En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for December, 2007

God’s Compassion and Mercy! by Ray C. Stedman

Posted by Scott on December 31, 2007

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Job 42:12-13

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first (Job 42:12a).

This is what James calls in the Revised Standard Version “the purpose of the Lord” (James 5:11), revealing God to be compassionate and merciful. God did not suddenly become compassionate and merciful to Job; He had been that way all along. God’s character, unchanging, is compassion and mercy. He is love. Though He puts us through times of trials and pressures and hardships, it is not because He is angry and upset; it is because He is compassionate and merciful. If we wait, He will bring us to the place where we will see that as plainly and clearly as Job did. So the purpose of the Lord is to reveal His own heart of compassion and mercy to this dear old man.

There is a beautiful passage in Jeremiah’s Lamentations that I think we must always remember when we are going through trials and afflictions. I would urge you to memorize it as you face a new year: “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men” (Lamentations 3:31-33).

Isn’t that encouraging? He does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men. He will bring grief because He loves us and we need it, but He does not do it lightly. He feels our pain with us. As a good parent with His children, He hurts worse than we do at times. He does not willingly do it. I think we need to recall that when we are put through times of pressure and danger.

God moves Job’s relatives and friends to bring him gifts of silver and gold. But perhaps these gifts of silver and gold that friends and relatives brought were God’s way of providing a foundation of the wealth that He will bring Job. At any rate, Job ended up with double everything that he had before.

“Well,” you say, “God doubled everything but his sons and daughters. He ended up with seven sons and three daughters, just like he had at the beginning.” No. You forget he has seven sons and three daughters in heaven, and seven sons and three daughters more on earth, so God indeed gave Job double everything that he had to start with. That is the mercy of God. He does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men but longs to give them blessing when they come to the place where they can handle the blessing that He wants to give.

Help us to accept Your tender mercies, Lord, and to see behind them Your loving, compassionate heart. Help us, out of our understanding to bring praise to the glory of our great God.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The New Begining” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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-From A Dad: A Revived Call to Holiness!

Posted by Scott on December 31, 2007

Can I be frank with you, Guys?  God is calling His people back to holiness.  Our families are looking to us as husbands, fathers, and leaders to usher in this holiness to our homes, churches, and even the workplace.  Are we inadvertently losing our desire to be holy?  This is not the direction the majority of the churches are moving today either.  As a matter of fact, the church in general is moving as far away from holiness as it can all in the name of progress in winning the lost to Christ.  We see the great hymns that testify to His holiness and sovereignty pushed aside for more upbeat, rock style chants.  Such old hymns as “Take Time to be Holy” by William D. Longstaff of 1882 with such words as

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in Him always, and feed on His word.  Make friends of God’s children; help those who are weak; forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek”

are missing within the walls of churches of today.  Preachers are not standing in the pulpits anymore with the Holy Scriptures in front of them proclaiming God as holy and that we should be moving in that holy direction ourselves as the Spirit of God prompts us.  We cannot embrace success until we have successfully embraced the suffering of Christ as a part of Christianity.   

Here in Micah 5:1-15 we find a special treat as the coming birth of Christ is foretold.  The coming of Christ was the great hope for the oppressed people of this day and time.  This is not much different than the hopes we have today of Christ second coming.  My concern is the condition of “the bride of Christ” when He returns.  The task at hand for us is a return to the holiness of God.  Micah 5:4 states “He will stand to lead His flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God”.  Verse 5 “He will be the source of our peace”. God always uses a remnant for His purposes.  As the Israelites of this day and time were captured and hauled off to captivity, God promises to keep a remnant for His use.  He promises to restore and redeem this remnant for His greater glory.  This remnant is a people with little significance to the world from an earthly point of view.  These are people God strips bare and purifies with His mighty hand deep into the core of their being, and rebuilds them to accomplish His work here on earth.  The remnant is a people striving to live a holy life before God with little regard for the opinions of the masses including those within their on Christian circles.  As we look around, so many “play” at Christianity with little power in their lives.  For some reason it is “hip” in the Bible-Belt of America to tag yourself with the label of “Christian”.  To live this life out with a holy humble calling does not enter their thought process.  The church wonders why it does not have an effect on lives in their communities.  The church has left its first love, Christ, for a false doctrine of prosperity and feeling good.  The church has become in many circles the Oprah or Doctor Phil show with a Christian twist.  People are entertained by rock bands, skits, and celebrity preachers into the pits of hell, but are convinced in their own hearts that it is the work of God.  Holiness is not an easy task nor is it an easy topic to explore.  This will not be a deep search into holiness, that article will come later. 

