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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Part 1 of 7 on Leadership: Where Eagles Dare: Spreading Your Wings

Romans 12:6-8 (NIV) 6We have different gifts,according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

This blog is dedicated to all of the men and women who have to lead from within a team. It is dedicated to the men and women who have to kick, scratch, claw, and fight to lead their team within the confines of an organization with multiple teams. We have heard it said that, “Eagles don’t flock”, however, within many organizations eagles are made to co-exist and nest on the same cliff. Eagles are solitary creatures who do not like to share territory. This blog will take a look at the challenges one faces as one attempts to lead from within the team. One of the toughest things to do is to gather twelve leaders in one room and vision cast or ask opinions concerning the direction of the organization. This can be frustrating for all the leaders. Working in a multiple staff setting fighting for finances, support, staff, volunteers, calendar dates, and facilities can take away from the purpose of the team universal. In this blog we will attempt to recognize the challenges and provide solutions to help better both the individual team and the team universal.

New Leaders Spreading Their Wings

“Eagles don’t flock” is a true statement. However, they are made to flock within the confines of a team. Most organizations are full of departments and each department must have leadership. One of the hardest things to do is find your place on a team. New leaders are not always welcome onto the team. Their ideas are not always received with the same enthusiasm that they are given. A new member trying to spread his or her wings within the flock of an organization can find the airspace crowded. They tend to hear things like, “We have tried that before”, “That will never work”, “We don’t that here”, or “He or she is still young or green give them time and they will settle down”. Unfortunately, many of the other leaders have gotten comfortable with their air space and they are not willing to make room for a new person trying to spread his or her wings. Many times the other leaders perceive the new leader’s ideas and enthusiasm as an attempt to take over and not share the air space. The new leader must not give up! No matter how many times or how crowded the air space gets he or she must battle for the air space and the right to spread his or her wings or he or she will never soar with the eagles. The ideas and enthusiasm that is brought to the team by a new team member will eventually be received by the team especially if the leader puts together a track record of success upon success. No one is going to give their air space willingly. A new leader must carve out his or her airspace within the organization. One of the best ways for a new leader to carve out air space among the organization is to run his or her team with skill and precision. Air space for a new leader to spread his or her wings can not be denied within the organization if his or her team is benefiting the organization. It is no easy task to take air space from other leaders however it is necessary. The organization is counting on the new leaders to spread their wings and take their rightful place soaring within the organization. Current leaders are not going to be around forever and if new leaders do not earn the right to soar with them they will not get the wisdom and mentoring needed to lead the organization one day.

New Leaders are not always welcome into the Flock

On one occasion a new team member and leader, the author of this blog, was told in no uncertain terms that the organization, or team he was looking at joining, was “not looking for any superstars”. That is not exactly the kind of welcome a new team member and leader expects. That is the kind of welcome they will face by current leaders who have worked hard to make the organization all that it is. The current leadership has placed their life’s work into the organization and a new leader can not expect the current leaders to just move over and make room. They are going to have to prove themselves to the organization. A new team member trying to spread his or her wings should not spread their wings at the expense of the other members of the organization. While they are not always welcomed with open arms they must not let that deter then from attempting to spread their wings. Once the new team member has shown his or her intentions through adding value to the organization by contributing ideas, helping others succeed, and general participation then he or she can begin to spread their wings and soar within the organization. These actions still do not guarantee a warm reception. The fact is it does not matter whether he or she is welcomed. The fact of the matter is that the head leader and leader of the organization has chosen him or her and that should be good enough.

A New Leader Must Not Give Up

Whether the new leader receives a warm reception or not is irrelevant. In a perfect world one could paint a picture of complete and utter acceptance and unconditional love; however, this is not a perfect world! Sharing air space is not a top priority in the minds of the current leaders. They are used to doing things a certain way. Many of the current leaders will have grown comfortable and await the time when they can fly south and stay there. A new team member coming in trying to spread his or her wings can throw them into a tailspin and mess up their picture perfect world. The new leader who comes in and does not expect to be challenged for air space is sadly mistaken. A good idea for the new leader would be to ask one or more the current leaders to mentor him or her. Either way the new team member or leader must be consistent, confident, and committed to spreading his or her wings. Giving up is not an option! When is the last time you have seen an eagle walking? Eagles are meant to soar!

