Posts Tagged With: preaching

Preach the Why, Not Just the What

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” My friend Mark Hallock, pastor at Calvary Church in Englewood, Colorado passed this gem along to be that will prove to help out not just preachers of the Word, but anyone who makes any sort of presentation.

What think ye?

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Links to Help Your Gospel Grip (May 12, 2012)

Mothers Day and the Infertile (Russ Moore):  “Regardless of how you do it, remember the infertile as the world around us celebrates motherhood. The Proverbs 31 woman needs our attention, but the 1 Samuel 1 woman does too.”

6 Bullet Points on Preaching (Tim Challies): “The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about preaching, but I think the majority of it can be grouped under six main headings or ideas.”

Five Reasons Christians Should Continue to Oppose Gay Marriage (Kevin DeYoung): The temptation, then, is for Christians go silent and give up the marriage fight: ‘It’s no use staying in this battle,’ we think to ourselves. ‘We don’t have to change our personal position. We’ll keep speaking the truth and upholding the Bible in our churches, but getting worked up over gay marriage in the public square is counter productive. It’s a waste of time. It makes us look bad. It ruins our witness. And we’ve already lost. Time to throw in the towel.’ I understand that temptation. It is an easier way. But I do not think it is the right way, the God glorifying way, or the way of love.”

The Subtle Art of Sabotaging Your Pastor (Jared Wilson):  “Following in the footsteps of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, Jared Wilson writes from the perspective of a senior demon to his apprentice on how to oppose and confound Christians. This imaginative piece offers powerful insight into the subtle ways leaders might be led astray” (A note from the Editor).

What is the Purpose of Small Groups and Sunday School? (Trevin Wax):  “If the main goal of the group is to invite outsiders to meet the Christians in their neighborhood, then Sunday school and small groups are clearly deficient. Meanwhile, if the primary purpose is Bible study and application, then community groups are off-base. The way we analyze these models depends on what we think is most important to accomplish.  I’m convinced that the purpose for breaking into smaller groups is one of the most neglected areas of discipleship. And when we don’t know what our purpose is, we’re certain not to fulfill it.”

6 Steps to Turning Your Sermons Into Books (Jared Wilson, again!):  “Over the last 6-7 years, I have worked on numerous book projects for pastors, some you’re familiar with and some you aren’t. I’m not new to the work. . . . I have worked on bad books and good books — which is to say, I’ve worked with bad sermons and good sermons. So the level of work it takes sometimes to turn a sermon transcript (the word-for-word script of what a preacher said from the pulpit) into a book chapter (a polished work of composition suitable for submission to a publisher) changes from project to project, but the process itself is fairly standard. Here’s sort of how it breaks down.”

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Preachers, Beware of Appealing to People’s Emotions

John MacArthur preaches from Mark 4:1-20, warning preachers about appealing primarily to people’s emotions and their wills, rather than making an appeal to the mind.  Let the emotions be stirred from a clear teaching of people’s sinful condition before God and preaching Christ and Him crucified and resurrected. 

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Major Announcement from All Sermons Free Beginning Tomorrow

Today, I received an e-mail from the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust  that is such good news that I had to share.  Lloyd-Jones is considered the preeminent preacher of the 20th century.  His book, Preaching & Preachers, was a landmark work in the preaching world but, more personally, in my own life. 

Dear Friend,

This is probably the biggest announcement the MLJ Trust will ever make. Starting from tomorrow, April 12th, all 1,600 recorded sermons by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones will be available to download, at no cost, to anyone who wants to listen to them! There are no exceptions, so the Ephesians sermons, Romans sermons, etc. will all be available (it will take a few days to make sure that they are all included in the library). All one has to do is join the MLJ Library (membership is free of course) and start to download! Simply go to our newly updated site at and click on "MLJ Library".

This is a decision that the UK Board has been wrestling with for a long time, because by moving away from the sale of MP3 discs (and tapes before that), which has kept the Recordings Trust in existence for 30 years in God’s grace, they will become completely dependent (as we are in the United States MLJ Trust ministry), on the voluntary donations of brothers and sisters who feel called to support the ministry while downloading sermons.

