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Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

 

Prairie Creek 2016 2

Guys, have you ever wiped your eyes and said to a buddy, Man, I sure feel better after a good cry?

And you say to me, You’re joking. Right?

But ladies, I’m sure you remember your last good cry, and it made you feel better, didn’t it?

“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27 NAS).

God made us male and female—uniquely different, but made for each other. And nowhere does this emotional difference exemplify itself more than when a man and woman are thrust into the throes of grief.

Men are fixers by nature. But guys, you can’t fix her this time. Only God can. You can’t make her tears go away, and your worst nightmare haunts your nights and days—you must travel through your own savage grief jungle of emotions and feelings. So most men do what to them seems proper—stuff those emotions deep in their hearts so they won’t have to deal with them. But, every grief stuffed will explode one day, like a shaken up Coca Cola, and it will be messy. Stuffed grief morphs into anger, depression, and countless other destructive emotions that traps and isolates the one suffering.

Meanwhile husbands, you’re left with a wife who bursts into tears every time she looks at you, or at a picture, or has a memory of her loss. A song, a TV commercial, or a flower can send her over the edge. And you don’t know what to do. So you attempt to ignore her tears, slap on a tough exterior, and a move forward attitude. Or at least that’s what you think will happen.

Pressure Cooker.jpg

But her tears don’t stop, because that’s how God made her. The pressure of sorrow and the fiery heat of loss shove women into the quagmire of grief. Female tears are like the regulator on a pressure cooker. Perhaps your grandmother had one—heat causes pressure to build inside the pot until the regulator jiggles off steam so the pot won’t explode. Tears are the regulator of grief, else the woman in your life will detonate.

Statistics show a high percentage of marriages fail after the death of a loved one, because the marriage partners don’t know how to grieve. And when their loss is a child, the rate of a failed marriage rises into the 75 to 80 percent range.

My mind travels to the couple in Orlando last week and the unspeakable, horrific, tragedy they experienced when their two-year-old was snatched and killed by an alligator. Unfortunately, when grief moves in reason and sanity flee. In our fallen state, humans seem to need to cast blame—even when there’s no cause for blame.  Couple blame with guilt, and anguish and you have a recipe for disaster.

But this couple’s marriage doesn’t have to fail, nor does yours, if you will seek help and learn how to travel through this dark and desperate valley together—but apart.

Space, coupled with understanding, is the key.

Every grief is unique, because people and relationships are unique. A father has a different relationship with his son or daughter than the mother does. Each are necessary. Each are good. But each are different. So it stands to reason the two parents would experience a different journey through grief.

Give your spouse permission to grieve in the way that brings them comfort. And that will probably mean spending some time apart—walking through this darkness together—but sometimes apart. Your wife may need to listen to the recording of the funeral many, many times. The recording may do nothing for you. Or your husband may need to spend time each week at the grave site—something that gives you the creeps. Give your mate permission to do whatever it takes to find comfort during this dark time.

Wives, schedule days with girlfriends who are comfortable with and can relate to your tears. Girlfriends who will cry with you. Then come together with your husband at the end of the day, in order to mesh your paths and plans together for the future when the time is appropriate. But assure and reassure each other of your never ending love and commitment to each other.

Keep your expectations as close to your reality as possible. None of us think or discern well during those early days of grief, but the lurking problems  can be reduced to manageable size if your expectations linger in close proximity to the reality of your loss.

In other words, wives, don’t expect your husband to sit with you for hours and watch you cry. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. No. The reality is he’s not ever going to react the same way you do.  Expecting him to join your boohoo times will leave you clutching unrealistic expectations, which will make you angry and make him more likely to avoid you like the plague.

Husbands don’t withhold hugs of comfort from your wife when she weeps. I promise your comfort won’t extend her tears, she requires your approval and understanding to move forward.

Guys don’t seclude yourself in your shop, den, or binge on hunting and fishing without explanation. Acknowledge to your wife this is how you deal with the overwhelming loss you are experiencing. Silence won’t make grief go away, but men need more silent time than women during this process.

Schedule time to talk. Openly. Honestly. And lovingly about your feelings. Please don’t be afraid of feelings. Darkness and ignoring one another morphs emotions to unmanageable, but exposing these little stinkers to light diminishes them. The very best way to accomplish this delicate balance is to find a GriefShare Support Group near you. Go to www.griefshare.org and click on Find-A-Group. Type in your zip code to locate a group nearby and go. Together.

