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Woe Is Me or Whoa, This Is Me? Both!

undoneI’ve been thinking lately about how often I feel “undone” in the presence of God. I can be talking in conversation about Him and feel “undone”. I can be reading His Word and something strikes a chord in me and I am “undone”. I can be worshipping or praying and I’m unable to go on because I feel “undone”. I can be teaching or preaching and the reality I get to speak His Word leaves me feeling “undone”.

In those moments, God takes what He created, “me”, and does me in. I can’t move, can’t speak, can’t think; and to be honest, I don’t want to. I KNOW He is the One who does me in and He completely overwhelms my thoughts, heart, and mind and overrides my will and body. At those times I stop everything and let Him do me in! It can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, but afterwards I am always in awe that He would care to meet with me.

One day after I was undone in God’s presence I thought about what happens in being undone. First I thought of earthly things. For example; an undone piece of meat can be NOT good for us(tasty if you like “rare” but a bit risky). Undone brownies might actually taste good though messy. How about zippers undone on our pants? NOT good and potentially bad! Leaving homework or “work” work undone? NOT smart! These situations show us being “undone” means something is left incomplete, unaccomplished, unfinished; simply not done yet!

downloadBut think about “coming undone” emotionally. We don’t like that thought as much, especially if it happens in public. We can come undone when things don’t go as planned or expected; or when something fails; or when we are superbly surprised. Having an unwelcomed meltdown where we lose all composure or self-control is usually not a favorite for most people.

After all this thinking, it came to me! Being undone in God’s presence can mean all these things AND so much more! Like a piece of undone meat, we are never done! Christians can still be tasty but it’s risky so we need God every moment to keep “doing”! Like undone brownies, we still have an impact in this world even though we can be messy. While being caught with our zippers undone can be embarrassing, getting caught with our spiritual zipper down is quite freeing, cleansing, purifying, and truly, completely amazing! See, there is no “awkwardness” involved with God – just complete transparency before the One who makes all things new. Finally, while it’s not wise to leave school or “work” work undone, letting God finish His work in us is much more productive than striving to do it alone. Plus, He loves the extra time we spend with Him “getting it done”!

Being undone in God’s presence is always unplanned just like being undone in earthly things. I can honestly say I’ve never scheduled a time of being undone in God’s presence. My undone “episodes” range from brief moments of raw exposure, being stunned in His presence, to complete meltdowns, often messy, when I lose all composure and self-control. One thing is for sure; they ALWAYS surprise and humble me. I become acutely aware of God’s presence and the fact He chooses to come and touch His beloved fills me with reverential fear of Him and I think, “Whoa, this is awesome”, as I’m reminded of who I am and more importantly WHO HE IS!

Isaiah said it this way, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah said this after a vision in which he saw the Lord sitting on His throne, high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple while the seraphim cried out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory!”

You would think after having this vision instead of saying “woe is me” Isaiah might have said, “Whoa, this is me! I must be God’s favorite! I mean, seriously, have any of YOU had visions of the Lord in His temple while angels worshipped Him? Probably not! This makes me super special in God’s eyes. How awesome am I for God to show me this stuff?” You would also think Isaiah would be happier than happy! Instead, he is undone. In the original language, undone means he felt cut off, thinking he would surely die at this sight of the Lord on His throne.

woe_is_meSo…being undone is like being caught with our zipper down spiritually and we realize just how totally obnoxious we are, at least in comparison to our holy God. We sin! It’s bad enough to realize just how much we sin, but to have it exposed, to be undone by and before a holy God, well…THAT is humbling.

The truth is every Christian comes face to face with their sin when undone in the presence of a holy God. The sinfulness of sin by nature is contrary to the holy nature of God, leaving us undone! Sin exposes the vast difference between us and a holy God!

