MOAB

When I saw the news report last night and saw that they called the bomb, “MOAB”,  I didn’t think of it as an acronym. I thought of the ancient nation of Moab and God’s great promise.  I found it most interesting that the bomb was called MOAB.

Israel and our great nation share the blessing of our creator God, who promised to bless those who bless His people. Moab an Israel are related, they share a great-grandfather in Terah, the father of Abraham (Gen 11:27), and Deut 2:9-12 gives Moab a similar history to Israel, displacing an indigenous race of giants in order to claim territory given to them by Yahweh (God).

In the Hebrew Bible, the relationship between Israel and Moab is an enigma. On one hand, Moab is the enemy. Moabite history begins with an ethnic joke that goes back to Lot’s incestuous relations with his daughters, implying that the similarity in Hebrew between Mo’abi (“Moabite”) and me’abi (“from my father”) was no coincidence (Gen 19:37). But Abraham counted Lot like a son and gave him preference and protection (Lot’s descendants founded Moab).

When Israel began taking back the Promised Land after they were released from slavery in Egypt and their 40 years in the wilderness, they fought every inhabitant of the land promised to Abraham (and Israel) except Moab. They were not even allowed to walk through it.

The Moabite king Balak hires Balaam to curse the Israelites but is foiled by a talking donkey (Num 22-24), and a later Moabite monarch, Eglon, oppresses Israel until he is assassinated by the clever Ehud from the tribe of Benjamin (Judg 3:12-30). The victorious King David was not allowed to destroy Moab. 

Other traditions present a more favorable view of Moabite-Israelite relations. The genealogy of David is traced to Ruth (and on to our Lord Jesus), that most worthy of Moabites (Ruth 4:17-18; and see Matt 1:5-6). Prior to murdering Moabite captives, David sent his father and mother to take refuge with the king of Moab while on the run from Saul (1Sam 22:3-4).

There are many in this nation and the world who curse the leaders The USA and Israel, but I have found a scripture that speaks straight from of God’s own mouth about these who stand against Him and His people: Isa. 44:23-29

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads broad the earth by Myself; Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, And drives diviners mad; (witches). Who turns wise men backward, And makes their knowledge foolishness; Who confirms the word of His servant, And performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ And I will raise up her waste places; Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry! And I will dry up your  rivers’; Who says of Cyrus,* ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’.

There is nothing new under the sun. I am not afraid by this, but I am watchful. God is always involved. He sees the end from the beginning.

Thoughts?

*President Trump has been called the “Cyrus” of our day.

American Soup

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We canceled our Netflix effective yesterday and will pick up Amazon after our trip down south starting next week to visit friends, family and children.

We don’t watch much commercial TV, so I was watching programs about “American” arts, crafts, etc. on PBS.  

The many cultures that have melded to make America the culturally diverse nation we are have brought many wonderful artistic gifts with them.  I could list them, but to better understand, I recommend looking for the shows.

My point, however, is that all these wonderful cultures have made us rich in beauty.  Rich in music.  Rich in craftsmanship.  These cultures have other distinguishing qualities in common…strong family values and strong cultural values.  Over the centuries they have woven together to make us unique and united and all genuine Americans.  We are not African Americans, French Americans, Irish Americans or Native Americans, we are simply American.  Each culture has enriched our nation with the gifts each nationality brought into the mix.

Think about some of the top three or four events celebrated here annually:  St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, etc.  

I’m saying all this because it struck me as I watched these programs is that 99% of us came for a better life. I’m aware some were brought here by force and some were invaded, but we are all NOW AMERICAN.  We aren’t here to takeover.

Unfortunately, some coming in over the last several decades have come to takeover.  They believe it is their destiny and duty.  That, beloved, is not dramatic news reported by a conspiratorial, radical group.  

We are the United States of America, many colors, many cultures, many hopes for our children.  

We have always taken in the refugees escaping tyrants, and immigrants.  We still do, everyday.  We are, at least, most of us, those very refugees and immigrants.

Let us be good and wise protectors of this wonderful culture soup called America. There are many mindsets ready to destroy this gift we call America.

