T2 + 4Y = U3

 
 
 
 
 
Thursday Thoughts + For Youth = You to the Power of the Trinity

Change by Sienna

 I believe change can sometimes be difficult while at other times it can be comforting. In Romans 8:28 it reads, “And we know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” There is comfort in knowing GOD is with us, even in the midst of change. A lot of people don’t want to be responsible for the choices they make, and they don’t want to admit their decisions have real-life consequences. In either of these cases, choices can bring about changes that potentially impact themselves and/or others.

     I always thought change occurred when you moved to another state or when you lost someone you were close to. I came to realize that change can occur when you make mistakes. You can only learn from them after you admit that you’ve made them. As soon as you start blaming other people you push yourself away from a lesson you could have learned. But if you stand up and honestly say “This is my mistake and I am responsible,” then a possibility of learning from your mistake is easier to come by. You need to keep your spirit open to GOD like in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

     If I’m not mistaken, there seems to always be a guarantee in life that change will happen. Change is something we tend to fear and become anxious about because we do not feel in control of life. The good news is that GOD has a plan for your life. If we trust in GOD and allow change to grow us to become more like Jesus Christ in how we respond and act, then we are promised that all things will work together for the good of those who love him. Like it says in 1 Peter 5:10, “And the GOD of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

     We all know change is real and necessary. For salvation, we must change our mind (repent) and agree that GOD’s way is better than our way. We need the Holy Spirit to change us as it is written: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what GOD’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

     In Conclusion, even though people may believe that change is not very appealing, it may be in your best interest to help you live a better life. Trust in the Lord our GOD and He will lead you down the right path. 

By: Sienna Dittmer

AUMC YOUTH: Add a comment below and let us know about a time you had to trust God during a time of change. [Get entered into a drawing for an Andy’s Ice Cream gift card.]


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Are you a Chameleon or a Butterfly?

As we continue to look at the ideas behind change and being changed, let’s consider this analogy. Are you a Chameleon or a Butterfly?

From a-z animals online, we read: “Some species of chameleon, although not all, are able to change the color of their skin in order to be camouflaged into their surroundings. These color changes in the chameleon’s skin color can include colors such as pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, light blue, yellow and turquoise, all so that the chameleon can blend in more easily.”

Are you changing your appearance, your attitude, your personality, your true nature to blend into your surroundings? If so, does this imply that other people and your environment are dictating who you should be? Or are you choosing to change yourself so you “appear” to be one of the crowd?

Or, are you a butterfly?

“The butterfly’s most reputable characteristic is the fact that there is an incredible morphing process during the life cycle of the butterfly. The butterfly starts life as a caterpillar, which cocoons itself in a silky thread. The caterpillar emerges from its time in the pod, with colorful wings” states a-z animals.

The butterfly takes a while to develop in the cocoon, but then emerges strong, beautiful and bold. The beauty is evident immediately as it emerges into it’s environment. Then it stays true to itself and doesn’t change.

Where do you see God in the butterfly?

God created you to be His chosen child. You are wonderfully made, just the way you are. Psalm 139:13 reminds us, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” He wants you to remember who you are and whose you are. Stand firm in the light of His love for you and go boldly into the world in His image. Do not conform to the standards and expectations of this world but rise above those standards and honor your Lord with righteousness and light. Don’t change your beauty in a world that seeks to ignore God.

It’s also interesting to note in a-z animals, “Due to their small size and colorful wings, butterflies are preyed upon by a number of animals around the world.”

Beware! Your amazing God-given light can attract harsh critics. But, do not fear as God goes before you in all you do. Simply call upon the name of Jesus, and enemies will flee.

Psalm 3:6 tells us “I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.”

You’ve got this! (And, so does Jesus!)


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CHANGE

Do you want to change?

Do you want to be a better friend? Do you want to be a kinder person? Do you want to stop reliving old hurts and move on to making new, better memories? Do you want to help someone close to you break free of bad behaviors? Do you want to inspire others to know Jesus personally? Do you want God to change you from the inside out?

Do you? Truly?

This type of change in your life is yours for the taking. Just ask.

Ask Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, to enter in to your heart and guide you to the changes only He can inspire. Faith allows you to believe He exists, believe He can hear your request, and believe He will help you change.

Believe this, my friend! You can whisper it into the wind, and He will hear you. You can shout it from your car window driving down the street, and He wont miss a word. You can write it on the very last page in the tiniest print in your journal, and He will see it.

