Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Porpoise-9

     One of my most amazing memories as a child was when my family was sailing to Catalina Islandfor an extended weekend getaway. It was a moonless Friday night where the sky was lit up with innumerable stars. I was alone on the bow of our boat looking at the reflection of the stars in the ocean and was mesmerized, as it was a warm summer evening with the splashes of water being aglow with bioluminescence from a red tide. At the aft of the Maramel was a trail of luminous green in our wake as the plankton shimmer with green light when disturbed. And as if that wasn’t glorious enough, all of a sudden a school of porpoise came to play with us. Taking turns, one after another of these magnificent creatures jumped out of the water surfing the waves at our bow. Their trails were lit up with intertwining streams of phosphorescent green traces that lit up the side of our boat. I reached over the port side trying to touch them, as they launched out of the water and spouted one after another. At one point I noticed what seemed to be a parental porpoise with its calf (i.e. baby porpoise), side-by-side whirling and breaching. Together they seemed to be so playful and yet purposeful. I imagined that the mother was teaching her young about boats and how to body surfing the wakes (probably why it’s called a school of porpoise). I was so close that I could see the calf keeping its eye on the mother as it was led through the twists and turns and the ups and downs of their journey. I’ve grown to cherish that memory as one of life’s lessons in keeping my eyes on Jesus Christ at all times. I am reminded of the wisdom of Psalm 32, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”[1] Life can be exhilarating and at times weird. There are the seasons of fast paced twists and turns and ups and downs, but we would do well to keep our eyes upon the Lord for His guidance and counsel. Rick Warren’s best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, reveals the pathway of our ultimate destiny by keeping the upward gaze on God’s centrality to all of life’s purposes. Perhaps I will write a sequel one day called the Porpoise Driven Life. It is the heavenward contemplation that will transform the mysteries of the absurd into purposeful worship. It is the sensitivity to God’s Spirit where even His glance would prompt our hearts toward His directed purpose. Perhaps this subtle nuance was within the inspiration of Isaiah’s writing when God revealed:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.… Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him…. your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”[2]

[1] Psalm 32:8 (NKJV).

[2]Isaiah 30:15, 18, 21 (NKJV).

01
Aug 2014
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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In All Things Charity

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These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you…” (Psalm 50:21-22) This is one of those verses that can be tucked away in your heart for many years. It is a concept that should be an essential truth within the human heart of grace.  You will find that many people appear to have conflict with others because of their differences.  In essence, people tend to hold to the thought that “because you are not like me, you are wrong.”  Even over the essentials of the Christian faith, people fight over particular beliefs because people have differences opinion on a particular portion of Scripture.  Now don’t get me wrong; I do believe that there is right and wrong on many issues.  However, what I am speaking about are the preferences or variance of views on somewhat subjective areas of life and beliefs.  On this subject, it is astounding to reflect on the fact that God used two amazing men to be instrumental in bringing about the Reformation back in the 16th Century – Martin Luther and John Calvin.  Yet their followers ended up have divisive views about the Eucharist (Communion).  Think about this, one of the most sacred gifts from God for the Church to reflect upon Christ’s death for our unity and worship—people argue and divide about it.  As such, the preamble to the “Statement of Beliefs” that would guide our interactions over the areas of doctrine that sometimes divides people. “We believe in what is termed ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ as embodying all the fundamental doctrines of orthodox evangelical Christianity.  In addition to the fundamental doctrines of the faith we realize that there are of a number of variant nuances of interpretation and denominational emphases that polarize the Body of Christ toward diverse positions.