In the end, however, and after much prayer and discussion, our brothers in the UK felt that as the world of low-cost distribution through the internet was now far reaching enough that most people around the world (even in developing countries) can gain access to this ministry through a computer, and as many other ministries have had a positive experience shifting to a voluntary donation approach to on-line sermons, they felt (as we do) that this change might be in accordance with God’s will.

While there is some nervousness about such a big change, it our our most earnest hope, on both sides of the Atlantic, that this announcment will help us to fulfill the objective that has fueled this ministry since its inception 30 years ago: To preserve, and make as widely available as possible, the doctrinal exposition of God’s word by the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a man who could never quite believe how God had used him for the benefit of the Gospel over his long ministry in the pulpit of Westminster Chapel.

This announcement eMail has been timed to coincide with our formal announcement at "Together for the Gospel". This morning (Wednesday, April 11th), we will be making the announcement on stage to the approximately 7,000+ Christian leaders and teachers who will be attending, and we never forget that the participation of the MLJ Trust at this conference was made possible by the kind support of our subscribers.

To those who have been able to donate to our ministry, we thank you so much. For those who have not had an opportunity, but would like to help us continue funding this ministry, a link to our donations page is at the bottom left of this eMail (Your GeoTrust secured contribution will be processed by Network for Good). As a reminder, the MLJ Trust is 501 (c) (3) charitable consisting of four Board members who volunteer their time, and no staff. You can learn more about us at

As always, we only want to be sending these eMails to friends of the ministry who want to receive them, and so if you would prefer not to receive them, simply click on the "unsubscribe" link below and you will be removed from this eMail list.

Thank you again for your interest in the Ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones!

Every blessing,

Jonathan Catherwood

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Preachers, Put the Groceries on the Bottom Shelf

Einstein Simply Enough


Einstein preaches to preachers with this quote!

Preachers must, as the old expression goes, put the groceries on the bottom shelf.  This does not mean that preachers study less, but actually study more!  In going from knowledge to understanding to wisdom to communicating effectively, the hard work of putting the time in to study is the best way to help your congregation. 

Many young and inexperienced preacher believe that their duty to preach every single scrap of the product of their study and bring that to bear upon their unsuspecting congregation.  Geoffrey Thomas warns us against ‘brain-oriented preaching’:

One of the great perils that face preachers . . .is the constant danger of lapsing into a purely cerebral form of proclamation, which falls exclusively upon the intellect. Men become obsessed with doctrine and end up as brain-oriented preachers. There is consequently a fearful impoverishment in their hearers emotionally, devotionally, and practically. Such pastors are men of books and not men of people; they know the doctrines, but they know nothing of the emotional side of religion. They set little store upon experience or upon constant fellowship and interaction with almighty God. It is one thing to explain the truth of Christianity to men and women; it is another thing to feel the overwhelming power of the sheer loveliness and enthrallment of Jesus Christ and communicate that dynamically to the whole person who listens so that there is a change of such dimensions that he loves Him with all his heart and soul and mind and strength ("Powerful Preaching," chapter 14 in The Preacher and Preaching, edited by Samuel T. Logan, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986, p. 369. )

This is a constant battle preachers of the Word and pastors of our churches face!  I write this not because I have this battle won, but because it is a reminder that this is a battle I face!  Put the groceries on the bottom shelf so your people in your church, regardless of their advancement in their spiritual walk, may reach and partake!

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ARBC Core Value #2: Preach and Teach, Study and Learn

If any of you have read Pilgrim’s Progress, you know what an incredible allegory this is. This allegory was written by John Bunyan during his 10+ sentence in a Bedford jail in England. As Pilgrim (now Christian) was on his way from his old life in the City of Destruction on his way to heaven in the Celestial City, he comes upon the house of Mr. Interpreter. The first thing that Interpreter shows him is a picture:

Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee. So he commanded his man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow him. So he had him into a private room, and bid his man open a door; the which, when he had done, Christian saw the picture a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it; it had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in its hand, the law of truth was written upon its lips, the world was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.

This is a picture of the preacher! Eyes to heaven, “the best of books in its hand.” The world is behind him, and he pleads to men to turn to the truth of Christ, the point of the “best of books.” What is this best book? The Bible!