Jesus wants to partner with you to change you. Not to change you for the sake of change, but that you may know a better life with Him as your Lord. And, in the process, you will fulfill His purpose for you in reaching many others. The transformation of your life into alignment with the life Jesus showed us can empower us to live free of worry and fear. And, that, my friends, is what becomes a blessing far beyond what you could ever imagine. It brings blessings into your life and blessings into the lives of others.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we read Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

When Christ enters in, the old you cant help but flee in the face of a new way of lifea life built on love. Love makes all the difference, and thats where youll begin to see the difference in yourself. And, truly, others will see it, too.

Are you ready to open up, be vulnerable, bear the truth of your current state and let God lead you? He wont leave you to work this out on your own. He will always be with you, seeking you, encouraging you, and guiding you. He will create a desire in your heart to seek Him, too. Listen to that still, small voice and be an active participant in this transformation.

The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 1 Samuel 10:6

 

[AUMC Youth, leave a comment here about being changed in Christ and enter a drawing at our next youth event.]


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Growing in Faith

Faith in Jesus Christ is personal and acts upon each of us differently. Many people use the phrase to “grow in faith”. I believe growing our faith is a very noble goal for all of us. Yet, can we say the amount of our faith makes us a better Christian? Can we say that because one person has great faith and one person has little faith, that their faith is in any way different?

In Matthew 8:25, when the Disciples’ ship was being tossed by the waves, we hear Jesus say, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he rebuked the winds and made the sea calm. So, if we have little faith, does that mean we are more prone to be fearful? As our faith is developed, Jesus teaches us ways to calm our internal storms just as Jesus calmed the external storm in this illustration. So, faith is inversely related to fear. The more we follow in faith, the less fear can overtake us.

We also read in Matthew 14:31 “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” This is the passage where Peter was walking on water towards Jesus. He let the slightest doubt creep in when he looked down instead of looking steadily upon Jesus’ face. Faith and doubt are also inversely related. If there is any doubt in an outcome, I’ve let my faith slip and my oneness with Christ be broken.

Yet, even though we may have little faith, Jesus encourages us in Matthew 17:20 that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Unity of purpose for God’s will for us, through His son Jesus, can move mountains. And, the mountain moving business only requires faith the size of a mustard seed. That’s small!

Let’s consider this. Maybe the size of our faith is not as critical as the clean lines and purity and utter trust of the faith. Even if our faith is small, it can do mighty things if it is offered in complete unity of purpose with Jesus. If I am being lead to move a mountain, and I know Jesus wants that mountain to move, I must have a singular faith in the outcome. But if I offer my faith with strings attached and excuses and shadows of doubt, then the mountain cannot be moved by me.

And, then, in those spectacular moments when mountains are moved, my faith increases automatically the next time I must move a mountain with Jesus. This growth and/or increase in my faith doesn’t necessarily mean my faith is now better than before, but rather my faith is now quicker to take over. My faith might appear bigger now only because I am learning to go to my faith that much sooner. I don’t give fear and doubt a fighting chance. Big faith is quick to the draw! [AUMC Youth: Write a statement about faith in the comments below and be entered into a drawing at youth.]


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FAITH

This month we are talking about FAITH. What does it look like, how does it feel, and what makes it grow? For each one of us, faith can have a different meaning and evoke different emotions. Faith for some may be scary and complicated, while for others it is exciting and full of hope. And, I imagine each of us has a different amount of faith based on firsthand experiences and life lessons.

So, if faith is such a mixed bag of ideas, how do we address it as a Youth Group? I think it’s important just to reiterate some basics about “Faith” as found in the Bible, then individually dive deeper into a scripture you feel lead to learn more about. Pay close attention to those prompts to learn more as that is how God reaches you and draws you closer.

  1. Where does Faith come from? It is a gift from God who is the author and giver of our faith. According to Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” However, it took someone in your life to share their faith knowledge with you and let you know there is more to this life. It was most likely then shared through the message of the Bible. Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
  2. What do we have Faith in? Ephesians 4:5 states “…one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” We recognize as Christians that we all share in One Faith – One God who Created Heaven and Earth, One Jesus who is God’s Son our Lord and came to earth to save us from sin and show us the way into God’s eternal grace, and One Spirit who guides us into righteous living and allows us to share our faith with others so they may also see and believe in the grace and love of God, Our Father.
  3. What does this Faith do? This One Christian Faith accomplishes many things. It gives us hope and peace in a difficult and sinful world. It allows love to be the greatest emotion in any earthly relationship. It transforms people’s lives from darkness to light. It provides a clear path into God’s Kingdom beyond this earth. 1 John 5:4 reminds us “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
  4. How do we make our Faith grow? We can deepen our faith by staying in God’s word (the Holy Bible), praying to God for help to strengthen our faith, and by sharing our faith with others. It is possible to grow seeds of faith into more than we can imagine by stepping out into the waiting arms of Christ. “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3 Faith and love; therefore, become intertwined and grow bigger and bigger.
  5. Now we must share our growing faith. Just as someone shared their faith with you and awakened your knowledge of Jesus Christ, it is now for you to also go and share the love of Jesus with others. You are called to speak and share this knowledge and be a guiding light for those looking for more. “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore, I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak…” 2 Corinthians 4:13.
 

