Welcome, 2019

… for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Mat. 5:45

On this particular day, 1st January 2019, I feel a great sense of thanksgiving to God. The reason for this is because I feel He has been overly gracious to me. I can plainly say that during the last year, I cannot put myself anywhere near those who have been “good” and “just”. I have not only not done many things that I ought to have done; but I have also done things that I ought not to have done. And yet, come the year 2019, and I can clearly hear God whispering in my ear, “I love you.”

In Psalms 51:10-13, David wrote:

“10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”

After David had confessed his sin, he was given the chance to start doing anew what he loved doing best: teaching transgressors the ways of the Lord, and converting people to the Lord.

I feel forgiven, re-born, and ready to start anew. It is a difficult mountain to climb, this way of the cross. But through His Holy Spirit the Lord gives us a love for such a challenge. I cannot comprehend the joy that awaits me as I return again to the place of restoration, and to serving the Lord wholeheartedly.

It is therefore with a deep sense of thanksgiving  that I welcome the year 2019.

[I kick off this year with my favorite song]

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“A Rushing Mighty Wind” (The Work Of The Holy Spirit) – Part 1

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Gal 5:22-23

The work of the Holy Spirit is to produce fruit in us. Just in case you thought He is there only for us to speak in tongues. But first, a preamble.

Speaking in tongues has its place in the church. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:4:

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.”

We see here that one of the reasons the gift of speaking in tongues has been given to us is for us to  edify our own spirits. To “edify” means to build up, to cause to grow. The Bible says that when you speak in tongues you speak mysteries with God (1 Cor. 14:2), and in this way you build up your spirit.

What a truly wonderful experience! That is why every believer should seek the gift of speaking in tongues. The Bible in 1 Cor. 14:1 tells us to “desire” spiritual gifts; and speaking in tongues is one of the spiritual gifts that God has given to the Church.

In the Early Church, speaking tongues was a gift common to the church, as we see in the Book of Acts.

Acts 2:1-4:

“1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Acts 10:44-46:

“44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as any as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”

Acts 19:1-6:

“1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said unto him, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then Paul said, John verily baptized the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”

Notice the Holy Spirit came to God’s people in different forms and in different ways. But His filling up God’s people was always accompanied with speaking in tongues.

Other gifts of the Holy Spirit flowed freely also. In Acts 21:8-9 we read of the evangelist Philip. The Bible says:

“And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”

Imagine that. Imagine the power of the Holy Spirit that was there for these girls to live such a spiritual life. Four virgins in one house. And they all prophesied. The Early Church was totally given to Christ.

That means there is a problem in the Church today when we fail to emphasize on being filled with the Holy Spirit accompanied with speaking in tongues. Or is it possible that we are a different Church from the Early Church? God forbid.

How does the Holy Spirit come on someone?

The Bible says it is by desiring. The Bible says we are to “desire” spiritual gifts. The gifts of the Holy Spirit come by desiring. The Holy Spirit does not come upon you by being prayed over. You could be prayed over by every servant of God in the world, but if you have not “desired”, He will not come upon you.

But, pray, what does it mean to “desire”?

Desiring speaks of having a hunger for God in you. It says in Isaiah 55:1,

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters…”

When I got saved in the early 90s, there was a hunger for God in the hearts of God’s people. People sought for God. As a result, people were easily filled with the Holy Spirit. One could be filled even as they were being baptized in the water. And they always spoke in tongues.

Today, the dollar sign is up. The charismatic gospel has come to up-end things, and there is a different hunger in the hearts of God’s people. People now want things, not God. They want material prosperity, miracles, and signs and wonders. There is no desire for righteousness, or for the things of God. Today, one would rather fill their pockets with money than speak in tongues!

But we need to get back that old hunger in us; and we shall witness the Holy Spirit moving as “a rushing mighty wind” in the Church. That means the Church will witness a return of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and it will grow spiritually.

The validity of speaking in tongues for every believer is espoused by the Apostle Paul , the foremost of Christ’s apostles, who spoke in tongues ceaselessly whenever he was alone; for he says in 1 Corinthians 14:18,

“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all…”

If Paul spoke with tongues, we need to desire to do so too. The key word here is desire. Through speaking in tongues, the Bible says we edify our spirits.

The spirit of man needs to be like the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that the Garden was well- watered (Gen. 2:10).

