boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “Salvation”

The Sinner’s Songbook

I love music. Not the music all you people like, but music that speaks to me. Sometimes that will be hymns. Sometimes that will be punk. Sometimes that will be rap. Sometimes that will be swing.

Tonight I was listening to a band that I used to listen to when I was growing up. The band is the Insyder’z. They consider themselves ska-core. Basically punk music with a lot of horns. Their newest album is The Sinner’s Songbook.

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

As I was listening to the title track, I started to really relate with what they were singing. I got to remembering people I have come in contact with during my short life in ministry. I’d like to share some of those stories here. Please know the names have been changed to protect people.

First, there is Harvey. I met Harvey in 2013 when I led young adults at my former church. Harvey approached me one night afterward and said he was exploring his bisexual side. I didn’t know what to say. I simply asked him to explain to me what he was feeling and why he was feeling that way. We spoke for a very long time that night. Over time, I noticed that he started coming less and less. Eventually he stopped coming altogether.  When I saw him at work a few months later we started talking again. He said that he really loved our conversations but others in the church weren’t accepting him because of his lifestyle. I explained that he, as a person made in God’s image is always accepted, but his lifestyle is not. Even to this day, we talk when I see him at work and he thanks me for being approachable.

Next, there is Cassidy. Another young adult, she has had a troubled life. She has been abused by her “loved ones.” This led to her having a low self-worth and eventually ended up in her making poor life choices. She had an unhealthy addiction to sex and has had several abortions. Immediately I connected her with women in the church that could walk alongside her. She wouldn’t go to church that often because she felt as if the people in the pews were judging her, but she continued to come to young adult group and built great relationships with the women there. As those women moved on in their lives, she eventually dropped off. I haven’t seen her in a long while, even before I changed churches.

The next person is John. I met John as he was mid-divorce and dealing with an addiction to porn. As someone who has been through a divorce and had those same feelings that John had, I started meeting with him along with one other man. The three of us would hold each other accountable. Then John started pulling away and I didn’t chase after him to find out what was going on. Then it happened. I got a call from one of his family members that he isn’t answering his phone and one has seen him. I called the other guy that we were meeting with and he and I searched everywhere from his apartment to his hang outs to his work. That’s where we found John. He was hanging from a tree. Dead.

The last story is Fred. Fred led a great life. He had a wife, 2 kids, 5 acres with a large house and a 6-figure job. Fred spent his whole life focused on a great career so that his family would never have to worry. Unfortunately because of the focus on the career, the marriage ended. Having it all and then losing it brings with it a ton of baggage. Fred has turned his life around, but still struggles with the sins of the past. Sometimes that past creeps into his new marriage. Sometimes his past creeps into his job at the church. Sometimes it leads to Fred withdrawing from people, focusing on tasks rather than relationships. The fear of another broken relationship is sometimes overpowering. His relationship with Christ gives him the strength and ability to bring about change in his life. A lot of that had to do with the people God put in his way. He had people to talk to and to build him up.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

If you haven’t guessed, that last story is me. The other 3 were people that I have come across in my time in ministry since 2013. There is one thing that is a common thread between all of these people. They all have a strong desire to change their lives. Something else that is common among all these people is that they all cried out to the church to help.

All four of the stories were affected by sin. Every single person was singing from the same Sinner’s Songbook. It didn’t matter if you were homosexual or have had several abortions or was suicidal or had an unhealthy focus on career. The tune might be different for each person, but the lyrics are the same.

“My life was affected by sin. I let the enemy win. I cried out in my distress. Depending on my difficulty, God’s people could do more but usually do less.”

Ok, so I am a terrible songwriter.

But the interesting part of the story is that there is a God who created all these people. All these sinful people. He created us all in His image. We all struggle. We are all afflicted. Any one of us, left alone in our sin, will be separated from God for eternity.

But God….

(any of you who read this blog regularly know that I love that phrase)

Romans 5:8 – But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

But God….

God can change your trajectory.

I know that for sure because, as I said, I was that fourth story.

The same God has called to each of us in His still, small voice.

But I listened.

I didn’t fear the change that comes with listening to the One True God.

Because of listening, my life has changed course. I was headed to hell with a full tank of gas and I listened to God as He intervened in my life and made a complete U-turn.

