Month: March 2019

Written by Teresa Goodnight

UGH! I jumped right into salvation by grace, faith generating actions, and was ready to dive in further for March. Then it hit me. If I wanted to start at the CORE…the true basis for everything we know and believe as Christians, then the obvious place to start is with the Bible. What do we believe about it and why? It’s a topic I can’t dive into super deeply in a magazine article. However, even when you scratch the surface—it’s a useful write-up to help give you a place to start. 

At Community Spirit, we hold true to the Bible being the inspired and inerrant word of God. So, what does that mean? Simply put: God gave it to us, and it has no errors in it. It is THE word of God. It is THE authority for every aspect of our Christianity. If the Bible isn’t as God said in passages like 2 Timothy 3:16 “breathed out by God” then the validity of all the Scriptures comes into question. The Bible is too clear that it is God’s word to pick and choose what parts we want to believe. Either we believe it or we do not. When someone starts referencing their “thoughts,” as a Christian, but cannot back those thoughts with God’s word—throw a RED FLAG. I cannot count the number of conversations I have been in or overheard where people were spouting off their personal opinions about Christianity but presenting them as if they were what we believe as Christians. Opinions are everywhere, but when it comes to Christianity, they need to be fact-based, Biblically certified statements. When opinions are shared as if they are factual Christian statements, simply put, it leads people astray.

Truth is, God did not leave room for us to go through the Bible to pick and choose what we want to believe inside His word. Either we believe it is HIS word or we believe it is not. When we decide to selectively follow what works for us, it becomes our own brand of spirituality and likely not anything anyone should label as Christianity. (That’s a whole other topic for another article, another day). 

Wikipedia defines the inerrancy of the scripture fairly well–“Divine authority. For a believer in biblical inerrancy, Holy Scripture is the Word of God, and carries the full authority of God. Every single statement of the Bible calls for instant and unqualified acceptance. Every doctrine of the Bible is the teaching of God and therefore requires full agreement.”

Why is this doctrine important? It’s simple. Christianity itself is based on the inspired, inerrant word of God. It is our authority. It is what God has to say about the matter. It is useful to guide, teach, and correct us if we lose our way. It is not something we can pick and choose a few philosophical items we think are universally applicable and call it Christianity. If we base our faith on anything else…anything…then we’re not actually following Christ. We’re simply following our version of what becomes our own religion.

Nature itself, in all its complexities, tells us so much about God if we look around. We can learn quite a bit. However, it is really an incredible gift to have God’s word to reference and hear His voice in what He speaks to us. If we aren’t basing our beliefs on the word of God, then we have navigated away from Christianity. God gave us many privileges and the ability to choose what we believe or say. However, nowhere did He offer us the freedom to change His word. In fact, He specifically warns against it. Altering His word has direct consequences on our faith and even potential consequences spelled out in different areas in scripture (Revelation 22:19). 

We live in a time where more and more people speaking on behalf of the Church, Christianity and God without using any reference to scripture to back it up – or ‘adapting’ scripture to suit their argument. These same people are confusing the message of Christ and causing a problem with the CORE of who we are as Christians. When you study the teachings of Christ, He constantly sent people back to scripture–usually quoting the Old Testament, as he was a master student of the Bible.

The Moody Bible Institute summarizes it well on their web:

“The Bible is verbally inspired. This means that the words of the Bible, not just the ideas, were inspired. What is more, this is true of not just some, but all the words of the Bible. As a result, the Bible is free from error in what it says. Moody Bible Institute believes strongly in the factual, verbal, historical inerrancy of the Bible. That is, the Bible, in its original documents, is free from error in what it says about geography, history and science as well as in what it says about God. Its authority extends to all matters about which the Bible speaks. 7 It is the supreme source of our knowledge of God and of the salvation provided through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 It is our indispensable resource for daily living. 9 Even though the Bible is God’s revelation, it must still be interpreted. Interpretation has to do with our reception and understanding of that which God revealed and recorded. 10 Revelation is a divine act. Interpretation is a human responsibility. Divine inspiration guarantees the truthfulness of God’s word but not the accuracy of our interpretation. The Bible is infallible in all it affirms to be true and therefore absolutely reliable. We, however, may be fallible in our interpretation of the Bible.”

1 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21 

2 1 Corinthians 2:11–16

3 Psalm 19:1

4 Romans 1:19, 20

5 2 Timothy 3:16,17

6 2 Peter 1:21, 1 Corinthians 2:12–13

7 Matthew 5:18; John 10:35

8 John 5:39–47

9 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 1 Peter 2:2

10 John 16:13

So, what does this mean for us today? We should take everything we believe/hear about God/Christianity through the filter of His word. Double-check scripture references when given. Request them when they are not given. For us to develop a healthy relationship with God and walk with him, we want our relationship built on His inerrant truths in the Bible–not our human wisdom or the wisdom offered by the world. He left us everything we need to know Him in truth. That truth is the truth that will set us free.

Scripture is inspired, breathed out by God:

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV “All Scripture is God-breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”

Scripture is living, piercing: 

Hebrews 4:12 ESV “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Scripture needs nothing added: 

Proverbs 30:6 ESV “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”

Scripture should have nothing taken away:

Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.”

Examine what others say WITH scripture: 

Acts 17:11 ESV “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”


Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” – Ephesians 6:14, 15 

“WHAT IS TRUTH?”

For ages, human philosophers have pursued answers to life’s biggest questions.  Thankfully, a degree in philosophy isn’t required to find explanations for most, as the scriptures provide satisfying answers to all such questions.  Let me give you an example. 

Contained in the inspired words, we find a conversation that Christ was having with Pontius Pilate during his trial, just before his death.  Let’s pick up the conversation at John 18:37 (NIV), where Jesus says to Pilate, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.”  Pilate then responds to Jesus in verse 38 with a question, “What is truth?”

This is a powerful question.  It is a question that affects all humans who have ever lived, are living, or will live in the future.  Using Christ’s statement in verse 37, he tells us that the truth was the reason he came to Earth.  Because of Christ’s statement, the answer to Pilate’s question is central to the Christian faith.  If you were standing in front of Pilate, how would you have answered his question?