Dive deeper into God’s word and discover many amazing scriptures and biblical characters who demonstrated great faith. You, too, can grow amazing faith. This gift of faith is extended to all who choose to believe. AUMC Youth may leave a comment on the blog about any aspect of faith and be entered into a special drawing at youth.

 

Love,

Mrs. Tracey


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Allison’s Easter Message

Last Sunday, our Youth Council President, Allison Vowels, provided a beautiful message for our Sunrise Service. It is a wonderful talk on Faith, that we wanted to use it for this week’s blog. Enjoy! And, thank you Allison!

Mrs. Tracey

 
From Allison:

So, have you guys ever been driving down an unfamiliar road in the pitch black

night with your headlights on, not knowing the entire road ahead, but only knowing

enough of what’s to come so that you can get through the next little bit of your journey?

I experienced this a couple of weeks ago and as I was realizing how scary all

those dark twists and turns can be, “Trust in You” by: Lauren Daigle came on the radio,

which says “truth is, you know what tomorrow brings, there’s not a day ahead you have

not seen.”

 

Isn’t that kind of like life? And as Christians in our faith, that’s how we need to

trust in the road and the different twists and turns ahead; we need to trust in Jesus on our walk with Christ.

 

I remember that moment, feeling nervous and uncertain about where the road

was going to lead, but then I had to sit back and realize that Christ has this covered and

knows the path ahead and what is best for me.

 

In John 13: 7 which says “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will

understand,” Jesus tells the disciples that in the long run it will all make sense, even if

right now it might be a little bit confusing. This can be confusing because it is having

completely blind faith in something you can’t see. Like how I couldn’t see the whole

road ahead, how the disciples were blind to what was to come and could only trust in

the words spoken to them, and like how we must trust in Christ fully.

 

In Luke 24, we can read about men on their journey to Emmaus and about how

Jesus was with them on that entire journey, knowing what was to come for them in

verse 36 “Jesus himself stood among them.” Jesus knows what’s ahead of us even

while he is there in the car with us and on the journey with us. Even though we are Christians, it doesn’t mean we won’t have the struggles that we will have to deal with. It’s important to know Jesus is still with you and to keep your faith in those dark times; in those times when Jesus knows the whole path ahead, but we are stuck in the scary darkness right in front of us.

 

Being a Christian prepares us to be strong in those times as well. Our journey can go uphill to the mountaintops where it can be extremely easy to find God, like it is for me on mission trips. I can truly see God everywhere, whether it be on the smile on your clients’ face after doing an easy task, or the amazing cooks, or the amount of times you can laugh and build memories with your work team and church family, as well as getting to

fellowship and meet so many new faces of youth, just like us wanting to be disciples of

Christ. Also, on the mission trip note, I can’t wait for Lovington this year! Mission trip is

the best time of the year and it is because of all those mountain top experiences that

are shared by all.

But another thing about being a Christian is to remember that God is also there on the journey downhill to the valleys. Finding Christ can be a little tough in those moments. I know personally I have had a lot of loss and heartache this year and knowing that God is always there in every part of the journey is an important thing to remember. It has only helped to strengthen my faith like how the disciples trusted in Jesus in their times of persecution.

 

In Acts 9 we see Saul on his journey to becoming Paul and in verses 3-4 it says

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around

him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him “Saul,Saul, why do you

persecute me?’” Even in Paul’s moments where he was most broken, and the most

far from God, God was Guiding him, chasing him down, and pursuing him. Saul was a

man who was persecuting Jesus and his followers threatening truly horrible things, and

yet Jesus was there to question him and bring him to be the apostle that he ended up

becoming.

