Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Judgment Of Grace

Until recently, the  book of  Hebrews pretty  much  baffled me, primarily because  I had always read it without giving much consideration to its background. Understanding that the writer wrote this letter to Jewish Christians who, being accustomed to atoning for their sins by observing the Covenant Law given through Moses, had fallen back into the sacrificial system helps me follow the progression of thought. The unnamed writer of this letter sought to correct his readers from backsliding into Judaism by showing them Christ's superiority over Moses.

Today I worked through Hebrews 4,  in which the writer chastised his original readers for their failure and disobedience. Although the original readers knew that Christ had made the ultimate atonement for sin, they refused to trust the sufficiency of His work on the cross. The implicit insistence against resting in Christ's shed blood constituted the disobedience of unbelief.

21st Century evangelicals can commit the same sin of unbelief by turning to various human inventions to augment their faith. Any expectation that we can contribute to our salvation through sacraments, Charismatic practices, good works, dietary rules or whatever else our inflated egos devise rebels against obedient faith demonstrates willful unbelief. Therefore, the following warning applies to us just as certainly as it applied to the First Century Jewish Christians.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. ~~Hebrews 4:11-13  (ESV)

Through Scripture, the Lord will  both expose and judge the refusal to obey God by resting in what He's done. (He will expose  and judge other expressions of disobedience as well.) We may  convince other people--and even ourselves--of our spirituality, but the Lord will judge us by His Word, laying us naked before Him.   I suppose so many people adulterate or hate the Bible for this very reason.

The Lord, however, doesn't leave His elect  stranded in judgement. After all, true faith finds rest in Christ, trusting His gentle grace. And so, guided by the Holy Spirit, the writer of  Hebrews brings our gaze back to Jesus.


14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~~Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)


Monday, July 21, 2014

Transformed Tastebuds

In the past few years, John and I have been eating more fruits and vegetables, and simultaneously less processed foods. I  can't remember the last time we bought a frozen dinner. Having grown up eating   convenience foods and drinking anything  carbonated, I took little interest in proper nutrition until I began having health issues that spurred my doctor to impose dietary restrictions on me. John's heart attack and cancer have inspired us to further modifications, such as hardly ever eating red meat.

We went to the local supermarket today, and I found myself excited by a  sale on Haas avocados and heartbroken that the peaches (that looked so beautiful) felt like the type that rot before they have a chance to ripen. But also, the frozen dinners and snack cakes that I used to crave held very little appeal, especially in comparison to my desire for fresh peaches. And I silently laughed, amused by my gastronomical transformation.

What a metaphor for the way feeding on God's Word transforms a Christian's appetite. The junk of the world becomes less and less appetizing as we acquire a taste for Jesus and the holiness that  accompanies knowing Him.

 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. ~~Psalm 34:8-10 (ESV)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Magnify The Precious Name Of Jesus

Again, I got caught up in research, so had little time to look for a hymn, But I wanted one that magnified the Name of Jesus, so when we sang "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" in church this morning, I knew it fit the bill perfectly!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Excuse Me While I Study

An hour ago, I had loads of time to blog. Wanting to research the topic of whether or not Scripture allows for naming false teachers publicly, I kept reading "just one more" article and looking up "just a few more" Scripture. As a result, I now have too little time to address the topic for myself.

And that time of study, even though it took away my time to write, actually gives my blogging more integrity. It brings me under the tutelage of  Christians  more knowledgeable than I, as well as helping me pinpoint the Scriptures that I vaguely knew (but couldn't locate off the top of my head). Studying the  matter gives me better assurance that naming false teachers offers people protection from the rapidly proliferating heresies that infest evangelical churches today.

1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
6If you put these things before the brothers,a you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive,b because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. ~~1 Timothy 4:1-10 (ESV)
 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Doctrinal Purity And Unacknowled Pharisees

My insistence on sound doctrine as an essential element in choosing a church has, more than once, spurred people to call me a Pharisee, either directly or by insinuation. People making that connection also sometimes point out the perils of dead orthodoxy, reminding me that the Lord cares more about how I live than about my finer points of theology. In some respects, I understand their concerns.