Interestingly, Jesus did not answer Pilate’s question after he asked it.  But, prior to his arrest and trial, he did provide the answer in a prayer that he was offering to his Father.  Praying for his disciples, notice what Jesus requested, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV).  He gave a plain, uncomplicated answer to a question that many find (or try to make) complicated.  God’s word is the truth, the source of truth.  If any doctrine or theology is not in agreement with God’s word, it simply is not truth.

Christ’s statement should help solidify in our minds the importance of God’s word.  Now that we understand what truth is, why is it a component of our spiritual armor?  How does it protect us?

TRUTH AS A BELT

Just as a literal belt is firm around our waist, encompassing our body, so should be our reliance upon God’s word.  It should shape our thoughts, our beliefs and finally our actions.  Psalms 119:105 (NIV) reminds us of the help God’s word can give us in our daily lives.  The psalmist states, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  The world has become a ‘gray’ place, where good and bad have become subjective.  However, with the truth of God’s word lighting our way, it becomes clear what a Christian’s stance should be on matters debated in the world.

Along these lines, 1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 (NLT) gives us this advice as well, “but test everything that is said.  Hold on to what is good.  Stay away from every kind of evil.”  The Bible tells us we need to sort through all we hear to filter out what is good or evil.  Christians encounter opinions expressed as truth every day.  Do we just accept these or do we test them out?  How can we test them if we are unfamiliar with God’s truth contained in scripture?  If we just accept them and then share them with others, we are simply spreading those untested concepts.

Even when it came to Paul’s teaching, a group of first century believers did not accept them on face value.  Acts tells us that they “examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11) If the words of a prominent apostle were put to the test, how fitting an example for us to use today with opinions coming from all directions.  The Bible should be central in our lives, examined by us every day.  It should be our litmus test to prove if what we hear is true.

This leads well into our next component of spiritual armor.  How does truth play a part in having our feet fitted with readiness of the gospel of peace?

A SOLDIER’S BOOTS

Let’s go back to Jesus words from John 18:37 (NIV).  Jesus stated that he came into the world to testify to the truth.  He reinforces this again in Mark 1:38 (NIV), “Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.”

When we think of what Jesus did while on earth several thoughts may come to mind – he healed the sick, raised the dead and gave his life as a ransom sacrifice.  But, using his own words, these are not the reasons (the primary reason) he came to Earth.  What did Jesus spend most of his time doing?  Preaching.  Teaching.  Testifying to the truth.   He shared it with disregard to his own needs with anyone who would listen to the lifesaving message of The Good News.

As soldiers in God’s army, our testimony to the truth is part of our warfare as well.  Just as a pair of boots helps ready us to run into an battle, our knowledge of truth readies us to proactively preach it or reactively defend it.   Paul reminds us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” (1 Peter 3:15) Notice he stated – ALWAYS BE PREPARED.  Readiness, willingness to stand up and testify–what better way to wage spiritual warfare than to testify to the truth, provide a defense and show others the truths Satan attempts to hide.

The same question from above applies here as well.  How can we give testimony?  How can we provide an answer to anyone who asks us?  If we ourselves are not familiar with God word we hinder our ability to do these things.  The study of God’s word must be a central part of our lives for us to be capable and ready to provide such a defense.

As a test to our readiness to defend our hope, ask yourselves if you could use the Bible to answer these questions:

Who is God?

What are his primary attributes?

What is the Holy Spirit?

Who is Jesus Christ?

Why did Jesus Christ have to die?

There are obviously other questions important to our faith, but a comprehending these fundamentals gauges our readiness to do what He has called us to do.

CONCLUSION

For those who have been following the Call to Arms series, we can see that there is a continuing thread in these articles:

●In January, we learned how God’s word serves as our sword.

●Last month, we discerned that the study of His word strengthens our faith to use it as a shield.

●This month we see that inspired word is the source of truth to test out thoughts, ideas and objections to our faith.  Further, a working knowledge of this truth equips us with “boots,” to share the Gospel and defend those truths with a response. 

●In April, we will conclude how the truth of God’s word helps forge us a helmet of salvation and a breastplate of righteousness to protect our minds and hearts.

God’s word – The Bible – is ‘the metal’ from which all the components of our armor get their strength.  Without this ingredient in our daily lives our armor will not be able to stand up as well to the battles we face.  When we think about its critical role, I wonder, are we giving the study of God’s word the real attention it deserves? 

I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 

@omegaleagueman


Written by Mike Henry Sr.: Follower of One

For a few years leading up to 9/11, even though I had trusted Jesus, I pursued my career without much concern for what God wanted me to do at work. Every day, I went to work thinking my faith would make me a better employee, but not much more. After work and on weekends, after my bills were paid and everything else was done, then I could “do ministry.”

The events of 9/11 caused me to rethink my faith. I was reminded of my goal to lay up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), but I didn’t know how. As I read scripture, I was puzzled by a story about Jesus in Luke 10.

Jesus was in town visiting his friends, Lazarus, Mary and Martha in their home. He was in the main room talking with other guests. Mary was in there listening, too, while Martha was busy preparing. So Martha decided to ask Jesus to send Mary to help her. But Jesus surprised Martha: But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NASB.

As I watched the buildings smolder and the rescue operations take place, I began to question. Had I had missed opportunities to be with God during my workdays? Was Jesus there and I had missed him? Is spending time with Jesus really the only thing necessary? How could I join Jesus and do my job? I certainly couldn’t quit my job and sit around and pray all day. I had bills and responsibilities. I had a family.

At the same time, I realized God was actively working in the company I worked for. He’s more interested in the lives of my coworkers than I ever will be. And if that’s true, did I just waste years that I could have been walking with Jesus at work? Had I been like Martha, so busy about my own goals that I missed the goals and the work Jesus had for me to do?

So, I decided to ask God if he had a job for me. Daily I would ask him to show me how I might join him. Did God want me to go into full-time ministry? Would I need to quit my job? Did I need to apply for a job with a church or an overseas mission?