The Scriptures (a.k.a, the Bible, the Word, the Word of God) are a dividing line! Outside the church (and even inside), some question its authority over their lives. Some inside the church see the Bible as a set of moral instructions to guide their lives (basic instructions before leaving earth). Some take portions of Scripture they like and run with it, while ignoring others.

Someone once said, “Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them.” The Bible is a book about God’s rescue mission to save His people from their sins, doing so through the person of Jesus.

1. We preach the Bible because it is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16).

I remember a time in 1996 when I bought a CD that was a great day for me as a musician. I had always loved jazz and I loved listening to great jazz pianists like Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and others like them. But I remember going through the stacks at a local bookstore and came across a man by the name of Dave Brubeck. He’s most well-known for his work Time Out which had the hit Take Five that you would know if you heard it.

But this was a different CD. This was a CD put out in 1953 called “Jazz at Oberlin.” Brubeck had just started touring to the various colleges across the country, so he landed in 1953 at Oberlin College in Ohio. The interplay between Brubeck on piano and Paul Desmond on alto saxophone was something to behold. The interaction between the quartet and the audience was amazing as well. They were actively engaged in what was happening. I remember sitting at my computer in my seminary dorm room thinking, “Wow—Brubeck was inspired that day.”

Now when I say the word ‘inspired,’ what does that mean? A burst of creativity is the usual understanding. Is that what God did? Did God just have a burst of creativity? We must consider that the revelation of Scripture was given to 40 men over a period of 1500 years, so it wasn’t a burst. It was a progressive type of revelation in time and space.

Peter believed this:

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The KJV uses the word ‘inspired,’ but other versions as you noticed with mine, used the word ‘God-breathed.’ The word comes from the Greek theospneutos which means ‘God-breathed.’ God breathed out every word. Yes, there are tons of translations—and every one of those translations are translated from the original languages of the Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT). In our Christian bookstores, there are many translations, but none of them deny any foundational doctrine Christians hold to. While they hold to differing translation philosophies (some do a word-for-word, others do a thought-for-thought), most of them uphold the foundational doctrines of the Scriptures.

Before I move on, I need to mention this. Someone may say, “Well, they are not inspired to me!” This is reflective of our culture—we become the ones who determine what is authoritative over us. We determine what has meaning! Be careful! In every book you read, you must look at what the author of that book intends first. It’s only then that you can understand what it means for you personally.

2. We preach the Bible because it makes you wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

The entire Bible is a rescue manual—not simply how we can learn to be rescued, but about how from the very beginning, from the very time that sin entered into the world and into the heart of man, God made clear to us that from the foundation of the world He would rescue his people.

Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). So the Scriptures that were taught to Timothy that spoke about Jesus—what Scriptures were they? The OT! At that time, the NT had not been given yet. So the conviction of this pastor and the conviction of this church must be that the entirety of the Bible is a Christian book.

The apostle Paul writes this to young pastor Timothy as his last words of sorts—in fact, this epistle is the last recorded words we have in Scripture. He warned Timothy that in the last days,

…there will be times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people (1 Timothy 3:1-5).

Why? “they oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind, qualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all” (3:8b-9a).

He tells Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you have learned it.” A word here: the Christian life is a learning life! And we must ready ourselves to “continue in what we have learned and firmly believed.”

Martin Luther once said:

I study my Bible like I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest may fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I search the Bible as a whole like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb–study book after book. Then I shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences and words and their meanings.

Who taught Timothy?

We see from 2 Timothy 3:10 that Paul himself taught him as was his custom with everyone. In Acts 17:2-3, we see that “Paul went in, as was his custom, and . . . he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

But in verse 15, we see how he also learned “from childhood.” At the beginning of the letter, it was his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice who acquainted him with the sacred writings! Does this not show how important it is for families to be guided by Christ and His Scriptures? In fact, Ginger LeBlanc and I have discussed ever so briefly about how we can work to make our ARBC k!dz ministry a family-integrated ministry, where we work to minister to the families of our children as well. Why?

God calls parents to train up their children in the ways of God. Ephesians 6:4 tells us “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is nothing new. In Deuteronomy, we are called to “teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7). Even in Exodus 12, when the Passover is established, and soon the others OT feasts—they are established as lessons to remember how God worked to rescue His people, with all of these things mentioned in the OT being used to point to the ultimate of that One who would come to rescue, Jesus Christ.