My salvation is sure.

My future is bright.

I went from a 6-figure salary and a focus on myself to less than half that salary and filled with joy. Am I always happy? Of course not. But I am assured that the God of all creation has secured a place for me in His Kingdom.

I don’t have to fear when my life is up ended. It just means that I am either being attacked by an enemy who desires to steal my testimony or my God is trying to get my attention back on Him.

Either way, I win.

So I implore you, reader. If you are a Christian, then live like one. Live like you have the God of all creation in your corner. Live like He has nothing but your best interest and His glory at heart. Live like you belong to the family of God.

If you are not a Christian, then I will ask you to sincerely seek the God of all creation. If, at the end of your search you can still tell me you don’t believe, then we can still be friends but not family. If, however, you decide to make the decision to follow Christ, then welcome to the family and please tell me about it.

Your life will never be the same.

You are still a sinner singing from the Sinner’s Songbook, but you are a sinner that is redeemed by the blood of Christ and being sanctified each day.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast

 

But God…

It is one of my favorite phrases to say.

“But God.”

It is in the Bible, in various forms, at least a hundred times or more.

I know that through my own power, there are a lot of things that are impossible for me. Every time I see a Bible verse that has “but God” in it I know that there is some awesomely Good News following it.

Being in ministry, I have heard countless times that people can’t come to God because:

  • But I have too much baggage
  • But my sins, you just don’t know how bad I’ve been
  • But I’m not clean from drugs or alcohol
  • But I have feelings of anger and bitterness toward someone

When I hear people say this, I remember when I used to say those things. I have baggage. I have sin. I used to drink. I have definitely held feelings of anger and bitterness.

But God…

God has taken away the baggage. God has taken the sin. God has taken the “me” that used to get drunk. God has taken the feelings of anger and bitterness!

From time to time Satan will bring up all those feelings, sins, and baggage and cause me to question.

That is sin, to want to go back to where God delivered you from (remember the Israelites in the desert?)

But God…

Those times are short-lived and lead to more spiritual growth on my part because I choose to trust God every step of the way.

But God…

If you want Christians to dance and shout in the sanctuary, tell them that we will be playing Hillsong or Vineyard or Bethel music today. If the pastor gets up in front of the congregation and tells them that they are no longer dead in their sin, the congregation will sit there. Quietly.

You would think that saying something like,

Ephesians 2:1-9 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

You would think that would bring the congregation to their feet!

You once were dead but now you are alive!!!

Christian, that is better than ANY praise song out there! That is better than any guitar solo that can be played. That is better than any long-held high note that the singer can do. That is better than any new lighting trick or new sound compression.

The first century Christians understood this!

So, Fred, how was your day today?

Well, pastor, my car broke down and I had to walk to my dentist to get a root canal. BUT GOD…pulled me from the depth of hell, where I would have died without Him for eternity and gave me eternal life!

BUT GOD!!!!

If we go further in Ephesians 2, we learn that,

Ephesians 2:12 – remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

We were strangers!

We had no hope!

But God…

BUT GOD!!!

Let’s look at verses 3 and 7 together…

We were children of wrath BUT GOD promises eternal kindness

Now let’s look at verses 2 and 6 together…

We were enslaved to the prince of the air BUT GOD raised us up and freed us to be seated with Christ

Now let’s look at verse 1 and 5-6 together….

We were dead in our sins BUT GOD made us alive in Christ

BUT GOD!!!

Let’s look elsewhere in Scripture.

Genesis 50:20 – As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Joseph’s brothers had done evil to him, BUT GOD meant it for good.

Acts 10:28 – And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.

Peter said that it is unclean for Jews to hang out with Gentiles, BUT GOD brings us all into unity.

Psalm 49:14-15 – Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.

The writer said he was on his way to Sheol, BUT GOD ransomed his soul.

Acts 13:29-30 – And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead

Jesus was put into a tomb, BUT GOD raised Him from the dead.

Romans 5:7-8 – For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

People don’t typically die for other, BUT GOD showed His love to us in that when we were still His enemies He died for us.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong

People will think you are crazy because of this calling God has given you, BUT GOD will use the foolish of the world to shame the wise.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

We can plant. We can water the garden. BUT GOD makes it grow.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

We will be tempted, BUT GOD is faithful and will provide us a way of escape.