You can’t ignore grief. You can’t go around, over, or under grief—you must travel through it. Together. There is life after grief. A good life. But it takes work, patience, and love. And yards and yards of time.

 

“Remember my afflictions and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore, I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore, I have hope in Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:19-26 NAS).

 Coming Storm 2

DiAne and her husband lost both sets of parents and a
 twenty-eight-year old daughter within a five-year period.
 She has led GriefShare Recovery Groups for the past
thirteen years and often blogs about grieving. Click
on articles from August 2012, September 2012, October, 2012
https://dianegates.wordpress.com/

 

 

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Which do you choose?
And where do these words come from?
And where do these conversations take place?
From you. Just you. In your mind and in your heart.
Yep, the person you converse with the most is you. And what you tell yourself is the prime suspect or super star of your day—your life.
Trust me, I’m not crazy nor did this statement originate with me. Think about what’s going on in your mind right this moment. From the moment your eyelids pop open in the morning. Every day. All day. For better. For worse. In sickness and in health. As long as you live.

DSCF1479What’s the tone of your internal conversations? Hammering, yammering words or comforting conversation? Probably words that run the gambit of emotions and topics and knowledge. And some of the stuff we tell ourselves is just plain wrong. Even stupid and pointless. Maybe even cruel. Right?

Is it any wonder God told us:

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV).

Ever argue with yourself? Sure you have. So have I. So has everyone else on the planet. Where do these thoughts, sometimes absurd thoughts, come from? Ah-ha, I’m glad you asked.

Only two sources—Either from the Lord God Almighty, through the power of His Spirit, or from the enemy of your soul, The devil himself. Lucifer. I heard Bill Gilham say: “Satan speaks to you in first person singular, with a southern accent.” Cute and catchy phrase, right? But, oh so true.

There is a battle raging inside, outside, upside down in this world and our hearts and souls are the prize.

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and watched the internal script crawling across your neck line? “I’m so ugly. Inside and out. My nose is a pointed catastrophe. And my hair is stringy. Why would anybody want anything to do with me? How could God love me? I’m so hateful. That’s why I feel so bad—He doesn’t. Look at my life. If He loved me I’d be______________”  You fill in the blank.

Would those thoughts come from The Lord God who created you and said you were very good? He made you in His image and fitted you together in your mother’s womb. Numbered your hairs and your days before you were born—and you think He’d put those thoughts in your mind? Of course not. He loves you and promises He will never leave you.

But God’s enemy is set on destroying everything God loves and you, beloved, are in the center of God’s love (whether you believe it or not) and consequently, in the middle of Satan’s bulls-eye. And those words are the first person singular, with a southern accent arsenal of fiery darts the serpent of old flings in a constant barrage against you and against me.

Our Father in heaven didn’t leave us defenseless, he instructed us to freeze-frame our every thought. Dissect those suckers. Determine their origin. Decide if they’re truth or lies. Then accept God’s truth and toss Satan’s lies on the garbage heap.

Of course, our mirror haranguing is a simple illustration, while other disturbing and dangerous thoughts march like assault soldiers through our minds each day. Some thoughts we pay no attention to ’til the path of their tracks is so embedded in our thought processes that depression or worse cloud our thinking.

But it’s never too late to chase ’em down and hogtie ’em. And that’s exactly what Jesus tells us to do isn’t it? Hogtie ’em! Disable them. Refuse to accept enemy lies. Kick ’em to the curb. Repair the deceived and desecrated terrain in your heart and mind with God’s truth. Then—guard your heart.

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:20-23 NAS).

What yammering thoughts march machete style through your mind today? Advancing with steel blades drawn, stabbing pain in your heart, while other mind- marching-soldiers slice and dicefile1691345353992 those in your path. While a myriad of troublesome thoughts lodge and fester in those dark crevices, preventing you from experiencing the peace and comfort of our Lord Jesus.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NKJV).

Satan has no new tricks. Why should he bother? We keep falling for his old ones.
But Jesus promises His peace. However, we are housekeeping servants, responsible for keeping our minds from becoming garbage heaps, whether we’re suffering or smiling. And that means whatever our circumstances, we are to pull down the stinky stuff hanging in the closets of our life, toss out rotten leftovers, and refuse to live in a dumpster-diving mentality.
Jesus gives us the step-by-step remedy.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

IMG_0013Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worth of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:4-8 NAS).

