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GBC Annual Car Show: July 27, 2024

and Touch-A-Truck for the Children!

at Grace Baptist Church, 3023 N. Union Rd., Franklin, OH 45005

$10 Registration Fee for Vehicles in the Show (Registration from 3pm-5pm)

Trophies for Cars, Trucks, Jeeps
Special Award for Car Club with the Most Attendance

FOOD & DOOR PRIZES

Contact Kent: 513.465.9568

 

To our members and those that faithfully serve in all our ministries at Grace Baptist Church, I come with some exciting news.

On Sunday, November 26th the membership of Grace Baptist Church voted overwhelmingly to appoint Donnie Sixt as the Pastor of Grace Baptist Church. Donnie has been a missionary to Sweden over the past few years but felt the Lord leading him back to the United States for various family related reasons. He was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio and surrendered himself to the ministry not long after high school. He and his wife Beverly have four children and reside in Middletown, Ohio. Donnie felt the calling of the Lord to Grace as our leadership team began the search for a full-time pastor. Little did we know that the Lord was simultaneously working in the hearts of those in the Pulpit Committee and that of Donnie and his wife.

Sixt Family
I hope and trust that you will take the time to talk with Donnie and Beverly as I know they are excited about the path the Lord has brought them down. While we still have much work ahead of us, the wonderful spirit we have experienced before and after each service has been amazing. Our church has been through some difficult situations in the past 12 months. While we cherish the fellowship we have today, we miss and love those that we served and worshipped with in the past. We place our trust and faith in the Lord, and that His will might be done in all the lives that have been impacted by his work at Grace Baptist Church. Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”

As we trust the Lord in salvation, we can surely trust him in all things including the leading of GBC. Sometimes we may not be able to understand, but we know He does. Let’s continue to acknowledge him, so our paths may be clear and moving in the direction he would have us go! Thanks for your faithfulness in serving, and may our Lord continue to bless all of you!

Michael French
Chairman of the Deacons


BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

Recently, a church member handed me a March 6th article from the Middletown Journal titled “Future of Religion Will Always Be Part Sociology, Part Supernatural,” by Ross Douthat. The title caught my attention, and I am not sure why the church member handed it to me; but the article is a brief, general consideration of historical, Western Christianity considering the recent Asbury University revival events. The question that I have, as the title suggests, is whether religion is “part sociology” and “part supernatural.” A second question arises from an affirmative response to the author’s assertion. That is, if religion is both sociological and supernatural, what does this mean for how we think about our present activities?

Before addressing the author’s assertion and how we should consider our present activities, we should all be grateful that this kind of discussion is made public and that Douthat is willing to risk his beliefs about Christ in the public square. Douthat is very clear on Who the Person of Christ is and why he is a Christian. We need more people who speak clearly, not just about issues but about the Person of Jesus Christ. The author clearly presents Christ as a historical and divine Person. Praise God!

Regarding Douthat’s thesis, I would encourage a little more thoughtfulness. First, what is true religion, and should we allow history and culture to define this rather than the scriptures? James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” If the scriptures are the authority for how we think about Christianity, particularly Jesus Christ, then we should thoughtfully consider what true religion is and what it is not. A revivalist movement does not constitute true religion.

A second area for more thoughtfulness is the ministry of Charles G. Finney, which Douthat sites as evidence of a historical, supernatural working of God – in contrast to Thomas Jefferson’s refusal of the divinity of Jesus. While Douthat rightly calls Finney’s movement revivalism, Finney and his movement are hardly tests for true religion. We again must return to the scriptures and allow them to give us the lenses necessary for discerning true religion in historical events – be they religious or not.

We again must return to the scriptures and allow them to give us the lenses necessary for discerning true religion in historical events – be they religious or not.

