Category Archives: Kingdom of God

First the Blade (Chapter 6)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 6

Building a Foundation of Faith (d)

Almost everything we do for the Lord requires faith on our parts, but some things may require even more faith on our parts.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17: 19-20)

In the late fall of 1995, I lived with a friend in an apartment in Ames, Iowa. To say I was going through bad times would be a classic understatement. My truck had been repossessed. My painting company had collapsed. There were a couple of dollars in my billfold with few hopes of earning more. I had to stand on a stepladder to touch bottom in my life.

My roommate and I felt we should pray for Northern Ireland on one particular morning. We began praying in tongues, waiting on the Holy Spirit to show us how to intercede for that war-torn area.

As we prayed, I had a vision in which I saw the bodies of young people piled up in the streets of Belfast. There were thousands of them. All had their lives snuffed out by the continued violence between the Catholics and Protestants.

The vision so disturbed me I could do nothing but weep. We eventually prayed as best we could to stop the vision from happening in Northern Ireland, but I had no inner peace. The main problem seemed to be that I knew I had an important prophetic word for Northern Ireland within my spirit, waiting to be given.

I went to my bedroom and prayed some more. I asked the Lord to give the prophecy to a well-known preacher. After all, who would listen to me? As soon as I prayed these words, I knew it was a bad idea so I quickly repented.

“Okay, Lord, show me how to speak the prophecy to Northern Ireland,” I prayed and with those words, I finally had peace.

A couple of days later, the Lord impressed me to visit a Catholic church near the Iowa State University campus. I walked in the door and asked if anybody knew someone in Northern Ireland. They laughed, but one person told me to talk with a secretary in the basement.

I went to the secretary. She did not know anyone in Ireland, but she knew the name of the Catholic Charismatic leader in Des Moines, Iowa. “Maybe that person knows someone in Ireland,” she said.

I phoned the Catholic Charismatic leader in Des Moines. “I don’t know anyone in Ireland,” she said, “but my husband knows the head of the Catholic Charismatic movement in England.”

Her husband got on the line and gave me the phone number.

I phoned the number in England early the next morning and talked with the leader’s wife because the leader was busy at some meetings in London. I told her why I was calling and what I needed.

“Funny,” she said, “but I’m looking at the exact person you need. His picture is on the cover of a book.” She then gave me the information for the man.

After hanging up, I sat down at the table and wrote the prophetic word, which I had for Northern Ireland. I mailed it to the Charismatic leader in Belfast.

Now, this whole experience was by faith, and as soon as I dropped the letter into the mailbox, all of my faith was used up. Every doubt in the world hit me. Who did I think I was? A nobody. A failure. I didn’t even belong to a church. No pastor would ever vouch for me. The Irish leader would take one look at my name, my handwritten letter and laugh.

But in the midst of those doubts, I knew enough to run to the throne of grace and ask for grace and mercy to help me.

A week or so later on a Sunday afternoon, the telephone rang.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Larry, I’m Cecil Kerr from Belfast, Ireland,” he said, “and I’m calling to thank you for the prophetic word you sent me. Our prayer group had been waiting for weeks for just such a word and we are already praying your prophetic word into fruition. So, from all of us, we thank you for your obedience to the Holy Spirit.”

We talked for a few minutes and then we said goodbye. As soon as I hung up, I fell on my knees and cried. I can still feel the emotions of that moment and how small I felt compared to a big, big God.

The next day, our phone was disconnected because we owed two months of phone bills.

If we want to change our community, our state and our nation, we can do it, but we must build our faith so mountains will move out of our way.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Will We End Up Being A Part of the Great Falling Away? (Part 6)

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was written by John Foxe in 1563. It details the deaths and sufferings of the early apostles and other Christians up through the inquisition and the medieval church.

It’s been nearly thirty years since I read the book as a young Christian but I still remember how it jarred my heart. In fact,  I muttered aloud a short prayer. “Lord, if You want me to be a martyr for You, that’s okay with me. I can probably handle crucifixion, firing squad, hanging or being beheaded, but please don’t let me be burned at the stake. I’m not sure I will be a good witness for You if I die that way.”

At the time, I worked at a motel-restaurant and drove a catering van, delivering meals to senior citizens.

One day, I was running behind schedule and in a hurry. Using only pot holders, I removed a large pan of roast beef from an oven. My hand slipped and the pan’s liquid drenched over my hand. 170° of scalding juice.

I quickly set the pan down and looked at my hand. It was red, there was pain on the surface of my skin, but no inner pain. It did not bother me in the least.