What’s your mind dwelling on right this moment? Does it meet the Philippians 4:8 sniff test? If not, the Sword of the Spirit can change that you know—yammering words or continual comforting conversation with your Lord—your choice!

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“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you sure can keep ‘em from building a nest there.”

Mama’s voice still resonates in my ears and I can see her stern expression as she repeated her reprimand for any type of unbecoming behavior I displayed during my teen years.

Now I’ve never allowed these winged creatures to build nests inDSCF2525 my hair, but I’ve sure built some nasty nests in my mind.

Little by little, bit by bit, I collected trashy anger, strings of pain, and lint balls of jealousy and carefully poked them into the dark corners of my mind. I harbored those fragments of left-over animosity and replayed the tape—over and over again.

Ever done that?

Or have you captured broken twigs of disappointment and leaves of shame to feed the growing tangled nest of emotions? And tucked them away ‘til you were trapped in an emotional time-bomb of depression and self-pity dragging you into a quagmire from which you could not extract yourself?

Let me explain.

We live near a wetland area where eagles nest. Cameras set up by the wetland officials revealed skulls of ducks and skunks left in the nest. Nests are temporary shelters for baby birds to grow ‘til they can fly, not permanent homes. Nasty places filled with particles of animal remains, bugs, and unspeakable refuse. And the refuse we pile in our mind is no different and just as nasty.

God created us in His image and in the 15th Chapter of John gives us the cure for our self-destructive hoarding habits. Jesus said:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:4-10 NAS).

In these six verses Jesus tells us to abide in Him ten times. And He gives us conditional promises if we do and lays out the consequences if we don’t.

Are we to have a part-time home in the tangled mess of past heartaches? Absolutely not.

Abide is the Greek verb meno and means to stay, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.

Oh my, could that be why God’s people are in so much trouble? Why our families are falling apart? Why our nation is on the brink of disaster? We fail to stay, dwell, endure, remain in Him, in His Words, in His commandments, in His love.

I have read these words many times, but three weeks ago conviction stabbed to the depths of my heart and soul. I was not abiding in Jesus.

Had I missed Sunday services? Of course not, but once in the car on the way home my mind shifted gears. Did I neglect to pray at night? No. I always mumbled incoherent thanks for the day and His blessings before my eyes closed. Didn’t I? And I always read that little devotional blurb at night.

Dr. Paul David Tripp says, “We trouble our own trouble.” And that’s exactly where I had lived for months. Troubling my own trouble. Choosing to spend more and more time in the nasty nest of anguish, plucking at lint and strings, wondering why I couldn’t soar with the eagles.

DSCF4307 “Today I start a new chapter in my life.
I close the door to the past and open the door to the future, take a deep breath and step into my new life.”

Abiding in Jesus is a choice we must make every day. And I’m so grateful God’s mercies to us are new every morning. His love never fails and His arms are outstretched to those whose hearts are toward Him. Jesus’ blood washes all my sin away and He fills me with His joy.

What about you? Where are you spending your time? Abiding in Jesus or sinking in a nasty nest of anguish? You don’t have to keep traveling the same painful road. Give all your heartache to Jesus and abide with Him. He’s waiting. Just for you.

“Brokenness is realizing He is all we have.IMG_0013
Hope is realizing He is all we need.
Joy is realizing He is all we want.”

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The quiet voice echoed through the sad, lonely corridors of my heart and soul—“Is Jesus Enough?” I sniffed back tears that had become a way of life for the past few weeks and blew my nose as the voice inside me asked again—“Is Jesus Enough?”

DSCF1479I slumped in my chair, Kleenex in hand, forced to examine the implications of this question and where I had drifted and what had brought me down this treacherous road.

Even as I write this morning, my mind retraces the rabbit trails I allowed to lead me away from abiding in the light of the Word into the murky, stagnant puddles of lingering grief. And the moreDSCF3280 time I spent wandering in this swamp, the more impossible it became to extract myself.

Self-pity clutched its slimy tendrils around every thought and drug me toward the pit of depression as I counted, recounted, and added to what I didn’t have.

Trapped in a snare. Two weeks before Christmas. The tree wasn’t trimmed, the house was a mess, but the state of my heart and mind needed emergency medical care. And, thank God, the Great Physician was on-call.