We need to be bubbling with life in every area of our lives. We need to have soft, malleable hearts, where God can easily deposit His spiritual riches.

[The church in Minyughe, Singida. It may not be like the church that was in Philip’s house, but one amazing fact about this church is that there is an entire family of six who are all worship leaders]

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Victory In The Cross

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Rom. 7:22-25

Even I am surprised at myself. I am very, very surprised at what I see in me. It is as if I am trapped on every side by the flesh. So much so that, in other words, I could only describe myself as a carnal man. The lusts of the flesh are all too clear in my life and they batter at me on every side!

And yet, at the same time, I find myself cheering at the things of the Spirit. When my spirit hears something Godly, it comes alive. It cheers wildly!

I find this juxtaposition hard to comprehend. Is it me who is cheering at the things of the Spirit and at the same time desiring so much the things of the flesh? How can the two things be alive in me? And so, so much like the Apostle Paul here, I find myself thoroughly flabbergasted and distressed by this state of affairs.

But I find also that Paul had an answer to this problem. In verse 25 he says,

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…”

Therein – in Christ Jesus our Lord – lies the answer to this most complex of problems for the believer. In the following verses, Paul shows us that it is through crucifying the flesh. In Romans 12:1-2 he writes:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

That means to crucify the flesh.

There is only one way to defeat the problem of the flesh in our lives: it is to crucify the flesh.

I never truly understood what Paul meant when he described Jesus as God’s “unspeakable gift” to us (2 Cor. 9:15).

But I have come to know its meaning. It is, simply, that the cross (“Jesus Christ crucified”) helps us to live the will of God!

When “Christ crucified” is firmly enthroned in our lives and we are living the crucified life, we will not obey the lusts of our flesh. In fact, we will live in a completely different dimension; a dimension where the lusts of the flesh are alien to us.

I recall there was a time when believers lived this kind of lifestyle. My elderly pastor often regales us with the story of the day when he proposed to his then wife-to-be. She burst out crying, “Oh my God! What have you likened me to? A harlot?”

In her mind, the thought of being with a man was alien. It had never crossed her mind!

Yes, in those early days when salvation was untainted, the flesh never had a chance. The cross was alive in God’s people’s lives. People’s consciences were alive! If someone needed to forgive, the hurriedly did so. They would not accept to live even one minute with unforgiveness because every minute they were beholding the face of God, and how could you possibly behold God’s face with unforgiveness in your heart?

Today, Christianity is largely lived on another dimension altogether. In the city of Dar es Salaam, I know of a preacher who has left his wife and married a younger girl. He is an “apostle and prophet” and he told his congregation that God had led him to do that. He sent his wife and children back home to her parents. And his church is still packed to capacity. I challenge you to believe it or not; but it is true.

In the early days of Christianity, when the revelation of the cross was in the church, such a thing would not only have been untolerable. It would have been unthinkable.

“Christ crucified” is the SINGULAR cure for the contradiction of the flesh and the Spirit in our lives. Because we have been born again, our spirits are alive to God and they desire the things of God. But the flesh, un-crucified, is right there beside us, doing exactly what Ishmael did to Isaac.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. (Gal. 4:28-29)

Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. (Gal. 4:30)

We are Abraham’s seed. If Abraham had to throw out Hagar and her son, then we also have to throw out the law and sin in our lives.

And so, I have discovered the solution to my dilemma. I must crucify the flesh. There is no short-cut. And there is no middle way.

Have a victorious Monday, everyone!

Circumcision vs The Cross – Part 2

There is no other way of becoming spiritual other than crucifying the mind of the flesh together with its lusts (Gal. 5:24). That is the singular most importance understanding that a believer can have in his or her life

We can therefore see the significance of Paul’s words in verse 11:

“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

We can understand why he would want to put everything else aside and emphasise the importance of this revelation to the Galatians. The revelation of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) was the singular most important thing that they could grasp in their lives.

When we lack that revelation in our hearts, we look to form, tradition and anything that can be grasped with our human understanding. The Galatians looked to circumcision.

There are so many things that believers today think are important in their lives; but which are not.

The Apostle Paul puts it out so clearly the single most valuable thing in a believer’s life:

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

Not tradition or form; but a work of the Spirit in someone’s heart.

[The work of the Holy Spirit in us transforms us]

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Sell All/Take Up The Cross/Invest

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. Mk. 10:17-22

This post boasts all the subjects that I have listed in the title above.