As the days passed, no ministry offers appeared and nothing became clear. While I was waiting, I thought, at least I could pray for my coworkers and our customers. So, I began to spend time with Jesus, every day by praying and asking him to use me at work and to bless the people I knew I would see each day. As I drove to work, I would mentally walk through the office and pray for each person. Whether God chose to change my career or not, today, I could pray.

At first, I started asking that God would bless people and give them favor. For the coworkers I knew, I could make more specific requests. And for those I didn’t know very well, I decided I would try to get to know them better. Slowly, God started opening doors. I had more and more spiritual conversations. Some of the other Christians at work began to join me in praying for our coworkers. Slowly, things began to change.

At the same time, I began to change. Often, when I pray for someone, or something, Jesus changes me. He gave me a new heart for people and for my work. He showed me his purpose in my job. And I saw lives change.

I began to realize this was my ministry. Ministry is serving others so they can move closer to Jesus. The word most often translated “minister,” is also translated by “servant.” We serve others to make Jesus visible.

Please understand, I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes and been inconsistent. But every prayer matters. God will change people and he will change you.

Do you want to experience the joy and purpose of walking with Jesus daily? I made this challenge back in January, too. Pray for your coworkers for the next 30 days. As you drive to work, pray for the people who work near you, and those with whom you will meet. And watch Jesus work. 

But this time, when you see God make a difference, please write and let me know. My email is mike@followerofone.org. I’m sure you will see God begin to change your world, and he’ll probably start with you! 

Mike Henry Sr. is the president and founder of a new ministry called Follower of One. Check it out at www.followerofone.org.

Written by Andrea Stephens

My puffy brown parka is being moved to the back of the closet. My gloves—the red, the lime, and the black ones—await their turned to be tucked away in a drawer.  My boots, which are all black except for the chocolate and ivory imitation snake-skin cowboy boots that I had to buy once I moved back to Oklahoma, are being returned to the big suitcase that stores them during the warmer months (my creative way of dealing with small closets).

Yes, it is time to shed the winter outerwear and prepare for the spring months.  I look forward to leaving the winter days behind and enjoying longer days of sunlight, warm breezes, and the first sighting of purple crocus and yellow daffodils. (I love that God programmed these two flowers to be among the first to bloom. Purple and yellow are opposites on the color wheel.  When placed together, they create a strong visual pop that is energizing to our senses.  Our Father knew we would need a little pop at this point in our lives.)

Are you looking forward to this change of seasons?  Perhaps you are so busy with the things of life that you aren’t especially tuned into the shifting of seasons.  Or maybe you are one of the thousands of women who are emotionally moved by the grey skies and leafless trees.  Women are especially sensitive to seasonal changes, meaning that the unpleasant weather happening around us can greatly affect what is happening inside of us.  Shorter days, cloudy skies, freezing rain, cold winds—can contribute to felling down, sadness, lack of motivation, and even sensing distance from God.

The official name for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but in layman’s terms it is having a bad case of the blues!  An ongoing dose of blah.  Of course, there are other things that can land us in the blues like never-ending laundry, figuring out dinner again, a newborn that refuses to nurse, an argument with a friend, being laid off, so many possibilities.  Ugh.  Life can just be hard, right? 

The good news for us is the truth that this is one of the very reasons Jesus came to earth.  On that pivotal day in the temple when Jesus stood and read from the scroll, the text announced His purpose which included setting free the oppressed, downtrodden, heavy-hearted, and well, just plain blue!  (Luke 4:18 – 19).  Jesus came Himself to rescue us from the everyday blues.

Stephen S. ILardi, PhD, researcher and author of The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs, has developed a clinically-proven program he calls Therapeutic Lifestyle Change or TLC.  When applied, people successfully come out of the blues. 

ILardi shares that TLC has lots of benefits.  Not only do you boost your feel-good potential, you might also experience “weight loss, increased energy, lower blood pressure, improved cardiac health, better immune function, reduced inflammation, greater mental clarification, enhanced sense of well-being.”  Those are awesome side effects!

So, let’s take a look.  Here are his six suggestions, along with a few of my own (I’m quite experienced with battling the blues).

1.  Eat to Beat the Blues.  While increasing fruits and veggies combined with cutting back on all things sugar is highly important, so is eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, chia and flaxseeds.  This benefits your brain as well as your body.  Dr. ILardi recommends taking an Omega-3 supplement with a 2:1 ration of EPA:DHA. (Check with your doctor before taking any new supplement).

2.  Get moving.  Physical exercise releases your body’s natural feel-good hormone called endorphins.  If you are not used to exercising, start with simple heel lifts and marching in place, then a brisk walk outside or at the indoor mall.  Work up to brisk walking, biking (outdoor or stationary), pilates, or whatever you will enjoy.

3.  Get lost in a healthy activity. Doing something that keeps your mind occupied on down days will help lift your mood.  Try working a puzzle or a word search game, playing solitaire, baking something to share with a neighbor or reading the latest Karen Kingsbury novel.

4.  Soak up the rays.  Sunlight exposure is a definite blues blaster. There are special sun lamps available that are helpful during the cold dark days.  Try creating more light around your house—flip on some switches, open the curtains.  Light some candles and enjoy their warm glow.  While you sit near a window, think about the super sunny days of summer that will be here soon.            

5.  Be with people—especially other believers.  Social interaction can lift your morale (being alone and isolated can lend itself to feeling blue).  Do what works for you—invite friends over, visit family members, go to the movies, join a gym, volunteer at your church or a local non-profit.  Even window shopping at the mall at least gets you out and about—just beware of using a spending spree to help yourself feel better.                        

6.  Get the right amount of sleep. Deep sleep is needed for our minds and bodies to stay balanced. So, do your best to get the recommended 8 hours per night. However, if you are finding that your favorite activity on grey days is staying in bed all day, we need to talk!