Yet the apparent hostility to the idea that sound doctrine (by which I mean the teachings of the Bible)  matters troubles me. The rallying cry to disregard doctrine "for the sake of unity" often tolerates (or even promotes) violations of Scripture such as Contemplative Prayer, pragmatism, women in leadership and the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality. Some who bristle at the word "doctrine" believe these are secondary matters. Others still recognize  that the Bible does prohibit homosexual behavior, but increasing numbers of evangelicals now question the "traditional interpretations" of "the six clobber passages."

Those who express concern over the erosion of doctrine, which in turn opens the door to aberrant practices, equate  conservative Christians with the Pharisees of Jesus' earthly ministry, charging that we live by the "dead letter" of Scripture rather than by the Spirit of the Living God. I shall resist the temptation to embark on a lengthy discussion of their hypocrisy in making that judgment. Instead, I want to give attention to their implication that God's Holy Word is a "dead letter" that requires human intervention to revive it.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God's Word as "living and active." Additionally, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches  both that the Spirit of the  Living God authored each word of Scripture, and that  Scripture adequately gives us all the teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness necessary for serving Him. Far from being a "dead letter" that opposes the Spirit, the Bible is His sword, operating by His power.

The Pharisees dogmatically  claimed that they adhered strictly to God's Word, and fiercely objected to the "new" doctrines that Jesus proclaimed. In reality, however, Jesus routinely brought them back to the original intent of His Word, rebuking them for corrupting it with their traditions, loopholes and embellishments. For example:

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” ~~Matthew 15:1-9 (ESV)

Could it be that the  real Pharisees shun the pure doctrine of God's Word, preferring the human traditions that now creep into churches that claim fidelity to the Bible? Could a return to the doctrinal purity of Scripture pose a threat to their unacknowledged doctrine of cultural accommodation? Perhaps not, but they might consider the possibility, especially before attaching the label to those of us who stand for sound doctrine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guest Blogger Examines New England's Dimming Light

Elizabeth Prata, of The End Time, as graciously granted me permission to repost her post, Mission New England: the city on a hill where the light has (almost) gone  out. Thank you, Elizabeth, for being my first  guest blogger. Her links appear in boldface.

,,,,,

New England is comprised of 6 states: Maine, New Hampshire Vermont (northern New England) and Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut (southern New England). Five, and sometimes all six of these states are listed in surveys in the top ten most Godless states in the US.

Providence RI is listed as one of the 'least bible-minded' cities in the US. This is ironic, given its name.

Portland Maine is known as one of the most homosexual friendly and tolerant cities in the US.

Spiritually, New England is dark. I know. I lived there for 42 years. For those who were saved by grace at an early age, or were raised in a Christian home or even live in the south or Midwest ... perhaps this next statement will seem strange to you. But growing up in New England means that one can never go to church, never see anyone else go to church, never hear talk of church, never hear the name Jesus, never see a bible store or a Christian store. Never see a cross. As embedded as the visible Christian life is in the south, it is just as invisible in the north.

One of the oldest church buildings and the biggest, located in the most prominent place, the center of my old town, has no displayed cross outside. The Methodist Church and the Congregational Church staff female lead pastors. There is no bible store in town (no book store at all, as least as far as I know). Jesus doesn't live in most of the people there and thus He isn't seen in the culture.