Granted, one could look at the history of the Second Great Awakening and say that it was a successful, religious movement; but, in my experience, that kind of assessment is largely pragmatic and often overlooks a wealth of documentation that exposes the problems with the Finney Movement. By pragmatic, I mean that we tend to see large-scale results as automatic evidence of a movement of God. The ends seem to justify the means used to employ or bring about those ends. In his book titled Revival and Revivalism,[2] Iain Murray addresses the problems of Finney’s approach and the aftermath of Finney’s revivalism. Murray not only sites many historical sources, but he also establishes a biblical grid to aid the reader’s discernment of the Finney Movement.

So, how should we think about religion, sociology, and the supernatural? Think scripturally rather than pragmatically. Big numbers and heightened emotions do not automatically mean that it is a movement of God. Think Christo-centrically. To Douthat’s credit, he does this latter part well, but I would take it a step further than he does. The life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ confirm the providential working of God. God providentially worked despite those with good or ill intentions. We can also expect that God still works in this way. If the providence of God is true, then we must be careful to place too much faith in the sociological component that Douthat seems to highlight. Sociology has to do with the study of human society. We admit that there are sociological symptoms, but these symptoms do not work as an equal partnership with the providential God. God works despite and through societal structures, and what Christianity will be in the future will be according to His purposes.

Christian, believe more in the sovereignty of God. Trust Him, and do not live in fear of the future. Believe more in the scriptures of God. Trust His Word at all points. Believe more in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and live as Jesus’ kingdom subject now.

Believe more in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and live as Jesus’ kingdom subject now.


Sources

[1] Douthat, Ross. “Future of Religion Will Always Be Part Sociology, Part Supernatural.” Journal-News [Middletown], March 6, 2023, p. A5.

[2]https://cometogbc.com/ten-reasons-you-need-to-read-revival-and-revivalism/


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BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

Preparing for the Second Coming of our High Priest

Leviticus 14:1-20 has the law concerning the restoration of a leper to the community and the presence of God. The restoration process took two weeks and involved several sacrifices with a waiting period between week one and week two. The priest would go to the outside of the camp to meet the healed leper. From there, the rituals would begin – birds, goats, and a lamb would be sacrificed. In biblical terms, atonement would take place. A payment for sin, which leprosy symbolized, would be accomplished.

In the New Testament, we understand that Jesus is not only the High Priest (see Hebrews 4 & 7), but He is also our sacrifice. The blood of Christ is what atones for our sins, but the story of Jesus does not end with the death and resurrection. As our High Priest, Jesus presently intercedes on behalf of his people (I John 2:1-2). Additionally, our High Priest Jesus will return to bring us back into the Father’s presence, just like the healed leper was fully and finally brought into the presence of God in the Tabernacle (Leviticus 14:11-20).

How are you preparing for the return of Jesus? Some people have the idea that we prepare by simply waiting. By waiting, some Christians have the idea that they just sit around and do only what is necessary to survive. Other Christians may have the idea that we really don’t have to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The reality is that all Christians should be preparing by continuing to grow in Christlikeness by the power of the anointing we’ve all received – the anointing is the Holy Spirit of God. So, are you more like Jesus this week than you were last week? How are you more like Jesus? How has the Spirit of Christ changed you to be more like Christ recently?

Here are a few thoughts, Seasoned Saints, as you prepare for Jesus’ return:

  • Fill your soul with the sufficiency of Jesus. Puritan John Owen spoke about making sure that we are continually learning about Jesus’ sufficiency. Filling your soul includes intentional Holy Spirit-empowered disciplines where you are regularly consuming the scriptures, praying, and assembling with the people of God.
  • Purposely look with joy to the end of your journey. The healed leper had been an untouchable outcast. Through the rituals of Leviticus 14, he had something wonderful to look forward to – the presence of God. Yes, our Christian loved ones will be in Heaven when we arrive; but Heaven is wonderful because of God’s presence. Consider the joy that should flood your soul!
  • Persevere for Christ! Don’t give up! It may seem like the time of waiting for your children to repent or your loved ones to turn to Christ is long; but we have a great High Priest. His Father is all-powerful and is capable of drawing those loved ones to the Son.
  • Continue on the path of holiness. The book of Leviticus shows us the grace of God in providing a way to His presence; but the book does not make light of sin. In other words, the book of Leviticus shows both the holiness of God and the horribleness of sin. As you look at your life, you may be tempted to think that you must acquiesce to the sins of family members in order to love them; but that is not true. You should love them, but you should also maintain a holy path. Show your lost loved ones how God, in his love, has made a way for them to be forgiven of sin and be with the Lord forever.