 

Our journey continues this Easter Day and Jesus lightens the path better than

any car. God’s eternal plan was to join believing Jews and Gentiles together to offer his

grace and love to all people. The fact that this was God’s plan from the beginning and

that he sacrificed his son so that we won’t have to suffer, that he cared about us before

we knew he existed, it blows me away.

 

In Ephesians 3: 8 which was written by Paul saying “Although I am less than the

least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given to me: to preach to the Gentiles the

boundless riches of Christ.” We see how humbled and impacted Paul is by receiving

this gift from Christ in his crucifixion that Paul dedicated his life to the ministry of

sharing it with others. When we fully receive the gift we’ve been given by God, we feel

it in our bones, it humbles us, and it changes us. We are driven to share the gospel and

be a light in the darkness, as a living example of him.

 

In the song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury the lyrics “I couldn’t earn it. I don’t

deserve it. Still you gave yourself away” is talking about the love that Jesus showed for

us when going to the cross to be crucified. This really shows the love that he has for us,

the “overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God” Just knowing that we serve a

God who cared enough to dwell in our sin is overwhelming. It is awe inspiring and yet

still humbling, knowing that he loves us so much to give us the gifts that he has given us

like Paul experienced, and that he watches over us on our different and individual

journeys with our walk with Him.

 

Easter is a day that embodies this precious gift that God gives us in the

crucifixion and resurrection of his son. We get to celebrate the goodness of the gift of

eternal life with Jesus, get to celebrate that we were not just made good, but made new,

brought to life in Jesus. And the best part of all is he was not done with us. God did all

of this so he could have intimate and individual relationships with each of us, and is still

doing that today. Just as Romans 8:11 says “If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from

the dead dwells in you, he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give life to

your mortal bodies through the spirit who dwells in you.” This allows us to trust in the

living and active God who leads and guides our every step BECAUSE of the way Jesus

made for us in his resurrection which we get to celebrate today. Just as we don’t know

what lies ahead, and we must trust in him, the disciples didn’t know what lied ahead

and still trusted Jesus as well.

 

Easter is a great time to reflect on everything Jesus did for us, that he

suffered so that we didn’t have to. This is such a humbling thing to think about. He

loved us enough to die in our place, even though he is perfect, knowing full well we

would sin and that we would fail him daily. He died and gave us a reason to share God’s

grace and love through the special gifts that he gives us. We need to remember that

everything we have is from him, so everything we must do is to glorify him.

 

In John 14: 2 we see that Jesus has already gone ahead of us to prepare the

way and knows what’s waiting for us. The scripture reads “My Father’s house has many

rooms: if that were not so, would I have told you I am going there to prepare a place for

you?” How exciting is that. Not only did he redeem us from our sin in this life but he

raised up to life so that we can live with him forever. He has gone home to prepare a

room for us and is excited for us to see him there. One of the most honoring things we

can do as a response to this good news is praise him. Let us worship his holy name!


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CHOSEN

It’s really all about choices, isn’t it?  We have the choice to live in relationship with our Creator and acknowledge His presence in our Lives. God formed us in His image and gave us breath of life in order that we may sing His praises and shine His light to all those around.

 
He knew us before the world even began, and He deemed our days worthy of life. In Psalm 139: 14 we sing, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know that full well.”  He chose us to be in relationship with Him.

 

Did you catch that important part? He CHOSE us! He brought us into being by His perfect design, and He chose us for this time and this place. There is power in that, my friends!  Not only can we choose to be in relationship with Him, but He has chosen to be our Immanuel (God with us).

 

As we look at the choices that lie in front of us every day, it serves us well to consider that we too, are chosen.  We are “…a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] you may declare the praises of him who called [us] you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9.

 

The Oxford Dictionary defines “choose” as “pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives”.  Are you living into that calling? Are you choosing to be the most appropriate of two alternatives? Jesus died on the Cross so that you would know and choose Him as the best of two alternatives. And, He chose you to live in His light and grace so that you may not know the worst of the alternatives. Think about it…. Our Lord and Savior CHOSE YOU!  He didn’t have to, but in love for you, wanted you to be His and live with Him in eternity.

 

AMEM! AMEN! AMEN!

Love, Mrs. Tracey


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Shine!

We deepen our Christian journey as we make more and more God choices. The last few weeks we’ve been asking ourselves where is God in our choices? Have you been thinking about this when you’ve been presented with choices? From staying away from gossip, saying no to wrong behaviors, turning away from electronics to creating time for prayer, we are all encouraging one another to make wise choices in all we say and do.