As a non-denominational ministry, the Rock Church is intentional in teaching the core doctrines of the Christian faith without fixating on discordant beliefs.  In this regard we affirm the general statement as originated in the early church by St. Augustine, ‘In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.’ For those interested in studying the various doctrinal positions within orthodox Christianity, courses are made available through Rock U that survey the broad range of Biblical and Systematic Theology.  We draw upon our Statement of Faith and Christian Conduct for guidance in interpreting particular matters Scripturally and with spiritual wisdom.”  The point here is that God’s people are free to hold different opinions in which they can have dialogue for mutual learning; let’s just not argue about the variant positions.   If people will just simply seek to understand another’s point of view, it leads to great conversation and mutual edification, even though they may still disagree.  It is no wonder that Jesus prayed, “that they may be one just as We are one.” (John 17:22)

23
Nov 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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“In All Things Charity”

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These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you…” (Psalm 50:21-22) This is one of those verses that can be tucked away in your heart for many years. It is a concept that should be an essential truth within the human heart of grace.  You will find that many people appear to have conflict with others because of their differences.  In essence, people tend to hold to the thought that “because you are not like me, you are wrong.”  Even over the essentials of the Christian faith, people fight over particular beliefs because people have differences opinion on a particular portion of Scripture.  Now don’t get me wrong; I do believe that there is right and wrong on many issues.  However, what I am speaking about are the preferences or variance of views on somewhat subjective areas of life and beliefs.  On this subject, it is astounding to reflect on the fact that God used two amazing men to be instrumental in bringing about the Reformation back in the 16th Century – Martin Luther and John Calvin.  Yet their followers ended up have divisive views about the Eucharist (Communion).  Think about this, one of the most sacred gifts from God for the Church to reflect upon Christ’s death for our unity and worship—people argue and divide about it.  As such, the preamble to the “Statement of Beliefs” that would guide our interactions over the areas of doctrine that sometimes divides people. “We believe in what is termed ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ as embodying all the fundamental doctrines of orthodox evangelical Christianity.  In addition to the fundamental doctrines of the faith we realize that there are of a number of variant nuances of interpretation and denominational emphases that polarize the Body of Christ toward diverse positions.  As a non-denominational ministry, the Rock Church is intentional in teaching the core doctrines of the Christian faith without fixating on discordant beliefs.  In this regard we affirm the general statement as originated in the early church by St. Augustine, ‘In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.’ For those interested in studying the various doctrinal positions within orthodox Christianity, courses are made available through Rock U that survey the broad range of Biblical and Systematic Theology.  We draw upon our Statement of Faith and Christian Conduct for guidance in interpreting particular matters Scripturally and with spiritual wisdom.”  The point here is that God’s people are free to hold different opinions in which they can have dialogue for mutual learning; let’s just not argue about the variant positions.   If people will just simply seek to understand another’s point of view, it leads to great conversation and mutual edification, even though they may still disagree.  It is no wonder that Jesus prayed, “that they may be one just as We are one.” (John 17:22)

23
Nov 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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Signs and Wonders Part 2

SignsandWonders2


Are there not false and deceptive miracles and spirits?
    The Bible gives many examples of false and deceptive miracles and spirits that occur to draw people away from the one true God (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7; Matt. 7:23; Acts 8:9-13; 16:16; 2 Thes. 2:9-10; Rev. 13:11-14).  In fact, 1 Timothy 4:1-2 declares of the last days, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,  speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” (ESV)  In addition, Paul warns of deceitful religious leaders, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ESV)

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV)  Within this mix of false miracles and teachers will be those who seek to teach a non-Biblical Gospel (Galatians 1:6-8).  The Apostle John also gives strong warnings of these elements of false doctrine and false spirits (1 John 2:18; 4:1-6).  As such, Christians are challenged to be both open and discerning when in the presence of miracles.  Those who are involved in the signs and wonders will have a genuine profession of Biblical faith (1 Cor. 12:3).  They will believe in the incarnation and deity of Jesus Christ (1 John 4:2).  They will also show the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives and bear Godly fruit in their ministry (Matt. 7:20; John 15:5; Gal. 5:22-23).

