Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year Eve Message: Choose Table Fellowship

In Malaysia, especially those who live in the city where both husbands and wives working, eating out or buying prepared food are normal. The varied choices from coffee shops, food courts, road side stalls, fast food joints and restaurants mean not getting bored with outside food. They also have the choice on how much money to spend depending on the food source. Of course coffee shop food tends to be cheaper (and tastier, in my opinion) compared to the expensive restaurants like Secret Recipe and Kenny Rogers. But all these foods are seldom healthy compared to home-cooked meals.

The good news is that for those who prefer to cook at home, fresh produces are easily available and accessible. One only has to make the choice on whether to cook at home or eat outside food… But as for me and my family, we choose to eat at home. Mother chooses to cook at home. That’s exactly what we gonna do for this coming New Year Eve – table fellowship.

Eating together around the same table is an ancient sign of human intimacy that’s significant for building relationships. It invites family members into the warm space of welcoming one another. On a personal note; it honors me to know that mother (or those who prepared foods) has thought about the ingredients, the meals, the preparation and the service. It also provides a space of peace and platform for family discussion in which we learn to love and care for one another. It shows that we’re interested in each person. (There are times when it was filled with gossips, misplace jokes and arguments – oh well, no family is perfect) Dinning together or table fellowship creates intimate atmosphere and forming community. Yes, this upcoming New Year Eve – table fellowship, is the choice!

But eating together or table fellowship can be headache and complicated sometime. It can be ‘harmful’ if we’re not careful, we might fall into the tendency to be more concern about foods (its processes, varieties etc) than over the persons. Jan Johnson writes, “The sacramental element of eating together is sublimated, however, when the process becomes complicated; too much food or too much showiness.” Therefore, she wisely advised, “To keep dining simple is to keep the focus on table fellowship, to be grateful for food and each other.” Yes, keep dining simple, within budget and of course – eatable.
For this upcoming New Year Eve – table fellowship, is great choice!

After all, my readers, the goal of table fellowship is about being together and enjoying each other. For me; table fellowship means I want to spend some quality time with my lovely and hardworking mother even though she’s a pessimist and laser-mouth sometime. It means I want to invest some quality time with my caring and humble brother even though he’s rude and drunkard sometime. Table fellowship means both of them are willing to sacrifice their time to see my lovely cute face even though I’m judgmental and playing-all-wise most of the time. As I said earlier, everyone knows that too, that family is not perfect. And because of that, try to spent time with your family is a great choice. It’s not an excuse, but rather it’s the reason we ought to be together.
Come home for table fellowship tonight – will ya?

Wherever you’ll be; with or without family members or with friends or even with a person, at home or outside, table fellowship is a great choice for this upcoming New Year Eve.
If you can, please come home tonight, okay?
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little Space for Possessions, Much Space to Treasure God

A friend of mine once declared, ‘I want to marry a rich man
Even if he is old and has a bad breath?
Yes’, she replied.
Even if he already married’, I pressed, 'and have children?'
‘Yes’, she determine.
Even if he…’
I’ll do whatever it takes!’
...end of conversation.

Oh here we are, living in a world of materialistic. The world that we live in valued someone by how much we earn, how many toys we collect and by how gorgeous our appearances are. Because of this 'attack', worldly pressure, we want easy money and dedicate our brief moment in life to accumulate possessions – image over characters, prestige over holiness and personal independence over dependence on God. Some sold themselves. Some sacrifice their soul to get it. Some are willing to break God’s commandments to own it. The worst of all, in my opinion, sell religious with false & distorted teachings by deceiving weak believers. (I declare my hatred toward prosperity gospel!) And some even determined to do ‘whatever-it-takes’!