Any time you look at a “but God” statement in the Bible you will find that good comes after it.

You may be reading this and saying that those phrases are for people who already love God. You might be thinking that God doesn’t want anything to do with you because of your sin or your shame.

BUT GOD wants you!

BUT GOD loves you!

BUT GOD desires you and to have a relationship with you.

It is as simple as reaching out today. If you would like to know how, please comment or email me at coffeeguy777@hotmail.com. I would love to help you figure out the “but God” moment in your life.

Let’s Get This Party Started!

John 2:1-3 – On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother told Him, “They don’t have any wine.”

Jesus really knew how to make a party a party!

You see, one day Jesus was invited to a wedding. As was customary at the time, the party would start with the nice wine and end with the two buck chuck. But on this day, the good wine was consumed and the boxed wine was also gone. Everyone was worried.

Jesus’ mother came to Jesus and asked Him to do something about it.

John 2:6-8 –  Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained 20 or 30 gallons. “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did.

And we all know what He did. He turned about 150 gallons of water into wine.

It is pretty easy to read that and say, “Jesus must’ve loved a great party!”

But I think if we look more carefully at this, we will see something more than the physical miracle of the transformation of liquid and will notice more of an example of the transformation of the person when they accept Christ.

What do you mean?

Well, when a person becomes a Christian, something happens inside of us. The Spirit takes up residence inside of us. This Spirit is the divine power of God that courses through our veins and changes us.

Just like water into wine.

Water is dull, boring, and flavorless.

Wine causes us to say and do things we would never have done. Wine holds a burst of flavor as it hits your lips. It is the complete opposite of water.

Psalm 34:8 – O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Much like the partygoers consuming the wine at the party and becoming emboldened by the alcohol, the Christian becomes emboldened by the Spirit.

The Christian is about to start saying things he or she never expected to say. The Christian is about to feel confident and invincible. The Christian is going to feel completely alive.

So turning water into wine, to me, is much more than a physical miracle. It is much more than a symbolic link to Moses’ turning water to blood. It is a significant moment in the Christian’s life.

Are people looking at you and asking you what you have been drinking? Are you saying things that are not things you regularly say?

Then you might be a Christian.

A Christian who has been drinking the new wine of the Holy Spirit.

A Christian who is filled with flavor and excitement.

A Christian who has had a miracle, just like Jesus’ first miracle in the book of John, occur in your life.

Drink on, Christian.

Psalm 119:103 – How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Beauty from mistakes

Ok, so getting the pictures for this post was a little difficult. And if I am breaking any copyright laws, please forgive me.

We are going to play a little game. I want you to look at the pictures below and tell me if you think they are creative, artistic and beautiful in their own right.

Poop

Blood

Did you think those pieces of art were amazing?

When I first saw them, I did.

Then I realized what I was looking at. The first picture was made with poop. That’s right, it is called “fecal art.” I found a whole bunch of amazing pictures made with poop as I was searching.

The second piece of art was made with blood.

That’s right, blood.

The artist uses HIS OWN BLOOD to make beautiful art!

In both of those pictures, something that grosses us out or that we think of as taboo was used to make something beautiful. We never would have thought to use poop or blood to create beauty. But someone else did, and we enjoyed it!

Is there anything in your life that you can think of that isn’t beautiful? How about some of the mistakes you have made?

I’m not just talking about adding 1 plus 1 and getting 3. I am talking the big ones. Maybe you have dealt and/or used drugs before. Maybe you have had an abortion and took a child’s life. Maybe you have gotten a divorce and the reason was because of something you have done.

I know I have made a lot of pretty big mistakes in my life.

I have gotten a divorce. And because of my divorce, my life has taken a lot of twists and turns that caused pain in the lives of my ex-wife, my children, and even many of the relationships that I have had since the divorce.

Take a look at this picture.

Thisl

This man is Travis Tyler, also known as Thi’sl. He grew up on the west side of St. Louis, one of the worst neighborhoods in America. Many people, just by this picture, would write this man off. Add his bio in there and even more would have written this man off as a common thug or criminal. And honestly, you wouldn’t be far from wrong if you did. At 13 he was expelled from school for carrying a weapon. By the age of 18, he was into some very heavy drugs and street life was his identity. So he was that common criminal. That thug.