In addition, the focus of miracles should not draw glory or attention to a person, draw a primary awe to the miracle itself or even focus on the person of the Holy Spirit.  We are to be reminded that the Holy Spirit will seek to bring glory and witness to Jesus Christ (John 15:26-27; 16:13-14; Acts 1:8).  As such, we should be thankful to God that the Holy Spirit is working dynamically to glorify Jesus Christ through His word and works.  Though believers may not agree on every point of doctrine and are not completely sanctified in every area of conduct, God is not limited in His power to do as He wills, when He wills to exalt Christ.  And throughout Scripture the testimony of miracles will bring glory to Jesus Christ and will often result in the salvation of the lost (John 12:32).   It is there that the repeated phrase throughout Scripture is manifested, “then they will know that I am God.” (Exodus 6:7)

01
Nov 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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Signs and Wonders

SignsandWonders1


Are signs, wonders and miracles still manifested in the Church today?
   “A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.” (Grudem) Often throughout Scripture the term “signs and wonders” is used as a primary expression of God’s miracles (Ex. 7:3; Deut. 6:22; Ps. 135:9; Acts 2:22; 4:30; 5:12; Rom. 15:19; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4).  In addition, the Bible declares many miracles of healings and demonic deliverances (Matt. 11:4-5; Luke 4:36-41; John 2:23; 4:54; 6:2; 20:30-31; Acts 3:6; 5:15-16; 9:32-40; 28:9; Gal. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28).  A purpose of miracles is to authenticate the message of the Gospel (John 3:2; 4:29; Acts 8:6-8; 9:35; Heb. 2:4).  Miracles also testify that the Kingdom of God has come to humanity (Matt. 10:7-8; 12:28; Luke 4:18).  In addition, miracles set people free from their hindrances and brokenness (Matt. 8:15; 14:14; 20;20, 34; Acts 9:36-41).  And finally, miracles were often done for the primacy of the glory of God (Matt. 9:8; John 9:3).

Now the question again is raised if miracles were limited to just the apostles and their followers until the Cannon of Scripture was closed.  In Matthew 10:5-15 Jesus clearly gave the apostles authority to “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as you go preach saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:6-8)  In this context this exhortation was given specifically to the apostles and their message was only to go to the Israelites in neglect of the Gentiles.

Does this mean that this authority was only for the apostles and was only for the Jews?  If such a view is taken, most the New Testament teaching (e.g. John 14-16) would be limited to the disciples when they were present and therefore not for ongoing benefit for the historic Church at large.  Unless one holds to a strong dispensational perspective of Scripture, where God interacts with His people differently during different eras of history, it should be the natural and most literal interpretation of Scripture that God continues His authority and works through His people throughout the New Testament and beyond.  However, this does not negate the fact that certain Scriptural precepts are specifically for a historic time and purpose, often as relevant to a particular culture (e.g. head coverings of 1 Cor. 11:5).  Needless to say, the general principles given in Scripture that guide the Church should be applied in their cultural context (e.g. 1. Cor. 11:5 on authority).  As previously noted, the special authoritative revelation of Scripture is limited to Scripture (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18), however the works of God in personally working in and through His people do not have such a distinctive limit (as noted in the discussions above).  (For a further study of this discussion see Systematic Theology by W. Grudem pages 358-368.)


[1] Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem p. 355.

01
Nov 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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The Bible Palace

BiblePalace

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  It was Blaise Pascal who originally asserted that, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”  When Pascal wrote this, he was probably thinking, in part, of a famous passage at the beginning of Augustine’s Confessions, where the great African saint said to God, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are rest-less till they find their rest in You.”  These concepts of course, align well with Solomon’s query above when he reached the place of despair, despite his endless wealth, pleasure and accomplishments.  It is no small wonder that these notions bounce around in the human heart throughout one’s entire lifespan.  Nothing in this life will ultimately satisfy the longings of the heart’s passions but God alone.  What is amazing is that God gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).  We also learn from Paul’s exhortation to young Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

In all of life’s pleasures, accomplishments, possessions, relationships and experiences, nothing has been designed by God to be an end in itself.  All of these attainments in life are good gifts from God but they are to be received only as a means in grace by which we exalt God.  As such, the heaven bound soul is to acclaim Jesus in each of our fulfillments as we taste and see that the Lord is good.  In other words, in each of the good gifts we receive from God we can thoroughly enjoy them, but within the experience our hearts are propelled to gaze above the experience to the Giver of the gift.  All of life has been given as a gift to discover God and hence to worship God.   Now these musings have led me to an old quotation that has been a friend to my soul for decades.