New England needs missionaries. To that end, NETS is a church planting mission aimed at New England. Does it seem strange to you that New England is as dark as Norway? Or India? They write,
The New England landscape is dotted with white steeples and picturesque churches. But
North Yarmouth church. EPrata photo
look closer, and you’ll find pulpits that once held gospel preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield now proclaiming Universalism, Liberalism and postmodernism. Halls that once echoed classic hymns stand eerily silent behind “For Sale” signs. Many church buildings have already been converted into shops and condos. And influential colleges like Harvard, Yale and Brown, founded to train gospel preachers, now lead the way into spiritual darkness. With the exception of Mormon Utah, New England is the most gospel-parched region of the nation.
Portland is one of the toughest regions to be on mission with the gospel: Some 59% of residents are considered “post-Christian.” ... As shown by this homosexual publication reports that Portland, Maine is one of the top five surprisingly gay towns.
Portland Maine is on our gaydar... Home to one of the biggest per capita LGBT populations on the east coast and now host of the entirely enticing Frostbite ME weekend (early March, dates TBA), a LGBT winter celebration with an alluring array of homo hijinks, activities, and events that launched in 2008, Portland is Maine's captivating largest city (population 65,000). Portland has a venerable gay bar, Blackstones, and Styxx Video Club (3 Spring Street), where the dance floor and pool tables are popular with women on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Portland Press Herald reported, "Maine a mecca for gay couples; Experts attribute the numbers to the state’s gay-friendly laws and its history of tolerance."
A long-dead New England church that is now an antique store
This is the very spot in the world where European men and women of faith left all they knew to travel to a new and dangerous world, in pursuit of freedom to worship Jesus. They stepped off the Mayflower in 1620 Plymouth Massachusetts, survived, thrived, founded cities, and seminaries. Harvard College was originally a seminary institution of higher learning for men to be trained in the Gospel. So was Yale and Princeton and most other New England higher learning institutes that were founded over 300 years ago.

Harvard's crest stated Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae (Truth for Christ and the Church) and their charter proposal read thus:
After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.
And so a mere 6 years after landing in Plymouth, the Puritans founded Harvard College in 1636.

And so satan went to work.

In 1803 Harvard voted out the Calvinist President and voted in an anti-Trinitarian president. In 1869 Harvard dropped the "Christ and Church" from their motto and crest, leaving only "Veritas", (Truth). Cementing the long, liberal decline, Harvard expanded their mission statement in 2008,
To help in building a world in which people can live and work together across religious and cultural divides, we strive to be a primary resource in religious and theological studies for the academy, for religious communities, and in the public sphere.... 
because,
A well-educated student of religion must have a deep and broad understanding of more than a single religious tradition; [emphasis mine]
Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary is 200 years old and liberal as liberal can be. It was not always so. Like Harvard, it was founded by a conservative Calvinist minister in the Puritan tradition. Rev. Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill Maine was concerned that there was no institute of Christian higher learning in northern New England. Then, 'Harvard defected, and so had many other clergymen and churches.' (source). BTS was founded. Though it started out well, it ended up committed to scholarship, just not biblical scholarship. They adhered to ecumenical learning and the ever-deadly free thought. Another New England seminary had fallen. This month, conservative New England Bible College in Maine closed its doors, for lack of enrollments. The people of New England, its churches and its seminaries reject Jesus.

John Winthrop was the long term original governor of Boston, the first city of Massachusetts Bay Colony after Plymouth. He preached to the Puritans as they emigrated that theirs was a holy endeavor and they would found a holy "city upon a hill". This was his famous "Modell of Christian Charity" sermon. Winthrop wrote it aboard the ship Arbella, (I edited the language from 1630 to today's)
Winthrop: 2nd, 6th, 9th, & 12th Governor
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "the Lord make it likely that of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill."
The city upon a hill was from Matthew 5:14. Winthrop was so right in his next paragraph-
The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.

Because Jesus IS hope ... rather than lament the loss of our original Christian identity, one pastor in New England (a friend of mine) wrote this week an encouraging message. The decline we are seeing, the degradation of the name of Jesus in the wider community, is nothing new. It is nothing unexpected. Knowing this, we can persevere in joy and hope! He wisely wrote:

-----------------------------

As many families and church families struggle to meet their financial obligations amid an uncertain economy and an increasing global conflict, major changes are affecting everyone. Some folks may even sense a spirit of discouragement or worse, despair. Some folks simply dismiss what is happening in our world, as they are tired of all the bad news. Hmmm, it reminds me of the times Habakkuk lived.

