Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Perfect in One

Why Is Fellowship of the Saints Important?

"And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."  John 17:22-23

As I was reading the Scriptures this morning, the following phrase stuck out to me "perfect in one".  Last week, I shared with a brother, "Jesus said that He wants us to be one as He and the Father are one, so we should seek to know what that means."  Then of course, we went on in the conversation and I didn't think of it again.  :-)  Yet as I was reading this morning and came across that phrase, God brought back that conversation to mind and said, "This is why you are to be one."

It is God's desire for His people to be "one" the way the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit are one.  God is one because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in harmonious agreement with one another, sharing one mind and one spirit (I John 5:7).  They are united and abide together in love, because they each glorify the other (John 13:31-32, 14:13, 15:26, 17:4; Acts 3:13; Hebrews 5:5; Philippians 2:9; I Peter 4:11).

Years ago, a brother once shared with me an understanding he felt God had given him on the importance of the Trinity.  God is love, and the essence of love is selflessness.  The very nature of selflessness almost requires that its manifestation involve more than one person.  How can I demonstrate that I am selfless if I am an island all to myself, never having the opportunity to consistently deny myself for the sake of another?  True love is in giving of one's self for another.  For true love to be exemplified, it needs to be shared; and that requires interaction with more than just one's self.  Hence, the significance in God being a Trinity is to reinforce the fact that God is love.

"Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. " Philippians 2:2-4

This is also why God's church is a corporate body (united into one).  It is not comprised of just one member, but many members.  It brings to mind the baking of a cake.  You need a variety of ingredients, each with its own distinct properties such as flour, eggs, vanilla, oil, water...  The idea is to bring all of the ingredients together through the friction of stirring.  If the friction is not energetic enough or stops too soon, then the ingredients will still be separated.  The key is for the ingredients to be incorporated (combined in one body).

When done properly, you may no longer see the individual ingredients.  However, that doesn't mean that these ingredients have lost their own unique properties.  Neither have they adopted the properties of the other ingredients.  The egg is still an egg, the flour is still flour, etc. They each still retain their own special offerings, but through their incorporation results the creation of something completely new: a batter.

Further, this new thing would not have been possible without all of the ingredients coming together.  Neither is it something any of the ingredients could have done on its own.  Flour is not a cake, eggs are not a cake...they each need the other in order to produce the desired outcome.

This is what God desires to do in His Church (I Corinthians 12:12-27).  He is making something new out of all the various giftings and talents in the Body; not diminishing or exalting any one member, but using all collectively to glorify Himself to the rest of the world (John 17:22-23).  It is in this process of fellowship that God is perfecting us; we are "made perfect in one".  The gifts in fellowship is the means God has chosen for us to be perfected:

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians 4:11-16

We are made "perfect" in one; it is by being together in unity that grows us up in God.  And once the ingredients are properly incorporated and the batter is formed, it is then that we are ready to be poured out, baked in the refiner's fire, and presented as food for others to eat and likewise partake of the sweetness of God.  Is this not awesome?!  Or maybe I am the only one excited about this.  LOL

Yet what do we do?  We tend to draw back from and reject the fellowship of saints because we don't like the friction.  We get tired of the beating of our flesh.  We don't really want to esteem others above ourselves.  The result is that we are not perfected; we remain as children in spiritual things, immature in the faith, and the glory of the Lord is not revealed among us to those in the earth.

Why does God want us to be "one"?  Because it is His way of ensuring that He gets a Godly seed (Malachi 2:15).  God in His wisdom sets children in families so that they are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  It is the same in the church, for we as Christ's Body are God's family.  And everybody knows that families get messy.  We love our families, but spend enough time with them and they can just get on our nerves.  Sometimes you just don't feel like being bothered!  Yet we must be, because God is using these interactions to sharpen us, smooth off our rough edges, and prepare us for His use (Proverbs 27:17). 