7.  Scripture says to take your thoughts captive—yes, cuff them, lock them in jail, and throw away the key!  (2 Corinthians 10:5) Then we need to change or redirect our down ways of thinking. King David, a famous Old Testament personality, identified with feeling down and with choosing to refocus his attention.  In Psalm 42:11 (NLT) he recognized that he felt down in the dumps, that he didn’t understand it, “Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?”  But then he encouraged himself in the Lord when he said, “I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”  David not only had a case of the blues, he was trying hard to understand it.  Ever been there?  Redirecting your thoughts and using positive self-talk will help.  Putting your hope in God is also key.  Hope is confident expectation of what God is going to do.

8.  Read, Pray and Praise.  These are the three most important keys to overcoming the blues.  God’s Word is spirit and life.  It is alive and active.  Reading the scriptures early in the morning can set the tone for the remainder of the day.  Prayer does the same thing.  Talking to God about how you feel, what you are going through, what you need will lighten your heart as you choose to trust Him.  Listen quietly for His response which usually comes in a still, small, voice.  Add praise—the best blues buster ever.  Whether you love traditional hymns, modern worship music, or a combo of both, make praise part of your daily routine.  Sing, dance, kneel, raise your hands, just do it.

9.  Hahahahaha!  Do or watch something that makes you laugh.  There is scientific proof that laughter helps people heal physically and emotionally. Even scripture says that a joyful heart is like medicine to your overall well-being (Proverbs 17:22).  So, what makes you laugh?  Get more of it!

This is a practical approach to getting out of the winter blahs.  It helps lift and helps prevent the blues.  TLC has physical and psychological benefits for everyone!  Simply put, getting out of the blues is about taking care of yourself.  Often times women put themselves last on the care list with husband, kids, job, errands, etc. coming first.  You need some TLC as well.  A little Therapeutic Lifestyle Change will not only be good for you but for those you care for.  You’ve heard the expression put your own oxygen mask on first.  This is not only important in the case of cabin pressure change on an airplane but for you as well.  It is necessary for your role as women to take time for yourself; to grab bits of time that come open during our week to workout, meet a friend for coffee, attend bible study or prayer group, take a nap, drink a protein smoothie, even a 20-minute chair massage at the mall—one of my favorite self-care treats.  You are worth it and those you care for think so, too.

Note:  If you or a loved one is experiencing a severe case of the blues, it might be clinical depression.  Reach out to your family doctor and to a Christian therapist for help.  Depression is treatable with various therapies, possible medication, and lots of TLC!

If you are in need of a therapist, we do recommend Christian Family Institute www.christianfamilyinsitute.com at 918.745.0095 or Counseling Services of Tulsa www.counselingservicesoftulsa.com at 918.574.2722.  Let them know Community Spirit sent you!


Written by Randy C. Cowell, M.S, LUTCF, CFP®, CRPC®

Most Americans are not aware that Social Security benefits have not always been taxed. Not until 1983 was there a tax on the once sacred retirement benefit. In a bipartisan compromise after recognizing the impending insolvency of Social Security, President Ronald Reagan and then Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, agreed to allow up to 50% of benefits to be taxed. That opened the door. Later in 1993 during his first term, President Bill Clinton raised the taxation percentage to 85%. This article will discuss the impact those taxes have on retirees.

Before you can implement defense strategies one must first understand how the IRS thinks. There is a calculation that is performed specifically to determine whether you are over the prescribed income threshold. About this time you are saying, “There is an income threshold?” Yes, if married and filing jointly, it’s $44,000 and if filing single, it’s $34,000. So what does that really mean? The IRS, as one of its last calculations when calculating your taxes, determines your “Provisional” income. If you are not familiar with that term, just read on. 

Provisional income simply stated, is the calculation to determine if your SS will be taxed. First, they add all your 1099 income. This includes interest, dividends, short- and long-term capital gains, as well as any municipal bond income. (You read correctly. ALL muni-bond income counts as provisional income.) Next, the IRS counts all the “Ordinary” income from your qualified plans and retirement accounts. Then to cap it off, they add insult to injury and count 50% of your SS benefit. If you are married and it exceeds $44,000 or single and it exceed $34,000, then congratulations–up to 85% of your benefits will be taxed at the highest tax bracket you are in. 

So, now that you know what Provisional income is, let’s have some fun with math. First we have to make some assumptions. Let’s say you are married filing jointly and your SS income is $25,000. We have calculated your provisional income and it exceeds $44,000. That means 85% of your income or $21,250 is now added to your income at the highest marginal rate. We assume if you are in the 24% marginal bracket, your SS tax bill is $5,100. You now discover you have a $5,100 hole in your income. So how do most people respond? They withdraw more money from their IRA’s and saving accounts. Here is an important question. When they withdraw more income from their IRA account(s), if tax rates have risen, how much more will they have to withdraw?

So, why should you be concerned about preventing your provisional income from exceeding the threshold(s)? According to David McKnight, best selling author of the Power of Zero, retirees that allow their SS to be taxed tend to run out of money faster than those that do not. [1]Why? Because the mere act of withdrawing more puts that much more pressure on the assets to perform. To make matters worse when tax rates go up (assuming Congress does nothing), how much more will retirees have to withhold to compensate for even more taxes?

Not to pile on here, but if you listen to other experts like David Walker, former Comptroller General, and Ed Slott CPA, retirement expert, tax rates beyond 2026 are destined to increase due to the fiscal spending policies of the government. Ed Slott warns, “Those who saved most diligently, though, will soon realize that a substantial chunk of those tax-deferred retirement savings are sitting ducks for a revenue-hungry Uncle Sam. In fact, as your 401(k) or IRA funds grow, so does the government’s share since it is a partner, Uncle Sam can increase his partnership percentage of your tax-deferred savings whenever he needs more money, and that day is coming soon. The question is then, are you prepared?”[2]

So what’s the answer? Stay tuned for Part II in next month’s Community Spirit magazine for strategies that can insulate and buffer you from the impact of higher taxes. (2423086RM–Feb21)

[1] McKnight, D. “The Power of Zero.” 2013. Reprint. Boston: Acanthus Publishing, 2018. Print.