Too much space for possessions
Pic taken from:
Billy Graham once said, “There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.” For most people, ‘enough’ is always a little bit more than what they now have. To cope with this discontented heart issue of ‘How-much-is-enough’ is to learn to be content. (See Philippians 4:11-12) Content with whatever you have and always stay secure in God’s Providence. Don’t find your sense of significance in possessions, never substitute objects over the attention that you don’t receive, fear not of not having enough – consider the beauty of God by limiting your possessions to create space to treasure Him. God is enough, this is His promise.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” (Hebrews 13:5NLT) Keep on working to earn money, yes, for living of course. If you gain handsome incomes, be thankful and don’t forget to give - be generous [Tithe, support for worthy causes etc.]. When God bless you with possessions, don’t worship money, worship God you must. And when you only have what you need, but seldom gets what you want – be cheerful. For now you have limited possessions and have much larger space to treasure God.

Hear this, I mean, read this believingly… If the Lord says ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’
Do you think God of the Universe is telling a lie?

I don’t think so…

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reconciliation is Heaven’s Language

I had a mild disputed with my cousin few years ago. Our relationship became bitter over the years because we couldn’t agree with one another due to some minor problems. I’m with my manly ego, and she with her womanly self-important (she claimed that woman don’t have ‘ego’, I doubt). Whenever there was a family gathering, we would move away and sit in different part of the room intentionally. We decided not to talk and avoid eyes contact. 

It happened one day when I went for my late auntie’s funeral mass in a church; I was standing looking at her old decayed face for the last time, my eyes couldn’t ignored another human being was sobering too - clothed in sadness. She was my cousin from the opposite side of the coffin; staring at the same corpse of the woman that we both loved. The initial impulse for both of us is to turn the other way, but we couldn’t do it. Ego was melted in the face of the death. Love had brings us closer than what can sin separate. Blood is thicker than water. We had a common interest in that grave and instead of turning away – I offered her a tap on the shoulder and she gives a long-lost family hug. We were reconciled. We were reconciled by death.
Reconciliation is Heaven’s Language. Reconciliation is the heart of the story about God and humankind. Reconciliation clothes every pages of the Bible. On the other hand, Sin is reconciliation archenemy. Sin is the heart problem that caused God and humankind separate. God, along the course of history always be the One who make the first moves, yes – only He can make things right. He sent His Son, Jesus, to suffer the agony of the cross so that sinful people could be forgiven and therefore reconciled with a Holy God. But you see; God’s eternal act of reconciliation is also extending between human relationships.

In Matthew 5:23-24(NLT), Jesus told his disciples, “If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” In other words, Jesus says that to live with an unresolved human conflict actually hinders our relationship with God. May I say that worship is secondary after reconciliation because without reconciliation (set right with God and others) we couldn’t really worship God to the fullest – reconcile first!

I and my cousin were reconciled by the death of our late aunty…
Jesus has brought God and man together in reconciliation and fellowship by the death on Calvary…
And you – have you reconcile with God and with your fellow men and women?
You know, reconciliation becomes possible only when someone makes the first move;
An eye contact,
A tap on a shoulder,
A long-lost hug,
A hand extended,
A phone call,
A word spoken in forgiveness...

P.s: Is there anyone in your life with whom you need to pursue reconciliation?

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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Message of Hope

Maybe you've found the things you've pursued and dreamed of - car, education, family, job - but feel empty, disappointed, still wanting more. Or perhaps you've  frustrated with all the struggles and setbacks you've encountered in life. Regardless of your situation, there is a good news. There is something that brings total contentment, something that gives our lives meaning and purpose. But we'll never find it on our own - we must accept it from God.*

God offers eternal hope, an aspiration that runs much deeper than any other. [Rich: "The Bible is like that. The message of the Bible is like that - it's the good news. The Bible itself doesn't have any power, it is just like any ordinary books that you can find in bookstores (or in your father's personal library) simply hundreds of papers compiled in one big volume... really, it doesn't have any power or whatsoever. But... BUT the message it contained are never equal to any other books in the human history. The message of hope that is beyond human capability to authored - yes, beyond space and time. The Bible is origin from the Infinite Mind of God. He is the Star. He is the Author. He is All-in-All in the Bible. That's what make God's Word Powerful!]