Two cooks rushed over and wanted to rush me off to the hospital. I shook my head and put it under a cold water faucet. No problems.

That experience and the following testimony by Corrie Ten Boom has kept my heart open to the possibility of being a witness until death (martyr) for Jesus:

When I was a little girl, I went to my father and said, “Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”

“Tell me,” said Father. “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”

“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”

“That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time…” (Tramp for the Lord)

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

The fourth reason for becoming a part of the Great Falling Away – now or in the future – will be fear that God’s grace cannot help us in our suffering.

(Continued in Part 7…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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God’s Love Must Torpedo Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 10)

Eleven years ago, I somehow found myself in a long discussion with Dr. Michael Brown, who I admire, on his website. An aide of his had written an article about prophets and prophecy. The discussion centered on these few words: “From this we can learn that a ‘go alone (New Testament) prophet’ is not good, nor biblical..”

I disagreed with the writer’s assertions that God would no longer send an individual prophet to a city or a region to prophesy to the people like He did in the Old Testament. I felt there was no scripture to back up their words. I believe God will do whatever He wants. He’s God!

Dr. Brown’s belief was that in the New Testament there are leadership teams or a leadership hierarchy over a city. This would mainly be a group of pastors. Thus, God would work through this governing hierarchy and the individual prophet would go to these chosen pastors and speak his words to them.

Looking back, I missed an important point.

Dr. Michael Brown and the others were thinking and commenting from a traditional church mindset. They saw – and probably still do – pastors as CEOs and heads of churches. I don’t believe this is scriptural!

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are not go-betweens or middlemen between God and men. They are not under-shepards. None are needed to fill that role because Jesus already fills that calling for us. Jesus is our middleman, go-between and mediator between God and us.

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (five-fold callings) are gifts to the Church. These five callings are supposed to equip the members of the Church for the work of ministry, build up the members and help us attain the unity of the faith and maturity. But these callings are absolutely not given authority by God to rule over believers.

So, when I wrote about a white prophet going into an inner city to bring the word of the Lord to black people, I never considered a governing body of pastors over that city. I was thinking about setting the captives free. It was the same when I wrote the fictional story about a black prophet going to a mainly white, small town.

Is this important for the inner cities? And the rest of America?

(Continued in Part 11…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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God’s Love Must Torpedo Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 9)

I have used the fictional story about a black preacher walking into a small town with mainly white citizens to hold a healing crusade many times in the past. (See here.) But today, I want to offer a fictional take-off from that one and write about a white prophet going into an inner city to speak the word of the Lord to its black citizens. 

Can you imagine an old white guy driving a red Ford pickup into the middle of a crowd of people at a rally? And honking his horn at the same time? I couldn’t imagine something like that ever happening until it did last Saturday afternoon.

Maybe I should start at the beginning and tell the whole story, okay?

My name is Jalen Simmons. I write a syndicated newspaper column entitled, “Unashamed Angry Black Voice.” The column appears in sixty major newspapers throughout our nation. I also appear on TV as a contributor on inner city happenings.

A week ago, a friend suggested I should attend a black activist rally taking place in West Englewood at Ogden Park. This inner-city area of Chicago is the city’s most dangerous neighborhood where poverty and crime are off the charts and lives matter little to police and politicians.

On that day, I positioned myself in the middle of the crowd, estimated at five thousand black people, to better hear and understand the crowd’s reactions to the fiery speakers. The first three speakers raised their voices against the city of Chicago, its police department and white supremacy for the wrongs done to black people. Each moved the crowd closer and closer to its emotional edge.

But just as the militant keynote speaker, Deshaun Lewis, was being introduced on the platform, new sounds could be heard. A honking horn. An engine being revved up. And people screaming, “Look out! He’ll run us over!”

I looked over my left shoulder and saw a red pickup truck heading straight toward me. I jumped out of the way along with the rest of the crowd. The truck stopped right in front of me.

The driver, a seventyish white male, jumped out of the Ford pickup and into the back of the truck almost in one motion. He held a wireless microphone in his right hand which was connected to a speaker system.

“Listen up,” he said, “I have come here today to speak to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A united “No” was shouted by the crowd. Black men stepped forth to remove the so-called white prophet and his truck.

“Do not touch my truck or the hand of the Lord will come upon you and strike you blind for a time,” said the white man.

The crowd laughed until twenty-three men touched the pickup truck and began screaming, “I’m blind. Help me! Help me!” Then, the laughter stopped and fear gripped the crowd.