This is a holiness called out by God from the prophet Micah years ago to a people that had been warned to turn back to God and seek His holiness in their lives.  This same holiness is welling up again within the groaning’s of this fallen world.  Being purified for His holy calling on our lives requires a painful, sometimes stressing, and bloody process.  God wants absolutely nothing between Him and us.  I am convinced that He will not stop short of destroying each and every security we have on this earth in order to achieve the holiness in us He intends.  Our finances are of no concern to Him if that must be taken in order to get our attention.  Many of us find great security in our jobs and family, yet that is not safe from this purification process.  Our toys are certainly at risk of rust and disaster if any chance exists they would get in the way of our walk with Christ.  As we see His awesome work in Micah and His people as he purifies His remnant by destroying the idols in their lives.  He was destroying anything that they may have held in greater confidence than His Majesty.  He will banish all items and concepts that pushed them away from His work within their hearts.  God would not allow anything to be left of their old life within them.  Any education that penetrates our mind and heart on the contrary to Him must go.  Micah 5:13 “…never again worship the work of your own hands.”  

In order to rebuild something you must gut it out.  Have you ever seen a home that is being remodeled?  Typically, if it is a complete remodel you take the inside of the home down to the studs of the walls.  You get rid of the old countertops, the old kitchen cabinets, the old flooring, the old musty walls and ceilings in order to restore the home and update it for better use.  In the same way, the Lord guts us out inside and rebuilds us to His specifications. 

I found in this passage of Micah 5:7 that this remnant of God is like “dew sent by the Lord or rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back”.  I can picture thirsty, parched, brown grassland that once the dew or rain has touched it comes back to life.  Within a few days that grass greens up again and becomes vibrant and healthy for cattle, sheep, or horses to eat.  Today, I read all over the internet and listen to people I am around moan in thirst for God’s truth.  These dry, parched, famished people look at everything for the truth that will satisfy their void for truth.  They long for someone to drench their tongue with the dew of God’s holy word.  Yet what they find is a message that merely tickles their ears and is little more than a mist that evaporates before than can even swallow.  For ministers that are trusted with the word of God to water down this gospel of Christ or only deliver a message that never requires anything of God’s people is a sinful act of their own will.  This is having tragic effects on the people that God is calling to His holiness, but how can they understand His holiness when they are never told how to be holy?   

In an act of obedience I deliver this message that God is calling us as layman and leaders of the church back to “holiness”.  I am not speaking of perfection here, but holiness.  This is a life that is lived for Christ against every possible oddity that can be found.  This holy life is one that mirrors God Himself.  This is a life that is not lived out for ones self, but surrendered to a Holy God that is majestic in every way.  God deserves nothing less than our entire lives and the best the Holy Spirit can wrench out of us. 

This is the straight forward truth.  This is the rain that revives and helps us to grow.  His holiness is found within the pages of the bible.   God is looking for obedient followers that march forward to His calling and His instructions, and sense the calling to be holy and work at it with every ounce of energy they have.  Disobedience will be met with God’s vengeance and stamped out.  It is better to obey than to sacrifice, however, in the quest for holiness sacrifice is also a large part of it as we rid ourselves of selfish desires and selfish activities. 

C.S. Lewis has written: 

“If I have read the New Testament right it leaves no room for our ‘creativeness’…Our whole destiny seems to lie in the opposite direction, in being as little as possible ourselves, in acquiring a fragrance that is not our own but borrowed, in becoming clean mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not ours.” 

Just remember that God does not usually work through the majority in order to accomplish His work, but a special few called “His remnant” that are set aside for His special use.  How will those of us hearing this call respond?  Will we pursue God and His holiness in order to be of greater use to Him?  Again, this is not a call to perfection…this is a call to change and bend at the will of our holy God in unabashed obedience to Him. 

-Scott Bailey © 2007

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Christmas At Uz!

Posted by Scott on December 26, 2007

From the Writings of Ray Stedman

Christmas At Uz

READ: Job 42:10-11

All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him apiece of silver and a gold ring (Job 42:11).

Doesn’t that sound like Christmas? I suppose you are saying, “Wait a minute. Come on, this is not Christmas! Why, this was long before anyone ever celebrated Christmas! This is two thousand years before Christ came. How could there be Christmas in the book of Job?”