One would need to write whole books and more to dissect this small portion of scripture, so I will not attempt to do that here. Instead, I will just home in on verses 21 and 22. The Bible says that Jesus beheld this young man and He loved him. That singular fact is of great importance to us in understanding God’s heart for us.

When Jesus loved this young man, it is clear from scripture what Jesus did. The account says He told this young man:

“… go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

We cannot assume that, if Jesus truly loved us, that He would tell us anything less than what He told this young man. But the first thing is to be sure that Jesus does love us. Does Jesus truly love us? You bet He does. He gave His life on the cross for us. But the flesh has a problem with the love of Jesus for, when Jesus says He loves us, the flesh would want Him to shower us with American dollars and houses and lands; and the occasional private jet. Unfortunately, this is the prevailing gospel in the church today. But it is a worldly gospel, of the flesh, and demonic.

But, on the contrary, when Jesus turns His loving gaze upon us, He only has one thing to say to us:

“… go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

Jesus asks us to sell all that we have, to take up our cross and follow Him!

Now, we might not be rich like this man was, and we might have a problem with the “sell whatsoever thou hast” when we probably have nothing to sell. Not all of us have things to sell. But “selling all” here does not necessarily mean giving away or parting with our material riches. More importantly, it means denying ourselves for the sake of the gospel. When you deny yourself, you have “sold all”!

And the poor here might not be referring to the materially poor. But what if the poor here refers to anyone who might need something from you; say, for example, someone feels they need to rob you, or to insult you, or to hit you on the cheek. That’s a poor person right there, and you need to “sell all” and let them have their way with you. Actually, the gospel of Jesus Christ is that demanding.

The gift, or joy, of denying ourselves! The pleasure is all mine, said the Apostle Paul:

“9… Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

The flesh is against the cross. There is nothing in all what Paul writes here that the flesh can rejoice in. But Paul, who in the Spirit saw the beauty of the cross, rejoiced in these contrary states of affairs, things contrary to everything that the flesh stands for. They were the things that would make him spiritually rich.

Denying oneself means exactly that: denying your rights! That is why Jesus said in Matthew 5:38-42:

“38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

In all what Jesus said to do here, there is a denying of self. In the Spirit, you gain your life by losing it.

Finally, let us see something slightly different but equally important. Scripture says that Jesus beheld this young man and loved him. Now, even in ordinary life, when you love someone, you want the best for them, don’t you? Jesus saw this man, He saw in the Spirit the worldly wealth that this man had and Jesus immediately knew that He could turn this young man, whom He had taken an instant liking to, into one of the top “billionaires” in God’s heavenly Kingdom. All the young man needed to do was… invest. In the Spirit, Jesus saw what this man’s worldly riches were worth in heaven if he could invest them wisely. Jesus decided to inform the young man of the Good News.

“Friend”, He said. “I have for you the best investment proposition that both heaven and earth can offer.

“… go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor”.

Jesus said,

“… and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.”

But, sadly, the rich young man could not see in the Spirit. Unfortunately, he did not see things as Jesus saw them. He did not see the great reward that would be his in heaven if he followed Jesus’ advice to sow in the flesh and reap in the Spirit. He could see only in the flesh; and all he saw was his valuable wealth – and someone (Jesus) trying to take it away from him.

[A woman and a young man meditating]

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A Ministry Of The Spirit! – Part 3

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Mat. 16:15-17

Did you ever stop to think that the flesh has its own revelation? Yes, it does. That was exactly what our Lord Jesus said here.  There is a revelation of the flesh just as much as there is a revelation of the Spirit; but Jesus qualified the latter by calling it a blessing:

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

But, pray, what was revealed to Peter, this which Jesus called a blessing?

It was Jesus! It was revealed to Peter that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”!

And Jesus told Peter he was blessed for having that knowledge! This is the same revelation we need to have.

The revelation that is of the flesh is not a blessing. This ‘revelation’ does not see Jesus. It sees other things. And yet, paradoxically, it is this very revelation that is considered by the contemporary church a ‘blessing’. If someone prospers materially, they call it a blessing! Talk of a back to back understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ!!

The prosperity gospel is a product of the revelation that comes from the flesh. It is the flesh that sees the dollar sign; the Spirit does not. It is the flesh that sees and speaks of houses and lands and the general well-being of the body; the Spirit does not.