I came to faith by picking up the Bible when I was 21 years of age and read through the Gospels.  Your mom came to faith in a similar way as she lay beside a pool and began reading the Bible.  “The Bible Palace” by Billy Sunday.  “With the Holy Spirit as my Guide, I entered this wonderful Temple called the Bible.  I entered the portico of Genesis, walked down through the Old Testament art gallery, where pictures of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob and Daniel hung upon the wall.  I passed into the music room of the Psalms, where the Spirit swept the keyboard of nature and brought forth a dirge-like wail of the weeping prophet Jeremiah to the grand, impassioned strain of Isaiah, until it seemed that every reed and pipe in God’s great organ of nature responded to the tuneful harp of David, the sweet singer of Israel.  I entered the beautiful chapel of Ecclesiastes, where the preacher’s voice was heard, and into the conservatory room of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valley’s sweet scented spices filled and perfumed my life.  I entered the business office of Proverbs, then into the observatory room of the Prophets, where I saw telescopes of various sizes, some pointed to far-off events, but all concentrated upon the Bright and Morning Star which was to rise above all the moonlit hills of Judea for our salvation.  I entered the audience-room of the King of kings, and caught a vision of His glory from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; passing on into the Acts of the Apostles, where the Holy Spirit was performing His work in forming the infant church.  Then into the correspondence room, where sat Saints Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude penning their letters.  I stepped into the throne room of Revelation, where all towered in glittering peaks and I got a vision of the King sitting upon His throne in all His glory, and I cried: ‘All hail the power of Jesus’ name!  Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.’”

17
Oct 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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By Our Love for One Another

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In our Rock Church “Through the Bible Reading Plan” we are currently reading in the Psalms   http://www.sdrock.com/bible   Metaphorically in a sense, the Psalms have been denoted by some to be the worship palace of heaven.  It is amazing to me that what God has given in His Word to bring transformation and worship, often witnesses division and discord.  I love the Preamble to the Rock Church’s Statement of Beliefs.  “We believe in what is termed ‘The Apostles’ Creed’ as embodying all the fundamental doctrines of orthodox evangelical Christianity.  In addition to the fundamental doctrines of the faith we realize that there are of a number of variant nuances of interpretation and denominational emphases that polarize the Body of Christ toward diverse positions.

As a non-denominational ministry, the Rock Church is intentional in teaching the core doctrines of the Christian faith without fixating on discordant beliefs.  In this regard we affirm the general statement as originated in the early church by St. Augustine, ‘In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.’   For those interested in studying the various doctrinal positions within orthodox Christianity, courses are made available through Rock U that survey the broad range of Biblical and Systematic Theology.  We draw upon our Statement of Faith and Christian Conduct for guidance in interpreting particular matters Scripturally and with spiritual wisdom.”  As such, it is a joy for our various leaders at the Rock Church who may hold to different doctrinal positions to all work in harmony towards the Great Commission.   Yes, we affirm orthodoxy in the essential elements of our faith, but we also have a lot of grace for one another knowing that love should always be preeminent in the non-essentials.

Over the years I have experienced quite a number of divisive people who are well-intended Pharisees who still strain at the doctrinal gnats, yet are amiss in praying for and affirming the things that Jesus prayed for (John 17:20-26).  Oh that the world would know that we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35).

31
Aug 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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“Man Up!”

manup

In our Rock Church Through the Bible Reading Plan today we are currently reading in Isaiah 43-46.

In this section of Scripture we come across the exhortation in Isaiah 46:8 that states, Remember this, and show yourselves men.” Literally, the Hebrew reads, “Remember this and BE MEN, take courage.