The Key to Soaring is Building on Success

A major way that a new leader can be encouraged not to give up is to focus on the success of the team he or she has been entrusted with. Success that builds both the new leader’s team and the organization will be the key to getting the air space needed to spread one’s wings. By skillful and precise leadership the new leader can lead his or her team to success after success building the organization and gaining recognition with the organization. Success no matter how small or how large is still success and no one can argue with results. If the new team member wants to get the attention of the head leadership he or she must show the ability to lead his or her team successfully. Through success the new leader carves out his or her air space within the organization. Air space can not be denied to the leader that will use it most effectively. It is not easy to gain air space and the right to soar with the eagles but it is possible. New leaders and team members around the country are carving out air space through success and as a result their spreading the wings and soaring within their organizations.

Young Leaders and New leaders are the Head Leaders of the Future

Through flying within the organization new leaders gain the experience and skills needed to lead the future. New leaders should take full advantage of the time they have soaring with the current leadership and organization. The current leadership will not going to be around forever and they must have successors. While it was tremendously hard to carve out airspace and earn the right the spread their wings it will not be hard for current leaders, who have soared with young eagles, to hand over the organization to capable, skilled, and commit committed leaders. Every leader knows there is a time when they must surrender their airspace and allow the next generation of leaders to soar to their fullest potential. Remember, older leaders were once new leaders who had to do the same thing that you are doing to earn the right to soar. A new leader who has shown consistent, confident, and committed leadership is what the current leaders are looking for. A teachable spirit and a willingness to learn is what they are looking for so that they can invest time and effort in something bigger than they are. Gaining wisdom while it is available is wisdom. Seeking quality mentors while quality mentors can be found is what new leaders should be doing if they want to spread the wings.

Soaring at Full Wing Span

After carving out the air space needed to soar the new leader can only do one thing, soar! But they will not just soar they will soar at full wing span. They will soar and their potential will be seen and used to the highest degree. New leaders who have fought, scratched, kicked, and clawed their way into the flock universals air space should fly loud and proud. Once a new leader has gained the respect of the organization he or she can help other new leaders soar at full wing span. They will find that their team will soar and their success will continue throughout their career. When a leader is flying at full wing span he or she is the happiest and healthiest. If you are not flying at full wing span then carve out enough air space through success to be sure that you can. It can be crowded up there if it gets too crowded soar higher!

Life Lessons

When this author was invited to join his first multi-staffed team it was in a unique time. I was inexperienced and green concerning the task I had been called to do. I was to lead a group of twenty-one people, 15 teenagers and 6 adults, on a trip toBelize in Central America. However, there was a huge catch. You see the team had not been trained in street evangelism, puppetry, mime, or human video. There was also another big problem they needed to raise close to $11,000 to make the trip. I took the position in April and the trip was to take place in June. So here I am with a group of ill-equipped team members and an $11,000 dollar budget to raise. If there was ever a time for a new leader to show that he or she could soar it was now! I took one step at a time under the watchful eye of the other staff members and leaders. Step one was to get my people trained in street evangelism, puppetry, and human video. I personally taught the evangelism course and puppetry course. I brought in a special team to teach human video and drama to my team every week. Within three weeks my team had five new dramas memorized, three puppet songs memorized, and possessed the ability to evangelize on a cold call on the street. I new people were watching and I knew I had showed myself a worthy leader. Now came the big deal, fundraising. We did dinners, took donations, had a car wash, and then I put together the big deal, an auction. It was a mammoth undertaking and it took blood, sweat, and tears but it was a huge success. People donated pianos, services, sports memorabilia, clothing, and the like. In one night we raised $5,000! By June we had raised all but $2,000 and the church came through for us. Now with the team trained the finances raised and the trip planned we were ready to set sail. Then trouble hit! When we arrived in Miami, FL we found out that the guy who was supposed to lead our team through customs and to the vocational school were not going to make it. That left your truly back in the hot seat. With 6 adults and 15 teenagers counting on me I stepped up to the plate and got my team through customs. The trip was a great success we poured numerous concrete slabs and saw over 2,300 school children in a five day span. When I returned state-side I had earned the respect from my team, my leaders, and my organization. I had successfully carved out my air space. You can better believe that there were a lot of people watching carefully to see if I had the right stuff. You see my leader had taken a chance on a young green kid fresh out of college. I wanted him to know he had not made a mistake. I wanted him to know he had made the right choice. I also wanted everyone else in the organization to know I was a capable and willing team member. Needless to say I flew at full wing span the rest of my stay in that organization. Even when my head leader resigned I was asked to stay on board because I had showed my ability to soar and my loyalty to both the leader and the organization. For the rest of my stay I was not denied air space because everyone knew I would use what was given to me or carved out by me. Through consistent and capable leadership I was able to soar and elevate others within the organization.