“Men, keep quiet. Sit down and when I’m done I will lay hands on you and your sight will immediately return.”

The twenty-three men sat down.

The old white man had the attention of the whole crowd. Everyone stood in silence, even those on the speakers platform.

“The Lord has sent me to tell you,” proclaimed the white man, “your problems are not caused by the city of Chicago, its police department or white Americans. Your problems are caused by your sins and your bitterness. You need to first ask the Lord for His forgiveness and then most of you will have to ask forgiveness of white Americans for your hatred toward them, too.

“If you choose to humble yourself before God and men, God will pour out a blessing on West Englewood. Murders will stop. Crime will end. Jobs will open up. You will be able to walk on the sidewalks of your neighborhood without fear once again. West Englewood will be known as a place of light and a refuge for all.

“But if you ignore these words and continue in the direction you’re heading, your streets will be covered with the bodies of your dead sons and daughters. And this will happen soon!”

He paused and looked around at the crowd. His blue eyes looked right into my heart.

“God’s words to you are the same ones Moses said to Israel, ‘I have set before you life and good, death and evil.” Now, you must choose which way you will walk from this day forward.”

The white prophet jumped down onto the ground. He laid hands on and prayed for each blind man. They all received their sight again.

Then, he climbed into his pickup and drove off.

Was he a prophet sent by God?

Twenty-four men have no doubts and I pray all of the crowd will agree with us.

(Continued in Part 10…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Inside Israel

Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —

Greetings with grace and mercy in The Blessed Name of our Lord, Yeshua h’meshiakh* May He be blessed and glorified, and may you be blessed and edified.  May He take this small offering for His glory alone and the edification of those to whom it is sent with love.

Elul is the last month of the modern Hebrew calendar.  The month of Elul will end on the 29th of September this year, ushering in Rosh h’Shana (the day of the blowing of trumpets, now celebrated as the new year), followed closely by Yom Kippur (the day of atonement – repentance – the most solemn day in the Hebrew calendar of fasting and prayer) and then the wonderful  7 day feast of Sukkot (feast of tabernacles). Autumn (‘stav’ in Hebrew) is upon us with the fall feasts rushing in!  How suddenly summer ends.

School began here in Israel on the 1st of September (yes, Sunday is our ‘Monday’ because Saturday is our Sabbath (shabbat) and being that today (Tuesday) is my day off from work, I smiled with joy as Eric and I walked our 5 and half year old Granddaughter Maya to ‘gan ho’veh’ (or ‘advanced kindergarten’ for those who get to go again).

Our daughter was taking 2 and half year old Nuria to gan, which she began on Sunday – one excited little cookie!  ‘All in our places with sunshiny faces’ was all I could sing as we made our way along with the throngs of parents and grandparents taking all of those little shiny excited faces to their respective schools or ga’nim (kindergartens).  I was totally absorbed in watching Maya on her scooter chattering joyfully to me when I tripped over part of our notoriously choppy sidewalks and fell smack on my knees, injuring my pride terribly but thankfully otherwise not doing anything serious.

‘Oh Tata! Tata!  Are you ok?  You scared me!’ (Maya couldn’t say Sav’ta when she was tiny and Tata stuck)

‘I’m fine!’ I assured her as we continued on and I introduced myself to the ga’ne’net (teacher) so that we could get through security to pick her up.  Isn’t the love of a child amazing?  (To you parents…it gets WAY better when you are grandparents believe it or not.)  May we BE like them, that tender, simple and honest love to our Abba God!

 

The past couple of weeks have been ‘belegan’ here in Jerusalem.  The last two weeks of summer vacation there is no kay’tin’ah (sort of summer ‘day camps’ that most children attend.  They are specialized and can be just play or sport or art or science, language or history , all sorts of age classified enrichment activities).

As you know, our economy here is different than in the west, a huge portion of this tiny country’s  resources  go to very necessary defense, so it is pretty rare for a family to be able to survive even simply on one paycheck. Most parents honestly HAVE to work, not to get ahead, but to survive.  HOWEVER, the last two weeks of summer, ‘someone’ needs to be home with the children (if retired grandparents aren’t available), and most vacations are taken then.

Consequently, the streets of Jerusalem have been PACKED with large families (religious families are particularly large. As I have said before, our son in law is the oldest of 14).  The time is spent getting school supplies and being out on ‘te’oo’lim’ (‘trek’ or ‘trip’, outing).  The lite rail and all buses were packed way beyond capacity as families enjoyed museums, parks, the zoo, the Old City, shops and restaurants.