"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." I Corinthians 1:10

I would like to share with you the following message from Min. Art Katz which really seemed to confirm what God was showing me this morning.  Let me tell you that I was blown away to listen to this message and hear Min. Katz pretty much saying the same things as what God was showing me this morning (down to the metaphor of the cake!!).  Did I say I was blown away?!  Not in myself of course, and not even in Min. Katz, but in our Almighty God.  How He can bring our experiences throughout the week - which so seem disparate - together in a way that enlightens us in ways we did not have before. God surely knows how to confirm for us those things He wants us to know.  I believe this sermon will truly bless those who are ready to grow in God (be perfected) so that they can in turn do the works of the ministry.  I know it just cannot be me who longs for the glory of the Lord to be seen throughout the earth. :-)

Please listen to this short message by clicking here: True Fellowship
  • The word fellowship has been perverted to represent some sort of soft, casual, and occasional "How are you doing brother?" sentiment.
  • The word truth is almost never properly used or understood in many church environments.
  • The real meaning of both truth and fellowship must to be restored - and restored together - or else the glory of God in the earth shall not be seen in the earth.
  •  There is a inextricable connection between the life of God, the fellowship with God's people, and the truth of God (I John 1:1-10).
  • Koin┼Źnia - fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse
  • Fellowship is not icing on the cake.
  • Fellowship is not a "nice to have" after we have obtained the life and truth of God.  Fellowship is the expression of that life and truth.
  • If we desire God's visible presence and glory among us, then He has ordained that such comes through true fellowship of His people.
  • The world encourages self-willed individuality, yet this mindset is absolutely contrary to God.
  • They mystery of the Godhead must be revealed in the earth by the mystery of the Body.
  • True fellowship requires the work of the holy Spirit.
  • True fellowship is not association, but participation.
  • Community is not an option.  Not to be in community is to be outside of the definitive relationship of the Kingdom kind that God intends for all of the saints.
  • Even the church building as a rectangle with an elevated platform is wrong (like a theater).  It was not so in the beginning.
  • It will take church leaders with courage to stand against these false traditions, removing the pews, allow for face to face interaction and not allow themselves to be exalted, but be one of many brethren in a circle together sharing of God's blessings on such unions.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks sis!! This is indeed what has been on my heart the last year or so. What do we do in terms of fellowship? I have yet to find an assembly where the pastors don't want to be exalted. I am a member of an assembly now and I have went there all my life. There is no real fellowship among the members. All we do is see each other on Sunday and say "Hey how are you?" and we then go on out the door to our own little lives. I am sick of it honestly!! I desire soooo much to be closer to my brothers and sisters but what does one do in a situation like this? Most of the members of the assembly are older and I have to be honest I don't even know if half of them have a real relationship with Christ. I do believe many are religious but have no relationship. I am not trying to be critical but from many of their comments and concerns it seems as if noone is seeking Christ and unity among the Saints. I don't want to be jumping around from place to place but I do desire true fellowship, I am not looking for perfect people, because I am not perfect but I do desire to be around people with a DESIRE for TRUTH and the expression of it!!

    Much Love Sis!!

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  2. Good comments Stephanie! You know what else I have noticed? It's not even about a lack of knowledge about what true, New Testament community is. Never before have I heard sooooo many biblical teachings/tapes/sermons on organic community, unity, and living "life on life" with one another. We say all the right words. We nod our heads and agree-yet most of the relationships still remain shallow and superficial.

    Even when we create certain ministries/programs to encourage community (such as small groups,) you know what I'm noticing? The common bond in those groups is not really based on passion for God, His Word,deeper prayer, and a zealous desire to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Instead, the Bible is handled casually, and trivial topics such as food, sports, fashion, who sang what at Whitney Houston's funeral, relationships, etc-overrides the conversation. It all kind of bores me and I walk away still not knowing more about Jesus. (Disclaimer: not saying fellowships have to be "perfect," but they should be healthy and spur me on in the faith).

    The crux of what I am saying: true fellowship is rooted in God (each personally and diligently attending to their own walk with the Lord), then commitment to one another, and a commitment to the gospel. Seems like when one of these components is missing, friendship can still be there to a certain degree, but there will be a lack of deeper intimacy and communion.

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  3. Hi Stephanie,

    I hear you! I know that many church communities either do not facilitate real fellowship or do not do not stand on the truth, thereby compromising the health of the fellowship. Now, I don't have any answers for that.

    However at the same time, if God has determined that it is by bringing us together in fellowship that He will grow us, then what I am supposed to say to Him? "Well God, you just never established a Godly fellowship that I could be a part of. That sounds to me a bit like Adam & Eve blaming someone else in the Garden of Eden.

    I believe that if this is the way God decrees, then He will make provision for it in our lives. But we have to seek Him for it. We have to ask for spiritual eyes to see as He does.

    I believe that many people believe as Min. Katz did initially; that fellowship is just a "nice to have" but not a necessary component of our walk with God. With such an understanding, how will we ever be able to see Godly fellowship because we don't esteem it as important? So that is why I posted this message. It is to challenge our understanding and cause us to seek God for His will in this area.