TREES

Trees

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mount is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

–Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

 We have, over the past two or three years, had the privilege of visiting many of our National Parks and some other worthy sites in our vast and beautiful country. I’m not a loco-tree-hugger, but I have become a huge fan and I appreciate the necessity of keeping as many as proves to be healthy for them.

 This is my holiday blog. It is not about Christmas trees, as beautiful as they are, but a note to honor the creator of these magnificent living partners in His world.

 I begin with my most recent trip to visit Pearl Fryar. Topiary Artist. In Bishopville, SC Mr. Fryar has spent his life creating this garden from a corn field. It was featured once on CBS Sunday Morning and I was spellbound. I never dreamed I would see it, let alone meet the sculptor. He is ageing, but still the strongest and most agile person I have met older than me. He has started to hire help and has started a foundation to carry on his work. www.gardenconservancy.org

 

ODD TREES:  A few odd ones we move to next:  a work of art called a singing tree, a tree with wonderfully shaped root system, a frozen tree archway and a shoe tree we saw in Montana.  I have no idea what the purpose of the shoes in the tree were.  I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of a tree with such unusual fruit.

 

 

SEQUOIA:  These majestic giants are native to our west coast.  A few have been moved to other continents during the Victorian era, before the environmental protection laws were written.  These laws are meant to save other trees from un-native insect pests.  A good Idea.  Sweet Husband is standing in front of one exported to Scotland over a hundred years ago.  It is still quite young.  These trees live to over 2,000 years making them the oldest organism on our planet.  Pictures cannot capture their grandeur.

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Banyan Tree:  These trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the main trunk with age. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species, the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The topology of this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan Vines.

This photo was taken at Edison’s summer home in Florida.  It covers an acre of ground.

When near the Edison & Ford Winter Estates' west entrance, see t

REDWOOD:  Superlatives abound when a person tries to describe old-growth redwoods: immense, ancient, stately, mysterious, powerful. Yet the trees were not designed for easy assimilation into language. Their existence speaks for themselves, not in words, but rather in a soft-toned voice of patience and endurance.  I can only express my reaction in tears of gratitude to my wonderful creator.

Exactly why the redwoods grow so tall is a mystery. Theories continue to develop but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires

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Monterey Cedar: These are medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree, which often becomes irregular and flat-topped as a result of the strong winds that are typical of its native area along the pacific coast of California. It grows to heights of up to 40 meters (133 feet) in perfect growing conditions, and its trunk diameter can reach 2.5 meters (over 8 feet). The foliage grows in dense sprays which are bright green in color and release a deep lemony aroma when crushed.  I fell in love with their wind-shaped beauty

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Live Oaks:  As a resident of the deep south, all of my life, these magnificent trees never fail to make my heart stop each time I see one.  They do not become lovely until they are at least 100 years old.  The trees below are 300 to 500 years old.  They lose their leaves in the spring when the new leaves push out last years leaves.  Therefore they are evergreen and probably why they gained the name LIVE.

Lodgepole pine cone, Pinus contorta, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is the cone of the Lodge Pole Pine.  The seeds are naturally glued in and can only be dislodged by fire.  The forest are dense and as far as the eye can see in most areas of Montana and Wyoming.

West Virginia Flood – June 2016

WHAT HAPPENED (in summary)

 On June 23, 2016, thunderstorms brought torrential rain to much of West Virginia, resulting in accumulations of up to 10 inches in only a few hours. According to meteorologists at the National Weather Service, this qualifies as a 1,000 year event for the region, Rainfall totals included 9.37 inches in Maxwelton and 7.53 inches in Rainelle. Two-day accumulations in White Sulphur Springs reached 9.17 inches. In addition to the torrential rain, the storms produced an EF1 tornado near Kenna in Jackson County. The brief tornado lifted and rolled a single-wide trailer, injuring its two occupants; minor damage occurred elsewhere along its path.

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The tremendous rainfall produced widespread and destructive flash floods in the state. The Elk River rose to an all-time high of 33.37 ft., surpassing the previous record of 32 ft. set in 1888. Greenbrier County was the hardest-hit, with at least 15 deaths confirmed. Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill described the county as “complete chaos”. Flooding in White Sulphur Springs destroyed many homes and swept some clean off their foundations. One home was videotaped floating down Howard’s Creek while engulfed in flames. The town of Rainelle was especially hard hit, and was described as looking like “a war zone”.