The first thing to note about this is that the occasion that is described here is a family gathering. Job’s brothers and sisters and all his friends who had known him before are getting together. The uncles and aunts are there as well as all the cousins, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren. By this time Job is a seventy-year-old man or even older, and though his own children had all perished, he must have had grandchildren and great-grandchildren by now, and all the neighbors and friends had brought their families. So this was a great family occasion as Christmas is for us and always has been.

The second thing you see here is that this was a time of feasting. They gathered to eat together, and we do that today. We start with stuffed turkey, and we end with stuffed people! This has always been the custom at Christmas. Throughout history and in most cultures where Christmas is recognized, feasting has been a part of the Christmas celebration.

Then there is another thing here that we can associate with Christmas. It is what we would call fellowship. Job’s family and friends gathered to comfort him and to express sympathy and understanding for all the pain and suffering he had been going through.

The giving of gifts also brings to mind Christmas. These friends gave to Job gifts of silver and gold. In the Bible these two metals are used symbolically as a picture of redemption. Silver is the sign of redemption, and gold is the picture of deity; God redeeming people. That is why this is Christmas at Job’s house. Job’s witness to his friends evidently had such effect upon them that in gratitude for what they learned from him, they gave him gifts of silver and gold to express their understanding of God’s redemption among people.

Job discovered two thousand years before Jesus’ birth and eventual death on the cross that One was coming into the world, and, as the angel said to Mary, “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This is what brings joy and gladness to believers’ hearts at Christmas time. If you know the Lord Jesus, you have the greatest gift God can give to a person. Out of the richness of your life you will find yourself gladly sharing from all that you have with those who have less, that there may be the ringing out of joy and thanksgiving in a season like this.

Thank You, Lord, for the greatest gift—the gift of Your Son.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Christmas At Uz” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-From A Dad: Night Time Can Minister to Us!

Posted by Scott on December 22, 2007

Psalm 30:5 we read, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

I read this verse over and over this morning.  Thinking about the difficulties I have faced over the past several years.  The financial difficulty has been tremendous.  The affects on me and my family have been uncomprehending.  As a man and dad I would never wish pain upon myself or my family.  I really do not think any man would that is in his right mind. 

The night times seem to be the worse, especially, very early in the morning as my mind begins to crank out the negatives of my coming day.  Worry would set in and anxiety began to well up in my chest.  This is not as it should be, but guys let’s be honest…we all have times that the strain and the stress just over takes us for a moment.

Each day of my life I have to look to the “joy” of my salvation.  This life is not going to be trouble-free for the righteous by any means.  As I grow in my faith in Christ I have come to the realization that I must embrace the pain and understand that God is at work in my life.  Christ endured the cross because He understood the joy that His heavenly Father set before him and the work that was being accomplished through Him.  In the same way, the pain that drives us through sleepless nights, anxious hearts, and even worry at times, is the same pain that is completing a God given work that will glorify our Lord.

God knows the length to which He can stretch us.  He understands better than we do what our hearts can endure.  As A.W. Tozer has said, “The strongest steel breaks if kept too long under unrelieved tension.”  Our God brings the sweet relief just in time for our souls to rest.  Night is never perminent, it must give way to the light of the morning…it just must.  The darkness cannot keep out the light once it is present. 

I have endured a great deal of pain throughout the year.  Most likely this has been the toughest my family has endured.  Although, I do pray for relief and rest, I would not trade the experience of trusting in my gracious Father for all the money in the world.  I would not trade watching God provide for us each day for anything the world could offer.  Suffering is not easy…it is downright terrorizing at times.  My Lord has never left me alone to suffer in my sleep without His restful presence there with me.

So, as life goes on a discovery is made that God’s loving kindness is always present in the midst of our suffering.  We will begin to embrace the pain, because it is God Who placed it in our life.  In the painful days ahead what we will discover about ourselves cannot be replaced by all the scholarly education in the world from the finest schools.  You see, it is in the pain that many things are accomplished that joy could not accomplish.  I have discovered that the world and its ways are mostly vain.  Much of society flops around wishing for “things” hoping for more “money” without ever finding the true peace and joy that surpasses all understanding.  That true “joy” can only be found in Christ Jesus.

I thank my God for each lesson I have learned this past year.  I look forward to being able to pass those lessons along.  I do desire a period of rest…I am still human.  Even though my body feels tired, God somehow keeps it going.  The night always seems to come quickly, but that just helps me to long for the light of morning climbing above the horizon all the more.