Let’s face it! Just like Isaiah, our lips are unclean. We say things we should never say. We curse, we lie, we gossip, we slander, and we even say terrible things about people we supposedly love. It surprises me how often we accuse family, friends, and fellow members of the body of Christ of being terrible people, or doing horrible things. Of course we say it behind their backs and then are super sweet to their faces. We seem unaware that we are giving Satan legal right to torment our families, relationships, and churches, and even more oblivious that God sees all of it! Friends, we have unclean lips and God’s got a remedy.

coalIn Isaiah, the seraphim took tongs to gather coal from the altar and then touched Isaiah’s lips declaring his sins burned away, purged and he was cleansed. Now THAT is a WHOA and a WHOOHOO! Being undone in the presence of God leads to our sins being done as well. When we’re undone in His presence we can expect to be confess and repent of sin because we see it all clearly AND we are encouraged and lifted up because visions of God’s glory have that effect on us! We have a Mediator, and that, my friends, leaves us undone in the presence of our Lord and Savior, able to boldly and confidently approach Him!

 

a-sinners-prayerWhen our eyes meet the King of kings and Lord of lords, we are undone; we are filled with fear and freedom at the same time! When we truly believe He is Lord, we see His sovereignty and majesty over all and it strikes even greater awe, reverence and godly fear to the very core of our being!

So friends…I pray we are all undone! There is no greater place to be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A River and God’s Peace – What Do They Have in Common?

Rivers are fascinating bodies of water that evoke a variety of thoughts and feelings when we are near them. A quiet meandering river can generate a sense of serenity. Sitting by the edge of a river watching the water flow gently over and around rocks and fallen tree branches and trunks brings a calm that seems to make time stand still.  Letting the water trickle over our feet is soothing, refreshing, and invigorating all at the same time! Traversing over rocks and boulders to cross a river is exciting and a bit risky but adds a dimension of adventure into any hike. 

Then there are those waterfalls to make us stop and gape at the power of water rushing over the edge, the sound deafening as the forceful surge descends, making it impossible to even hear the voice of someone standing next to you!  

Rivers have the ability to inspire our creative juices to flow, unlock our imaginations, or render us speechless as we ponder the magnificence, energy, beauty, and tranquility. They are also a rich source of food, travel, sustenance, and entertainment! God really knew what He was doing when He created something as simple as a river! And then God uses rivers to describe something even more valuable to us – His peace!  

Isaiah 66:12 “For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river…”

God’s people, His bride, the Church, the body of Christ is the “her” God is referring to in this Scripture! He extends His peace to us like a river!  By discovering more about the rivers God created for us here on earth, we can understand more about the peace He extends to us on earth!

Rivers vary in size, shape, use, and beauty but they all have commonalities as well. Rivers are natural watercourses, usually freshwater, and most often flow towards a larger body of water.  Rivers get their water from precipitation, drainage basins, surface runoff, underground springs, and natural ice and snow packs. The total volume of water transported downstream is a combination of visible free water flow along with a substantial contribution of water flowing through sub-surface rocks and gravel under the river. In other words, the water flow we can’t see may far exceed the water flow we can see on the surface. No wonder we can be amazed standing in a river speculating where the water comes from and where it is going as we experience an underwater current that can be quite different from what we see on the surface!    

God’s peace is supernatural, fresh and invigorating as it flows from His throne to us, coming to us in a variety of ways, as it ministers to us as individuals, yet it consistently and indescribably affects our lives!  Just as rivers flow toward a larger body of water, the peace of God fills us and causes us to flow in Him, who is larger than anything or anyone in life!   Just as river water flowing below the surface exceeds the visible water flow, the peace of God is moving powerfully in our lives, even when we can’t see it.  His peace is a powerful current moving and coursing through our lives and most of it we can’t see on the surface.  But we can feel it when we step into the river of God, when we step into His peace and let it work deep within, where we can’t see it!  We can stand amazed in the peace of God just as surely as we can stand amazed in a river in life!  