Our dear friend Janet is staying with us for awhile and I have so enjoyed reading her updates (although she has been here on and off for many years, she always sees things with new eyes. I can’t help but borrow from her beautifully written letters:

She mused about large families dressing their children in identical clothing and I hadn’t thought about that for a while but I always think of them as big gardens.  The pansies are planted here and the daisies are there, then there are the sweet peas.  I think it really solves many problems:  First, like school uniforms, it solves the fashion problem.  ‘Here’s your ‘dress’ for the year girls’ and each one gets what Ima (mama)  picked out.  You surely can see your whole family in a crowd without losing any easily.  And when they are all on sale it’s a win-win situation for the family.  Often though it is a bolt of material that is on sale, and one pattern.

I’ve often wondered at the resilience of the people of this country, how it continues life in the midst of all of the stresses, threats and challenges. There is a philosophy or a culture that has been planted in the people. Perhaps a survival skill.  I heard so many stories about how people survived in the death camps of the Holocaust.  I was told by a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto about the schools that they set up, about how, in spite of starvation, slavery, degradation and death everywhere, they set up a functioning society with phony money to use to keep themselves from being penniless and to keep an order. Concerts performed by those who could sing or make instruments from garbage.  Humor and other forms of entertainment. Doctors and teachers continuing their trade so that they could encourage one another to life.  This way they kept themselves from despair and from degradation.

 

Our borders are heating up.  I know that I say that to you often, but things erupt here suddenly.  On Sunday we had a skirmish with Hizbollah in Lebanon sending residents of the North into shelters and sealing off the roads.  It did not erupt into the war …yet.  There is MUCH background fighting going on and as our Prime Minister has openly announced often, he (we) will not compromise Israeli security and will strike at all threats.  We have been doing that with missions and raids in Syria and Lebanon and in other places.

Iran has been playing a chess game against Israel, using other counties as pawns since they have no border with us, but their proxies – Syria and Lebanon do share our borders and Iran has been based there.  It has been a game of cat and mouse so to speak as Israel identifies threats (sophisticated weapons and deadly projects) and eliminates them.  Drones and drones heavily armed with highly destructive smart weapons have entered the arena.  To admit it, Iran has to expose their presence, which is illegal, so it has been covert.  But it has been intense and building.  Added to this toxic mix is Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Isis in Gaza and in the Sinai, infiltrating Judea and Samaria – our heartland – called by the world media “the West Bank.”  With continuing active riots on the Gaza border every Friday, our southern population is frayed but not Afraid

“Be strong and of good courage”…”DO NOT FEAR NOR BE AFRAID” are probably THE most oft repeated COMMAND given throughout the scriptures, particularly the Torah (the first 5 books of Moses) when the fleshly REASONS to fear were ABUNDANT.

In my 44 years of reading and re-reading through the Scriptures I am strongly struck by the irony of this command. Perhaps it is one of the PILLARS on which our faith rests. YES, the giants are there!  YES, the Sea is before you and the Egyptian army behind you. YES the inhabitants of the land are fierce and we are as grasshoppers in our own eyes and probably theirs. YES there is no water and YES there is no food and YES we are surrounded by armies far larger than we are and YES!  IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, BUT LOOK UP!  THOSE WHO ARE WITH US ARE MORE THAN THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST US, as Elisha told his servant when the Syrian army was coming down upon them.

I listen to some who seem to feel that faith in our God is a “get out of jail free” ticket and we will be always physically well and safe but in Luke 21, Yeshua says something very interesting that bares understanding and the context of the whole chapter is helpful:

“You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.  And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But not a hair of your head shall be lost.  By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:16-19)

SOME OF YOU WILL BE PUT TO DEATH, BUT NOT A HAIR OF YOUR HEAD SHALL BE LOST.  May our values be His, our perspective HIS.

We (as a part of the body of Messiah here) have been through fire lately in the loss of 4 beloved members.  Eliyahu Ben Haim and the three members of the Rosetsky family.  These were all people walking in the will and the ways of The Lord and living completely for Him, aside from 2 month old Itai, who had as yet done not right nor wrong). They ARE safe with not a hair of their head being lost.

His ways are not ours. His thoughts not ours but it is a wake-up call for sure.  One sister remarked to me last shabbat that “We weren’t yet back to normal’

I said, “I don’t think that we are SUPPOSED to be ‘back to normal.’  A very precious sacrifice was placed on the altar and I believe that He wants us all changed by what we have witnessed.”  