In Kanawha County, heavy rains washed out a bridge leading to a shopping center near Interstate 79 in Elkview, stranding approximately 500 people for nearly 24 hours. About 500 homes were severely damaged or destroyed in Roane County. In Clay County, the communities of Procious, Camp Creek and others were left in ruins.

At least 60 roads were shut down, many of them swept away. Multiple bridges across the state were destroyed. In Nicholas County, the Cherry River flooded much of Richwood, forcing the evacuation of a nursing home. Homes in low-lying areas of the county were flooded up to the roof. Electric utilities reported at one point that 500,000 customers were left without power from the floods.

THE AFTERMATH (in summary)

There are multiple organizations and companies who swarm in on areas that have had some kind of crisis event; FEMA, The Red Cross, insurance adjusters, utility companies for many neighboring counties and states, a large organization that actually does construction (all volunteer labor), local churches and organizations like the one we are a part of: Crisis Response International (www.CRiOut.com)

FEMA’s job is to assess and determine what needs to be done and who best to do it. What should be condemned and what can be repaired.

The Red Cross does a great job of locating people for relatives who are unable to get in touch with family in the crisis region. Usually communication is an issue with phone lines and towers down. They also bring in and distribute food/water for the residents and workers.

The local churches are the heart and soul of this recovery. If you don’t think so, volunteer to go in to the next devastated storm area.

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Twice a day we had worship, prayer and a devotional presented by Pastor Chasteen, this was the greatest nourishment of all.

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(Above pictured in order, our director of Deployment, Mike Wyatt, our Chaplin, Sandy Plummer, our on-site host and Pastor, Dennis Chasteen and our fearless leader with a lost friend, Lee Pridgen)

Our director of deployment, Michael Wyatt, contacted a pastor in Summerville at New Life Assembly, Dennis Chasteen who opened his school gym and kitchen to our group of responders. There is a new group coming in from a different organization the day we pack up and left.

Then the congregation went about feeding us three meals per day along with supplying prepared food to organizations out feeding the people stranded in the devastated towns.

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(Above where we ate, took our baths [so needed] and slept.  New Life Assembly in Summerville treated us like kings, we are so grateful)

All the churches in the general area joined in to bring in clothing, furniture, household items like dishes, towels, sheets and more.

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Flood insurance was a luxury to all but a few since this area was mostly jobless due to our national administration’s policy regarding coal mining. Naturally, the insurance adjusters didn’t have many clients to call on.

Our job was to go to several of the houses we were assigned to and simply clean out and throw away that which could not be salvaged, which was 90% of what was in these homes. The trailers were all condemned; we cleaned them out anyway and saved dishes, pots and pans, washable linens and clothing, a few pictures and important papers and all the items hanging on the walls above the water line. These were boxed up and moved to friends and family homes that were spared. All electronics and appliances were destroyed…think about this.

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(We prayed, we cleaned, we tore down walls and ceilings and we fed the hungry.)

In the structures that could be saved and rebuilt, all the sheetrock, carpet, ceilings, light fixtures had to be removed. We cleaned down to the studs and hoped the plumbing and electrical worked after drying time.

In one trailer lived a retired pastor and his wife of 53 years. We moved what could be salvaged to a house a block down the road, spared from the flood waters. There were boxes of books they had stored in one of the bedrooms. Every box had to be opened and fished through to see if anything could be salvaged. In one such box, our Chaplin opened it to find it full of soaking wet books. These had been underwater for 48 hours. She took one book out at a time to check for important papers and photographs. Midway into the box she reached in to find a completely dry, leather-bound Bible. Beneath it were more soaking wet books.

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There was reported looting in one of the towns and a committee of men from that county gathered and put out a statement something like this: “If the police catch you looting, they will arrest you. If we catch you looting, they won’t need to.” I was told there are more guns per-capita in West Virginia than any other state. Perhaps they were just bragging, but I wouldn’t test it.