[2] Slott, E. 2013. Forward. In: The Power of Zero. Boston; Acanthus Publishing, xi-xii

Randy C Cowell is a columnist and President of ACT Financial Services, Inc., in Tulsa. Oklahoma. He is the author of “God Good­ Debt Bad”. Randy welcomes your thoughts and prayers. He can be reached at 918-664-0081 or by e-mail at rcowell@htk.com.

Registered Representative of and Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, LLC (HTK), Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC, 4111 S. Darlington Ave., Suite 800, Tulsa, OK 74135, (918) 664-6511. HTK is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company. ACT Financial Services, Inc. is unaffiliated with Hornor, Townsend, & Kent, Inc.


Written by Teresa Goodnight

With tears running down my cheeks, I heard the cancer specialist explain there was nothing we could do for my grandmother last year. I watched her face, as she didn’t quite understand what he was saying. I held her hand. My mother asked questions that I tuned out, as the only information that mattered was that my grandmother’s days were short In number. We walked downstairs to sit outside, while my mother went to get the car. My grandmother asked me what the doctor had meant. “Is there anything they can do?” she asked.

I tried to avoid the conversation. I didn’t want to say it. She pressed me again. So, I answered. She held my trembling hand in her fragile thinning hand and assured me it was ok. She then told me that the world was getting further and further from God. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus came back before anything happened. The one thing she assured me of, which I already knew, was that if Jesus didn’t come back first, she would beat me to heaven. We lost my grandmother a few weeks later. 

A month after she passed, my mother handed me her Bible. It may be one of the most meaningful things I ever received. I didn’t even know I wanted it. It was full of bookmarkers I had given her, the gift note in my handwriting to Josephine Rhyne, when we gave it to her Christmas of 1993. It had a postcard I sent her from Cannes in 1999. There were notes here and there, underlined texts, and passages of importance written on papers folded between the pages. 

I treasure every little one of them.

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you…for God has not given you a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:5-7 NLV.

My grandmother’s legacy was not one of fortune or fame, but one of faith in God. She made her share of mistakes, triumphs, and sacrifices. She scolded me when I was frustrated with my mom or my sisters. She reminded me to forgive as I had been forgiven. She taught me every Christian makes mistakes—ones they regret, confess, and are forgiven for by God. In our last lucid conversation, she told me to go pay attention to my husband, because she always valued relationships in the family and reminded me to cherish the incredible men I had been given in my grandfather, father and my husband. Her advice was stern when needed but laced with love and beautiful grace all the same.

Goodness. I do miss her. I remember sneaking into “big church” lying with my head or my feet across her and my mom. Oh, if I could go back to those days and soak it all in just a little longer. But truth is—I did soak it in. We soaked it in. Her faith was passed on to my mother. They both passed it to me. I will pass it to my daughter. It will be passed from generation to generation. 

So many people spend hours on their wills, outlining every precious thing they own and selecting who will receive what. It’s a thoughtful process and I’m sure filled with love. However, what my grandmother left for my mother, for me, for my sisters, and her grandchildren and all of her family that we cherish was her living, breathing faith in God. It is a legacy impacting us all for eternity. There is no amount of money and no treasure as great, as the treasure of God her legacy helped plant in my heart. 

Think hard about the legacy you are leaving behind. Whether intentional or by chance, we are all leaving one. At Community Spirit, we pray yours will be one making an eternal impact on those you love for generations to come. #GoDoBe

Quotes to Chew On:

“The greatest legacy you can pass on to your children and grandchildren is not your money or the other material things you have accumulated in life. The greatest legacy you can pass on to them is the legacy of your character and your faith.” Billy Graham, Nearing Home p. 119

“Wise counsel to the younger is the duty of the aged.” Unknown

“Young people are very sensitive to hypocrisy; if they sense it in us, they will dismiss our pretenses and pay no attention to our advice…if they can sense our faith is sincere and our love is authentic, then they will respect us and take us seriously (even when they know we are not perfect.).” Billy Graham, Nearing Home p. 121

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Written by Teresa Goodnight

Isn’t it funny how a well-played game is still best remembered for the plays in the fourth quarter? You play well to get there, but man—when that ball goes over the line in the final seconds for the victory, it’s just a moment. It’s all you talk about the next day.  Eventually you get around to what led there—which was dedication and hard work, but that play feels like a defining moment.  If you don’t execute on it—it’s also one of those haunting lost moments of opportunity.

Dr. Henry Migliore likes to reference his life as somewhere between the fourth quarter and overtime. Just a year ago, the doctors were calling in his family to say their goodbyes.  Today, he met me at the Village Inn, because I wanted to understand how at 78, I’ve observed him living with such purpose and building his legacy.  Everywhere I go—he’s there.  Everyone I meet, he knows.  Even while at Mend Medical Clinic and Pregnancy Resource Center one day, I happened to mention talking with Henry.  Forrest Cowan said “I know him.  He showed up here wanting a desk one day. I wondered who he was. I started looking back through our history as an organization and his name was everywhere.  I got the guy a desk to use.” 

I’ve only known Henry a few months, but from what I’ve experienced, he’s kind of everywhere in everything.  He has this purposeful desire to listen to God’s spirit and to move where he’s led.  It’s so intentional.  However, with Henry, getting to the conversation you intend takes a little navigation.  

Let me explain.  Before sitting down for breakfast, he ran into two former students, who were excited to see their former professor (and also kind enough to buy our lunch!).  Then, after a brief chat with those gentlemen, the conversation led us to another with our lovely waitress.  We started discussing her spiritual battles with fear and anxiety.  Before long, we’d invited her to church.  It was as if we were longtime friends, exchanging numbers while discussing Henry’s love for pancakes.  A few minutes later, the woman sitting behind Henry said, “I almost jumped in the middle of your conversation. I loved it.  It was so easy for you to invite her to church.” We discussed her church and her heart for adoption and fostering ministries.