Jesus tells us:

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 14:5 NAS).

I could indeed do nothing. The last few months I had lost focus on the important and allowed the urgent to shove my time with the Lord each day to those last few moments before exhaustion cemented my eyelids and brain shut for the night.

My disposition cranked to critical and I neglected to put on God’s armor each morning. I gave the enemy of my soul numerous opportunities to shoot his fiery darts into the chinks, resulting in great pain, loss of joy and my ability to focus on God’s miracle of Jesus. Immanuel. God with us.

But the good news is Jesus left a message for me and all who struggle in this battle:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29 NAS).

DSCF3521I heard—Is Jesus enough? And I understood the question and all the associated implications.

Regardless of the loss, trouble, or pain God allows to touch our lives we must ask ourselves—Is Jesus enough?

Jesus was enough for ancient Christians forced into an arena filled with hungry lions. Jesus was enough for the Apostle Paul when he faced his executioners in Rome. And Jesus is enough for Christians in countries where living their faith means persecution or death.

Will Jesus be enough for you and me as we walk through turmoil, distress and heartache during our lifetime?

Jesus also told us:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19 NAS).

The hours of 2013 are slipping away and 2014 will arrive a week DSCF3551from today. Will we replay the trials, pain, and grief of past years or will we quake when difficult times arise in the future? Or will you guard your heart and mind, abide in the Word and in prayer, and confirm with me, “Yes, Jesus is Enough!”

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Stuffed in my ears and heaped in stacks around my feet. From hands-free devices to flat screens. TVs. Phones. And books. Zillions of them. A constant barrage of words. All day, every day and into the night, words surround me.

But is anyone listening? Does anyone really hear my words?

As a parent I’ve asked the above questions concerning my children, my spouse and my friends.

So why should I even take the time and energy to speak today?

Because the Lord Jesus Christ gave me the ability to speak and the command to go and tell.

“So what am I supposed to tell them, Lord? And how am I supposed to say it?”

Jesus instructed I am  to… “Go and make disciples.”

Now preachers go to seminary to learn apologetics—how to present God’s Word to their congregations. But I’m just a normal person. I don’t have all those degrees. I don’t know what to say or how to say it.

My mind raced back to those first century Christians. How did they make disciples? They didn’t have Bibles. Yet their numbers multiplied. They just shared their experiences. The joy and peace they found in knowing Jesus after centuries of enduring a bloody altar that didn’t fix their sin or their problems. The joy of suffering persecution on account of His name. The joy of knowing and believing their life on this earth was only the beginning.

They understood with their minds and believed in their hearts that at the moment of death they would open their eyes and be in the presence of the Lord. Forever. In His everlasting kingdom that is to come. Where He will rule and reign here on earth.

The accounts of these early saints lives and deaths are an incredible role model for us today as we see persecution of believers escalating around the globe.

Perhaps that’s the problem. We lack experiences. Maybe. But I don’t think we need more experiences or how to—I think we need more want to. I wonder if pride and churchiness aren’t the issues preventing us from sharing our heart.

Fear and pride are sister-boogers-in-the-woodwork. Fear and pride of what others would think if they really knew what we had done, what had been done to us, or what we really think in those dark corridors of our minds. Fear and pride of deception, thinking we are better than we are.

So we retreat behind the walls of the church, compare ourselves to all those sinners who don’t go to church, and become clones of one another. Using fancy words. Words without power. Words that do not affect or change the life of another, much less our own life.

The cure comes when we begin to recognize the depth of our deception, dear church, acknowledge our need for repentance, and get real with others about how and why God is transforming our lives. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It’s not. Being transparent is painful, to us and sometimes to others.

I’m here today to use my word limit to share my troublesome boogers with you. Not with flowery words that loose us in a trail of sweet sounding emptiness. No. Just the sorrow of my heart and the immediate and responsive love of my Savior.

This past Christmas Season was the most difficult one of my life. Family issues, changing relationships, grief and coming uncertainties for America, brought the onslaught of a spiritual battle in me that loomed larger each passing day.

‘Til I admitted that terrible word—depression—and fell on my face, crying to my Lord Jesus for help. I was ashamed and confessed that I had squandered this year’s holy celebration. More concerned about me and mine rather than focusing on the miracle of His conception and pondering the purpose of His birth, death and resurrection. I had to confess I had ignored God. When I did that, I bowed to worship of The Sovereign God of all creation—Immanuel—God with us.