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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in COAH

 

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Change Your Mind

Change isn’t easy and anyone who says it is, is fooling themselves. As long as we live we will face the pleasure and pain of change.Change begins on the inside and eventually is seen on the outside. To experience change we must stop the negative self-talk and negative self-think that happens unexpectedly in real time. By arresting that talk and thinking and replacing it with right thinking and positive affirmations we can experience the change we are longing for. My source of truth and right thinking comes from the promises found in the Bible.

That too is not easy because we have to battle through fear, doubt, self-worth, and self-doubt issues just to get the decision to change. To change isn’t easy because we get set in our ways. Even when the truth is revealed we choose to stay inside the lie because of fear and regret for lost time or we are too prideful to admit we got it wrong and repent. Jesus reveals this is in a teaching to a group of religious people who were set in their ways and trapped by their own fear.

Matthew 21:31-33 (ESV) 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Notice with me Jesus told them you even witnessed that truth and saw the miracles it produced and still you didn’t
change your minds and believe. I have heard it said, “Change happens best when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change.” We must begin to change our minds. I had a moment like this concerning my life in vocational ministry and the Church of Jesus Christ. I had to change my mind. I knew God had better plans. If I wanted to see those plans come to life I was going to have to change my mind. No longer would I worry about what “the experts” said or taught instead I would inquire of the Lord and do what He says. Now please understand I still believe inmentorship and personal growth. I just believe that these things should supplement my ministry but not dictate it. With my mind changed I stepped out on this church planting journey to the glory of God. I’ve taught martial arts for many years. I would always recognize the first place change, self-defense and competition happens is in our heads. So many students came in beat up by life that they felt and viewed themselves in low regard. I knew this had to change. I knew this could change if they believed it could change. So we set small goals. My rule was and is never compare one student to another. Each student has a personal best they just have to discover it. Many of my students had never even set a goal and achieved it.
If you never set a goal you’ll never achieve a goal. A big reason why we don’t set goals is because of fear. 99% of fears never come true and yet they consume us and render us ineffective. It is time we put fear in its place and begin to live the life we have always dreamed. Set God-sized goals! We’re going to believe someone,we get to choose who. If we put our faith in God and NOT fear our goals become life’s victories. It is common to hear folks say they want to “go back” or “get back to” where they once were. I say forget about going back to where we were. Blaze a new trail, explore new territory, set new goals, the past is the past leave it there. The future anxiously awaits us! I have no desire to go back to where I once was, the past was a stepping stone to get me to my destiny which lies in the future. Let’s go!
Recently I changed my mind about my health and well being. This past year I have been very focused on planting City on a Hill Church and my eating habits got way out of whack. If I’m being brutally honest, I am a mood eater. I eat when I’m stressed, happy, sad, mad, glad, and all points in between. I recognize if I want to continue to live this dream called City on a Hill Church something is going to have to change. I’ve got the working out down to a science but I needed some motivation. A new gym opened call Orange Theory Fitness with a 6 week contest. Anyone who knows me knows I thrive on competition. But then my old adversary self-doubt shows up singing Toby Keith’s song, ‘I Ain’t as Good as I Once Was.” Recently I have been battling small bouts of panic and anxiety with so many life altering circumstances it is normal but still scary. During my very first workout I had a slight bit of anxiety and I almost jumped off the treadmill. I had a couple fight or flight moments and I chose to fight. I used to teach my martial arts students, “Life boils down to WILL or WON’T we decide.” We won the USCDKA Southeast Regional Championships with that slogan in mind. Why? because we changed our minds and believed that we could!
This changing of our minds applies in every aspect of our lives mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. We face challenges in every one of those areas. Those challenges present themselves as impossible mountains to climb. But with God’s help all things are possible. I am looking forward to bringing the best “me” to every aspect of my life and future. Got to class the morning and found they had overbooked. It was then decision time. Do I go home and chill or do I go create my own Orange Effect at my gym? I chose the latter and hit up the gym. Honestly, my first response was negative but if we want to achieve goals and live the life God promised we must change our minds. Life is a 99% mental y’all.
I know we all face giants. My giants are huge but my God is bigger. My giants are strong but my God is stronger. Just making these statements requires us to make a change in our minds. Belief in God comes from a changing of the mind! When Jesus found me I believed I was a no account, worthless, waste of a life. I had no job, no hope, and no purpose. I believed I was a insignificant and didn’t matter. But I heard a man preach of God’s amazing love for me. He told me I could be set free and have a new start. At first I didn’t believe I thought I was too bad, then I thought I couldn’t do it so why try. But then I believed! I got down on my knees and humbled myself before God. I changed my mind. The pain of staying the same was far greater than the pain of changing and I chose to trust Jesus. I saw what the religious people in Jesus story didn’t and I believed. I repented which means to change your mind and I began to live differently on purpose to the glory of God. When I planted City on a Hill Church I had a change my mind moment. My mind said, “You are trapped. You have responsibilities. You can’t!.” My God said, “You can if you will trust me.” I changed my mind and trusted Jesus and here I am fourteen months later in a thriving church right in the middle of a sovereign move of God like nothing I have ever seen before in my life. Is change easy? No! Is change necessary? Absolutely if we are going to live the lives God has called us to live and bring the our best to our God, family, friends, work, and ministry. Change your mind. Be encouraged!
 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in COAH

 