These are just four ways in which you can actively prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Look joyfully for Him to return. Live expectantly. Soon, we shall see Him.


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BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

Abortions dropped 65% in Ohio following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.” A casual glance at this title evokes a certain degree of rejoicing among those who believe in the sanctity of life. Unfortunately, the article is written to elicit a different sentiment. The article’s author Jessie Balmert laments the reduction in abortion. Consequently, I must submit that there is a lack of clarity regarding a cause over which there should be rejoicing rather than mourning. Let’s analyze the ambiguous points in this article, then conclude with the only Source of clarity.

Among the statistics in the article, the following is quite arresting: “About 2,470 fewer people obtained abortions in Ohio following those restrictions.”[1] What exactly does the author mean by “fewer people”? Let’s begin with those who can conceive a child. Don’t assume that we have moved passed the argument about gender identity. Culturally, we are at a point where we can no longer assume what writers and speakers mean by the term people. I do not know how Ms. Balmert defines a person who can have an abortion, but scripturally and biologically, only a woman can conceive. Hence, the more accurate statement is that about 2,470 fewer women obtained abortions. Yes, those who hold this binary stance are viewed and accused of being transphobic, but this position is biblical in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. In the New Testament, Jesus affirms that His Father’s original creation in Genesis were male and female. The scriptures are not silent on how male and female are described. Women can conceive. Men cannot. Our definitions must be clear before we can sensibly proceed in this argument.

Not only should we be clear on the issue of what it means that less women are getting abortions, but let’s also consider two other details cited in the article. The first one references Ohio’s abortion law. Balmert says, “In mid-September, Ohio’s six-week abortion ban was placed on hold by a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge. That decision restored abortion access in Ohio up to 20 weeks’ gestation or 21 weeks and six days after the last period.” This point about a 20-week-old baby made me wonder. Should we be clear on what a 20-week-old baby is or is doing? Consider the timeline below regarding a baby in development. As you read, ponder what a 20-week gestation means. The Mayo Clinic outlines the second trimester of gestation in the following list:[2]

  • Week 13 bones are hardening, urine is forming
  • Week 14 red blood cells forming, spleen forming, sex identifiable
  • Week 15 scalp and hair patterns are forming
  • Week 16 eyes are moving
  • Week 17 toenails developing, baby increasingly moving
  • Week 18 hearing begins
  • Week 19 baby developing protective coating for skin
  • Week 20 baby responding to loud noises

For clarity’s sake, when Ohio restores abortions for 20-week-old babies, they are restoring the legalization of the taking of a life, right? To restore this process is to stop the growth, movement, and sensory responses of the baby, not just a fetus. You and I must admit undoubtedly that we are talking about a life – a life that is developing; therefore, restoring abortion on 20-week-old babies is equivalent to the aborting of a life.

Additionally, Balmert cites Dr. Sharon Liner who is a medical director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest, Ohio. Liner laments, “Our patients have been devastated when we have informed them that Senate bill 23 has taken effect and we cannot provide them with the care they need.”[1] What exactly is the care that someone needs? Shouldn’t we clarify what is really a need? What are the criteria that would determine whether something is a genuine need or not? Why is it assumed that having a 20-week-old baby sucked out of a woman’s womb is the need? Sadly our culture has identified and limited that need after the baby is conceived. I would argue that the need is far deeper and greater. More than simply providing care, we need a moral revolution. Should we then not encourage the bridling of lusts and passions before the so-called need is created? How do we find the way to meeting genuine needs?