Our people found families who had been in their homes, through the flood, who had not had food or water for 10 days because they didn’t know it was available and were afraid to leave their homes unoccupied. May God have mercy, what have we become?

We came home tired only because we are older, many stayed longer than us and many are still there working.

The news media has moved on to Hillary and the police events, but our brothers and sisters in West Virginia are still hurting and in need of our help. Be careful who you give to. My advice is contact the local churches or the Red Cross, they have feet on the ground and know what is needed.

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FEBRUARY BIRTHDAY EXCURSION

We have several family birthdays in February and since all are located in Mississippi and Louisiana we decided to take a trip down south to celebrate with them and get away from yet another snow event here in East Tennessee.  Sweet husband has a birthday tomorrow, but we will celebrate alone together.

STOP ONE: Wilmington, NC to see new friends, Mike and Karen. They live two blocks from the Atlantic, so even with the cold ocean winds, we had to walk down.

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Wilmington is home to Arlie Gardens. 67 acres of paths, lakes, formal gardens, live oaks (one is 500+ years old), 5,000 varieties of camellias, birding trails, thousands of azaleas along with historic, contemporary and primitive garden sculpture. Beautiful even in February.

STOP TWO & THREE: We visited Sweet Husband’s sister and brother-in-law, Martha & Del, in Orlando on our way to stop four and spent a couple of fun days catching up. We also met Del’s sister and husband (Eileen & Stu) in Lakeland for lunch. They are now official Snowbirds from Maine.

Also in Lakeland we toured Florida Southern College designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. We count his architecture art work and tour each structure when possible.

STOP FOUR: We had met and developed close friendships with several people in Yellowstone with promises to visit; we keep our promises. Couple number one: Rose and Robert live in Cape Coral, Florida. They crammed in island visits, lunch on a fabulous pier and dinner with Robert’s sister and her husband.

STOP FIVE: Navarre Beach, FL to spend two nights with dear friends, Jim & Sharynn Singleton, from Mississippi, now in Florida.

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STOP SIX: Another Yellowstone couple Jerry and Mel. They live in Texas, but were visiting their son in Ocean Springs, MS. We stopped for a great lunch and sweet reunion.

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STOP SEVEN: Super Bowl Sunday in Baton Rouge with my daughter, Trish, and her family. We had two birthdays to celebrate: Nicholas #6 and Aubrey #16, sweet 16. Aubrey and I exchange flamingos from time to time and have since she was about three, so I had a special cake made for her. Our friend from The Rose Parade and co-conspirator, Teegie (who lives in Baton Rouge) joined us for dinner and the celebration the night after the super bowl.

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STOP SEVEN: Jackson, MS. We visited several close friends, John, Curt & Sherry, Kay and her Mom, Gay, my Brother (Bubba) and my sweet son Tony.

Due to circumstances beyond our control we didn’t get to see Leonard’s daughters or precious Grand-Wonder, Liam, for his 3rd birthday, but we left gifts on the porch.

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STOP EIGHT: Didn’t happen. We hoped to spend time with my son, Joe and daughter Lorie and their precious families (no birthdays), but they were all fighting a virus and/or the crud.

FINAL STOP: An evening with Rogers and Hammerstein at the Knoxville Symphony Pops for our valentine gift to each other.

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All this in only two weeks. We are getting good at this.

 

We Live in Two Realms

I love the movie Steel Magnolias.  I’ve seen it so many times I believe I can quote most of the memorable lines from it.  For example:  (Clairee Belcher) “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”

Sweet Husband and I have a lot of accessories, “stuff”. Some gifts, some things we inherited, some we purchased at garage/estate sales or because they are stuff we collect. You know, stuff that you like, stuff that makes your heart smile when you look at it and stuff that makes a room feel like, “HOME”.

The tiny condo we live in has 9’ ceilings in the main living area, which gave us a long empty space at the top to install a shelf for some of our stuff. This is realm number one – the natural realm. This is the realm we all live in and are familiar with – so familiar, we often forget there is another realm.

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This week a friend texted to tell us she and her family were going to be in our area and she wanted to visit. I called her immediately and asked if she could be available for a while Tuesday afternoon so that Sweet husband and I, our pastor and a couple of people from our intercessory prayer group could pray with her. You see, she has been in a battle for her health – her life for two years. She is winning, but additional, sincere prayer benefits much. This is realm number two – the Spirit realm.