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I Give Myself Away

Yesterday during worship we were singing the worship song “I Give Myself Away”. Every time I sing that song God deals with my heart in such a unique and powerful fashion. It says, “Take my heart, take my life as a living sacrifice. All my dreams, all my plans, Lord I place them in your hands. I give myself away so you can use me.” God deals so powerfully with my heart because the world’s pull is so attractive. I trust Him with all my dreams and plans means I have to have a full and unwavering love, loyalty, and trust in Him. It is so fresh in my heart because in January of 2010 God asked me to give myself away and plant City on a Hill Church. The life of a church planter and lead pastor requires one to fully give yourself away. Check that, the life of a disciple of Christ requires one to fully give yourself away. I remember in January of 2010 in a time of grief and disappointment due to circumstances far beyond my control I wrote these devastating words on a yellow legal pad, “Church Planter – The death of a dream.” I was done with ministry as I knew it. I was done with professional pastoring. Experts and consultants and crushed my spirit and turned my dream into a nightmare. Church planting wasn’t always my dream. Becoming a Lead Pastor wasn’t always my dream. Being a pastor wasn’t always my dream. Before I met Jesus my childhood dream was to be a professional wrestler. Yeah that’s right I said it, a pro wrestler. During that season while in wrestling school I had a powerful encounter with God that changed my life forever, but my dreamed remained the same. After a disappointing knee injury and the realization that I don’t look good in tights my dream died. I went to work for Wal-Mart Distribution Center then my dream was to make supervisor then manager and live a godly life and take care of my family. It was during that time that God called me to be a pastor. Pastor Ed Arroyo shared his testimony with me and recognized God’s divine cal on my life. My wife confirmed that calling and my dream of being a pastor was born. I worked my way through seminary, volunteering as a pastor, and working full time. It was during that three years that I really understand what it meant to give myself away. During that song my mind goes back to the time sacrificed by my wife and I to see this dream become and reality. We are newly married and now I spent 40 hours a week at work and 40 hours a week at school and weekends serving in the church. Realizing our dream comes at a high price that is why not everyone fulfills their dreams. I served faithfully for years and then my dream was to pastor Calvary Assembly of God. Everyone knew I was the anointed one to take the former pastor’s place even he knew it and we would joke about it. The time came for him to live out his dream and he left. They called me we began the process and after a few weeks a group of men stepped in and decided it wasn’t the right thing to do and my dream of leading Calvary died on a ugly hill. I was crushed! I think back to those days during that song. Over the next seven years I would have well meaning people come up to me and recognize my divine call to lead a congregation and the dream would be stirred. I fully gave myself to the ministry God had entrusted to me. After seven years I came to a crossroads. Ministry had become a career and no longer a calling. It was beginning to feel void an empty as corporate leadership styles, business models and vocabulary creeped into the church. My dream was dying a slow death as I felt trapped knowing it wasn’t my time. All of these thoughts and emotions come back as I sing that song, “I Give Myself Away”. The intense pain and sorrow and what it took to see my dream birthed into existence and what it takes to keep this dream alive