The Message of Hope offered by God shows how the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus demonstrate God's awesome love for us and that God truly is on our side. Come and discover for yourself what God has to offer in His Word. In a world where it's natural to feel discouraged and unsatisfied, you will find great comfort in God's message of hope.*

Make your resolution for Next Year 2012 a meaningful one by resolve to read His Word Daily, to Walk with God Daily and to Pray Daily. Above all, may the Persons who speaks God's Word you treasure most. Peace! 

[marked * is taken from The Message of Hope: Discovering Meaning and Purpose for your Life at the back-cover introductions.]
Share the Message!
I'm giving away ONLY 3 BOOKS by Eugene H. Peterson for Christmas Gift to my readers;
1) The Message: The Book of Psalms
2) The Message: Gospel of John (includes a special chapter by Max Lucado)
3) The Message: The Book of Proverbs

You are welcome to get a copy for yourself. Do these 2 things:

1)   1) Comment below “Rich, give me one copy (No.)___ ,(Your name)____. My resolution for next year 2012 is to read His Word Daily.”
2)   2) E-mail me at or send message to my Facebook your real name, phone no. and your postal address.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Simplicity of God's Salvation and the Message of Christmas (End)

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7NKJV)

When Mary and Joseph arrived at the tiny village of Bethlehem, approximately 6 miles south of Jerusalem, they couldn’t find a place to stay overnight. Some Bible translations call it an ‘inn’ but it probably wasn’t a typical hotel. John Wesley comments, “Perhaps it might rather be translated in the stall. They were lodged in the ox stall, fitted up on occasion of the great concourse, for poor guests.” For poor guests, he writes, how pity it was. Other Bible experts guess that the place where Joseph’s family stayed was a guest room in a private home, or perhaps a caravansary

Stephen M. Miller in The Jesus of the Bible further suggests, “Joseph and Mary ended up spending the night in a shelter for livestock. Christian writers in the AD 100s said the shelter was a cave. The hills around Bethlehem are laced with caves where animals take shelter in bad weather. Some poor people today still make their homes in these caves.”

It was cold night, tummy hurt, long journey, tired, weary, and worn… lodged in the ox stall… for poor guests… a guest room… a caravansary… shelter for livestock… a cave… where animals take shelter… home for poor people… wherever it was. The King of Kings and the Savior of the World, the Anointed One, the Son of God, the Creator was born ‘in a manger’. With that knowledge in mind, Christians ought to be humble and in owe by the simplicity of God’s Salvation. He comes to be the Savior even to the poorest of the poor. We, sinners are among ‘the poor’, ya know.
Simplicity of God’s Salvation, that’s the message of Christmas!

The words, ‘there was no room for them in the inn’ sparked my imagination on the couple’s situations. It must be stressful for them, especially for Joseph, when they arrived in Bethlehem and found no rooms available. I can almost hear Joseph knocking every proper warm-hostel doors desperately, pleading with the manager of the inn for a place where Mary could give birth to her child. Knock! Knock! Knock! “No vacancy! Go away!”; “Get out!”; “I’m sorry… no room”… Could it be in the midst of merry Christmas, blast sound, colorful dresses, party gathering, firecrackers and pile of beers, you had keep Christ out of your lives? NO ROOM for Jesus? NO VACANCY on the door post of your heart? 

Hey, have you any room for Jesus? I hope you have one especially for Him. I hope as Christmas is closer, you may open your heart to receive Him in your life. I hope you’re ready, even now…
yes, ready a ‘room’ for Jesus, that’s the message of Christmas!

