Author Archives: Anthony Baker

About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor/preacher/teacher, musician, and Time Magazine's Person of The Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. Currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry. Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him!

Just Be Thankful You’re Alive!

Sunrise over Chattanooga

As I Was Reading…

As I was reading the book of Lamentations (not the happiest of reads), I read a verse I’d like to share with you.

Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins? (Lamentations 3:39, CSB)

What does this verse mean?

Simply put, if you have been punished for your sins by a Holy God … and you’re still alive … you have nothing to complain about!

Seriously, so often we gripe about the circumstances we endure, yet those circumstances are often the result of our own sinful decisions.

But isn’t it a wonderful thing that we are so loved by our heavenly Father? Because he is rich in mercy, He does not pour out on us the punishment we deserve.

We are alive! We should be grateful!

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. – Lamentations 3:41-42

Did You See the Sunrise?

There are so many things in this world we could complain about. So often those who complain the most are the ones who have the most. But if there’s anything worth rejoicing about, it is the fact that we serve a God who is rich in mercy.

We don’t deserve anything good, no matter how small or insignificant; we deserve judgement.

However, if I just turn back one page in my Bible I can read verse 22, where it says, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” And, thankfully, they are new every morning!

If you are reading this, then you are alive!

Why not take a moment and praise Him?

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Filed under Bible Study, God, grace

Controversial Tuesday: A White Man Speaks

It’s Controversial

Just think about where we are right now… It’s controversial for a white man, a Caucasian, a human with less melanin in his skin to speak out about almost anything, especially issues revolving around the very color that makes him controversial.

It’s controversial to say that “all lives matter.” It’s controversial to ask why there’s no “white national anthem” to be played at professional ball games. It’s controversial to even suggest that law and order should be maintained instead of rioting being the common response to anything … well, … controversial.

But even the word “controversial” is controversial, now that I think about it. It carries with it the idea of public disagreement and disputation. Yet, what is the common reaction to anything disagreeable or worthy of dispute? Conversation? Deliberation? Compromise? Debate?

No. If you dislike something or someone, the new normal is to riot, burn and break things, and kill cops in cold blood.

But I guess just suggesting that is controversial is controversial. Welcome to “Controversial Tuesday”!

Controversial Fear

So, now that we’ve open the floodgates of controversialness, let me dive into the rushing tide and try to stay alive amidst the foaming white (no offense) waves (because there aren’t black waves, even if I wanted to be politically correct).

As you are aware, the wisest people in the world act and play games for a living. One such game player, LeBron James, recently made a statement that was shared on ESPN’s Twitter feed.

If you can’t see the words in the link I shared above, Mr. James said: “We are scared as Black people in America. … Black men, Black women, Black kids. We are terrified.

OK, so let’s discuss it (like sane people are supposed to do). 

Why are people of color, specifically “Black” people, scared? From what I understand, the men, women, and kids are afraid of the police, right? Because all police are racists and can’t get enough of black men’s blood, right? That is the narrative the media is telling us, correct?

But here’s a bit of a news flash to which the African-American community should pay attention: A lot of white people are afraid of black people! Oh, and here’s something else…. because of the regular reinforcement of “black power” stereotypes, they have every logical reason to be! Add to that the senseless violence that has been perpetrated on white people and police in the name of “Black Lives Matter,” and what are white people supposed to think?

As a matter of fact, let’s look at where we are when considering the potential for incurring personal, bodily harm.

  • A black man or woman might be afraid that a policeman stopping them could lead to a misunderstanding, racial profiling, excessive force, unlawful search and seizure, false charges leading prison sentences, or maybe even death by asphyxiation or gunshot.
  • A white police officer now has to assume that any approaching black man could shoot him in the face for no apparent reason other than hate.
  • A black man or woman can wear garments featuring any and every anti-American, pro-revolutionary, Marxist, racially-provocative, or even blatantly racist image or statement without fear of being questioned due to the overwhelming intimidation factor BLM support has garnered in the media.
  • A white man, woman, boy, girl, or even toddler risks having eggs thrown at her head, drinks poured over them, being mercilessly beaten in the street, or simply shot for nothing more than wearing an American flag or MAGA hat.

So, who’s afraid, LeBron?

Fearing the Answer

What’s the answer to all this? How do we step back from all the violence on the streets? How do we restore a sense of peace that doesn’t assume danger anytime someone of a different skin color approaches us?