Rivers are not only beautiful, but valuable, serving many purposes. Most major cities of the world were established on the banks of rivers because they are a source of fresh water for drinking, bathing, and irrigation. They provide a rich source of fish and other edible aquatic life. Rivers can be a means of disposing waste-water, and in less developed countries, other waste as well.  Fast flowing rivers are used as a source of energy or hydropower to drive machinery; hydroelectric plants provide power to entire communities; watermills were common for grinding cereals, processing wool, and other textiles. The coarse sediments of gravel and sand generated and moved by river flow is used extensively in construction.

The peace of God is not only beautiful, but valuable as it serves every purpose in life!  God establishes us with Him!  He is our Source of Living Water so we can drink deeply from Him!  We are cleansed by Him, and He waters, irrigates, and saturates us in His peaceful presence. God’s peace provides nourishment to our hungry and thirsty souls, and washes away all the waste and debris in our lives. God’s peace, though gentle and calming, is at the same time, fast flowing to energize and empower us in this world. Every particle of God’s peace is usable to construct our lives in Him!

Rivers form boundaries for cities, states, regions, or countries. They are useful for navigation and transportation, even providing a unique and cost efficient movement of felled trees to lumber camps by floating them downstream. Rivers provide excellent sources of leisure and recreational activities like fishing, boating, tubing, and canoeing, while whitewater river rapids attract kayak enthusiasts.  

God’s peace is a safeguard, forming a boundary of protection in Him from any and all enemies.  His peace helps us to navigate through life, transporting us effortlessly through many snags and trials, sometimes floating while other times being rushed along, but always flowing in Him!  And of course, His peace is an excellent source of pleasure, leisure, and is the perfect and only place to re-create! 

God’s peace is ours!  We choose to live in His peace by embracing it like a river! Our choosing is followed up by heeding!  Isaiah 48:18 “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!  Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

Heeding God’s commandments means we pay attention to Him and what He has to say, and then we follow Him and what He has to say!  Just get in the flow of the river with God!  Get in His peace! Don’t stand on the banks and watch the river go by!  Don’t watch others flow in His peace while you stand warring with yourself. Take off all your inhibitions, throw off your doubts and unbelief, get rid of your worry and stress, and step into the river of God, the peace of God, and let Him carry you, flow through you, refresh and invigorate you, cleanse and nourish you, sustain and empower you!

The next time you’re near a river, don’t just observe it from the bank.  Take off your shoes and socks and step in! Let the water rush around your toes, feet, and ankles.  Let your thoughts begin to ascend to Jesus!  Let Him be the river beneath your feet. That sounds a little funny doesn’t it? It doesn’t sound very solid or firm and yet, to flow with Jesus, to flow in His peace, to be IN Him is the most peaceful place there ever was, is, or will be!

Enjoy His peace like a river!  

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Peace, Uncategorized

 

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The Peace of God! Let it be! Let it Rule! Just Let It!

Peace! An amazing and necessary reality for life in Christ, yet it can often feel too idealistic or out of reach so we simply don’t give it much thought!  I wrote a blog “His Peace Will Accompany Us Through the Push” on December 7, 2011 about God taking us deeper into revelation about His peace as He transitions us through the push to uncover His mysteries!  As more things attack our thoughts and emotions causing unrest, concern, fear, and anxiety, the more I realize how much peace we miss out on every day, and the more passionate I become to unveil His mysteries and live in His peace!  We need His peace to take hold of us instead of trying to take hold of it!  Catch that one little verb “let”!  That’s the secret! We need to let peace take hold of us! Sure, we can try to experience peace by reducing stress or avoiding conflict but the only way we will have true Godly peace is to let it rule!

Colossians 3:12-15 “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

We put on mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love!  We put up with each other and we are to put off un-forgiveness along with complaining! But we let the peace of God rule in our hearts! Putting and letting – two very different things! Putting means to place, move, make, set, cause, or move something or someone into a particular place or position. Letting is about “not” preventing something from happening, allowing something to happen, or giving permission for somebody to do something. Putting is an action on our part while letting is allowing action be done for us on our part! In other words, we are active and we activate our faith in God as He acts! God provides it all.  Our part is to put on, put up, put off, or let!

