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Answering The Call of God

Answering The Call of God

1 Samuel 3:1-10(NLT) - Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!” “Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did. Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!” Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.” Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

If you were sleeping and suddenly heard a voice call your name in the middle of the night, what would you do? Now put yourself in Samuel's shoes. He had no idea what was going on. As the scriptures outlined, it was rare for anyone to receive a message from The Lord at that time so he didn't have much of a reference point. Hence, his response was appropriate. In fact, his journey to hearing God's Voice clearly is indicative of what we all experience. Like Samuel, it takes us a couple times before we can comfortably discern God's Voice from everything else around us.

It took Samuel 4 times to recognize The Voice of God. Yet, more importantly, it took Eli 3 times to realize that it was God's Voice speaking to Samuel all along. Samuel was justified for not knowing God's Voice but Eli, the high priest, had no excuse. Maybe that further explains why the first prophetic Word Samuel ever received was a warning of impending judgment from God for his mentor and spiritual father Eli. If you read the preceding chapter you would also realize that Samuel was not the first prophet to warn Eli. God sent a prophet earlier to tell Eli basically the same thing. Since it didn't really work then, God had to repeat Himself which is never good.

Isaiah 6:8(NKJV) - Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

I remember the first time I "heard" the Voice of God. It was during a Sunday morning service at Divine Encounter Fellowship in Arima, Trinidad. I was 17 years old and a group of us had responded to an altar call. We were on our faces in prayer before The Lord when suddenly I felt something shift in my consciousness. My eyes were closed and instead of seeing complete darkness I could see the stars as though I was deep in outer space. I then felt this overwhelming sense that God was calling me into the ministry. I couldn't articulate what He said to me because I actually didn't hear anything. I just felt something all over me and I knew it was God. So in response I told The Lord yes in whatever way I knew at that time. I didn't know exactly what I was agreeing to but I knew who I was in agreement with. As you can see, the rest is history.

Matthew 22:1-4(NLT) - Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

In this parable like most others by Jesus, the King represents God. In addition, the specially invited guests represent His chosen people Israel and the people from the street corners represent the Gentiles. Salvation was first offered to the Jews and the bulk of them rejected it so God offered it to the entire world. It may not have been a good thing that the Jews turned down God's invitation but it was a good thing for the rest of us because that's how we got invited into God's Kingdom. Nevertheless, it's easy to read a parable like this and think; "Who in their right mind would reject the call of God? What could be so important in your life that it could be worth turning down a personal invitation from God?"

Well, think about it! The VIP guests had other things to do. They had things to take care of at home or work. They had money to make. They had their own dreams to pursue. They just didn't have the time to stop living their own lives to respond to The King. They weren't necessarily bad people, they were just busy people. Of course, that doesn't include the group who killed the messengers. Of course, none of us would ever do a thing like that. Now would we? Not so fast! How many prophets have spoken God's truth into the lives of Christians who are sitting on the sidelines and got totally shot down? "Beloved, God says you need to.... Ummm... no thank you. That's not God."

Romans 11:29(AMP) - For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call].

What about you? Do you remember the first time God spoke to you? If yes, what did He tell you? Do you remember the day God called you to serve in His Kingdom? If yes, what have you done? Did you do what He said? Did you read The Book of Jonah? He thought that he could get away from God's call on his life by going in the opposite direction. God sent him for a swim with the fishes. God might be long-suffering and patient but He doesn't forget His call on someone's life. Have you tried to run away from God's plan? If you think you're just not going to do it and things are just going to work themselves out you're in for a big surprise.

Even if you've never heard God's call you have received God's gifts. Guess what? His gifts were given to you for one purpose and that's to carry out His call. If you don't think you're called by God, your gifts will disagree with that notion. The mere presence of natural or spiritual gifts in your life means God has a purpose for you and its directly connected to the use of those gifts. So even a person's inability to hear from God is not an excuse for not answering the Call of God. The gifts He's put into each of us speak to us on behalf of God telling us what He expects of us. They point us in His direction.

Find a place where your gifts can be developed and eventually used in God's service. If you can't do it where you are right now, find somewhere else. You can either stay where you are and use your gifts outside of that place or go to a place where you can use your gifts. Whatever you do, answer God's call on your life. He is never going to change His mind regardless of what you do. The only thing that changes is that the longer you wait, the less time you have to do the same thing.

Romans 12:4-8(NLT) - Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Each person in The Body of Christ has unique gifts which accompany specific functions. When you see The Church as a body you will realize how important you are, not just to God but to the rest of us. Do you know what it's like to be missing a body part? Even if all of your body parts are present, do you know what it's like when you have body parts which don't function properly? Now consider every Christian who is out of place and not doing what God has called them to do. Consider the impact their lack of function has on the rest of us. They handicap God's body by not fulfilling their roles. Are you one of those people? Are you the malfunctioning foot that's caused us to limp along for the last five years? Are you the missing finger that has made it hard for us to grasp what God has asked of us? Is it you? If it's not you, do you know who it is?