    I am so glad you touched on the whole "expecting a fellowship to be perfect" issue. I think many do. And often, our definition of "perfect" is a people who agree with and validate us.

    Are people truly willing to come together with other imperfect people, denying themselves when those others rub us the wrong way? Only if we truly desire to see the glory of the Lord. Only if we esteem His presence more than we prioritize our own discomfort and frustration.

    And while I am sure you know this, I am not speaking to you specifically Stephanie; I am just sharing my thoughts in general.

    I actually found the Min. Katz sermon on a website I have been perusing for the past 2 weeks: Jesus Life Together

    I will post their answer to that question below.

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  4. On the site where I found Min. Katz's message, they answered the question of where others could find similar fellowships. This is what they said.

    Jesus Life Together Answer

    Understandable question of course, and we get that question thousands of times every year, year after year. Obviously, there are many of every religious background, color, and nationality who sense the difference between "attending religions about Jesus on Sunday"—versus Living Jesus' Life as HE did and does, without religion, ritual, or a ruling class. That said, we don't ever actually pass on information about people in an area, or even keep records of it, intentionally, even if they live a block away from each other. :) There are men with websites we know in this country and other countries who do have "registries" and "lists" and help to group folks together, to some extent. You'll be able to locate them and ask that if you'd like, I'm sure. However, our encouragement to those who ask is always to lay down your life and risk bringing Truth to your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and all you know. Most have never really done this obvious Christian thing courageously and lovingly and persistently. As YOU sacrifice comfort, time, and reputation to build lives, rather than to "find something"—you can then watch "the Lord build the House" in His own way and time, as is HIS deepest desire to do. :) It will cost you the price of "taking up your cross" for others—pain, rejection, humiliation, sometimes lost relationships—to present and live for and die for Truth to others. But the "Pearl of Great Price" is WORTH it. :) SHOW the way and BUILD Life, rather than looking for it—that would be our encouragement. :)

    We'd have to imagine you were wanting something "more practical" but after all of these years, we're pretty sure this is the Right answer to bring Jesus honor, and that He might "increase" and mere humans as some sort of cheap answer might rightfully "decrease." We hope that perspective, at least, is helpful...

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  5. Thanks so much for this!! I was discussing this with my mother last night and that is the advice she gave. She told me to just be the change I want to see and as I thought about it I realized that I had been doing that all along. I am being a witness in my own home and to those in my sphere of existence. I guess sometimes we want a whole bunch of people to be surrounding us so that we can feel secure. I guess we sometimes want a pat on the back and someone saying, "Hey sis you are doing a good job and you are surely helping build the church" LOL!! How
    sad!!

    I agree with the response that you posted Mia and God had placed on my heart to open my home up more and cook for people. At first I was like, "uh God don't you know that I am not a good cook and I surely wouldn't want to make anyone sick or kill them with my food!!" LOL!! The Holy Spirit spoke back to me directly and said this is not about YOU, but about others. You are still thinking of yourself and how you will appear to others. Just do as I say and I will be all that you need, the cook included!! LOL!! I must say that He was right and I opened up my home and I invited people over and the food was DELICIOUS!! LOL!! I prayed before I cooked that meal and I tell you God is AWESOME and He surely does what He says!! Anyway I could go on, but I won't!! From now on I will be the change that I want to see! I will keep on being obedient to my Father and allow Him to work in my life as He sees fit, including building a True fellowship with whom He says!

    Thanks for the encouraging posts!! Much Love to you and yours!!

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  6. Hello Anonymous,

    I understand and agree with much of what you are saying. I will say though that I do believe there is a lack of knowledge about true fellowship.

    From experiences on social networking sites to 1-2 local meetings a week, none of that reflects the image of community seen in the New Testament. Yet, many people will argue you to the ground about how that is just as much fellowship as what the early church had. It isn't.

    I don't know that the fellowship of saints has to look as Min. Katz describes, but I know that what many people claim to have as "fellowship" falls far from it. Yet and still, this is something which God indicates is a vital part to not only our growth, but for His glory being seen.

    Lastly, if I can just bring one small point up for consideration. You state in your last paragraph that we must each attend to our own walk with God and "then" a commitment to others. Yet look at part of the text reviewed by Min. Katz:

    "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with US: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ...But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship ONE WITH ANOTHER, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. " I John 1:3, 7

    Fellowship with others does not seem to be a "then" statement. It does not seem to be secondary to our fellowship with God.

    John seems to indicate in verse 3 that being brought into fellowship with the brethren was the same as being brought into fellowship with God. Further in verse 7, the evidence that they had fellowship with God was the fact that they had fellowship with one another.