Well, random violence and killing police officers in cold blood is not the way to win an argument. Face it, people … black lives matter, but that’s because ALL lives have inherent value being that we are made in the image of God. Killing non-black lives in order to raise awareness that black lives matter is a failed strategy doomed to reap the opposite result.

But the real answer to the violence will probably require more than many are willing to sacrifice. It will require vulnerability, humility, and love. That’s terrifying.

Here’s the real answer: Forgive. 

If you truly want peace, no profiling, no baseless assumptions, and our children growing up colorblind (like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted), then we are going to have to forget vengeance and seeking reparations; we are going to have to start with a new baseline: FORGIVENESS.

Right now we are headed in the direction of chaos, lawlessness, and a never-ending cycle of revenge and death. Ultimately, it will end, but how that will happen should be what truly scares us.

On the one hand, the very thing that the political Left accuses President Trump of wanting will actually come to fruition: tyranny. You see, at some point those in power will have to do what Rome did in order to stamp down insurrections… kill on sight. There will be no more trial by jury, just peace at the edge of the sword.

Think Tiananmen Square, or Russian “peacekeepers.” For example, when the Spetsnaz rolled into Moldova to restore peace after protests had broken out (I was 90 miles away when this happened), they didn’t use rubber bullets.

On the other hand, there is the example of the Waorani tribe in Ecuador (the “Auca” Indians whom Elizabeth Elliot reached with the gospel after they murdered her husband). At one point it was determined that every single man in the tribe who had died had died by the spear. Usually, it was as the result of revenge.

You see, the Waorani culture had been locked in a centuries-old cycle of revenge killing that, according to some, resulted in every death being a homicide, not natural causes or old age. Yet, when they were introduced to the love of Christ, exhibited by the forgiveness Elizabeth Elliot, the cycle was broken!

(See: “Through Gates of Splendor” and “Beyond the Gates of Splendor”)

My advice to LeBron is to clear the court and start a new game: Forgive. 

I’ve spoken. I just hope somebody listens.

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Filed under America, current events

Some Things I Will Remember, Even If the NFL Won’t

Nineteen years have come and gone, and many have already forgotten what happened on September 11, 2001, including the BLM-supporting NFL millionaires.

But I won’t forget.

Not only will I not forget, I will choose to remember.

I will remember…

  • that freedom isn’t free, and there are those who want to steal it.
  • that Christ came “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;” therefore America is never more “Christ-like” than when its people shed their blood for the freedom of others, whether they love us, or not.
  • that it wasn’t secularists, militarists, or a bunch of Baptist preachers who crashed four aircraft on that day, killing thousands.
  • the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople – they weren’t converted to Islam through peaceful conversion.
  • who is considered the “Great Satan” and what countries are truly religiously intolerant.
  • the heroes who went back into those buildings to rescue anyone they could.
  • the heroes who fought back and said, “Let’s roll!”
  • the heroes who go into harm’s way for freedom every day.
  • that America was founded by men who knew God; who recognized the hand of Providence; and who knew when to bow a knee and call to God for deliverance.
  • that we (and all freedom-loving people) are in a life-and-death struggle between opposing worldviews – a war. Losing can’t be an option.

I will also choose to remember, and not forget, that America, no matter its current faults and flaws, is made up of a people, who, when push comes to shove, will take the fight for freedom anywhere in the world. We will also defend it. That’s who we are.

Yet, on the day before this anniversary, a bunch of over-paid pigskin passers decided to stay in the locker room while the anthem of the nation that made them rich was played.

I won’t forget that, either.

God Bless America!

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, the future, World View

Who Knew I Could Paint? God Did!

COVID Blessings

Remember what it says in the Book of James? “Count it all joy…” (James 1:2).

Or what about Psalm 118:24? This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

My point is that, yes, his whole virus thing has been tragic, but have there been no silver linings? Has God not been at work? Has all the time we’ve been forced to “be still” been worthless? No, God has been at work in ways we would have never slowed down enough for had COVID-19 not been thrust upon us.

As a matter of fact, even if you have been personally affected by the virus, stop right now and thank God for his love, his mercy, and His grace. Thank Him! Praise Him! He is worthy!

Blessed Art

One of the blessings that I received was the realization that I had a talent for painting. Now, I don’t claim to be a Michaelangelo or Bob Ross, but as of this point, a few people have actually given me money for my work, which not only shocked me but affirmed the gift God has given me.

And the art money pays for my watch hobby! No guilt!