-Scott Bailey (C) 2007

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-From A Dad: Psalm 34:1-22 Promises!

Posted by Scott on December 19, 2007

As I chewed intently on this passage of scripture the promises of God started bubbling forth like suds out of an overfilled washing machine.  The richness of God’s word keeps me in awe most of the time.  Gleaning from each verse that which God intends me to glean is a challenge at times, but Psalm 34 has become a favorite chapter of mine.

Promises

He answers prayer!

He hears our prayers!

He will rescue the righteous!

He guards those who fear Him!

He will bring about joy for those who trust in Him!

He will meet the needs of those who honor Him!

Those who trust in Him will never lack any good thing!

God will bless His people!

God hears our cries!

God is always close to the brokenhearted!

God rescues those that are crushed in spirit!

The righteous will face many troubles!

If you hate the righteous, you will be punished!

God redeems those that serve Him!

Trust in Christ and a free pardon is yours!

As these promises and more penetrate the muscle lining of your heart and dig deep into the crevices of your brain, remember those and look for more promises.  God’s word will never lack power as we use the word to rule our lives and fight away the devilish attacks of our enemy.  Learn to hunt God’s word for each spec of truth and do not turn from it ever!

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007 

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God Send Us Tears!

Posted by Scott on December 18, 2007

Trials and Pain: God Send Us Tears

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even
weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end
is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in
their shame-who set their mind on earthly things.
–Philippians 3:18-19

The Bible was written in tears and to tears it will yield its best
treasures. God has nothing to say to the frivolous man….

The psalmists often wrote in tears, the prophets could hardly
conceal their heavyheartedness, and the apostle Paul in his
otherwise joyous epistle to the Philippians broke into tears when
he thought of the many who were enemies of the cross of Christ and
whose end was destruction. Those Christian leaders who shook the
world were one and all men of sorrows whose witness to mankind
welled out of heavy hearts. There is no power in tears per se, but
tears and power ever lie close together in the Church of the
First-born….

The whole Christian family stands desperately in need of a
restoration of penitence, humility and tears. May God send them
soon.
God Tells the Man Who Cares, pp. 2-3,6

“This being so, Lord, I pray this morning that You would break me
and send the tears. Amen.”

By A.W. Tozer

-scott bailey 2007

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Trials & Pain…He Puts Me Flat Down! A.W. Tozer

Posted by Scott on December 17, 2007

Trials and Pain: He Puts Me Flat Down

Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord
came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the
house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them
warning from Me.” Ezekiel 3:16-17

I once heard a brother preach on the fact that the church should be
without spot or wrinkle. To get the wrinkles out of a sack, he said,
you fill it. To get a wrinkle out of a rug, you lay it down and walk
on it. God sometimes fills us, the preacher continued, but sometimes
He just puts us flat down so that everyone can walk on us!

King David long ago knew something of the latter method. He wrote,
“The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows”
(Psalm 129:3). I think David was talking about his enemies. And they
must have been wearing hobnail boots!

Ezekiel had just come to this kind of a low-ebbed, humbling
experience when God opened the heavens. In effect, God put His hand
on him and said, “Now I can use you. I have some words and some
plans that I want you to pass onto your country-men.”
Men Who Met God, pp. 117-118

“Lord, whether You fill me or ‘put me flat down,’ I want to be fit
to be Your servant. Use Your best methods on me today, Father, as I
submit myself for Your use and Your glory. Amen.”

By A.W. Tozer

-scott bailey 2007

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Men Delivered From Manifold Troubles!

Posted by Scott on December 13, 2007

Men delivered from Manifold TroublesMy bible gives a sub-title to Psalm 107 and it reads: The Lord Delivers Men from manifold Troubles. Listen to what it says in PS. 107:23-31 “Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; they have seen the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep.  For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet; So, He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!”

Most of you have read my wife’s email concerning my liver condition and what “appears” to be NEXT for us physically. And I, not unlike my wife, was thinking that “just two more sessions of chemo” then we get a break; then the liver function tests seem to want to prove different. So many of you out there are experiencing similar situations. You are tossed to and fro, like a little life raft out on the magnificent ocean of life. You stagger around as if “drunken” and still your feet remain “steadfast” to the deck of the boat of your life. One wave after another and you continue to get up, dust yourself off, and continue on the mission that God has chosen for you.