He was what we view as a Freddie Gray or another common criminal

But just like Freddie Gray, an Thi’sl, the story is always deeper. As it is with myself as well.

See for Thi’sl, he grew up without a father present. His mom had to make ends meet by working almost every day and every night. He was raised by his grandmother. He knew murder first hand. One of his cousins was murdered and it changed his view.

Thi’sl has made a lot of mistakes in life.

He has no one to blame but himself for those that he hurt.

But THANK GOD the story doesn’t end there.

Within 2 years of the murder of his cousin, he was writing raps about God and studying Scripture. His first album, Chronicles of an X-Hustler debuted at #4 on the iTunes hip hop charts.

His music is about his past. About his pain. And the pain he caused others. It is about how that didn’t stay his present. He changed it.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I want to show you one more picture

Christ crucified

This is another form of blood art. But it is more than that.

This is the blood that was spilled to cover each and every mistake you have made in your life. Christ makes beauty of our mistakes.

Sometimes they come in the form of weird art. Sometimes it is in the form of a street thug turned amazing rapper and community activist. And other times, it happens in middle class America when a man who has been divorced and seen the rifts it has caused to those he loves is given a second chance.

A chance to marry a beautiful woman who loves him deeply. A chance to turn around a life of self-seeking and give it to soul-winning. A chance to do the rest of this life, no matter how much time I have left, a little better than I did it before, seeking Christ before all things and celebrating each blessing that He has given me.

Christ makes beauty of our mistakes.

Just ask Thi’sl. Just ask me.

We are both living proof of it.

Fierce, Embraced, Free

1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The past week and half I have been in a very dry time inspirationally speaking. I usually don’t have any problem finding some sort of words to say about anything, whether they be the right words or the wrong words. But the past few weeks has been kind of dry.

I put out there on Facebook a plea for some ideas and had a couple great ones. A friend of mine from Philly shared the idea about forgiveness and what that truly means. A friend of mine from the DC area mentioned the differences between Bakkah and Mecca between Christianity and Islam.

I was at Mimi’s house for dinner and was planning on coming back home and writing about one of those topics. But the craziest thing happened on my drive. Over and over and over again I kept hearing in my mind, “how fierce the love that embraced the death to free the life.”

The entire 12 miles home I was consumed with that thought.

Every mile I drove the words “fierce,” “embraced,” and “free” kept echoing in my head.

I thought about my sin.

With every sin I recounted in my mind, I thought about Jesus’ flesh on that cross, holding each and every sin in His hands. Then, with a few swipes of the hammer on the head of the nails, those sins crushed by the sheer power of the death of Christ.

I wanted to give you a detailed account of just what crucifixion was in Jesus’ time.

Isaiah 53:4-5 – Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

The crucifixion was meant to provide maximum pain while giving minimum blood loss. That would extend the pain and suffering that the crucified endured by days. The Latin word, “excruciatus,” where we get our word “excruciating,” literally means “out of the cross.”

The first part of a crucifixion involved the scourging. The prisoner would be stripped of all clothing and have his hands tied to a post above his head. The flagellum, a short whip with several heavy, leather strands with small lead balls at the end, would be brought against his skin at full force. The first few hits were designed to cut the skin only. As more and more lashes were given, the lead balls would cut through the subcutaneous tissue. Blood would begin to ooze out. As the beating continued, spurting arterial bleeding would occur. By the end, the prisoner’s back was not even recognizable as the flesh would hang in long ribbons of bleeding tissue.

Isaiah 50:6 – I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.

When the prisoner is determined to be near death, the beating would stop.

Roman Centurions were very good at determining the state of health of their prisoner. If the prisoner were to die before they could be crucified, a death penalty could be given to the soldier who let the prisoner die.

Genesis 3:17-18 – “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

The next part of Jesus’ crucifixion was unique to Jesus. As a joke, the Roman guard dressed Him up as a king. They put a robe across his shoulders and placed a stick in His hand as a scepter. But the joke was not complete until they fashioned a crown made of long thorns was placed upon His head. The crown was pressed deeply into His scalp. Mocking Him even more and striking Him, they ripped the robe from His back. As the robe had started to adhere to the clotting blood on His back, it was as if a bandage was carelessly removed. His back would again begin to bleed.