1 Corinthians 12:12-27(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

We're all in this together. When I answered the call of God on my life it was not just about me, it was about you. When you consider the call of God on your life, it's not just about you or your family, it's about the rest of us in The Body of Christ. We need you to do what God has called you to do and we need you to do it now. God is calling your name. Go ahead and say yes! Until we all do what we are called to do, The Body of Christ is not functioning at its full capacity.

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Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #11: Be Careful Who You Trust

Trust

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we highlight the eleventh point; " 11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #10 - The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful."

Proverbs 4:23(NLT) - Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

One of my mentors in the ministry is Apostle Daren Phillips of Christ United Church in Loganville, GA. He told me that pastors should always put their hearts in God's hands and not in the hearts of people. Otherwise, some people will break our hearts causing us to become callous toward everyone else which is never good for the ministry.

John 2:23-25(NLT) - Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.

What would Jesus do? That's the question we often have to ask ourselves as we face life's challenges with the intent of emulating our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How about we reshape the question to offer a different perspective? What would Jesus not do? He would not be naive as the leader of The Church. When He walked the earth He was a people person. He was personable, merciful, loving, forgiving and understanding but He was not gullible.

He knew why people followed Him and could tell that the majority were only there because of the signs and wonders He performed. Most of them could care less about Him as a person because what really mattered in their eyes was what He could do for them. Moreover, one of the twelve disciples proved that Jesus could not even wholeheartedly trust the people closest to Him.

John 12:1-8(NLT) - Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Judas was the treasurer but he was stealing money from Jesus all along. Not just that, Judas had the audacity to open his mouth to comment on what Mary chose to do with her money. Perhaps, he had his eyes on her own too. Think about it. Jesus handpicked His twelve disciples but one of them turned out to have questionable character traits. In fact The Bible says in John 6:70-71(NLT); "Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him."

I guess calling Judas a man of questionable character is putting it lightly. Perhaps, Jesus allowed this level of self-deception to take place as a lesson for us. Please note that I used the word self-deception because Judas only deceived himself. Jesus never did trust him and he should have figured that out the first time Jesus called him a devil.

He may not have sold Jesus out to the authorities as yet but he was stealing money all along. One valuable lesson from this story is that if someone on your leadership team could minister alongside you yet steal money from you, put nothing else beyond them. Judas started off just stealing money from the treasury but he ending up setting a trap for Jesus to be arrested and crucified.

Psalms 118:8(NLT) - It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.

It's confession time. I was a naive young pastor and it came back to bite me. Let me break it down. I've been hurt in dating relationships as a single man. I've been hurt at work as a young engineer. I've been hurt in business as a young investor. However, nothing hurt like I was hurt as a young pastor. To watch someone we poured ourselves into for years turn around and disrespect me, my wife and the church hit me deep in my heart. It hurt so much that it took me weeks to recover. I think the biggest thing for me was getting over the shock of being so dishonored by someone we thought so highly of. Worst of all, we never received an apology so we had to forgive without even the slightest hint of repentance.

Through it all, God was with us and I learned a valuable lesson. Trust God and not people. You can trust the God in people but don't be gullible enough to trust people that God does not. If Jesus is our perfect example, we cannot be naive. For every twelve people in our church circle, one of them is not to be trusted with anything at all. Additionally, in much less dramatic fashion, other people have sorely disappointed us during that time because we opened our hearts to any and every person who showed up to church.

When you're just starting a church, especially without a core to start with from another church there's an extreme level of excitement you experience when anyone walks through the door. That's reflected in your willingness to believe whatever they say and plug them in quickly to fill needs in the church. That's not good and we know that now. We've grown over the years and now we're much more discerning. We love everyone but we don't trust them. We trust God and only if He trusts them, we trust them too. Be careful who you trust.

1 Timothy 5:22(NLT) - Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

This is one of the most important scriptures in The Bible for a young pastor. The area that requires the most trust in a church assembly is leadership. One of the first tasks of building a church assembly is appointing leaders. Perhaps, it should not be. If you don't give the process enough time you could make some big mistakes that you will regret for a long time. Apostle Daren Phillips told me recently that it's easier to ordain someone than it is to un-ordain them so ordain wisely. Church leadership is 80% character and 20% more character. Competency, skill, etc. go along for the ride. It's better to appoint church leaders with Godly character and let them lead a team of people with skill. In the end, we remain committed to the following guidelines provided in the scripture for the selection of church leadership.

1 Timothy 3:1-13(NLT) - This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.” So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do. A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well. Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.

These are the characteristics God looks for in church leaders. We should too. When people in leadership demonstrate this type of character in a church assembly, the pastor can sleep well at night because the ministry is in good hands. The guidelines are quite exhaustive but they all point to one thing; good character. People of good character honor God, their own families, their church leaders and everyone else in the church God has called them to be involved with. If we choose people for leadership based on these Biblical criteria we can avoid much unnecessary disaster and heartache in our local churches.