Well, nothing has changed here in our lives. We get up, thank God for His grace, and continue on in the direction He has sent us. For my liver function to go from 100k to 1.62 million is very dramatic in man’s eyes; “But God“! Up to and including today, God has provided me with a ministry of such tremendous magnitude and there is nothing that can stop it now. Psalms 46:10 says: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth“. That helps to remind me that NONE of this is “for me”. Be still and know that I am God. I’m here and I’m working it out. Just believe in Me and see the Glory of God.

Are you standing in the boat tonight, swaying to and fro from the treacherous winds of your life, not knowing where to place your next step. Anchor Deep. Stand Still. Remember that He is God! And let Him have His way with your life. You’ll be at more peace when you do. You wonder, “How can you know for sure, Dave”? Well, all I can say is “I’m standing in the boat”!

Be at peace. 

About the Author
-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Dave Stallings lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife of 36 years, Barbara, Who also suffers a serious chronic illness, and their dog, Captain Jack…along with their kids and grand kids ! Dave is a semi-retired pastor and loves to blog on his personal web page since being diagnosed with Stage IV incurable non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma two and a half years ago..his motto is “It is what it is and God is not surprised”….his blog is
www.nowwhataz.blogspot.com, his personal testimony can be read at www.nowwhataz.org and he can be reached by email at dstallings2@qwest.net

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-From A Dad: Psalm 119:89-96 Statement!

Posted by Scott on December 11, 2007

Psalm 119:89-96

“God is forever, firm, faithful, enduring, creator, sovereign, sustainer, the commander, my hero, and the Word!”

Have you ever just looked at each word from different translations to see what is revealed there about who God is.  I have found in my deep searching and prayer time in Psalm 119 rich words that describe our great and mighty God.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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Giving Thanks for ALL Things! by Dave Stallings

Posted by Scott on December 11, 2007

Giving Thanks for ALL Things

Ephesians 6:18-20 says “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father

My prognosis remains the same today. I still carry around with me, blood cells labeled “Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (in fact, in two more weeks I will have finished my 2 year maintenance program). At that point I go on a “Wait & Watch” program where they do nothing until my symptoms resurface. I try to wear a smile every single day. I am grateful to my God for the blessings He has shared with me throughout this ordeal. My family has never been closer in our 37 years of existence. All of the studies to date indicate that I will have fewer years on this earth than most men my age and I remain grateful for the experiences that have been given to me over the last 2 1/2 years. These are blessings that could have never come without this particular difficulty in my life.

I think of Sandy and her probing questions while sitting in the chemotherapy room time and again. Today I feel confident that Sandy has her own personal relationship with God because he brought both Sandy and I together one day. As I knelt there in front of her chemo chair with a needle stuck in my chest, I remember that it was that day that she asked Jesus to control her life. I think of Steve who today wears a different pair of shoes because someone wanted to be a blessing to him through Barb and I.

I think (quite often) of my good friend Mike, who left us in December of 2005, to go and be with the Lord. My wife and I were at his bedside two days before he went home to be with the Lord. He was sleeping peacefully, little if any expression on his face. I walked into the room, bent over his bed and kissed him on the forehead and spoke his name. He never opened his eyes, but he smiled. I don’t believe it was a smile brought on by his facial muscles but rather his heart as he recognized my voice. I talked to him, I read about God to him and prayed (I’m sure) with him and within the next 48 hours he was sitting at the feet of Jesus without any pain, without any tears other than perhaps tears of joy as he was ushered into his heavenly home. I remember saying to Mike during that time, “Michael, when we come to the edge of all the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen; either there will be something solid to stand on, or we will be taught how to fly,” and I truly believe that Michael learned to fly that day.

I live every day of my life in pain and if you are reading this blog you probably experience the same thing. It is tough and sometimes it looks as though there is “no way out”. And for some of us, this is true. However, just the mention of our Lord, Jesus Christ, brings a smile to my face because I know with every confidence that He is building a mansion for me and if it is tomorrow or 5 years from now, He will just be placing the last nail in my home in glory. That’s is REALLY something to look forward to.

Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might“!

About the Author
-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Dave Stallings lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife of 36 years, Barbara, Who also suffers a serious chronic illness, and their dog, Captain Jack…along with their kids and grand kids ! Dave is a semi-retired pastor and loves to blog on his personal web page since being diagnosed with Stage IV incurable non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma two and a half years ago..his motto is “It is what it is and God is not surprised”….his blog is http://www.nowwhataz.blogspot.com/, his personal testimony can be read at http://www.nowwhataz.org/

-Scott Bailey 2007

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