By this time, it had been hours since Jesus had anything to drink. Between the beatings, the crown of thorns and the scourging, an irreversible effect will have started. Severe dehydration will have set in while cardio-respiratory failure was occurring.

Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. ”Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Now that this process was complete, the crucifixion could take place.

The Persians in 300-400 B.C. created crucifixion but the Romans took it to an all new level. The Roman government would reserve crucifixion for the worst criminals as well as conquered leaders.

Keep in mind everything that Jesus had already been through.

It would start by having his clothing stripped from Him again. That clothing would be divided among the Roman guard. Why was it divided among the guard? While that answer is not known, there is speculation that the cloak that was put on Jesus to mock Him was fairly expensive.

Next, the Via Dolorosa was traveled. The way of the cross. It was customary for the crucified to carry their own cross to the crucifixion site. Since the entire weight of the cross was 300 pounds, the cross bar would be the part that is carried. It would be placed across the neck and shoulders of the victim and then their hands would be tied to the bar to prevent it from moving.

The weight of the beam would be too much for Jesus’ human body. Jesus had lost large amounts of blood and was severely dehydrated. The splintered wood beam would be cutting into his back and neck.

The Centurion, in a hurry to finish this so he could go home to his family, told Simon to carry the cross of Jesus, the final 650 yards from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha.

By Roman law at the time, each crucified victim was given a cocktail of wine mixed with myrrh. This would be seen as an analgesic. But Jesus tried it and would not drink it. He wanted to meet death, as fierce as it could be, head on and conquer it completely.

Psalm 22:12-13 – “Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.”

Jesus was then thrown on to the ground on His back, arms outstretched. As he lay there, a Roman guard would grab a nail. These are no nails as we know them today. These are spikes that are typically between 5-7” in length with a square shaft that is 3/8” across. They would be hammered into the victim’s wrists.

After Jesus was attached to the cross bar, it would take 4 Roman soldiers to lift the bar onto the upright bar.

Once upright, the soldiers would affix Jesus’ feet to the cross. While occasionally they used footrests, they were not common. Jesus’ knees would have been rotated laterally giving a very prominent flexing of the knees. The left foot would be pressed backward against the right foot, toes down. A nail would be driven through the arch of each foot.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

As Jesus’ body would slowly sag with the weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating pain would shoot along His fingers and up His arms. As He would push Himself up to avoid this pain, He would need to place full weight on the nail through His feet. There would be severe pain as the nail would tear through the metatarsal bones of His feet.

As His muscles would cramp, He would be unable to pull Himself up any more. He would be able to take a breath in, but as His chest cavity was getting crushed by the weight of His body, He would not be able to exhale. This would cause the carbon dioxide levels to increase in the lungs and the blood stream.

As a final piece to end it, the Roman guard would take a 5-6’ long spear and stick it into the ribcage and up into the heart of the crucified victim. This would finalize the death of the person.

Psalm 22:14 – “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

That is the death that MY Savior died for ME. That is the fiercest love that embraced the death that freed THIS life.

That is a picture of my God.

That is a picture of sacrifice.

A picture of love.

A beautiful picture.

An ugly picture.

But a necessary picture that opens the gates of heaven to anyone who will call upon HIS name as their Savior.

And thank God the ugly death of Christ didn’t end as just a death. Resurrection followed soon after the death.

I am sure there are people reading this right now who do not know Christ.

If that is you, and you are realizing today that you need HIM in your life, I want you to email me at fred.noble777@gmail.com. I would love to speak with you about that sacrifice He made on the cross for you.

That is what Christianity is about. It is about sacrifice. A sacrifice that God provided for us. It isn’t about being right or wrong in this life. It isn’t about knowing the details of the trumpets in the Book of Revelation. It isn’t even about how much sin you have had in your life to this point.

It is about realizing that you have sinned, as we all have. And that Jesus came and died on the cross for you. And that He resurrected from the grave and has full power to cover your sin with His blood. That is Christianity. That is what everyone reading this needs.

Romans 10:13 – For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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boyradd

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The Spiritually Inclined Deductions by Jenine Silos

newlifer1

http://newlifer1.wordpress.com/

By His Spirit

Reflections of a Female Seminary Graduate

Threshing Floor

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

Woven by Words

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

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