within our spiritual nature, effectively wiring us from the beginning, from God’s conception for a divine purpose and mission in God’s masterplan and for a personal, intimate relationship with God, and for a position of power and authority in God’s ministry, God’s kingdom, God’s family, and God’s government, for in Genesis 1:26-31, God, in His triune counsel, in the Person of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, first conceives of Adam and Eve in thought in the spiritual realm; then, God forms and fashions Adam and Eve physically on earth, as fully grown and fully equipped adults, more than likely around the ages of 30 or 33, if we are using Jesus, equally the Son of God and the Son of Man, known in the New Testament as both the second or the last Adam, as a measuring rod or prime example and role model in terms of when He first revealed Himself as an adult and began His earthly ministry, and God created Adam and Eve in His image, according to His likeness, because He loved them from the onset as children, and He wanted them to be His first family or His Kingdom Kids on earth, royally and spiritually fashioned and fit for an intimate, personal relationship with Him, for in the passage, it says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” so “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (NASB). Essentially, God appoints Adam and Eve equally and initially as servant leaders and helpmates—companions and cohorts—who in fellowship and relationship with God and in alignment with His will, His way(s), His purpose, His plan(s), and His agenda, will rule and reign on earth together, as God’s children, stewards, emissaries, and representatives, managing God’s property, extending and expanding His territory, influence, and dominion, and reaping the benefits of being in God’s favor and the rewards of being in His family, for in Genesis 2:7-9, 18-25, it indicates this: “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”; “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed God not only blesses Adam and Eve spiritually, especially with His presence; He blesses them tangibly, with material goods, giving them an inheritance and entrusting them with some prime property, some prized possessions, some great livestock, and some natural resources—and also, as their heavenly Father, their LORD of LORD and KING of KING, He gives His children, who are equally His subjects and His citizens, some divine directives or mandates, equally as His children, His stewards, His subjects, and His representatives on earth: namely, (1) to rule and reign, in His name, in His place; (2) to reproduce and multiply, filling the earth; (3) to manage the property and their possessions wisely, thus, subduing the earth; and (4) with all the power and authority God imparted to Adam and Eve, He also issued one restraining order or one commandment for them to respect and follow, which was to refrain from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is mentioned in Genesis 2:15-17, for it says, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (NASB). In this instance, their disobedience would be seen in the eyes of the Holy, Sovereign God, who is equally LORD and KING, as well as a Good, Righteous Judge, as not only an act of sin—wrongdoing or wickedness—but also as acts of rebellion and lawlessness, even treason, which would naturally, bring upon them the judgment and penalty of death, first spiritually, which would separate them from the presence of God and finally, physically, in which their bodies, now stained, defiled, and corrupted by sin, would begin to decay and die, until their physical bodies would return to the dust and dirt from which they were supernaturally created. However, even the face of this betrayal by family, by children, foremost in siding or colluding with the adversary—Satan in the manifested guise of the serpent—and giving him their allegiance and trust and effectively forfeiting their inheritance, property, and authority and essentially, handing everything, including the keys to earth, over to the adversary, God is still gracious and merciful, compassionate and creative, faithful and forgiving, benevolent and good, just and loving, and Isaiah prophetically foretells of the greatest conception, masterplan, and master plot of this awesome, amazing, creative and great God, which God first mentions in Genesis 3:14-15, after the rebellion and fall of the first family of mankind, Adam and Eve, when He pronounces the judgment and curse over the fallen angel-turned-adversary—Satan—in the manifested guise of the serpent—saying, “The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (NASB). So, indeed, words matter to God, especially His Word and the fulfillment of it, for in Isaiah 55:8-11, it indicates this: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that does forth from My mouth; it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (NKJV). Even the angels of God are released when they hear the Word of God, so they can act on that word, and so they can perform it or bring that Word of God into fulfillment or completion, and this is why it is so beneficial for us as believers, through our spoken word(s) and through our written word(s), to activate our faith and to align our words and our prayers with the Word(s) of God, as these are presented and expressed in the Holy Bible, for in John 6:63-65, Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (NKJV). Furthermore, in John 8:1-20, which recounts the confrontation of Jesus and the religious leaders and bystanders who are ready to stone a woman to death who was caught in the act of adultery, we see not only the love, grace, mercy, and compassion of Jesus being put on display in contrast to the judgmental, self-righteous, deceitful, and vindictive nature of the religious leaders, but we also see the power, authority, impact, spirit, life, and redemption found in both the spoken and written words of Jesus Christ, equally the Son of God and the Son of Man, who, in spite of the adulterous woman’s sin, still sees in her someone whose life matters, someone who is worth saving, someone is worth redeeming—for in the passage this is recorded: “Jesus walked up to the Mount of Olives near the city where he spent the night. Then at dawn Jesus appeared in the temple courts again, and soon all the people gathered around to listen to his words, so he sat down and taught them. Then in the middle of his teaching, the religious scholars and the Pharisees broke through the crowd and brought a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery and made her stand in the middle of everyone. Then they said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we caught this woman in the very act of adultery. Doesn’t Moses’ law command us to stone to death a woman like this? Tell us, what do you say we should do with her?’ They were only testing Jesus because they hoped to trap him with his own words and accuse him of breaking the laws of Moses. But Jesus didn’t answer them. Instead he simply bent down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Angry, they kept insisting that he answer their question, so Jesus stood up and looked at them and said, ‘Let’s have the man who has never had a sinful desire throw the first stone at her.’ And then he bent over again and wrote some more words in the dust. Upon hearing that, her accusers slowly left the crowd one at a time, beginning with the oldest to the youngest, with a convicted conscience. Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her ‘Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?’ Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.” Jesus said, “Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.” Then Jesus said, “I am light to the world, and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never walk in darkness.” The Pharisees were immediately offended and said, “You’re just boasting about yourself! Since we only have your word on this, it makes your testimony invalid!” Jesus responded, “Just because I am the one making these claims doesn’t mean they are invalid. For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going. But you Pharisees have no idea about what I’m saying. For you’ve set yourselves up as judges of others based on outward appearances, but I certainly never judge others in that way. For I discern the truth. And I am not alone in my judgments, for my Father and I have the same understanding in all things, and he has sent me to you. “Isn’t it written in the law of Moses that the testimony of two men is trustworthy? Then what I say about who I am is true, for I am not alone in my testimony—my Father is the other witness, and we testify together of the truth.” Then they asked, “Just who is this ‘Father’ of yours? Where is he?” Jesus answered, “You wouldn’t ask that question if you knew who I am, or my Father. For if you knew me, you would recognize my Father too.” (Jesus taught all these things while standing in the treasure room of the temple. And no one dared to arrest him, for it wasn’t his time to surrender to men.)” (TPT). Like all of us, as believers and children of God, Jesus, too, had a mission, a message, a ministry, a purpose, a destiny, and an assignment to fulfill, and although we may not have His signature, His pen name, His trademark, His imprint, or His fingerprint on any ancient or contemporary best-selling book, outside of the Bible, authored by forty or more men over a large span of time but inspired by the Holy Spirit, we as believers and writers alike know this truth, indeed, that He is still the Author and Finisher (Perfecter) of our faith, and He is still on the scene, often as our “silent,” “invisible,” and “spiritual” writing partner, and He is always motivating us, inspiring us, and giving us the right word(s) and the right character(s), and the right plot(s), and helping us revise and edit, until we get the right story, in the right format, with the right message, just when we need it all, because that’s just how He is and who He is: awesome, amazing, generous, creative, loving, gracious, matchless, incomparable, JESUS, HOLY SPIRIT, GOD!
So, why do I write again? Basically, I write because I love God; I love people; I love the Bible; I love great stories; I love great books; and I love being creative, in sharing the Gospel and great words, especially His word(s)—whether they’re spoken, written, typed, printed, fingered in the dust or signed in the air—and words wielded well for good and for God are powerful, influential, transformative and life-changing, and they really matter. So, too, do we matter, especially to God, who made us in His image, according to His likeness, for His good pleasure and His good purpose, and God, who is equally our Creator, our “Abba,” heavenly Father, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Comforter, our Protector, our Provider, our Lord of lord, our King of kings, our Righteous Judge, and the Author and Finisher (or Perfecter) of our faith, cares about us and loves us extravagantly, and He is always with us and always for us, investing one-hundred percent of His time, talents, and treasures into our lives, into our families, into our communities, into our careers, into our endeavors, into our professions, into our ministries, into our missions, into our messages, into our trials, into our triumphs, and into our testimonies, and God, with whom all things are possible, and with whom, nothing is too hard, is more than able to redeem anything of value that will benefit the kingdom of God and any gift from Him that has been delayed, diverted, mishandled, misplaced, or even lost, including time, for even in the Book of John, in John 1:1-18, we learn that the greatest WORD OF GOD, WORD of HOPE, WORD of PROMISE, WORD of TRUTH, and WORD of LIFE ever manifested, unveiled and revealed on earth was, indeed, Jesus Christ, equally the Son of God and the Son of Man, for in the passage it is recorded, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world wouldn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds. This is the one I was talking about when I said, “Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.” From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who himself is God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (NLT), and this is my mission, my ministry, my purpose, and my assignment as a writer in this twenty-first century: to wield words for good and to wield the WORD for God, revealing GOD creatively to others and drawing them to HIM, to JESUS, and boldly proclaiming as GOD’SWORD PROFESSOR that GOD is GOOD, GOD is JUST, GOD is LOVE, and this is the promise, the hope, and the expectation of every believer who goes all-in and makes a full commitment, putting his and her faith, trust, and confidence entirely in GOD, in JESUS, in HOLY SPIRIT, which is expressed 2 Timothy 3:11-13 by the apostle Paul, that “this is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (NKJV); and finally, I will end with the same tribute to God and benediction the apostle Paul includes in 1Timothy 1:17: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (NKJV).
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