I’m Sorry, I Have No Room
by Ann Farrell Blunt
The star seemed to shine that first Christmas night
as they never have shone before,
and as Jesus came into the world for us,
they seemed to shine even more.
Shepherds strayed to the manger scene,
worshiping as they came.
Three wise men were led from the Orient far,
searching to do the same.
It wasn’t exactly the place for a King;
why, it wasn’t even the inn!
No, out on a barn, in manger poor,
He was born, to take away sin.
The innkeeper had no room that night;
I wonder, how about you?
If Jesus asked for a place in your heart,
what do you think you would do?
For you know some day when life has passed
and you stand at the door of the inn,
The Lord may look at you sadly there
and you’ll hear these words from Him:
I have no room, I’m sorry, my friend;
I’m truly sorry to say.
I have no room,” He’ll tell you once more,
then turn and send you away.

THINK BIG The simplicity of God’s Salvation – He come for  ‘poor’ sinners like you and me. START SMALL Get ready a ‘room’ for Jesus in your heart. GO DEEP God is a loving God; He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from the punishment of sins. But God is also a Righteous God; He will/must punish sinners for their act of rebellious and unbelief.
That could be us... if not for the Blood Shed on the Cross.
So, is there room in your life for Christ? Your “I have no room” maybe the exact words Jesus will use as you stand at the ‘door of the inn’ after your life had passed.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
Eternal Life or Eternal Damnation?  Your call…
I think that’s the crucial message of Christmas!

With Love,

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

"The Visit of the Magi' (Matthew 2:1,2) and the Message of Christmas

Dear readers,

For the last 2 days, while mother and I painting the house, and while enjoying my uncle’s Christmas songs (for which he loves to vibrate his Christmas songs in full volume); my mind often ‘struck’ by the event of the Magi (Wise Men) who went visits Jerusalem to worship baby Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Here are my short observations upon reflection on ‘The Visit of the Magi’…

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked,
Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?
We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him
.” (Matthew 2:1-2NIV)

Magi’ traditionally thought as ‘Wise Men’. In the New Testament times, the term ‘Magi’ (magoi) loosely covered a wide variety of men interested in dreams, astrology, books thought to contain mysterious references to the future, and the like. They probably, I suspect are stargazers, astrologers ‘from the east’ which some commentators suggest were from Persia or southern Arabia. They were Gentiles; which simply mean non-Jew and they come ‘to worship’ Jesus ‘the king of the Jews’. It funny, when I thought on these verses because the first worshipers, the hunger for the truth, the not-satisfy-only-hearing about the Anointed One, Jesus Christ would settle, but went beyond that by seeking after Him even from afar. They wanted to see Him with their own eyes. It amazed me because they were the foreigners not the Jews! Oh, since the beginning of time, it is God’s desire to bring us to Himself through His Son, Jesus, regardless of our nationality, races and languages – He want to reveal Himself to those who honestly seek after Him.
That’s the message of Christmas!

Somehow God in His Sovereignty used the Magi’s calculations (I suspect that they may had read the Old Testaments) that lead them to the 'star’ (I forbid Christians to practice astrology, but here I just want to emphasis that God can used anyone or anything for His Righteous purposes) to show that whoever honestly looking for Him, will find! Formal knowledge of the Scriptures does not in itself lead us to knowing who Jesus is. Knowing about the Savior only doesn’t save your soul. Seeing ‘star’ is not equal to seeing Jesus… all these ‘signs’ are pointing out to a Person – Jesus Christ.
That’s the message of Christmas!

Oh this is one of WOW verse… Do you realize that they didn’t say, “Where is the one who born TO BECOME king of the Jews” but “Where is the one who HAS BEEN born king of the Jews”??? They seems to indicate that infant Jesus was king even before John the Baptist testified concerning Jesus “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me” (John 1: 15) and even before the Father Himself publicly declared, “This is my son in whom I am well please.” (Matthew 3:17) God had revealed this revelation to them about Jesus’ Kingly status… Oh, God is ready to reveal Himself if only we seek after Him!
That’s the message of Christmas!