Pastors, Sunday School teachers, musicians, deacons, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, Christians—all work in concert to ultimately teach from the “sacred writings.”

3. We preach the Bible because it makes us equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2).

Read with me 2 Timothy 3:16-4:2:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

There is a use to Scripture, given out by God for a purpose. When we hear some people talk, we some people say too much, using far too many extraneous words to communicate their point. Others do not use enough. But every word found in this book is inspired, breathed out by God, for a purpose.

The ‘teaching and reproof’ deal with the teachings of Scripture—that is, for doctrine! The teaching is the aspect of teaching from all of Scripture since God gave it all! John Calvin once noted, “We must not pick and cull the Scriptures to please our own fancy, but must receive the whole without exception.”

“Correcting and training in righteousness” is about conduct—how we put our beliefs into practice. To ‘correct’ comes from the word which means to straighten out. By submitting to the Word, we are put back on the path laid out by Christ. The Word is there to train and equip! To be ready for every good work.

Given the nature of the Scriptures, no wonder Paul turns to Timothy as a father turns to his son, solemnly charging him before God to “preach the Word.” Why? God gave it to show Jesus, who makes us wise to His salvation and equips us perfectly and completely for His work! But there is something more significant: Christ is coming to judge the living and the dead. We are equipped to help equip others for His coming!

4. We preach the Bible because it helps us discern truth from error (2 Timothy 4:3-5).

Join me in reading 2 Timothy 4:3-5:

3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Regardless of whatever field you may find yourself, you will find some who follow the rules, and some who do not. There are some who will listen to what they are supposed to do, and some who will do not.

Verse 4 brings about a great question for us: how intent are we in coming and listening to the truth? Keep in mind, for the apostle Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit), the truth is found in the Scriptures. Do we come only ready to hear what we want to hear?

I spent time at my Christian college sitting under professors who were looking to take the clear teaching of Scripture and take the ‘myth’ out of it. Moses didn’t really write the first five books of the Bible (even though Jesus said so), Jonah could have been a parable (even thought Jesus said he was an actual person). Now, we see magazine articles questioning the historical Adam, saying that Adam wasn’t real—at least not the way the Scriptures say.

Even now, a pastor of a large church will be in Denver on June 1st. It’s called a “night of hope.” But as this man teaches and preaches, you see a pattern. He tells us that our destiny is already inside us, and just needs to be unlocked. Be positive, speak positive, and the Lord will bless. The only sin he preaches about is the sin of not realizing the destiny God gave you.

But any minister who speaks from the Bible, and yet does not get to the point of the Bible—which is that God sent His Son to a bloody cross to atone for our sins and that we must surrender self to Christ (not exalt self, as many say)—then those people must be avoided.

So what do we as preachers do? How do we react? “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Kent Hughes noted that as a pilot keeps his head during an emergency, so too must we keep our heads and not lose it.

Alistair Begg onces told a group of pastors how verse 5 is such an anchor.

So if things at ARBC start going well and people are coming into the church, coming to Christ and being strengthened in the faith, the anchor is: “Be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist.”

If things start going rough and Satan begins to move and persecution hits: “Be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist.”

May that be our anchor as well.

Back in 2005, I wrote a hymn (no music yet) for preachers of the Word:

This is the charge we have to keep!
To tell it strong before His sheep
And rouse the lost out of their sleep!
O preach, dear men, the Word of God!

Be ready, shepherds, to reprove
Exhort the church so it may move
To spread the truth, embraced with love!
O preach, dear men, the Word of God.

The world moves out with itching ears
That long to hear what they hold dear
And mute the Word that’s all too clear!
O preach, dear men, the Word of God!

With sober minds and patient hearts
We persevere as from the start
“Fulfill your calling — do your part!”
O preach, dear men, the Word of God!.

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Do Not Aim at Sensation and Effect

“Do not aim at sensation and ‘effect’ [when preaching]. Flowing tears and streaming eyes, sobs and outcries, crowded after-meetings and all kinds of confusions may occur, and may be borne with as concomitants of genuine feeling; but pray do not plan their production.