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” What is this “peace of God” we are supposed to “let” rule? It is as much a place as it is a quality! It is the kingdom of God!  Romans 14:17  “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  A kingdom is a realm or area of activity in which one particular thing, people, or person dominates. Animals dominate the animal kingdom, plants in the plant kingdom, and a king or queen in a monarchy. In ancient times, nearly every country was known as “The kingdom of…”, meaning every country or territory was ruled by those particular people.  We call them governments now.

God also has a kingdom, where He is king, and He has established rule in His kingdom; righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit!  That is definitely a kingdom we want ruling our hearts!

We already established we are not to seek, put on, put up, or put off peace, and now we know peace is the kingdom of God, so how do we let the kingdom of God rule in our hearts?  We don’t!  We let His peace rule but we seek His kingdom. And when we find His kingdom, we let peace rule! Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” We are to seek God’s realm of activity and live in right standing with Him, not seek after other things in life we often spend all our time doing! We find His kingdom as we read, study, and let the Word of God penetrate deep in our hearts, soaking in His living Word, not reading it as a boring textbook.  We find His kingdom as we fellowship with Holy Spirit; pray, praise, worship, and meditate on Him!  We find His kingdom when we fellowship with the body of Christ, serving and being His body here on earth! We find His kingdom as we agree to live in Jesus Christ, under His rule and authority as Lord!

So, when we seek and find the kingdom of God, we let what rules His kingdom rule in our hearts!  His kingdom consists of righteousness, peace, and joy and they rule! So let His kingdom come and let His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!  Let righteousness, peace, and joy come and let His will to be Lord of our lives be done on earth as it is Heaven!

When we choose to live in submission and fellowship in any kingdom, we choose to live under the rule of that kingdom! It is the same for the kingdom of God.  We can choose to live in His kingdom and let peace rule our hearts, or we can choose to live in His kingdom and let other things rule our hearts, but then, that isn’t really living in His kingdom is it? The point is we choose what rules!   When we choose to let the peace of God rule, it prevails and governs in every situation, every trial, ever matter in life!  It is literally the ruler, deciding all differences and everything that rises up to cause discord or uproar in our lives.

There is something else about this peace ruling in our hearts!  We were called to it! “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” When we were called into relationship with Jesus Christ, we were called to one body. We were called to peace with God as a privilege; and we were called to peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ as a duty or responsibility.  We can’t live together in a kingdom if we refuse to honor and respect the rule of that kingdom. In the kingdom of God the rule is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  In order to be at peace, to let it reign and rule in our hearts, we have only to be thankful!  Now that shouldn’t be too hard should it?  Thank You Jesus!  Thank You Father!  Thank You Holy Spirit! Thank You for being You!  Thank You for Your Word of Truth! Thank You for the fellowship we have with You!  Thank You for Your kingdom!

When we let other things rule our hearts, it is difficult to be thankful because we are not at peace! The things we let rule put their friends in positions of authority as well.  For example, if we let anxiety rule, it invites worry, concern, nervousness, and apprehension to join the party, and our hearts get all messed up! If we let fear rule, it welcomes doubt, dread, panic, terror, and other phobias into our hearts.  We might “know” what God’s Word says, but when we let other feelings rule instead of letting His peace rule, we have made God’s absolute truth a mere platitude.

Now we might feel quite helpless at times because we don’t think we consciously “let” these other emotions rule in our hearts, and the truth is we all fall short in this area at times, but the key is not to stay short or to stay down.  When we fall, while we are down there on our faces,  we ought to spend some time looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!  He will show us why we fell, and as we acknowledge our part in falling short, as we repent and look up to Him, He picks us up and sets our feet on solid ground.