But even more, I am finding that the things that I am drawn to paint resonate with others. In just the short time that I’ve been doing this, just a few months, I’ve heard so many comments like:

  • “That reminds me of home.”
  • “That will make her so happy.”
  • “Do you sell your paintings?”
  • “I would buy a print of that.”
  • “The Lord has blessed you.”

Below are a few paintings I have done and will probably have prints made, soon. (UPDATE: Click HERE for prints)

Mitchel Baptist Church, Mitchell, GA (watercolor on 11×15 paper)

A reproduction of the 1953 baptistery painting that used to hang in Bethlehem Baptist Church, Warthen, GA. (watercolor on 8×8 paper)

After the pine trees had been farmed in middle Georgia, not the Apocalypse. (9in x 12in canvas)

Warthen Lane, Warthen, GA. A typical middle-Georgia dirt road. (11×15 paper)

So what do you think? Isn’t that a blessing? I had no idea I could do anything like this until God forced me to sit in a house for a while.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

Sometimes what God does is force us to be still, the result being His name is praised throughout all the earth!

Think about how many sermons have gone out through all the world in the last 6 months!

And now there are people like me who have found new ways to give God glory!

Yes, I’m blessed. 

 

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Filed under art, coronavirus, worship

Labor Day – The Nature and Doctrine of Work

Let’s talk about work, shall we? Better yet, I’ll just share with you an amplified outline of a sermon I delivered last year.

And if you think reading this is work, just whistle!

What is it? (Work)

A. It Was Created By God. Note: God was the first to “work” when He created, and He set the example for us to follow in that He worked, then He rested. But God’s work and mand’s work were not synonymous in nature: God created what man was to tend. There are huge theological and anthropological implications to this truth: man does not create; he only tends.

B. It Was Perfect By Design (what to do and where to do it) but spoiled by sin (what he HAD to do and WHERE to do it).

  • Genesis 2:15 “And the LORD God took the man, and put (to settle down, to rest, to set in a certain place) him into the garden of Eden to dress it (till, work, service) and to keep (guard, keep in a certain state) it.”
  • Genesis 3:17-24 – See “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread . . .”, and “sent,” “till,” and “thrust.” Still a requirement, but no longer “resting,” pleasurable service, or in a state unpolluted by the stain of sin.

C. It Is a Blessing. Ecclesiastes 5:12 – “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”

D. It Is a Reformer. Ephesians 4:28 – “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

E. It Is Mandatory.

  • To ensure you eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 – “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not all, but are busybodies.”
  • To provide for your family. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).

F. It Is a Peacekeeper. 2 Thessalonians 3:12 – “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”

What Is Expected? (Ephesians 6:5-9)

A. To Be Obedient. “(5) Servants, BE OBEDIENT to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

B. To Be Genuine. “(6) Not with eyeservice [a person who appears to be actively fulfilling his duties, but only when someone is looking], as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

C. To Care. “(7) With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men;

  • See also Colossians 3:23 – ” Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

D. To Be Fair. “(9) And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”

What to Expect

A. Earthly Compensation. Colossians 4:1 – “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”

B. Heavenly Compensation. Ephesians 6:8 – “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”

C. Fiery Evaluation.

  • If work is sacred, it’s not secular and separate from the spiritual life.
    • Created by God
    • Done for the glory of God
    • Meant to be a witness (Matt. 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”)
    • We must answer to our Heavenly Master for our earthly work (Col. 4:1)
  • Then every work, whether overtly religious or not, has spiritual ramifications and will be tried. 1 Corinthians 3:10-14
    • But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
    • (13) Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire;
    • and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. (14) If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”

Conclusion

Where has God placed you? Where is the field in which you labor? What kind of laborer are you? What kind of boss are you? do you view your work, your job, as sacred?

“Just look at your tools…at your needle and thimble…your goods, your scales…everything our bodies do, the external and the carnal, is and is called spiritual behavior if God’s Word is added to it and done in faith.” – Martin Luther (attributed)

Jesus said in John 9:4 – “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

What kind of worker are you? Are you giving your best for the Master?

Do you whistle or whine? 

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Filed under Bible Study, Preaching, Work

Name That Watch #2

Last week I introduced you the first watch in my amateur collection and asked for name suggestions.

You rolled your eyes and refrained from participating.

But I’ve started something, so I must continue,

This week’s piece is a strange and quirky one from the ‘70s, a Swiss-made Lucerne jump hour that belonged to my grandfather.

It is a mechanical, hand-wind watch which I currently have attached to a black rubber strap off of an Orient Kamasu divers watch.