As a pastor, I would like to call you to the Way of Christ. To you who profess Jesus Christ as your Lord but find yourself caught in the middle, I call you to biblical clarity. Maybe you don’t know what to believe, or maybe you don’t care: you’ve been turned off by the hostility and division of people on both sides of the abortion issue. Maybe you’re confused by professing Christians who stand in open favor of abortion. Not only do Bible-believing Christians need clarity, but so do those who see abortion as a key reason to reject biblical Christianity. Please know that whatever position you hold, clarity is available. It is not a secret, but is found in the gospel.

The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, and this news is perspective-correcting. It is that which makes the true God known to us. Jesus Christ lived in time and space. He is not a mythical demi-god or the main character of a well-written Tolkien series. Jesus lived a perfect life in a horribly broken, evil-filled world. This fallenness and spiritual depravity reflect our sinful perspectives that denigrate life and the Giver of life. Thankfully the gospel is God’s declaration to begin reversing, renewing, and restoring all things to Himself.

The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, and this news is perspective-correcting.

The gospel begins with God making Himself known to us in Jesus Christ, who claimed to be this God and who entered humanity’s brokenness. Despite His perfection, Jesus lived in pain, sympathized with the hurting, and endured cruel mockings.  Jesus rubbed shoulders with the immoral, traitors, adulterers, prostitutes, and hypocrites. Surprisingly many of the people around Jesus did not prevent his affirmation of the biblical Creation account in Matthew 19. Here Jesus confirmed that life was created by God, so it is not farfetched to say that life matters whether in the womb or outside the womb. Why? Because God not only created them male and female, but He gave them a Creational Mandate to be fruitful and multiply. The expectation is that male and female complement each other for this reason. God cares about procreation. Jesus’ words affirm that He believed the Creation account. Listen to Jesus! Jesus is God made known to mankind.

By His perfect life, Jesus clarifies God to mankind: who God is and what God said. If ever anyone deserved to keep living, it was Jesus; but that is not what happened. He was crucified under the rule of Governor Pilate. Jesus never declared His trial an injustice because He was dying as a Substitute. Having lived the life we could not live, He died the death for sin that all mankind deserved. Yes, that includes the sin of devaluation of life. Jesus earned life, but He was paid with death – for us! You will find many faults with the followers of Jesus Christ, but you will never find fault with Jesus in His life nor in His death.

Death is not the end of Jesus’ story. Though the burial site was secured by soldiers, Jesus rose from the dead, walked upon the earth for forty days after his Resurrection, and manifested Himself to many followers, including over 500 eyewitnesses at one time. Based alone on His victory over death, we are given assurance that Jesus is Life. To have Jesus as Lord is to have eternal life. He who conquered death clarifies life. Clarity can come by no other means than through the paradigm of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He who conquered death clarifies life. Clarity can come by no other means than through the paradigm of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel changes everything! When you turn from sin to Jesus as Lord, you become a new creature. A process of reversal begins immediately after receiving this spiritual, eternal life. Part of this reversal includes sanctification, which is the means whereby the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make the children of God become more like the Son of God. Thus, desires, perspectives, values, even needs all begin to change. Moreover, clarity increases and life in Christ is magnified.

While our culture continues to debate the issue of abortion, I am asking you to consider a greater argument: Christ Himself. If Jesus really is Lord, then receive Him, follow Him, and become more like Him. True clarity in life can only come by the Source of life. Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). It is no wonder that the gospel is the good news of Jesus. It clarifies what should receive both our rejoicing and our lamenting: rejoicing over the preservation of life and mourning over the taking of life. Indeed, to choose Christ is to choose life and rejoicing over it. I invite you to Christ. I invite you to Life!

True clarity in life can only come by the Source of life.


Sources


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BY VICTORINA HOLDING

 

The Manger of Christmas
Began with God above,
Past an innkeeper’s business
And a busy, selfish crowd.

This Manger held our Savior –
Emmanuel, His name.
The angels knew it well
The shepherds told the same.

This one Manger revealed
A loving Father’s plan
Down the Path of Suffering
I could never comprehend.

At Christmastime and always,
O God, please help me see
The Manger once in Bethlehem
And the manger for my journey.

May my manger remain warm
And tender to Thy call,
Not like that of the innkeeper’s
Nor the hurried steps of all.