He leads us in seeking His Kingdom, but we must consciously refuse to “let” all these other things rule in our hearts by seeking after the things of this world, even if they seem good.  Everything pertaining to life and godliness has been provided and we find them in His kingdom. (2 Peter 1:3) So all we need to do is seek first the kingdom of God and we find everything else because it is then that we are letting the peace of God, His kingdom, rule in our hearts!

When we live in His kingdom there is a “No vacancy” sign over our hearts, because His peace rules! There is no room for ungodly rulers in our hearts when we do what comes naturally in the kingdom of God – think on Godly things! Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

The God of peace is with every believer, every follower of Christ, every child of the Most High who does the things they have learned, received, heard and saw! His peace isn’t a sweet “thought” out in spiritual la-la land. It is real, authentic, tangible, and  meant to literally rule our hearts, driving away every other ruler who attempts to overthrow the kingdom! Our heart is the center of all physical and spiritual life, the seat of our thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, emotions, and endeavors. Imagine life with God’s peace ruling EVERYTHING from the center of our being! Now do more than imagine it!  Let the peace of God rule in your heart!

God said we will need to push this year!  He is leading the way!  We just need to be in Him and be willing to push with Him! Pushing with the Prince of Peace – Living with the God of Peace – Letting the peace of God rule in our hearts!  It can’t get any better than this!

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Peace, Uncategorized

 

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God Likes Secret Places! He Has a Place Preserved and Reserved For You!

Secrecy!  It can really raise some eyebrows!  People generally don’t like secretiveness (unless you are the one being secretive)!  Actually, different forms of the word “secret” can conjure all kinds of imagery for people.  It can infer being underhanded, hush-hush, sly, or covert, giving the impression of hiding something by keeping it secret.  Secretiveness can keep people on edge or uneasy because mystery, privacy, or exclusivity is involved. We generally get irritated if people “keep secrets” from us, assuming we are being left out or they are up to “no good”.  Sometimes the contents of secrets can be good like a surprise or a little-known technique or approach to making something a success such as “The secret to Grandma’s banana bread is….”  But if we don’t like secrets, even these would be perceived as “bad”.  

The Bible also talks about secrets and secret places!  For example there are things God tells us we need to do in secret (that is for the next blog).  But the more I read about secrets in the Word of God the more I want and need to get away in secret with Him, and of course, that is exactly what He wants us to do!  He has a secret place reserved for use. In God’s economy, much of our life in Him is grounded in secrecy!  But in God’s terminology secrecy doesn’t include exclusivity or imply anything underhanded. No – instead God talks about His secret place where He longs to meet and protect anyone who wants to run to Him and share in His secret place!  Everyone can have access to it through faith in Jesus Christ because He made a way and no one need be excluded.

His Word confirms we can find Him in His secret place where He will hide us.  Psalm 27:5 “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” This secret place with God is a place of protection and defense where our enemy cannot find us.  I like the sound of that place very much! We are confident because it is a restricted area where Satan and his cohorts are not allowed!  It is a private, secure, “secret” place!   We go to this place to be hidden in God where He sets us high up, out of the reach of our enemy.  I don’t know about you but I need to be in that place more often.  The concerns of this world, sickness, disease, pain, hurt, slander, ambivalence, complacency, anger, bitterness, and so many other enemies to our souls attack at a rate it feels impossible to keep up with!  Though we can stand against them all, knowing there is a secret place we can go to in this ever-present time of trouble is exciting and comforting at the same time. It is a place of quietness and stillness where troubles cannot come!

In 2 Kings 11:3 we are told about Joash, a descendant of David who was hidden in the house of the Lord for six years where he was not only preserved from the sword but reserved for the crown.  Today we are preserved and reserved for God’s purposes not within the walls of a church building but within the arms of a God who saves! Our comfort is found only in communion with Him. How incredibly safe the secret place of the Most High truly is! Proverbs 18:10 “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe!”