Five of us met for about an hour, we prayed heaven down, we allowed the love of God to penetrate her every cell and when we finished we took her to a late lunch.

The balance of the afternoon and evening was spend with a small dinner group we have met at church and then a memorial service for one member’s mother. Nice and normal activities; except for one event.

An hour or so after we arrived home from prayer and lunch, a beautiful, five pound, crystal vase took a flying leap from the shelf in our living area. It shattered into a thousand shards and damaged our hardwood floor. This shelf, by the way, has a piece of decorative molding installed the entire length of the shelf to prevent these items from working their way off by “normal” vibration. A heavy piece of crystal doesn’t just tip over or fly.

In retrospect we should have taken a picture of the broken vase, but since the shards had literally flown over most of the living/dining room all we could think of was cleaning it up in the “natural” and in the “Spirit”.

Yes, we prayed Heaven’s healing down for this young woman and some of the residents of realm number two weren’t happy. We knew how to take care of that as well. 

Our Father God is good, He is faithful and He grants authority to His family. Please know, I am not bragging.  I say this in total humility, because I know without Him and the powerful blood of Jesus I would be powerless.

Spiritual-Warfare

Riches

I want to add something new to my blog post (below) from a couple of days ago.

There are circumstances in our families that we have grieved over (some of us) for years. We pray, but eventually we look at them and JUDGE them as impossible. Am I correct?

Disease, addictions, broken relationships, infertility, poverty, despair, rejection of the Gospel.

So in judging these impossible, do we, “…despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 NKJV)

Beloved, judgment does not always have to do with seeing ourselves as righteous in comparison to others, but in rendering the goodness of God powerless in the light of what we see as impossible.

It was, after all, His goodness that brought me to His loving arms. And has kept me, in spite of my many poor life choices.

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I was informed a couple of days ago that the lotteryf Power Ball is (was) 9million and today as I write it is up over a billion (yes, with a “B”). That is a lot of money and yes, we purchased a ticket and will probably get one tomorrow…

The day before I was told about the Powerball I starting reading Paul’s letter to Rome again. It is my current favorite book.

A couple of weeks ago our pastor challenged us to find a personal scripture for the year. I prayed and asked for one.

Chapter one was mostly about the normal activity of the culture of the day (perhaps our current culture). Then it appears Paul starts addressing the Jewish believers in Rome for their judgment of the new Roman gentile believers.

This has basically been my stance with my judgment of my fellow man or my fellow believers. The word of God is the truth and my activities and your activities as related to it is between me and God and you and God.

I am certainly available to discuss His word lovingly when and where necessary with other believers. If I am in need of correction, I am open to it from God (Who is going to correct His children) and from other believers whom I respect.

I do not believe the Word of God should be used as the plumb line for non-believers. The Word of God is not relevant to a non-believer, is it? Is it my place to quote the Word of God unless asked? And if asked, I can only tell them of the riches of His GOODNESS.

So, in the process of reading the first chapter onto the second, one line took my breath away…do you despise the RICHES of His goodness…

. . .And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?  (Romans 2:3-4 NKJV)

Despise is a strong word. Do I despise His goodness? It is, after all, the goodness, mercy, acceptance that brought me and daily brings me to repentance.

THIS will be my scripture for the year of 2016. May I not forget it in the daily dealings with the woman in the mirror and the people I meet that so desperately need the riches of His Goodness…

I found 10 more references to His Riches in short order and have listed them below.

Perhaps I won’t win that Powerball, but true riches are mine for now and forever more. Amen

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Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had *prepared beforehand for glory, (Romans 9:21-23 NKJV)

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! (Romans 11:33 NLT)

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  (Ephesians 1:7 NLT)

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.   (Ephesians 1:18 NLT)

So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2:7 NLT)

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures (riches) available to them in Christ.  (Ephesians 3:8 NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  (Ephesians 3:16 NLT)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19 NLT)

For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.  (Colossians 1:27 NLT)

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.  (Colossians 2:2 NLT)

*all converts to Christianity

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