In just about an hour, I felt engaged with much of the restaurant, both staff and guests.  I think that’s just what happens when you are with Henry. His love for the Lord and people is infectious.  His willingness to listen to the slightest nudge from the Holy Spirit lands him in places not originally on his radar. He exudes the love of Christ and genuinely wants to impact people everywhere he goes. Make no mistake, it’s not an accident though.  Henry is incredibly INTENTIONAL.  He sets his mind on things above, opens his heart with his eyes and ears, and charts the course daily knowing full well the Spirit of the Lord might nudge him on a few rabbit trails prepared in advance for him to do.   And, he does all of this with severe migraines, lower strength, and a general malaise taking its toll.  Henry said, “I just adjust my plan based on my new circumstances and head on as far down the road as I can travel.” 

Henry has so much history at 78—it’s difficult to think about how to capture the essence of such a legacy in a magazine article.  He’s a record setting athlete, a former Dean of Business at Oral Roberts University (ORU), an accredited author with over 17 books published in 7 languages, and a strategic consultant.  He has recommendations and accolades from past students and clients singing his praises for his business strategy and guidance.  Above all these things, or rather intertwined into all of these things, he is a man intentionally and passionately following after God.    

I asked Henry about a moment when he felt everything changed for him.  What was that big pivotal decision?  Henry said it came in 1970 after a 7-year stint with Continental Can.  To get there, he took me back a bit in the story.  “I became part of an executive training program at Continental.  There were 200 of us in the room.  They started the session explaining they only needed a hundred”, said Henry.  He continued, “They said ‘We’re either gonna get rid of you or you won’t be able to stand the pressure.’”  Henry followed, “Coming out of the military and college athletics, I was conditioned for stress and knew how to endure.  So, I became the youngest key manufacturing manager in a top 50 corporation at the time. I dealt with union groups and some of the toughest mob groups in Chicago.”  

Henry’s story continued.  At 30, they wanted to send him to New York to be the youngest Vice President in the corporation. He had a big expense account, a big career and a nice salary. But, in 1970, Henry said “My mother, on her little typewriter, wrote me a letter and said ‘You know they are opening a university right in Tulsa called ORU.  You have a master’s degree.  Wouldn’t it be fun if you would move home?”  So what Henry did was not unlike what many of us have done to ward off mom’s pleas.  Henry said, “I sat down in front of my old typewriter and sent them a 7-year old resume with my bad typing and my 2.29 GPA.” Henry quipped, “I never thought more about it except that they would write back and reject me.  Then, I could make a copy and send it to my mother.”  Henry and I both laughed a little about the persistence of a mother.  

Henry continued, “Then 3 days later, Harold Paul called me and started a dialogue. He called every 2-3 days to pray with me.”  Henry continued the conversations, as he enjoyed them, but had no intention of taking the position.  Henry said, “He then told me he wanted me to fly out and possibly join the faculty.  I told him my parents lived close to the University and I would fly out to meet him, but I was honest.  I told him straight out that I wasn’t going to accept the position, but it would be nice to see my parents.”  Henry went on, “The meeting went fine and he offered me the position, but it wasn’t for a few nights later back at home that it hit me.  It was about 2 am and I whispered to Mari ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ She immediately said ‘Yes.’ Then he said ‘We’ve gotta go to ORU.’”  Henry chuckled a bit as it seems a bit ridiculous to most when you say it out loud.  He took a 50% pay cut, lost his giant expense account, lost his seemingly guaranteed success path with corporate America and followed God’s spirit in his heart.

Over 40 years later, Henry has no regrets.  Henry offered, “You never really know what would have happened.  Think of something big like that I might have been spared from 9/11?” Then Henry said, “What I do know is if I had taken a 45-minute train back and forth to work daily, I would’ve missed out on time with my kids. I would’ve probably made more money, but after seeing how the Lord has guided our lives from 1970 until the minute we’re sitting here, it was the right choice.” 

Henry came from a Christian home, which really gave him a leg up on his journey with Christ.  His mother and father raised him in church faithfully.  Then when he was 13 their pastor, Cecil Bolding, started working alongside of him at his parents Western Auto store.  Henry said he gained valuable wisdom from his pastor and friend.  It really was a mentorship in the workplace, offering Henry even greater exposure to the things of Christ.  It’s such a great reminder of the investment we need to make in future generations.  The impact of those interactions can transfer from generation to generation.    

May 13 of 2018, Henry said “EMSA fired an alert to family and friends and people are coming into see us in the ER.  They had given up and thought I was gone. His granddaughter in law, a charge nurse at St. Francis, made a suggestion and suddenly, the game was going into overtime.”  Henry spoke boldly, “The Lord must’ve needed me for something else.  I just believe that.  I’d love to be the old Henry full of energy going to chamber meetings, being impressive but I can barely function some days.” Henry said, “I’m hoping my legacy will be that people see I kept moving for the Lord even when it was a struggle.” 

Henry told me that things he now copes with are as simple as that he forgets where he’s going.  He said, “If I’m familiar with something I can do it.  I did a book signing at Barnes and Noble with a great turnout. I’m sitting there though struggling to even get up.” Henry went on, “The Lord just keeps opening doors up. I go through them—just slower than I used to move.  I’d like to think that whatever your story is about me—it is one that encourages others to think about their legacy and to keep going in the direction God has for them.  There’s still time.  Whatever quarter of life they are in—whatever their struggles, there’s still an impact they can make for Christ.” 

Henry says it best himself.  “My life is dedicated to living a life of integrity with devotion to my Heavenly Father.  I want to be the best family man possible–to be dedicated to my dear wife Mari of 54 years, my 3 children Theresa, Roscoe and Daniel and my 7 incredibly special grandchildren.”  Henry said he would want his obituary to reflect that “Henry just hung in there, was giving everything away until the Lord decided he had no more to give.”  He continued, “We’re all going to experience difficulties.  The real story will be how did each person navigate those steps through the 4th quarter of their life (whatever age that will be) to keep doing what God had for them to do.”  

Every one of us leaves a legacy.  There will be a story of our lives, our character, our choices. Henry reminds us all that purposefully seeking to leave a legacy for Christ, expanding that into whatever form it takes needs to be a priority. He’s a prime example of continuing that purpose into the 4th quarter—and will one day leave a life with very few regrets.  “It’s a life full of roads you didn’t see coming,” says Henry “but true fulfillment comes when we are ready to follow God’s whisper towards His purpose.”