The secret place provides two benefits to those who choose to find it. It is a place of communion where we know and grow in God (dwelling) and it is a place of protection (abiding under). Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”   People who choose to live a life of communion with God are continually safe under His protection.  Those who by faith choose God as their Guardian, Lord, and Savior will dwell,  “sit down” and stay in communion with Him thus they can expect to experience serenity and security of mind at all times.  It is in our character as true believers to be at home with God, always returning to Him, longing to be within the veil to worship and be alone with Him, conversing in solitude.   This dwelling gives us the privilege and comfort to “abide” under His shelter where He comes between us and everything that annoys, aggravates, and frustrates us.  Not only do we have admittance into God’s secret place but we have residence there and receive both rest and refuge at all times.    

Understanding this communion in the secret place is much like living in a godly marriage on earth!   Marriages are grown, watered, and nurtured in the secret places of life. The intimacy shared in a godly marriage is meant to be “in secret” where we explore the depths of one another physically, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.  The more time we spend intimately, the more stable, safe, and secure we are out in a world that wants to separate and destroy our intimacy.  What we “see” in the interactions between married couples publicly is the result of what husbands and wives do in the secret place.  Married couples cannot spend every moment of every day in the physical presence of one another, yet they are never far apart in thought.  The more time couples spend together in their “secret place” the more they dwell together, return and be at home with one another, long to be alone and conversing in solitude together, the safer they feel, the more they trust each other, and the more their relationship will stand against everything that upsets, provokes, and riles them in the world.

So it is with God.  Our life in Christ “out there” for the world to see can be directly traced back to what happens in secret with Him.  If we haven’t been knowing and growing our relationship in the secret with God, exploring His depths physically, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, the world will successfully cause us to doubt and question this love relationship we share with our Lord and Savior.

We can also understand this secret place in botanical terms. Growth in plants, trees, flowers, vegetables and the like all start in the secret place with the fruit, leaves, or blooms eventually being exposed and useful out in public. But the miracle of growth happens in the soil where we cannot “see” what is happening!  We plant a seed (which is dead) and it miraculously opens underground, and pushes forth a sprout which can be seen.  But while the plant is growing up visibly before our eyes, its roots are going deeper and spreading out wider underneath, with double the growth occurring underground than above ground. 

So it is in the secret place with God.  We die to ourselves when we are reborn in Christ and the miracle begins.  As we spend time in the secret with our Lord through the power of His Spirit we open up and become what He created us to be.  We spring up and come forth as He molds and makes us. The deeper we get into Him and His Word, the more solid we become because our roots take hold and spread, grabbing hold of more of His richness.  The more time we spend in Him, the stronger and more stable we become.  What people see in us on the outside can only be measured by “if” and “how much” time we are spending with the Lord in His secret place! 

You see we cannot possibly become all He created us to be without the secret place.  Things and people in this world bring fear, uncertainty, worry, stress, ungodly desires, and so much more that disrupt and takes us completely out of God’s will and purpose for our lives.  We need a place to go to and be protected as we grow and live with Him even as we live on this earth.  Our spirits can engage with Holy Spirit all day, every day even when our minds and bodies are working, resting, and being!  We must dwell and abide in the secret place with our Protector! He is all things to those who believe and receive Him.

And lest you think the secret place can only be attained solo, think again!  You can find Him in His secret place in the body of believers, in worship, bible study, in corporate prayer, in the fellowship of the saints!  It is through this communion with one another we learn how precious our communion with God truly is!  It is another amazing thing about God!  You can be surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of people and still be alone with God!  And each of them can be alone with Him at the same time!  And all together with Him too!  Oh how amazing He is! So now that you know there is a secret place to go and meet with God – Go!  Enjoy! Be safe! Be surrounded! Know there is much to do out in the world so that Jesus would be known!  Abiding in the secret place with Him will cause your growth to literally be out of this world!  

 

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