I encourage you now to consider how you choose to acknowledge Christ. We are told in Psalm 91:14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”

Are you speaking Jesus’ name and acknowledging him every day? Do you let others see Jesus in you? Do you claim the Holy Spirit and the Bible’s Word of Truth as your guides for good choices? Or, do you put on your “Jesus” hat only at church? Where and when you claim to show your faith is a choice. Stand firm in your faith in an eternal kingdom lead by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Acknowledge that you are forgiven of bad choices and have been called to live out your faith in love and grace with the Living Jesus by your side.

Matthew 5:16 reminds us, “In the say way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

You are given multiple choices each and every day to let your light shine. What are you choosing? Where is God in your choices? But always remember, forgiveness is in Jesus’ heart for you and for me. It’s a simple choice to ask Jesus to forgive you, and it can have a tremendous impact on everything you choose to do from then on.

Choosing to claim Christ can affect your present, your future and your eternity. Today choose to SHINE!

 

Love, Mrs. Tracey


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Why is Life so Hard?

Several weeks ago, I heard the question surface from a Youth event that asked, “Why is life so hard?” I thought maybe a peer-to-peer response might be a good idea for this week’s blog. So, here is an AUMC Youth member sharing her thoughts on this question: Why is life so hard? (Hmmm. I wonder if it has anything to do with choices.)  

Love, Mrs. Tracey

 

From Kelsey:

Life is hard! The truth, though it may not be what we desire, is that something is always going to happen to make life hard; especially when we make poor choices that make it even harder. There is no easy answer to the reason why life is so hard. But, I know we can choose how we react to these challenges!

Yes, there are theories about this question like God is testing us or God is punishing us.  However, these theories aren’t true. This question could be contemplated for days, but it’s much simpler to remind ourselves we live in a world that is not perfect.  Jesus even says in John 16:33 “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This world is never going to be perfect, so we should not expect that it will be. 

Even the slightest imperfection in our world can come crashing down on us, reminding us that we are subject to many hardships and heartaches.  Hopefully, we learn how to move forward and teach ourselves to push through all obstacles that are thrown our way.  Our hope is in a Heavenly Kingdom created by God that will be perfect.  We can choose to believe in a perfect eternal life.

 
When a new difficulty comes up, it’s okay to break down. However, God reminds us that there is more beyond the sights we see or the sounds we hear. Though the reason behind these obstacles is not because God is testing us, he still wants to see that our faith survives the worst. Job 14:7 says, “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.”
 
How do we move past the challenges? Moving on is hard for anyone to master. However, it’s an easy concept. We are reminded in James 5:13, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone among you happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”
         
So, the first thing that needs to happen is prayer. Pray for strength through the tough times.  Pray for healing. Pray for the others affected as well.  The next thing is to remember that it is not the “end of the world”.  There is nothing so bad that can cause your world to come crashing down beyond a point of hope.  The last thing is to think about how you can fix it or make it better.  You may not be able to resolve the difficulty completely, but you can try.
 
Life is already hard enough; don’t make it harder. Life is so hard because we choose to let it consume us and absorb all our thoughts and motivation.  Yes, terrible things happen that are not in our control.  But, the only reason it’s truly too hard to handle on our own is because of how we react. Choose to let Jesus help carry the burdens.   “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
 
~Kelsey

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Happy March!

Today marks the beginning of a new month and a new message to focus on as a group: Choices!
 
REMEMBER? When we packed suitcases at Youth last week, all three groups said “make good choices”.  It must really be important, then, right?
 
What choices are you making today, tomorrow, or next week? Maybe your choices revolve around what to wear, where to go for lunch, or when to start your homework. You might even be asking if you should sign up for Mission Trip or not. Choices aren’t always easy.
 
But, some of your choices seem more critical. What classes will I take next year? Where should I go to college or trade school? What steps should I take to prepare for caring for myself after High School? Bigger choices seem to stress us out, and as much as we try not to, we sometimes take way tolong agonizing over these decisions.
 
But, even, after you evaluate these choices, you have even bigger decisions to make in your life… Do I choose to believe in God? Do I trust what I think is Jesus guiding my heart?  Do I go to Church, read my Bible, or pray to further develop my understanding of God?
 
Unfortunately, we spend A LOT of time thinking about the minor choices and not as much time thinking about the BIG choices. Let’s spend this month intentionally thinking about and choosing Jesus. The more we look to Him, the more He will make the other choices in our life easier to decide.
 
Yours in Christ,
Tracey Cox
Director of Youth Ministries

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