God told the prophet, Habakkuk, that Israel's worst and most fearsome enemy was coming to destroy the nation and carry off many people into captivity because of Israel's idolatry and sinfulness. While Habakkuk wrestled with God on this issue, the prophet came to understanding that "the just shall live by faith" (2:4). As a result, Habakkuk accepted the inevitable judgment of God upon Israel by offering up praise to God.

As I close this email with the prophet's words (3:17-19), remember, that no matter how difficult the times may get for our lives, our families, our church families, and our nation, God will be your strength as you walk with Him.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet, I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's
he makes me tread on my high places.

-------------------------------------

Oh Puritan New England, what happened? Satan happened!

The great preacher George Whitefield preached about satan's schemes.
But Satan is most known for his remarkable ability to use his cleverness against mankind. Since he is not given power from God to take us by force, he is therefore required to wait for opportunities to betray us, and to catch us by the use of deception. He, therefore, made use of the serpent, which was the most crafty of all the beasts of the field, in order to tempt our first parents; and accordingly he and his accomplices are described in the New Testament as being cunning and crafty in their deceitful scheming. In the words of our text, this morning, the Apostle says, "We are not unaware of his schemes:" thereby implying, that we are more in danger of being seduced by his system of deception, than overpowered by his strength.
The people of New England throughout the recent centuries were overpowered by stealth. Little by deadly little, they succumbed. Satan entered into their minds, and led them away from the pure doctrines of the bible. They were not vigilant! Satan seduced them into installing women pastors. He slithered in to its seminaries and lured them into ecumenicalism. He is the angel of craft and subtlety. No guns were needed. No swords were drawn. The battle has been long, and it has been silent, but it has been a success. They forgot Jesus. Veritas. But no Christo.

But Jesus does not forget them! He raises up faithful pastors to staff solidly biblical churches there! He sends missionaries to plant churches in its frigid mountains where hearts need the light of God! He sustains the beleaguered congregations persevering in a place that is as corrupt as Corinth! God is good. Our High Priest, Jesus, ministers to the hearts of those who love Him, few as they may be in that northern place.

Pray for our stalwart missionaries, pastors, and brethren who dwell in a place where once the lamp was shining on a hill, but now shines only dimly in laboring flickers here and there.

No matter where we are in the world, spiritual decline is inevitable. Fear not! The world hates Jesus. (John 15:18). No matter what the type of beginning a nation had, high or low, sacred or profane, all will fall. All parts of all nations will fall. Satan is working mightily to try and overthrow heaven's gates. The areas we hold dear, where we grew up, or where we live now, will some day be renewed! Every Christian who dwells in the places that are so dark now, will cry with joy when the Light comes. Jesus will revive every ember, bursting into glory light of pure and holy truth.

Until then, pray for New England.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Daughter's Last Letter

Thursday morning, I wrote and mailed my last letter to  my mother. Although she died before it arrived, I believe the Lord still has a purpose for it, so I've decided to share it here.

Dearest Mom,

Thank you for raising me with high moral standards and a sense of manners. During my sojourn in Memphis, many of the nurses commented that most people born with disabilities don’t show consideration for others, and they all attributed my thoughtfulness to your  influence on me. I agree. You instilled qualities in me that have made me the kind of woman I had always wanted to be. You deserve much praise for how I turned out.

I also thank you for allowing me to live as normally as possible.  The college education you gave me may not have landed me a lucrative career, but I enjoy writing, and I cherish all the memories of my days at Dominican. Thank you for all you did to make college possible for me.

Additionally, I’m grateful for all the travel opportunities that you gave me.  Wales, of course, was the most exciting trip I ever took.  I remember how you practically pushed me onto that plane, determined that you would not let me miss such a glorious opportunity!  There are no words to thank you for that precious time in my life!

Over the past few months, I have been thinking about a conversation you and I had in the  early 1980’s.  You probably don’t remember this at all, but it’s a conversation I would like to revisit because I gave you a very inadequate answer at the time.  Ready?  Here we go…

E___ B___________ had  invited me to a play at her church, and you were feeding me dinner before she came to get me.  As we were eating, you asked me what it meant to be a born-again Christian.  I forget what I said, but I made it pretty obvious to you (and to myself) that I really didn't know the answer.