May my own manger reveal
God’s gracious master plan,
Which is not so clear just now
But by and by I’ll understand.

Please help me see the Manger
In its humility and power,
And make my life a manger
To a special one this hour.

May my compassion eclipse
Wrath and sorrow to pry,
Just as the Father turned His face
From His beloved Son’s cry.

Thank you, God, for the Manger
And for Christmas in my heart,
For all the hidden treasures
As light and darkness bid part.


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BY VICTORINA HOLDING

 

January 25, 1967 was one of the milder days in the Philippines. It was also my fifth birthday. Fragmented memories of neighbors who came to celebrate over some food and ice cream still dance in my mind; but one vivid image always comes into focus: my father with a plate of equally-divided slices of red apples – a treat for the most-privileged!

Until just recently, growing apples in the Philippines has been considered impossible mainly due to the fact that the three seasons (hot, hotter, and hottest) could not provide the proper climate for one of the most-coveted fruits. Imported apples were rare treats even for families who could afford them. I remember being discovered by one of my older sisters for sneaking a whole apple to myself. She tied me to one of our banana trees for my thievery. I felt avenged when my parents scolded her fiercely for mistreating the baby girl in the family, but the “apple lesson at the banana tree” has kept me from taking anything without permission from that day forward.

In my young mind, my father’s serving apple slices on my fifth birthday could not be outperformed, but the second and the third celebrations the following two days became like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Prov.25:11). Three days after my birthday, the greatest father in the entire world died in a hospital bed where he had been confined a week prior (a fact I would find out years later). It’s still unclear if he was ever given permission to leave the hospital on three separate occasions to attend an extended birthday party.

As I got older, my siblings and relatives made sure I knew what has always been evidently clear: my father was referring to me whenever he said, “the apple of my eye.” Perhaps it was because I was conceived in my parents’ older years, or because I was a sickly child who spent more days with a personal nanny than with another child. Intrigued by the appellation, I studied what the Psalmist meant when he prayed, “Keep me as the apple of the eye. Hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Ps.17:8). What a privilege, indeed, to be the object of our Heavenly Father’s love; yea, even to be the favored object of our Savior’s gracious and merciful gaze!

What a privilege, indeed, to be the object of our Heavenly Father’s love; yea, even to be the favored object of our Savior’s gracious and merciful gaze!

My father was my very first hero. Although he died when I was only five, I still see him taking the whole family to a concert at the park. Once in a while he would bring his own violin, and would join the orchestra right there and then. He was an accomplished musician – a gift from God, really. His parents were wise to grant their only boy’s wish for his fourth birthday – a violin he spotted in a store window. I believe he never stopped playing ever since.

My father remains to be my favorite model teacher. He inspired love for both learning and teaching. I can still hear him warning us against a heedless mind as we watch a poor moth’s demise for hovering too close to our study table’s gas lamp. My father could have chosen to pursue a more lucrative career in music, but he was first a teacher. Our trips to the province and the seaside were not merely for our weak respiratory systems but also for much learning about nature, people, and all the poems that can be written from watching God’s creation do His bidding.

Saturday afternoons in our home were as predictable as my father’s obsession with cleanliness and orderliness. He would line us up from oldest to youngest for final inspection before the Lord’s Day the following morning. Hair and nails that needed trimming were met with intention and precision. Dirty ears did not go unnoticed. Our Sunday clothes and shoes were all laid out to avoid delays the next day, reminding us that Sundays may never be taken lightly. I loved the routine and the seriousness of the moment, and I still think back on those days with fondness.

I am convinced that each one of his children was the apple of my father’s eye. I believe my father’s jealous gaze over my siblings and me served its intended purpose during his forty-seven short years on earth. I learned early on that, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous” (Ps.34:15); and I have held on to the promise that, “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye” (Zech.2:8). To this day, I slice up an apple slowly and thoughtfully. Seemingly ceremonial and irrational, the act has become a memorial to my earthly father’s extravagant love for his family and to Jesus Christ’s perfect love to a fallen humanity. Though my mind now wanders back to the Garden of Eden and its forbidden fruit, the images quickly take me to the Cross where a better Adam offered full atonement for my sin. Here I am brought into the presence of the Great I Am, the One who has kept me as the apple of His eye. I remain in childlike wonder: “How can it be?”