Henry spends his 4th quarter, which he sometimes jokingly calls his overtime period, sharing these values with everyone he meets.  He follows Christ with passion and fervor with headaches that would leave most of us lying on our beds in a bit of despair.  He doesn’t want to waste one minute of what God has given him doing less than what God has called him to do. For me, that makes him more than a man of purposeful legacy.  It moves him into the category of a very rare modern-day hero.

Dr. Migliore has a book “A Biblical Approach to Life Planning” that you can grab a copy of on his website for $14.99. www.hmigliore.com

Email Dr. Migliore at hmigliore@aol.com and he will give you a link to his book.

https://youtu.be/1-xePO107IA Video for his 4th Quarter Redefined the Legacy Continues book.

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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Written by Teresa Goodnight

At the end of January, after February went to print, the state of New York passed a law allowing women to terminate pregnancy up to and through full-term for reasons one might use to return a sweater to the mall. In celebration of what they labeled women’s rights, they lit the heralded Freedom Tower in pink.

It’s puzzling why a tower dedicated to precious Americans, who lost their lives in a horrible strike against our freedom would be the choice for a celebration of forever silencing these children. These children, who wouldn’t be given the basic right to enter independence and start their new life independent of their mothers, could now be terminated at will. 

A child with placental complications is at higher risk, as is the mother, from birth issues—some of which can be pretty severe. How God crafted the mother’s body to give a home for her baby to grow is quite fascinating. The father’s role though is equally interesting inside the womb. The sperm creates both the placenta and umbilical cord. So, it is the father who is the life connection inside the womb for the baby to grow. It’s a beautiful process involving both parents. Both parents are responsible for sustaining the baby’s life while it’s readying to enter the world as an independent little one. The father’s role is not often discussed. It’s really a beautiful collaborative event God created.

My mother was a premature baby in the 50’s, weighing in at only 4 pounds. It’s quite the miracle she’s even here—that I’m even here for that matter. However, if a baby can survive at such small sizes, in such an early delivery, it’s easy to see the line for viable, independent life is crossed quite early in the womb. Interestingly, if a child’s air were cut off while being born, it would gasp for it. On its own, it would choose life. It just does. If we’re honest, I think we all choose life when given the choice for ourselves. It’s offensive to me as a woman and a mother to see the act labeled and celebrated as a right for the mother. How can we just eliminate the part of the father living inside the mother, providing sustenance to the baby? How can we eliminate the right of the one, who is at a point in life where it would naturally choose air if it were taken away? The rights of the unborn without a voice are being suppressed by the alleged right of a mother, who was entrusted with the rights of all three. Should her “rights” come at the expense of another’s rights? 

Seeking the right to terminate a pregnancy, when the child living inside already responds to mommy and daddy’s voices, is a difficult choice to understand. Those precious curves of the baby’s foot that press out so that you can touch it on its exploratory path. The hiccups you strangely feel inside. The pressure on your ribs with that push as the baby turns in order to be ready to head out and start this new journey. That precious child growing inside, looking for care and protection, is certainly not thinking about anyone’s freedom except its own. What law will be passed for the one without a voice to be heard? What tower will we light for its rights if NOT the freedom tower? 

A Christian’s heart should not just break for the child. It should also break for the woman, who thinks she’s expressing her “right to choose.” Then, finds herself completely crushed from the weight of her irreversible decision. She might have felt trapped. This decision might have felt the easiest way out. I haven’t met a lot of people who want their missteps heralded all over town for 9 months. These women are in an incredibly difficult place. These laws offer a seemingly free and clear path of freedom. It’s impossible for any of us who haven’t been there to understand everything going on inside of that woman. Whatever it is, she doesn’t need to be met with those who don’t understand spouting off their insults or hurling things at her on her journey. She needs love, compassion, and real commitments to help. Hurling these kinds of sentiments can help her get through her situation, maybe choose adoption for her child. God offers all of us His love and mercy needed to fix a broken heart. He has it. He offers it freely. 

In Romans 3:23, He says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” ALL. As such, we should also ALL hold onto the grace we were so freely given by God and give it to others. As the church, we need to find new ways to make a difference. The days of hurling objects and insults (and even worse) should also be gone. They never should have existed honestly. 

So, for the lives of children who will never be born, we light this page in pink and blue, representing the little boys and girls. We light it as their voice, but we also light it for the men and women caught in this turmoil. We pray they will find groups like Mend Crisis Pregnancy, Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, Hope Pregnancy Center, Go Life Mobile Medical—all in Tulsa or the Pregnancy Resource Center in Owasso to name a few who are lighting the way with love.

Finally, we light it for those who have already gone down this path. May all who have fallen into this step find God’s love, which knows no bounds. That love that sacrificed everything for our mistakes also covers the mistakes of these lawmakers. That love extends to these mothers and fathers. That’s the kind of love we experience from our Father in Heaven. Unconditional love dripping undeservedly all over us with grace to remove sin as far as the East is from the West. May we all find His peace to choose better. 

Please join with us this month in prayer:

Lift up the leaders, who passed this law–for hearts to be broken by the weight of their decision. Pray for their change of heart. 

Lift up the ones who seek to use the power of this law to terminate the life within them. Pray that someone, somewhere will touch them with the love of Christ. Pray God will send someone to help guide them to a better place for themselves and their child through an option like adoption. 

Pray for those women broken by their “rights.” We cannot understand, but God’s forgiveness and love is right there for them, just like the rest of us.

Lift up the nation, “united under God” to remember the protection His veil affords. Pray for all of us, who as a nation allowed this to happen by remaining silent. 

Pray Christians will respond with that ridiculously amazing, unconditional love God shows us even though we’ve made bad choices—and let that love light the way back from this darkness.  

#GoDoBe. No. Really.