In the last few years, I have learned what spiritual regeneration means from a Biblical perspective, and I wanted to give you a more educated answer to your question.  Maybe I’m more of an adult now, and can reason a little more adeptly.  So I want to begin with a Scripture passage that introduces the concept of being born-again.


Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life,
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ~~John 3:1-18 (ESV)

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which means he was highly educated in the Jewish Scriptures, and thought he knew what God wanted of people.  But Jesus pointed out that merely keeping God’s commands (which nobody could possibly keep anyway) wasn’t enough to make him suitable to be in God’s presence.  Nicodemus, as well anyone else, needed the Holy Spirit to make him an entirely new person.

Let me tell you how that happened in my life, and perhaps it will become a little less abstract.

I had been reading the Bible, wanting to know if what I felt for a certain boy was “true love.”  As I read, I came across the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount.  One of the beatitudes said “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Then I looked up 1st Corinthians 13 -- the love chapter -- only to read the phrase, “love is not self seeking.”  Those two verses confronted me with the fact that I was unworthy to spend eternity in God’s presence.  I knew that was going to hell.

Two weeks later J______ told me that Jesus had paid the penalty for my sin when He died on the Cross.  When God raised Him from the dead three days later, the resurrection signified that God accepted His sacrifice.  Those who believe in Him, trusting that His shed blood is the only acceptable payment for their sin, and the only basis for them to enter eternity with God, will be raised to eternal life.  Immediately I knew that if Jesus died for me, I owed it to Him to live for Him.

Quite admittedly my transformation has been much slower than it should have been.  I’ve often considered myself “spiritually retarded” because I have continued to live in ways that don’t reflect my Heavenly Father’s character.  But over the past 2 or 3 years, I have been allowing the Lord to change me as I’ve applied the Bible to my personal life.

Do you remember how I started this letter?  I talked about how you instilled character qualities into me.  By my behavior, the nurses in Memphis knew what kind of woman you were, and they all commented on your good character.  Similarly, the Holy Spirit did something in me back in 1971 to make me God’s daughter – I was born again.  As I now read the Bible and learn my Heavenly Father’s character, I begin to exhibit that same character in my daily life.  Do I do it perfectly?  In my dreams!  But I do see steady, and remarkable, change as I keep submitting to Him and imitating His ways.  Just as I was born of you physically, and exhibits many of your characteristics, so I am born of Him spiritually.

I hope this letter explains what being a born-again Christian is.  I know that Jesus died for my sins, and that He was raised from the dead so I will be raised with Him to eternal life when I die.  He has given me faith to believe these things, and that faith enables me to turn from things that displease God, so that I can do the things that honor Him. Even in this, I cannot take credit for doing what is right – His Spirit in me empowers me to trust and obey Him.

I don’t know how much of this makes sense to you, but it’s a spiritual matter that cannot be fully explained in human terms.  I just hope that it is a more adequate explanation than I gave you that night before E___ came to pick me up. I know that if the Lord allows you to experience this new birth, He will give you a fuller understanding of what that means.

Finally Mom, I want to thank you for encouraging my relationship with John.  So many of the qualities that attracted me to him are qualities that I admire in you.  Even though this marriage has separated me from you (the one thing I haven’t liked about being married to John), I have never been so happy or so fulfilled in my life!  I know you’ve been happy for us, and I appreciate the love and respect you’ve shown John.

I love you, Mom. I love your humor, and often entertain people with funny stories about you, or stories that you have told us about yourself.  I love how lady-like you are, and wish I could be that lady-like. (Oh well…you can’t have everything!)  I love your caring concern for your children and grandchildren as well as all our friends – no wonder so many of our friends call you “Mom.”  I love your uncomplaining attitude, and the way you enjoyed life to the fullest.  You inspire me, but you also inspire everybody that knows you.  You are one amazing woman, and it’s my honor to be your daughter.  I love you so much!

With much love,
Deb

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