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BY VICTORINA HOLDING

 

Bro. Jake Taube’s analogy of help stations for marathon runners to those “stations” God has provided along life’s race steered my thoughts back to an adventure in which my husband and I took part on August 19, 2000. Donned in layers of light clothing and a pair of hiking boots, I excitedly joined our church group as we started our trip to Mt. Fuji in the Shizuoka prefecture, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Yokota Air Base, Japan. As our car pulled out of sight, I could still hear my teenage son pleading with tears: “Mom, please don’t do this. You won’t make it! It is not a hike at the park. It’s so hard! Please, Dad, don’t let Mom go!” He was speaking from experience. He, along with a few of our young people from church, climbed the massive height the previous summer. Determined and defiant, my sense of conquest for the sake of teaching from first-hand account left my poor boy defeated.

Our group’s trek started from one of the four ascending trails near the 5th station, approximately 7,545 feet above sea level. My personal cargo included a CamelBak, a small canister of portable oxygen, a few Tylenol, and an assortment of protein snacks. I was ready to conquer Fuji-san – a monstrous wonder that the Japanese people have held sacred through generations! My passion for learning would soon be tested, but not on a piece of paper.

Similar to the beginning of my Christian walk, the climb to the 6th station was a journey filled with abundant conversations and fellowship. Topics varied yet fluid, meaningful, and full of praise to God whose foundation is in the holy mountains (Ps.87:1). I was with brothers and sisters in Christ, heading toward the same summit – the 10th station. In the meantime, I had talked my husband into buying me a walking stick that would boast etched markings from each station in this supreme climb. Proud of my accomplishment thus far, I continued to trudge higher.

Then the test changed categories.

As the climb progressed, the familiar faces grew smaller and thinner. The general pace seemed to have increased while the atmosphere thickened. Our church group started to scatter according to individual strides. I was ready for my umpteenth break, and my husband and I hadn’t even seen the 7th station. I wanted to cry, but my pride held back the tears when I realized that a number of elderly Japanese men and women were passing us by on their way up. Added to the wound was the sight of very young children climbing ever so gracefully – like a walk in the park that my son mentioned earlier. Yet there I was, struggling to keep up. I wanted to quit!

Resolved not to make a quitter out of me and lose my credibility among my students for violating my own counsel, my husband found another rare flat-surfaced rock where I could sit and rest. He started to point out an obvious descending trail that any climber could follow if he chooses to turn around and go back. To my great surprise, it was not teeming with more quitters as I had expected. Then looking up, he drew my attention to our goal – the tip of Mount Fuji’s height, which, from the 7th station, was still quite a blur. With a pep talk that only a military leader could effect on my now-exhausted frame, my husband managed to walk me (most of the time carry me) all the way to the summit. Our friends had been waiting up there for the past four hours. By now they had already had their fill of soba soup or ramen of their choice, plus a good amount of rest for the pending descent.

Atop this mountain peak at 12,395 feet, a parade of clouds patted my head and caressed my face. With hardly any effort at all, I offered my hands to catch the wispy clouds while I mused on the truth of Hebrews 12:1 – “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…” All the climbers that day were witnesses: some to completion, others to resignation; but all of us to the undeniable fact that there is indeed a Creator, a Grand Designer and Sustainer of the entire universe. Here, the grueling eight-hour climb became the answer, not the test. The stations along the trail offered relief to those who would stop and avail themselves of help. To me, it was a reminder of my frailty and a test in humility. The mountain, the climb, the stations, the witnesses: all punctuated the laying aside of every weight and sin and the running with patience the race that is set before us. “To what end?” I mused. Ah, to see the face of my Savior, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”! (Heb.12:2a). In His presence, even Fuji-san bows down.


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