Devaluing human life through a “right” for women—who will be the next victim of our “rights” if we continue to just watch it all unfold? Just giving an emoji or a directional thumb is a mere whimper of support. Join groups like Focus on the Family in NYC in person for “Alive in New York.” Find ways to give financial help. Reach out to one of the many amazing pregnancy resource centers, like those mentioned in the article, to help. Reach out specifically to women caught in this battle. Reach out as your church, as THE “C”hurch. We don’t offer a moment of prayer as a substitute for further action. We pause to get direction from our mighty God to face this with His guidance, wisdom and love. 

Do more than let your voice be heard. Let your actions be seen. Let your love be shown. Go be Christ to the women and men in crisis. Go do whatever God is calling you to do (in love) to help.  Be Jesus, not throwing the first stone, but loving the lost as Christ has loved us.



Written by Teresa Goodnight

Mary Williams isn’t consciously building a legacy, as much as she is living as a modern-day creator of change. She’s been paving the way for racial integration for as long as she can remember, holding positions across Tulsa enabling her to focus on her mission. She’s a woman of been doing it so long that it’s just the essence of her beautiful character. She has a way of making you feel so incredibly special—even when you are trying to focus on the amazing life she lives. 

Like many women with those special gifts, she somehow makes you feel as if you have known her all of your life. You just want to share things with her. Our conversation travelled all over the place. She laughed that we had to be careful whenever we talked, as a few minutes could turn into a few hours. I felt special that it might be just with me, but I knew Mary had that effervescent presence with everyone she met.

With her B.A. Degree from Oral Roberts University, Mary is a board member of Greenwood Chamber of Commerce helping to bridge gaps within our city. Mary has been the first, or only African American in positions around the city. She was the first African American to serve as Vice President of the Tulsa Chapter of the Association of Desk & Derrick Clubs, where they promote education around the oil industry. Mary is also a motivated women’s leader, mentor, speaker, writer and more.

Mary has played the role of a successful political campaign adviser, while also implementing the first monthly political community forums for a diverse candidate in North Tulsa. Mary also is the Director for the citywide “Juneteenth on Historic Greenwood,” an event focused on sharing “heritage, history and hope.” We could list event after event, organization after organization where Mary has been leading the way for diversification and change. 

Her overall mission is to help others find their purpose and reach their God-given destiny through her Color Me True Workshops she now puts on around the city. These sessions focus on personal and professional growth of the attendees. It’s really an empowerment program fostering identity of purpose and multicultural awareness. 

Mary said, “The Color Me True Workshop Program is designed to fit a wide variety of audiences. It provides steps for participants to find their purpose, build self-esteem and take possession of the path God has for them.” Mary continued, “Color Me True workshops have a proven successful track record after years of programming on the high school and collegiate levels, professional and doctoral levels, as well as special workshops for middle school and upper elementary school ages.”

Mary’s next project is dear to her heart. She’s working with Dr. Libby Adjei, the superintendent of Langston Hughes Academy for Arts and Technology. It’s a charter school in North Tulsa threatened with losing its battle to remain open. Mary is working with Dr. Adjei trying to save the school by offering a program about building self-esteem, establishing a cotillion for the students. She wants to teach men how to treat women, how to treat other men, and how to treat themselves. She wants to do the same for women. Mary said, “If we can learn to treat each other with respect and to respect ourselves, we can accomplish so many things we need in life.” 

Mary is a licensed minister and noted as a community servant who believes in the power of prayer. Prayer walking in the community is one of her favorite activities. She simply walks and prays on whatever God brings to mind. Sometimes she starts the walk with things on her heart, others she prays for people and places she sees along the journey. This amazing focus on time with the Lord is part of what creates such a peaceful spirit in her. She just exudes love all over the place. You just want to be around her and catch some of that love she’s throwing around so freely. I have to think that’s a bit of a picture of what being around Jesus was like—and isn’t He our role model for daily living? Mary is simply right on track following in the footsteps of her savior. 

Mary said, “When I leave this life, I hope what is left behind me — the work that I’ve given, the work I’ve served — has helped improve someone else’s life.” Mary continued, “It’s a spiritual thing. I get a sense of filling a spiritual part of me, a most important part of me when I help people find their God-given destiny.” I don’t think she has to leave anywhere to know she improved someone’s life. Like most she encounters, mine was improved just in the small time I spent with her.

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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Color Me True Destiny Programs Word Study: True Meekness

Written by Mary L. Williams

What is the true meaning of Meekness? For many who follow today’s standards for success, meekness is an attribute that may leave you on the marginal sidelines of life. Yet, Jesus said in Matthew 5:3 (ESV) that the meek will inherit the earth. But, how? Was Jesus only referring to the millennial kingdom? 

Viewing Jesus as a Biblical model, meekness is wisdom and power in demonstration without being harsh or clamorous. It is composure under pressure and silence when others should speak. Meekness is a key attribute of a good listener with confident self-esteem. Many people confuse meekness with weakness. Au contraire mon ami! Weakness allows abuse of power to control the mind, will and emotions out of fear and false humility. Meekness, however, expresses itself with confident composure to do what is right in the face of opposition! Meekness is inherent in the divine nature of a born-again believer. (Reference Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus describes Himself as meek and He certainly was, yet he did not allow the hypocrites, Pharisees, and wicked people to control Him. A person who practices meekness does not allow the adversary to steal the gifts God has given to him or to distract him from their God-given purpose. 

As with most things in life, beware! There is a counterfeit. False meekness pretends to be soft and subtle through use of manipulation tactics and domination behind the scenes. False meekness masquerades in fear and discontent. False meekness plants soft nuggets of discord without being out-front and forthright. Open and honest discourse is not a preference for the person who hides behind the deceptive curtain of masked false meekness.

One may ask what is the difference between humility and meekness? Humility is an inner response of the heart and mind. True humility esteems others higher than oneself with unconditional positive regard. Meekness guides and protects the reactions of a humble heart with the infinite timing of wisdom. Meekness is the outer response of sincere humility.

Therefore, success can be gained on earth through a meek and quiet spirit when the Divine Holy Spirit is in control. There is NO FEAR in true meekness. Meekness is more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus!

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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