What would you name it?

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Filed under watches

A Note from the Left to the Right: “You’re Lying”

Welcome back to Controversial Tuesdays! It’s the day of the week where I post things that may get me into trouble, or at least tick somebody off.

Actually, I don’t want to make people angry with me. I want people to like me. But we live in a day and age where many, many people are being forced into silence by those on the ideological left through intimidation and actual threats.

Therefore, for today, I want to reply to a post on Facebook by an unknown author. Maybe you have already seen it. However, below is the whole post with my short thoughts or comments inserted.

Just a note for my right leaning family and friends from my left leaning self as we near voting day:

They say we want to disband police departments (and that we hate the police): we don’t, that’s a lie. We want to weed out racism and unnecessary police brutality and for those who abuse their power to be held accountable.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/minneapolis-city-council-intent-disband-police-department/

https://www.blackenterprise.com/black-lives-matter-leader-outlines-five-year-plan-to-eliminate-police/

They say we want to release all prisoners: we don’t, that’s a lie. We want to weed out racism and ensure the punishments match the crimes and to deprivatize prisons.

https://towardfreedom.org/blog-blog/call-for-action-to-release-prisoners/

Only 8% of prisons are privately run.

They say we want open borders: we don’t, that’s a lie.  We want asylum seekers to be given their chance to seek asylum.  We want to help people who are coming from unimaginable terror and poverty help to give them the chances we have.   We want to ensure children aren’t separated from their parents and that nobody is kept in cages.  But we do want proper vetting.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/immigration/

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/07/are-democrats-now-the-party-of-open-borders/

They say we want to take away your guns: we don’t, that’s a lie.  We want logical gun control to help prevent mass shootings.

Two words: England, Australia.

They say we want to wage a war on Christianity and Christian values: we don’t, that’s a lie.  We want people of all religions to be able to practice and worship freely.

 I don’t even know where to begin. It’s sort of like someone telling you they don’t want to take away your right to eat sugar cubes, but they want to ban sugar. Of course, there is a regular offensive taking place which targets conservative Christian doctrine. The author of this defense of liberalism and Democrats is either naïve or disingenuous.

They say we want to get everything for free: we don’t, that’s a lie.  We want to work hard and make sure that healthcare and education are affordable for all.

Wait, so no more Obama handouts? No free phones? No free rent? No free daycare? No free food? No paid maternity leave? No minimum wage hikes? No FREE health care? Riiight.

They say we want a war against traditional marriage:  we don’t, that’s a lie.  We want people of all sexual orientations to be able to love freely, no matter who you love.

No, THAT is a lie. The redefinition of marriage is an assault on what traditional marriage even is. To want people to love whomever they want is not the same argument as the government and forced social acceptance of same-sex marriage.

They say we want to destroy or rewrite history: we don’t, that’s a lie.  We want to recognize the ugly parts of our past and do everything we can to say “that’s not okay, let’s not honor those aggressors, let’s not let those things happen again”.

Then why all the re-written history books? Why the destruction of monuments? I could go on.

They say we want to take away your constitutional rights: we don’t, that’s a lie.  We choose to believe science and wear masks and try to prevent the spread of this disease.

Actually, I don’t believe you even CARE about our constitutional rights. And as to believing science, science is not a thing to believe; the results of scientific study are. Therein lies a huge problem – who you gonna believe?

They say we hate America:  we don’t, that’s a lie. We just recognize our faults and want us to do better, be better.

Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY? https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3262700537144792&extid=d3T9xRzsUWsnsNO2

Stop with the us vs. them.  Stop with the straw man arguments.  Stop with the fake news.  Stop with fox news.  Our position is one of empathy, compassion and logic.  Stop believing the hype. Stop with the division.   Just because we want equality for all doesn’t mean we want to take anything away from you. – Unknown. Please share.

No, you actually DO want to take away from me the right to believe differently than you do without being beaten in the streets, harassed at restaurants, or being made to fear for my life if I publicly express my support for President Donald Trump.

Peace out.

Not in Portland, Baltimore, Wisconsin, Atlanta, etc., etc., etc.

What do you think? Is it all lies? One side or the other? Feel free to leave a comment, but try to be nice.

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Filed under America, politics

Act Like Heavenites, Not Like the World

For some reason, although I have my suspicions, the audio from Sunday morning’s sermon never reached the online viewers. Therefore, last night I went back to the church and re-preached what I preached Sunday morning . . . sorta.

I will share the link with you.