This Christmas, as you contemplate on the birth of Jesus Christ, as you look at the Father’s Gift for us thoughtfully and as you think about the mystery of Divine baby that was conceived by the Holy Spirit I pray that you may become like ‘Magi’; though they may come from far away as you might think that you’re at this moment are far from the Kingdom of God because of your sins; though they just the foreigners as you’re foreign to this God of the Bible; though they only saw ‘star’ as you only have little knowledge about Jesus – come my brothers and sisters…
Come and see
, who is this Man that the Angels sang about.
Come and see
, who is this God that the shepherds bowed their head in adoration. Come and see, who is this God-Man that comes as the Savior of the World.
As you come, you’ll be guided. As you see, you’ll be amazed. Yes – His Birth on the mangers, His life as the perfect Image of God  and His death on the Cross you’ll see!
Ah, may we seek and “come to worship him”… that’s the message of Christmas!

With Love,

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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Identity of Christ and the Message of Christmas

Dear readers, 
Of all the births this Bethlehem birth was the most unique. The coming of Christ into the world is the grand central event of history. This I believe. God manifests Himself in nature and history; God clothing Himself with the human. A superhuman life demands a superhuman birth. This I believe.

My not-yet-Christian friend asked me a question one day. “Please don’t be offended ya,” he politely requested and I know he meant it well, “Richard, can you comprehend how Jesus Christ can be both God and man?
No, I cannot understand”, I paused. “I even can’t really explain to you right now my friend. If I can explain how God can be man, God could be no greater than me. Let me put it this way, if Jesus is God and never was a man, then my relationship with God doesn’t change; I still live under the curse of sins and God is still untouchable, separate God of the Universe – I can’t really identify with Him. But if Jesus is Man and not God, then my sins are still with me because men are unable to save themselves – only God can.

He scratched his head; dandruff falls out. My hand touched my mouth; a bit too much, I guess. I don’t know what he gonna do about it. It’s not my intention to convert him into Christianity; let the Holy Spirit do the job. But it was my intention to tell him about the deity and the humanity of Christ... since he asked. [His religion trained him not to ask questions, I’m glad he thinking outside the box.]
The Deity and the Humanity of Christ – that’s the message of Christmas!

It was back then, right? How about now? What probably my answer? So you ask, “Richard, can you comprehend how Jesus Christ can be both God and man?
I’ll say, “No, but I understand some of it right now”.
And what is that?” you probably replied.
Well… It was necessary that God, the infinite Being to communicate His love and righteousness by reveal Himself through the infinite like you and me. He must stand within the limit of our faculties before we can grasp Him. But it was not only necessary for God to reveal Himself through the finite, but also through the familiarity.”

Suns, moons, stars, seas or mountains, might be greater than man but you see – the physical nature (the material) cannot be fully reveals the Greatness of God.”

Then, how about books?” you might asked. “Isn’t most of religions in the world today claim that their sacred books are the best God’s revealers?

I tell you, “Words, whether spoken or written, constantly change in value and meaning. Sacred books mean nothing if god(s) or men that were written about don’t really revealed themselves. But in the Bible, God revealed Himself to Moses and the prophets. He revealed Himself to Paul and the apostles. That’s the unique and may I confess – the supremacy of God’s authenticity in His revelations to humankind. He first revealed Himself, and then words were written. ‘The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.’ (John 1:14ISV)”
God reveal Himself – that’s the message of Christmas!

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2) and “Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 4:15) is it amazing?!! But wait until you learned why He comes to the world. C.S. Lewis writes, ‘The Son of God becomes the son of Man so that sons of men may become sons of God’. The purpose of the Incarnation was to convert the slaves of sin into the sons of God (refer Romans 8:3, 4). That’s the message of Christmas!