Even miracles and healing are not what the Spirit is about per se. Why else would the Apostle Paul write:

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified…”? (1 Cor. 1:22-23)

But probably the most important precedent in this regard is to be found in the Old Testament, in 1 Kings 19:11-13. Let us consider this portion of scripture.

“11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”

Praise be to God, the Great God who is beyond all understanding! The LORD passed by and there was a strong wind, a wind so strong that it rent the mountains; but the LORD was not in that wind!

Then came an earthquake, and after that a fire; but God was in neither of those things. These were extremely powerful manifestations of the power of God; but God was not in them!

God instead was a still small voice. In none of the great signs and wonders that God did before Elijah did Elijah hear God’s voice. But, after they were all done, in the silence that followed, Elijah heard God’s voice.

What does that all this tell us?

To me it goes something like this: under the New Covenant, God passes by and miracles happen, healings occur, people are blessed materially and great signs and wonders are seen; but God is not in those things. God is in… a voice!

The Bible says in Hebrews 1:1-2:

“1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…”

God is in His Word. And His Word is His Son. And God’s Son is Jesus Christ. When you connect the dots in the Spirit, you realize that everything in the Bible talks of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. And, according to the Apostle Paul, there is only one Jesus: “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

Under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, one thing and one thing alone is emphasized: to know Him, Christ. How? Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ. That is why the Apostle Paul says:

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Paul did not follow Christ by singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” You can sing that and still not be a follower of Christ. Paul became a follower of Christ by crucifying the flesh daily.

If a minister emphasizes healing of the body over spiritual wellness, his doctrine is of the flesh. I have heard of a ministry somewhere out there that has something called a healing school. A healing school!

Whatever that is, it cannot be of the Spirit. The Spirit cannot initiate a school dedicated to the healing of the body. The Holy Spirit has only one ‘school’ – one that deals with the healing of the heart. And that school has only one subject in its curriculum: the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ. It is at the cross where, as our bodies are broken, that our hearts are healed.

And just to make things clearer still, even 1 Peter 2:24 does not refer to physical healing as most believers have been taught. It is not just on account of the context of that particular portion of scripture that I say this (the context certainly supports that stand); but on account of the entire Biblical context. The ministry of the Spirit is primarily for the healing of our souls.

So, to recap: yes, the flesh also has its own revelation. This ‘revelation’ involves cars, private jets, bling, lands, houses, paid bills, physical healing, job promotion, death to perceived enemies, visas to the U.S., the entire gamut. These are the things the flesh calls blessings.

But the man who is filled with the Spirit sees the cross. He feels happy for he has found the place where he can crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24)

It is the cross that the spiritual man celebrates. And in so doing, in his life are fulfilled the words of the Apostle Paul:

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14)

Blessed is such a man, for to know Christ, and Him crucifed, constitutes the true spiritual blessing.

Postscript: Moments after Peter had received this great spiritual revelation from God, the enemy broke through his weak defenses and blind-sided him with a powerful revelation from his own flesh.

“21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Mat. 16:21-23)

[As ‘primitive’ as both the mode of transportation and the road pictured here might appear, in the not-too-distant past, travelers in rural Tanzania had to rely on only one means of transport: their two bare feet, sometimes crossing hundreds of miles on foot to reach their destination]

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A Ministry Of The Spirit! – Part 2

2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Cor. 3:2-3

As I stated in the first part of this post, there are many things that I stopped doing as a result of coming into contact with the Pauline revelation of the cross. The important thing that I want to emphasize is that nobody told me to stop these things in my Christian life. It was never even taught or mentioned in any of the sermons that I heard. It was something that was born in me by the Holy Spirit; it was one of the fruits of the ministry of the Spirit. It happened exactly as the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 1:11-12:

“11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This is what happens when you are ministered to by the Holy Spirit, and not by men. You don’t do or stop doing things because someone tells you to; you do it because the Spirit tells you and enables you to. Yes, it is men who will teach and preach to you, but because you are on a good foundation and the revelation of Christ is in those teachings, then it is no longer about men ministering to you, but the Spirit.

Finally, I couldn’t stress enough that the Holy Spirit will always reveal only one thing: “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). This is exactly what the Apostle Paul said of the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

In Paul’s words here we find one thing and one thing only. Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. That is what the ministry of the Holy Spirit is all about.

In our final deposition, we will look at one other aspect of this whole issue: the revelation that comes from the flesh.

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