    This seems to me to reinforce Min. Katz's comment: "Fellowship is not a "nice to have" after we have obtained the life and truth of God. Fellowship is the expression of that life and truth."

    Not being argumentative here. Simply challenging whether fellowship with others is something which occurs "after" ensuring our own walk or whether it is part of the way we ensure our own walk.

    I don't think the Scriptures support that I have true fellowship as long as I am personally rooted in God. Rather, it seems to indicate that the evidence that I am personally rooted in God is that I have true fellowship with the brethren.

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  7. Okay Stephanie, so now you are stepping on my toes. OUCH!!!

    My husband and I were just discussing this morning how God led us a couple of years ago to start opening our home to others as a means of ministering and witnessing about the Lord. And we have done so and are very thankful for the relationships He is building through those interactions, but it hasn't been easy.

    I tend to be a very private person, maybe it is partially because I was an only child. But I have become quite adept at being by myself and having my space. Even last night we had out of town visitors who knew me from childhood and they discussed how much of an introvert I used to be because I did not know how to socialize with others.

    Yet, over the past two years, those old ways have really been challenged. Like you (although maybe for different reasons), I wanted to fellowship "out there" somewhere, so I could still come back to "my" home and just relax; have my private space. But God has put us in repeated positions of getting us out of that mindset. Instead of going to fellowship "out there" He has made our home a place of fellowship. Can someone say, "Bye, bye, private place?" LOL

    And let me tell you that I struggled with that (and still do to some extent). It is a level of giving of myself that I still have to wrestle with. I guess it boils down to what the Jesus Life Together site said:

    "As YOU sacrifice comfort, time, and reputation to build lives, rather than to "find something"—you can then watch "the Lord build the House" in His own way and time"

    Yes, I have surely seen the truth of this statement in my own life. Not that God is establishing a "church" at our home, but that He is teaching us that this whole thing of fellowship is going to cost us much more of ourselves than we envisioned having to give (or at least I envisioned). :-)

    So yes, I think God is taking us on the same road. To have us stop "looking" for something and just start being what God has designed us to be, witnesses for Him.

    Much love to you Sister & thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

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  8. first i want to thank you for the post.you are always a blessing and i truly thank God for you. i dont know if its a me thing or not but this is not complicated or hard to be understood at all. we all know what fellowship is and what it really requires... we all know. i am so tired of all this wrangling and jangling i wish we would all just get real with God so He can show us ourselves and teach us how to get real with ourselves. when scripture teaches us to love the brethren and fervently at that and tells us we have no need that any one teach us about love because we are personally taught by God how to love so just from those to teachings alone we are taught to and equipped for fellowship. the Holy Spirit prompts and leads us into it as we progress in the life of the LORD. we have to put off and fosake pride and rebellion so we can obey the Lord and become family. if our desire is for our true family then we will be the family ourselves even without having physical fellowship and God Himself will provide others of like precious faith. this is all so very simple. lets just be who we are supposed to be in Christ and all the rest will follow. this is a matter of faith and trust in God that if we seek first the Kingdom all will be added. lets all just bring it back down to the simplicity of the Gospel which is just to trust and obey. i have been without fellowship for years and have earnestly desired and prayed fervently with fastings for God to give us pastors after His own heart and to lead me into the fellowship of the saints. i searched the web tirelessly looking only to leave disappointed but in 2010 through a series of events i stumbled upon omega ministries then this blog and through this blog bro. pooonen and bro. pawson and the brother who posts the words he recieves from the LORD, sorry i cant recall his name right now, my point is God has answered my prayer and will bring me into physical fellowship in His own timing. we need to trust and obey the word of GOD and become what the word says and as we are busy doing that all things will be added.i am one with omega, mia,bro. zac,bro pawson, and every one of my Heavenly Father's children even having never met them and because my love is being perfected in Christ i have fervent love for my brothers and sisters counting you all dear and precious and my own true family.lets just trust and obey, lets just walk in the Spirit at all times this will cause us to reject selfishness(self) which requires alone time or me time for self seving purposes because thats not the Spirit of Christ i know because i was possibly the most me time needing person you'd ever meet(truly).john was on the isle of patmos but i can garauntee you he was one with the body of Christ and loved every member fervently even after never seeing them or never having met them face to face before.we need to not expect light to be able to fellowship with darkness and come out from among them and wait on God for HE will provide. i will not be apart of that which God has condemned and if what you are attending and expecting fellowship from is babylon then not only will your expectations fail but if you stay you will share in babylon's judgement so as the LORD has warned... come out of her my people.. i warn also. precious family we can only work while it is day and the night is already upon us lets us all redeem the time by trusting, obeying and becoming what the Father requires and this will solve any fellowship issues or questions. all my love and be blessed and highly favored in CHRIST.