(btw, that’s a vintage ’70s Lucerne Jump Date on my wrist 😉 )

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christian Living, Preaching

Name That Watch!

“I’m Not THAT Obsessive!”

Maybe about a week ago Timothy Daugherty, a friend, asked me on Facebook, “Do you name your watches?” My reply was, “No. I’m not THAT obsessive.”

He asked the question because I had recently posted some “glamor photos” of several of my watches. I was bored, and it was just something different and fun to do instead of going to sleep. I should have gone to sleep – I don’t get enough as it is.

But it did get me to thinking about what I would name my watches if I actually named my watches. Believe it or not, I found it easier to name our children.

BTW, I have a thing for watches.

A New Series!

So, last night, while I was once again fighting sleep, an idea flashed in my brain. Why not do a weekly blog post where readers on my blog and on Facebook decide what to name each of my watches?

It’s either a great idea, or it’s not. Either way, I’m going forward with it.

Name That Watch!

This is how it’s going to work… Each week I’m going to post a picture of one of my watches, along with each piece’s back story. Then, in the comment sections of both here and on Facebook, you can leave your suggestions.

For the next few days after each post, I will collect your suggestions and then compile the top 5 that I like. Then, probably on Facebook, I will create a survey/poll where you can vote on which one you like the most. The name with the most votes will win.

The person who first suggests the winning name will receive a prize! A prize? YES, a prize!

The winning name suggester will receive an autographed picture of the watch being named – if you want it, of course 😉

So, let’s get to it . . . time’s a ticking!

Watch #1: The Swiss Army Field Watch

This watch was purchased back in the mid-’90s from Rone Regency Jewelers in Chattanooga, TN. The way it came about is that my wife had bought me a beautiful, expensive, very complicated Seiko chronograph for a gift. Oh, it was a beautiful watch, but for some reason, the second hand kept messing up. At one point it fell off! After getting it fixed more than once, I was not the only one frustrated.

Instead of keeping the original watch, and instead of dealing with the mounting suspicions that I was doing something to the Seiko to make it break, the manager suggested I exchange the Seiko for another watch. He suggested something a little tougher (and not as expensive), then guided me to the watch you see here.

Watchu see is a classic Swiss-made Swiss Army watch sporting an aftermarket red-striped NATO strap. This watch is powered by a quartz movement (uses a battery) with a date complication. It also hacks (which means you can stop the second hand to set a more precise time).

The 38mm case is made of resin and has a stainless steel screw-down case back. The crystal seems to be mineral.

Unquestionably, the most outstanding aspect of this watch is the red-enameled stainless steel bezel.

So, can you think of a name?

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Filed under watches

What Having a Thought Looks Like

Last week, as I was studying for the upcoming Sunday morning sermon, I had a thought cross my mind, which led to me jotting it down on my desk calendar.

Before long, my “thought” became notes which would affect 6 days’ worth of my calendar and become the source of much discussion between several other pastor friends and myself.

Amused, I picked up my phone and took a picture, then posted it on Facebook. I commented, “This is what having a ‘thought’ looks like.”

So, with no editing or commentary, I’d like to share my “thoughts” with you. All I did was re-write them so that they could be read in this format.

One doesn’t have to have a sin nature to sin. Angels sinned without a sin nature. Adam sinned. But, since Adam, all have sinned (Romans 5:19), whether innocent or not, for their very nature – the sin nature – is not holy as God is.

The true predicament: Are you as holy as God? No, of course not! Then that is sin! The sheer fact that we are anything less than holy defies the holy law of God which is a reflection of His nature.

The Law is not arbitrary, but in conformity with the nature of God. Therefore, no amount of keeping of the Law, even if possible, would make us holy. Only God could keep the law of His own Character, and only God could live holy and without sin, for it is His nature and only His to live consistently holy.

Therefore, no amount of law-keeping could change one’s nature, thereby making him holy, much less to become holy by keeping the law that denotes past imperfection… unholy to holy. This, again, is contrary to the nature of God which would be contrary to His Law. We have no hope! We need a Savior!

Did Adam have a sin nature that led him to sin? Or, did he willfully sin without a sin nature?

Men might be born innocent, but they are not born holy. One could then be at one moment innocent for never having willfully committed a crime, but because he is not holy, and must become holy, he is in contradiction to God’s nature (the Law within Himself) and is, therefore, a law-breaker – a sinner.

One thing is for sure – We need a Saviour! Amen?

Feel free to add YOUR thoughts below.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, salvation, Theology