He didn’t stand me in the corner. He didn’t shout reprimands. He immediately answered the groaning of my heart and reminded me, I’m His child. He dried my tears and wrapped me in the warm Emergency Room blanket of His love and refocused my eyes and my heart on His mercy and everlasting love for me.         

“You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?” (Psalm 56:8).

The battle ceased. The fog of deception lifted. Have the problems vanished? No, but the bottomless well-spring of His joy immediately bubbled-up and filled my spirit to overflowing. When a wisp of gloom tries to creep back into my thoughts I capture that thought and give it to Jesus. The light of His love overpowers the shadow of darkness every time.

The formula is simple but sure:

My plight + my cries to Him + His love and power = His comfort, His mercy, His grace and His healing = complete forgiveness and restoration for me, now and forever.

As soon as my lids flutter open in the morning, my heart tunes to sing the anthem, “For Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me, the glory and the lifter of my head.”

No sin is beyond His ability to forgive. How long has it been since you have had honest words with God? How long has it been since He rescued you? How long has it been since you’ve used words and actions to tell and show someone what God has done for you? Now is the perfect opportunity. I invite you to share with the readers of this blog what God has done and is doing in your life today.

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Christmas 2012 is over. The decorations cleaned and stored for next year, and the residue of the season swept into the vacuum, the trash or the washing machine. Table cloths, dish towels, and napkins, however need a deeper cleansing. A time and place for them to linger, in a sink filled with hot water and Oxi-Clean in order to remove the stains inflicted by holiday festivities.

If you’re like me, you’ve incurred a few stains and discolorations during the holidays too. The stain and depression of remembering those not with you at the table or around the tree. The stain of disappointments and failures. Unfulfilled expectations—relationships gone awry. The stain of guilt and fear of what has been and what’s to come.

So what’s next? Do we rush into the New Year, counting the days ‘til Valentine’s Day, worrying over the state of our nation, our family, our world? Or do we project clear to Easter—Resurrection Sunday and Spring, attempting to sweep the stains and discolorations under the carpet of life and just keep on keeping on?

The sun peeked through my window this morning and I found my mind skipping along the precipice of depression. A sadness burrowed deep in my soul. ‘Til I heard the Spirit speak to my heart, whispering words I have typed throughout the holidays. Born to Die.

Yes, we have just celebrated the miracle of the virgin birth of God’s Lamb in that manger in Bethlehem. But that baby, that Lamb was born to die. And the Spirit whispered again—linger here.

Linger at the Cross. Don’t rush to the empty tomb—linger at the foot of the Calvary.

But I don’t like to linger anywhere, much less at the Cross. I’m depressed already. It’s a hard place. It’s ugly. It’s uncomfortable. I see so much suffering on the tube and on the net every day. And I’ve grown tired and desensitized to blood and suffering. I am war weary—at home and across the world.

The Spirit said “all the more reason you  must learn to linger at the Cross and contemplate the Lamb, born to die so that you  might live with His joy, His peace, and His love.”

That old hymn played through the corridors of my mind … “There’s power, power, wonder working power. In the blood of the Lamb.” Then another melody stirred. “There is a fountain, filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains…”

I thought about those linens soaking in the sink. In the power of Oxi-Clean. All their stains and discolorations disappearing. A rapid cycle through the washing machine wouldn’t remove the smudges—they needed soaking. They needed to linger in the power of a stain remover.

The Spirit took my face and turned my eyes to the miraculous power of the blood of Jesus. The power that His blood has to remove all the stains sin has ground into the pages of my life. I needed to linger and soak in that fountain of my Lord’s powerful blood this morning. Every morning and remember the Cross.

The journey through life on earth is messy. The filth of rebellious choices, a prideful heart, and selfish actions and the what-ifs had clung to my blemished soul, seeped to the surface and needed a good soaking—a daily soaking in the deluge that still flows from the Cross.

I invite you to join me. Stop awhile and ponder the Cross, the power of the blood shed there, and the love of a Savior—born to die—for you and me. Linger there. Experience the depression and weariness vaporize in the power and sovereignty of the blood of the Lamb—our Savior, our Lord and soon coming King.

Behold the Lamb!

“And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came, and He took (the book) out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne…and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb…and they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy art Thou to take the book and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:10 NAS).

 

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