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  9. Amen Tina! I agree that the "me time" attitude is selfishness. It would be wonderful for me to say that I am completely delivered in this area, but such would not be true. The more self dies in me, the more "self" God reveals to be crucified. I suppose this is the walk we are on, one of dieing daily. Thank you for the wisdom and encouragement shared!

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  10. i didnt get a chance to preview before my comment posted. i had to leave the room to deal with 2 cousins disagreeing and by the time i returned it had posted automatically as i was at the last stage before posting. so i said that to say this lol.. i didnt discover omega ministries in 2010 but around the middle of 2011 i had to correct myself. how i wish i had found this ministry in 2010 i think i would have avoided a lot of hurt i endured but i believe that was GOD'S point in not introducing omega to me sooner. i hope you all know how you are being used to minister to CHRIST'S bride no matter how it feels or what it looks like at times. fellow believers are so much better off because of omega and latter days.GOD by CHRIST in you all has literally changed my life in ways no words could ever communicate. be ever blessed in our Saviour!

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  11. Hi Tina,

    When I reached a time in my life where I was tired of religion and really wanted to know God, He led me to Omega. To be honest, I literally issued God a challenge, "If you are really real, then where are your people?" It is unreal to think of, but that was about 17 years ago! While that makes me feel old as dirt LOL, I can testify first-hand about how my life has changed because of this ministry. The vessels who discipled me in the early years are simply vessels, but if they had not been giving their life in sacrifice to the Lord, it would not have been possible.

    AND, I found them because a sister was not ashamed to witness to people on the job and even host lunchtime bible studies. So I guess it is like we have been saying. If we can move beyond our comfort zones and our focus on self to build lives in Christ, then He will build His Body. Surely God will lead us to believers of a like, precious faith as we "trust & obey". :-)

    God Bless you Sister!

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  12. Hello fellow saints, one thing is for sure when the world begins its final persecution of the saints and we are hated by everyone, I assure you we will have fellowship with each other. God will bring us together when we realize the hatred Satan has for all of us and we recognize the need for a friend to help encourage us to stand in austere times. It's coming so get ready.

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  13. i think the linked Art Katz message was cut short by maybe 1/2

    Here's the whole message:
    http://artkatzministries.org/audio-messages/true-fellowship/

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  14. Thank you Anonymous! I have updated the link and will be listening to the complete message myself.

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  15. This has really blessed me. I've been wanting real fellowship like this since the beginning. I knew it was like this but I've been going through thinking, "Well, God will find me a church when I'm mature enough to hang." In other words, "God needs to separate me off to himself, grow me, and then bring me into fellowship with the other grown sisters and brothers of God. In my current state, I could make the fellowship the idol and forget about God."

    I got this view from a pastor who mentioned why some Christians were alone and not in church. But I've been telling God, how this doesn't work for me. "I'm not growing or becoming stronger by myself. I need the Body. How am I going to grow if I'm not around the saints of God?"

    This encourages me to pursue fellowship again, instead of waiting on something to happen. Or, cease from what I've been doing: seeking fellowship on social networks (a lot of these folks just don't agree with the Bible).

    This also confirms what I believe God has been saying over the past months about starting a fellowship because there's simply no God-respecting-we-wanna-deny-ourselves-and-live-kingdom-lives ministries here in Michigan. I'm hearing: "There's simply no real churches here because you (Neal) haven't started one."

    God has been dealing with me on leadership lately as well, I gotta be the change I want to see. Therefore I ask for prayer as I pursue what God has called me to do.

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  16. Hi NealReal,

    I have found very similar things. Many (not all) on social networking environments want to be Christians on their own terms. It was initially shocking to realize just how prevalent rejection of God's word is on such sites. And when you bring up what the word says, you get a whole lot of, "Oh, that is a mistranslation....that no longer applies...we don't need the word if we are led by the Spirit, etc."

    There are even a number of Christians who spend most of their time on these sites trying to debunk the Scriptures. I suppose though, that such is only a microcosm of the churchworld at large.

    I will keep you in prayer in this regard Neal. I do believe that as we start pouring out more to those around us God will build His Body.

    God bless and strengthen you brother!

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