“It very often happens that the converts that are born in excitement die when the excitement is over. They are like certain insects that are the product of an exceedingly warm day, and die when the sun goes down. Certain converts are like salamanders, in the fire; but they expire at a reasonable temperature. I delight not in religion which needs or creates a hot head. Give me the godliness which flourishes upon Calvary rather than upon Vesuvius . The utmost zeal for Christ is consistent common-sense and reason: raving, ranting, and fanaticism are products of another zeal which is not according to knowledge. We would prepare men for the chamber of communion, and not for the padded room at Bedlam. No one is more sorry than I that such a caution as this should be needful; but remembering the vagaries of certain revivalists, I cannot say less, and I might say a great deal more.”

(Charles Spurgeon, The Soul Winner, pp. 20-21)

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Mitt Romney, Context, and the Listener’s Responsibility to Listen Well

GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney gained a lot of attention this week for a problematic phrase that made its way through all the media outlets.  The phrase?  “I’m not concerned about the poor.”  Romney’s opponents (and the media, who are unbiased, right?) focused and reacted to this phrase.  Yet, here is his entire comment:

I’m not concerned about the very poor — we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich — they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.

Romney answered a question regarding what his priorities were in reviving the economy.  While conservatives and liberals may take umbrage with various aspects of Romney’s thoughts, the fact is that listening matters—especially in preaching. Romney did apologize for his misspeak, a responsibility still lies with the listener to understand the broad scope of a statement and make an informed decision and calculation moving forward. 

How often has it happened that someone who is listening to a sermon only catches one phrase or a partial phrase, misses the context, and gets offended by what he thought was said rather than understanding where that phrase lay in the context of the whole. 

So, dear listener—whether politicians or preachers, take the task of listening seriously.  Listen well—and we who are speakers vow to speak clearly as well.

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“If You Haven’t Preached an Hour, You Haven’t Preached”

On a previous trip to Trinidad, I was asked to preach for their morning worship service. I remember asking Pastor Roddie Taylor how long I should preach. I told him that in the States, most wanted the sermon finished in 20-30 minutes, but I usually went some over. I’ll never forget what he said:

“Matthew Perry, in Trinidad, if you haven’t preached an hour, you haven’t preached.”

OK, then! Interesting regarding how various cultures view this. I remember hearing Mark Dever speak of a time he went to preach in South Africa in the late 1990s or early 2000s. He preached for an hour, and respecting the time, concluded. One of the leaders of the church stood up and said, “We sense you have more to say on the matter–could you please continue.” And he did for another hour. Dever observed that South Africa had only had television since 1980 and noted that their attention span was considerably longer than he was used to as a pastor in Washington, D.C.

People vary on this topic. But my thought is this: we do not have many opportunities to get before the Word during the week. If your wheelhouse is 20 minute sermons, will spending another 15-20 minutes under the Word really put a dent into our seemingly busy lives? Many churches in the States are flourishing with pastors who faithfully deliver the Word for an hour. They have time to set the table, put out a feast, then help digest.

Isn’t it worth the time? What think ye?

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Rob Ventura on the Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Preaching

Reformation 21 has posted an excellent article on “The Holy Spirit, His Ministry, and the Preacher of God” that I pray you find valuable.  Here’s an excerpt:

Preachers of the Word of God who would be the most useful laborers for our Lord and His church need to prepare themselves for their calling as Christian ministers. Typically, if they would be the most effective preachers of the Bible, they should have a good working knowledge of the original languages, Hebrew and Greek. In addition, they should be well versed in all of the various theological disciplines, such as exegetical theology, historical theology, systematic theology, biblical theology, practical and pastoral theology. Along with these prerequisites, they should also be men who have acquired for themselves sufficient tools for the task of preaching, such as an adequate library and various bible study tools.

Now, while all of these things are vitally important for the minister to be all that God would have him to be, none of them compares to the preacher’s great need of having the Holy Spirit and His ministry resting upon him and all of his pulpit labors. Now this axiom is so basic that one might consider an entire editorial on the subject unnecessary. However, the longer I am in the ministry, the more I am amazed at how often I forget it. In fact, I’m caused to wonder why so little is spoken about this subject in our day. Brothers, with C. H. Spurgeon, in his classic work Lectures to My Students, I trust we all can say personally, "I believe in the Holy Ghost." However, I wonder how many of us can say of a truth, "I need the Holy Ghost!"

Read the rest of the article here

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