flood my soul. Finally January of 2010 comes and I have a huge decision. I penned those words as I listed everything I could do to escape my former dream turned nightmare. At the top of the list was church planter followed by martial arts instructor, followed by personal trainer, followed by carpet cleaner next to each was how it could happen and what it would take to make happen. However next to church planter was “the death of a dream.” Why? Because it would cost the most. Because it was a giant too big to defeat by myself. Because it was far beyond my own ability. Because it was the impossible dream. During worship God reminds me of my dream and how He made it happen when I elected to give myself away so He could use me. I took my dreams and plans and placed them in His hands. Everything seems to stop for a minute as I listen intently I hear the voices of my congregation. A congregation that has been given to me and entrusted to me by God. My dream has a voice. I open my eyes for a brief moment only to see our prayer team anointing people with oil and praying the prayer of agreement touching heaven. My eyes fill with tears as God deals mightily with my heart. My dream is a reality. The impossible dream has come to life by the grace of God. My heart is filed with gratitude. This dream far outweighs being a professional wrestler, it far outweighs being a career pastor, it far outweighs pastoring Calvary Assembly of God, it is God’s dream for me. I am compelled to sing the song with even more conviction as I dream of what can and will do through City on a Hill Church if we keep clean hands and a pure heart before a Holy God. If we dream God sized dreams. If we dream the impossible dream. If my dream and their dreams become God’s dream for us as a collective body. If our dream continues to be to see lost people found, wanderers brought home to safe pasture, disciples made, and missionaries sent. This can only happen if we give ourselves away so He can use us. the song goes on to say, “My life is not my own, to you I belong, I give, I give myself away.” My life is not my own it belongs to Jesus. This dream I get to live leaves me awestruck that a Holy God would use me. I am overwhelmed by His grace. I have dreams for City on a Hill Church, they are impossible dreams without Jesus. I want to keep it that way. I hope your dreams are impossible to reach without Jesus this way you and I will stay connected to the Master and see things that far exceed what we can ask, think, or imagine. Be Encouraged!

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in COAH

 

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Staying in the Fire Fight!

What an unbelievable month! Talk about staying in the fire fight. It started with Lorena’s mother having one major surgery that turned into three major surgeries over three weeks. Lorena’s dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and needed a biopsy. That same week Lorena’s dad suffered heart failure and was put in CCU at the VA. So we had one parent in one hospital inZephyrhills and the other in another in Tampa. Lorena’s job with the school system came to an end so she is without employment. We spent countless hours on the road back and forth to Tampa, Dade City, and Zephyrhillscaring for her parents, sitting in hospital waiting rooms, and the hospice house. Lorena’s father had a heart cath that revealed the damage was irreversible and his heart was dying. They sent him home and gave him weeks to months to live. He was then admitted to the hospice house. We brought him home on his birthday, he and his wife him share the same birthday, he had a major attack and had to be sent back to hospice on his birthday. Lorena and I spent the night at the hospice house with him and the next day he went home to be with Jesus. That is the short version.