With Love,

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week 71: Thinking - Change your Thinking, Change your Life

General thoughts about THINKING

Thinking is one of the hardest works there is; it take time, energy and concentration, which probably the reason why so few rather prefer to sit back watch TV and let the advertisements do their thinking than seriously engaged in it. George Bernard Shaw once writes, “Only 5% of the people think. Only 15% think they think. The other 80% would rather die than think.” Those who are ‘rather die than think’ remind me of those who easily believe everything what people say or do. I once received a text messages (SMS) that says: “End of the world is coming soon… [bla… bla… bla..] If you don’t forward this message to 5 of your best friend, something bad will happen to you.” Now, that’s the ultimate foolishness! And you know what? I received dozens of forward messages on that day… what a shame when people just don’t think.

Frank Outlaw remarked, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become you character. Watch your character, they become your destiny.” In my own word; good thinking produce good outcome, bad thinking produce bad outcome. Period. Those who embrace good thinking as a lifestyle understand that the quality of their life depends on the quality of their thoughts. They realize that to change their lives, they must change their thinking. John C. Maxwell in his book titled Think on These Things said, “Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today.

In his another book Think for a Change, John outlines 5 thoughts about thinking:
1.     Everything begins with a thought.
“Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

2.     What we think determines who we are. Who we are determines what we do.
“The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” – John Locke

3.     Our thoughts determine our destiny. Our destiny determines our legacy.
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” – James Allen

4.     People who go to the top think differently than others.
Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.” – William Arthur Ward

5.     We can change the way we think.
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Paul the apostle

Thoughtful Christians thought about THINKING          

What you think about doesn’t just come from your mind but from your heart. Your thoughts tell you the condition of your heart because your every action, the things you say, and the thing you desire to become begins as a thought. Our natural human heart, as the Scriptures in Jeremiah 17:9 clearly say, is “the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

Then, how to think good and godly thoughts if our heart is so ‘desperately wicked’?
The ultimate answer for this hopeless situation is this: - trust God’s Word. Filled your thought with the Word of God because it comes from God’s heart, which is good and perfect. Ronald A. Beers stated, “Your heart, your thoughts, and your actions are all tied up together. Losing control of one little thought can lead to great tragedy. Only the self-control that comes from knowing and following God’s heart can help you tame this wild trio. When God controls your heart, your heart will inspire your mind to produce godly thoughts, which will produce godly actions. Your thoughts absolutely matter!”  

Here are my suggestions that might be helpful for your Spiritual Growth in the Discipline of Thinking (P.s: I’m still learning too!):

Get Time to Think
It is more necessary than many realize, absolutely necessary! For without time to think our spiritual life cannot grow. In our daily living, we hear too much of the voice of man – get time to hear the voice of God.

Acquire the Habit of Thinking
I copied this quote in my Quote Book long time ago, ‘The mind quickly form habits just as the body does, and if those habits are habits of idleness or day-dreams or vanity, the mind will soon become useless for thinking. Discipline your mind! Keep still and think. Think deeply, and so become deep. Think regularly, and so acquire the habit of thinking.’

What shall we Think?
Again, Paul the apostle, leading by the Holy Spirit of God, writes;
Fix your thoughts on what is true [that is correspondence with God, in the likeness of Him who is the truth] and honorable [‘honest’, ‘noble’, ‘grave’, ‘reverend’] and right [or ‘just’, to be really just is to be right with God]. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8NLT, italic mine) Put this into practice and ‘God peace will be with you’ (4:9).

THINK BIG You are not what you think you are. What you think, you are.
START SMALL Get time to think, acquire the habit of thinking and think about godly things
GO DEEP God’s heart is good and perfect thus His Word is Truth,
therefore filled your mind and heart with God’s Word.

P.s: Finish… oh, thinking is tiring…
·        John C. Maxwell, Thinking for a Change: 11 ways Highly Successful People approach Life and Work. 2003, Center Street.
·        Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker’s Quote Book. 2009, Kregel Publications.
·        The Expositor’s Dictionary of Texts (Volume 2); 1 Corinthians through Revelation. 1978, Baker House Company.
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