We don’t know what lies ahead, but we are NOT afraid.

We are told to fear ONLY GOD and we believe that.  Our upcoming re-elections are scheduled to be held on 17th of Sept.  Lord knows what lies ahead, we don’t.  But one thing we know (both you and us) is that the ONLY safe place in this world in IN HIM.

Our pastor is faithful to remind us time and time again to turn our faces to Him.  Run into Him!  Look to HIM! THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH!

My years are running into one another and I surely never expected that, did you?  May we ALL be found IN HIM IN (HIS) PEACE!  May His Word be a living two-edged sword in each of us.  May we be dangerous to the enemy for His sake.  May we be kept from deception. Oh may we be humble in the fear of The One True God, The Lord of heaven and earth!  May we be purified for His glory.

Lovingly,

your sister J

 

*Small note.  Lately transliterators have been writing ‘kh’ instead of ‘ch’ to indicate the sound that is like ‘clearing your throat’.  For years it has been written ‘ch’ but we know that in English ‘ch’ is pronounced like the beginning of  ‘child’ and that leads to much confusion.  I am joining the pack, so I spelled (Messiah) Meshiakh instead of Meshiach.

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God’s Love Must Torpedo Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 7)

The Apostle Paul’s greatest adversary was not Satan or the Romans, but instead, it was the Jews, his fellow countrymen. In fact, many believe, including me, that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not a sickness, but a Jew or a group of Jews that followed and stalked him so that he was continually persecuted wherever he went. (Paul used the words “messenger of Satan” to describe his thorn.)

Five times, Paul received savage beatings from the Jews. He was stoned by Jews at Lystra, drug out of the city and left for dead. More than forty Jews took a vow not to eat until they had killed Paul. Almost every city Paul entered to preach the gospel, the Jews caused riots against him.

If ever a person had a good reason to hate a specific group of people, it was the Apostle Paul, but read what he wrote:

For my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters, I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. (Romans 9:3)

It’s so easy to skip over this verse and believe that Paul was using an analogy to describe his love for the Jews, but he wasn’t. The two verses before this one describes his feelings and heart desire about this.

That’s right! Paul was willing to give up his salvation and go to Hell for the sake of the Jews. Now, that’s agape love!

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15)

There are more Christians percentage-wise in the inner cities of American than in any other location, but ironically, there are more homicides committed in the inner cities than any other place. In fact, if you removed the homicides committed in the inner cities by blacks (94% of which are committed against other blacks) from the statistics, the murder rates in America would drop in half.

Most social justice leaders, politicians and others give various reasons for why there are so many murders in America’s inner cities, but none of their answers seem to help. So, what’s the problem?

I believe the main problem is the deep-rooted hatred blacks have toward white Americans. No doubt, it’s easy to justify this black hatred because of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and countless other slights by whites, but still, justifying a sin does not stop the consequences from taking place.

(Continued in Part 8…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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God’s Love Must Torpedo the Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else (Part 4)

“American Christianity would collapse if the pastors were removed.” (Frank Viola)

The Greek word poimēn is translated into the English word pastor(s) only one time in the New Testament.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)

The other seventeen times the Greek word poimēn is used in the New Testament, it is translated into the English word shepherd(s), as in –

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. (John 10:12)

There is no evidence in the New Testament of a pastor – or shepherd – being the scripturally chosen person to preach a sermon every Sunday to a church and also being the CEO in charge of the affairs of that group of believers. Not one mention!

Even Paul in his letters to the churches did not address his messages to pastors. He wrote to all of the believers. Only in one letter did Paul make a special reference to elders, and that was a fleeting one in the first verse of Philippians.

So, how does a modern pastor justify his position as the CEO of a church?

Mainly through tradition.

Where did the tradition of the pastor begin?

Martin Luther dropped the title of priest from himself during the reformation and added the title of pastor instead. From that point forward, pastors became the heads of the Protestant churches.

Now, just so you know, I do not disagree that God has used many pastors over the centuries as His anointed leaders. Yet even so, we are in the last days, and I believe God wants His Son to take His rightful place in His body —

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, ( 1 Timothy 2:5)

I think Frank Viola exaggerated a little bit about American Christianity collapsing if the pastors are removed because many hundreds of thousands of strong believers have already walked away from the traditional church. These believers would not be affected by pastors being removed from the religious scene.

But if Viola would have narrowed his focus and said, “Black Christianity would collapse if its pastors were removed,” then I believe he would have been closer to the truth.

(Continued in Part 5…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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