In that same time frame we had a major city wide outreach at City on a Hill Church and saw the Lord do amazing things including gathering our largest crowd to date, seeing lives changed, souls saved, and captives set free. Just before the event, the very morning we had a thunder and lightning storm like we haven’t seen in a long while. I had a choice stay in the fire fight or retreat. I chose to stay in the fire fight. I prayed and placed it in the hands of God. As I shared earlier we had more people at this event on a rainy gloomy day than on Easter Sunday! Glory to God! Out of the woods right? I was planning to start a new series after the outreach the following Sunday but Tuesday in prayer the Lord spoke to my heart and asked me to share a message called Moments. Moments is a very intimate look into my life and the life of my father. It takes us on a journey with three parallel stories, the Prodigal Son from Luke 15, my dad’s life and untimely death, and my personal testimony. Needless to say it is very taxing emotionally, physically, and spiritually to preach. But God asked me to change my plans and and I figure the only way I have been staying in the fire fight this long in this church planting journey is choosing His plans over mine so I complied. Little did I know that Saturday night Lorena’s dad would be passing away. Talk about a major shock. Now I was about to revisit, share and explore the life and death of my own father less that 12 hours after losing my father-in-law with my wife in attendance! I didn’t know how I was going to do it!! I knew I had to stay in the fire fight and be obedient. I knew I had heard from God. I knew it was what His plans were for COAH. So by God’s grace I preached Moments and we saw some pretty miraculous things happen in the lives of many. When I finished I was completely exhausted and we were leaving directly following church to spend time with family. That evening I was hit with another unexpected attack. When I tried to go to sleep I ended up having an anxiety attack. I have suffered with panic and anxiety in the past and I hadn’t really struggled a whole lot in recent times however, Sunday night I found myself right on the edge of an attack. My mind began to race, I couldn’t calm down, luckily my best friend was there to talk me through it. He understands because he himself deals with similar issues. Just having him there by God’s grace helped me to stay in the fire fight. The attack lasted only 10 minutes and I was able to return to sleep quicker than I have in the past. Of course anyone who knows about panic and anxiety knows that after an attack anticipatory anxiety kicks in waiting for the next attack so it is a struggle.

I found myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained. It is in those times you have to stay in the fire fight and refuse to retreat or surrender any territory to your enemy. I clung to Psalm 121, 73:25-26, 23, and 116:15. This week I have a short week. in the words of Jerry Reed’s song, “We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there..” We have dad’s viewing Thursday , dad’s funeral Friday, dad’s interment Friday, I have a wedding rehearsal Friday, and a wedding Saturday and we kick off a new series GIFTED on Sunday. How am I going to make it? By staying in the fire fight. I won’t lie I was tempted to just sit back and be overwhelmed. I was tempted to look at the giant and say he is too big. I was tempted to look at the mountain and say it is too tall. However, I have always said, “If anybody can do it let them do it. Give me the task that few if no one can or wants to do. The greater the challenge the greater glory for God.” You can’t snatch victory from the jaws of defeat if you don’t stay in the fire fight. You can’t win the battle if you retreat you must stay in the fire fight. You can’t strike into the heart of darkness and expect no resistance. You can’t win a city for Jesus staying on the porch you got to stay in the fire fight. How? Prayer and lots of it, the love, support, and prayers of an amazing church family, family and friends, the power of the Holy Spirit, the grace of God, the blood of Christ, and the Word of God. That is how I stay in the fire fight. I reminded of a song by Clint Brown it says , ” Lord I praise! Lord I glorify your name. And if the sun says I won’t rise, or dark clouds fill my skies. Lord just know that I will always give you praise. And when troubles on the way. I will always say, no matter come what may. I always give you praise.” This past month has been unbelievable, however God has been even more amazing! Stay in the fire fight. Be encouraged!

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2011 in COAH

 

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