Similarly 1 Corinthians 16:13 teaches, Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave (literally ‘ACT LIKE MEN’), be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

God loves it when men rise up to be men of integrity, men of faith, men of truth and men who emulate Jesus Christ.

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes justice, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her. Jeremiah 5:1

Revivals happen when God finds men like this.

What is a Godly man like?

Psalm 112:1-3 states, Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.

Ezekiel 22:30 asserts, So I sought for a MAN among them who would make a wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

God is seeking for Godly men who have His heart. This July 4th as we celebrate the founding of our country, we need to realize that many men (and women) have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Men who value honor, courage and commitment are sometimes a rare commodity in our culture. In fact, Proverbs 20:6 states, Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

This past week I had the honor of speaking to one of the Arizona fire chiefs and a fire department union leader regarding the nineteen firefighters who lost their lives in the Prescott area. These men are to be honored for their courage and sacrifice as they gave all to fight those horrific fires.

In a similar way, God is calling us as men to be men of honor, courage and commitment to fight the flames of compromise, wickedness and complacency.

Let’s be men like Isaiah when he heard the call of God. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”

03
Jul 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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Speaking the Truth in Love

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A friend in The LIFE app www.thelifeapp.us  recently brought to my attention an amazing concept out of 1. Chronicles 3:5. It is there and in 2. Sam. 5:14 that we learn of Bathsheba’s four children with David. Not only was Solomon born through this painful relationship, but another son was also born to David and Bathsheba. They named him Nathan. What an amazing thought; yes, most likely they named this little guy after the prophet Nathan, who was the friend who confronted David of his sin. And check out Luke 3:31 where we learn that Nathan and Solomon, as David’s sons, are the two chosen children to fulfill the prophetic lineage to Jesus Christ. David’s lineage splits off to Joseph and to Mary’s family lines from these two brothers.

Through Nathan is Mary’s lineage (Luke’s record) and through Solomon is Joseph’s (Matthew’s record). Grace upon grace! What a great lesson on friendship. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Prov. 27:6 Nathan out of love, hurt David deeply, but he spoke the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Yet it was this wound of honesty that brought David to repentance and forgiveness. As a result, Psalm 51 was written.

We must speak the truth in love to our friends. A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17), even when it hurts.  I was introduced recently to a business leadership book by Patrick Lencioni entitled “Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty.”  It is a fascinating insight into establishing a culture of vulnerability and transparency.  Any group would be benefited in seeking to build a community where the fig leaves are removed and where truth and honest conversation can take place in the safe environment of God’s gracious love.   Who knows, in such an setting, you may even have a child named after you by a friend.

07
Jun 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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The LIFE

theLife2

“He who has the Son has the life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have  the life.” (1. John 5:12)  All of life absolutely reduces down to the simple question, “Got Jesus?”  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear in Matthew 7 that there is a narrow gate to life and a broad way to destruction. There are two trees, one that bears fruit and one that is cut down and thrown into the fire.  There are also two confessions; one that leads to eternal life and one that will hear the words, “I never knew you.”  And finally there are two foundations, one of sand and one of rock.   When Jesus said, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life,” in John 14:6 He was not declaring that there are many ways to God.

Jesus alone IS the way to eternal life.  No one can come to the Father except through Him.  Though we live at a time when the majority embraces pluralism, this ideal is just the voice of the broad, fruitless confession that is founded on shifting sand of opinion, and not on the Rock of Jesus Christ.  It is essential to know the truth as declared by God Himself in the Scriptures.  And this is the truth that sets people free.  Be encouraged to dig into the Word of God to know with assurance that you are holding onto God’s opinion and not your own.  And it is this pursuit in life that leads to The LIFE.  It is the goal of The LIFE App to encourage people to grow within this LIFE.  This is the life of John 3:16 from the Wycliffe Bible Translations Da Jesus Book

www.pidginbible.org      “God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foreva.”     Be sure to sign up for The LIFE online discipleship tool  Just go to:     www.thelifeapp.us     Be sure to join a group or start a group with your accountability peeps.

10
May 2013
AUTHOR Mickey Stonier
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