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Decatur Community Workshops: Young and Married in Atlanta Extended Video Highlights

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "Young and Married in Atlanta". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you. For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

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Understanding The End Times (Session One) - The Introduction

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this Introductory session, the following three questions were addressed;

How do we know the future?

Why study the end times?

Are we there yet?

For more information visit our website at www.thebodychurchinc.org

As long as we deem the content of the material appropriate for public release we will make the videos public. If we start dealing with information that's a bit too controversial to make public at this time we will restrict access to those who have signed up for the workshop.

Understanding The End Times - Workshop

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Unleashing God's WILL-POWER

power

Welcome back to our latest blog series on God's Will-Power. We've studied God's Will and we've studied God's power but two days ago God started talking to me about the combination of the two in His Will-Power. If you were here yesterday you would know that this is a continuation from yesterday's blog; "The Will-Power of God". The point that God's been stressing is that His power is tied to His Will so if He wants something to happen His power is available to make it happen. Armed with this knowledge, if we want to effectively and consistently walk in His power we must choose to walk in His Will.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11(NKJV) - There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

If you look carefully at our main scripture for today you will see some important facts about God's gifts. First, spiritual gifts are really the manifestation of The Holy Spirit. Second, when He gives a person a gift it's not just for the recipient but for the profit of everyone. Third, He gives out gifts according to His Will. What does that mean? If you have a gift of any sort it's because God wants you to have it. He gave you the gift for a reason and that's to benefit everyone else. Again, though He gave the gift to you, it's actually not just for you. Hence, every gift of God comes with a responsibility to use it so that others can profit from what God gave. You can't choose to sit on your gift because by doing so you rob the rest of us from benefitting from it.

Romans 11:29(KJV) - For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

The Bible also says in Romans 11:29 that God's gifts and His call on your life are without repentance. This means that once He gave them to you He won't take them back. There is no gift exchange in God's Kingdom. He distributes gifts and that's about it. However, as we saw earlier in the blog, even though you get to keep your gifts regardless of what you do with them you are expected to use them. Romans 11:29 also means that God's gifts and His call on your life go together.

So if God gave you a gift there are strings attached because He also called you to do something very specific with it. Therefore, God won't call you to do something you are not gifted to do and He won't gift you to do something He didn't call you to do. Simply put; God's gifts are given to people according to God's Will to empower them to do His Will or carry out His call for their lives. Now that we understand this, let's get to the bottom line. People run into problems when they use God's gifts for something other than His call on their lives. In other words, they try to separate God's gift from His call. Strangely, God doesn't just cut off the gift because it's without repentance.

He also doesn't always cut off the power behind the gift which is not necessarily a good thing for those involved. At least, if God cuts off the power behind your gift when you're not using it the way He wants you to, it will act as a wake up call. The frustration that comes from being ineffective should drive you to your knees. Sadly, if you are allowed to continue to operate in God's gifts with His power behind you when you're outside of His Will this is what eventually happens.

Matthew 7:21-23(KJV) - Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Look at that! Many people can prophesy, cast out devils and do many wonderful works but be outside of The Will of God. Unfortunately, this causes confusion during their time on the earth because they assume that as long as they can operate in God's power they are in proper standing with God. This is why God's been talking to me about cutting off the power for some people who get out of His Will. We can consider that to be His mercy. We rather it be obvious now that something's wrong than live in deception all the way to the judgment seat of Christ then get blindsided. Who wants to show up before God expecting rewards and end up receiving punishment?

In sum, God's cutting the power from those who are out of His Will and that's good news. If a man is not in God's Will he doesn't need to be operating by God's power anyway because that's dangerous. It's dangerous for the people who are doing the ministry because they could end up in hell and it's dangerous for the people receiving the ministry because you never know what you could be getting. It's time to unleash God's Will-Power! It's the dimension of His power that's only available when you do His Will.

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Friendship With Jesus: Hear God's Secrets

Date - Sunday, May 17th, 2015

The Body Church
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown/ Georgia Tech
1132 Techwood Dr NW, Atlanta
GA 30318

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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The Body Church - Authentic Leadership

Date - Sunday, May 10th, 2015

The Body Church
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown/ Georgia Tech
1132 Techwood Dr NW, Atlanta
GA 30318

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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The Consummate Leader: Lead Like Salt and Light

Date - Sunday, April 19th, 2015

The Body Church
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown/ Georgia Tech
1132 Techwood Dr NW, Atlanta
GA 30318

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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The Body Church - Lead Like Jesus

Date - Sunday, April 12th, 2015

The Body Church
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown/ Georgia Tech
1132 Techwood Dr NW, Atlanta
GA 30318

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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Who Is Jesus? - The Best Leader Ever!

Date - Sunday, April 5th, 2015

The Body Church
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown/ Georgia Tech
1132 Techwood Dr NW, Atlanta
GA 30318

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer
11:00 AM - Worship With The Word

www.TheBodyChurchInc.org

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