Articles Archive -- Topical Index -- Textual Index

by Al Maxey

Issue #771 ------- April 15, 2019
Every man who attacks my belief diminishes in some
degree my confidence in it, and he therefore makes me
uneasy; and I'm angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel Johnson [1709-1784]

The Naaman Narrative
Does this Syrian's Seven-Fold Dipping
Suggest a Sacramental View of Baptism?

Dr. James Alexander Campbell Brown (1911-1965), who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, was a prominent psychiatrist and author during the first half of the 20th century. In his book "Techniques of Persuasion" he informs us that "conversion is likely to have been preceded by some sort of mental conflict, since those who are satisfied with themselves are less likely to be converted." The self-satisfied too often devolve into the self-righteous. Each of these states feed upon, and thus help perpetuate, the other. Those who are inwardly struggling with certain aspects of their being and their life-journey, however, tend to be more open to personal transformation and alternate pathways through life.

Few people find enjoyment in having their cherished convictions challenged, yet any significant change in one's nature or walk, any major redirection, will inevitably be predicated upon some degree of inner struggle as one grapples with serious questions and doubts related to their life choices. Just imagine the "mental conflict" that must have filled the mind of Saul of Tarsus during those three days in Damascus, where he was "without sight, and neither ate nor drank" (Acts 9:9). This time of personal struggle, however, was critical to the conversion and transformation of this man. There are many such accounts contained within the pages of the OT and NT writings. One we are all familiar with is the Naaman narrative, which may be read in its entirety in 2 Kings 5. That account is found only in this one chapter; Naaman is never mentioned again in Scripture, with the one exception of a comment about this man made by Jesus in Luke 4:27 (more about that later in this study). Most of us know the broader aspects of this story, yet I wonder how well many of us have perceived the intended message. The reason I say that I wonder is because one particular part of this story has been woefully misused and abused by some within the Church who regard it as a validation of their sacramental view of baptism in water. If I had $10 for every time in my life I have heard some preacher or teacher appeal to Naaman's "seven dips in the Jordan" as a type, and even validation, of disciples being baptized in water, I could have retired years ago! Because of this common misapplication of this narrative by too many today (as well as in the past), it behooves us to take another look at this event in its context, lest we ignorantly continue to promote false conclusions based on this ancient Syrian's actions. Let me warn you now: some of you who are reading this new issue of my Reflections are not going to like the following analysis of 2 Kings 5, nor will you much care for or appreciate my sharing of Jesus' analysis of that event, for these will fly fully in the face of a few "sacred cows" (which, frankly, needed to be rounded up, loaded up, and delivered to the slaughter house long ago).

With the details of that chapter now fresh in your minds, you will no doubt readily agree with me when I say: there is a lot going on in this account, and not all of it paints a pretty picture of human nature. There are some very inspiring aspects to this story: i.e., the little Jewish girl who was captured in one of the raids of the Syrians and made the slave of Naaman's wife. The godly attitude she displays toward her captors, as she endures the slavery forced upon her, is central to the entire narrative. The greed and treachery of Gehazi, the servant of the prophet Elisha, is heartbreaking. So also the punishment inflicted upon him for his actions. Further, there is a fascinating dynamic being played out between Elisha and Naaman, a psychological battle being waged before our eyes as two worldviews collide, and as two very strong personalities clash. There are two kings who enter the fray, each revealing something about their own character as they become involved in the Naaman narrative. There is so much more! Many life-lessons can easily be drawn from this chapter. However, there is one part of this account that needs to be evaluated more closely within its context, for that one particular act performed by Naaman has led to some egregious and erroneous theological conclusions and religious applications. But before we do so, we really need to provide a few more details about the back-story.

The time of this event was during the reign of Israel's king Jehoram and the Aramean (Syrian) king Ben-Hadad II. These two nations had been warring with one another for quite some time, but the events before us in 2 Kings 5 occur during one of the pauses in that conflict: a cease fire that allowed for some degree of peaceful interaction between the two nations. During one of the raids prior to this time of suspended conflict, a little Jewish girl was captured and carried away from her homeland. She was given to the wife of Naaman as her personal servant. Naaman was a rather powerful figure in Syria. He was the commander of the Syrian army. Josephus refers to him as "a young nobleman," thus indicating he was perceived, at least in Jewish tradition, as possessing a very high place in Syrian society, and a very close connection with the king himself. He was likely quite wealthy. But, Naaman had a problem. He was a leper. This may or may not have been what we today know as Hansen's Disease, for "leprosy" at that time covered a wide range of skin conditions (some serious, some less so; some contagious, some not). If one was leprous in Israel, there were extremely serious social and religious consequences (Leviticus 13-14). This did not seem to be the case in the ancient nation of Syria. Naaman was a leper, but he continued to serve as the commander of the army, and also was allowed into the presence of the king. His condition, therefore, may well have been more personally aggravating than life-threatening. According to the biblical text he was also "a great man ... and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram" (2 Kings 5:1). Jewish tradition, the Midrash, as well as the Jewish historian Josephus, state this had reference to the death of Israel's king Ahab, which is recorded in 1 Kings 22:29ff. Josephus wrote: "There was a young nobleman belonging to king Ben-Hadad, whose name was Naaman; he drew his bow against the enemy, and wounded the king through his breastplate, in his lungs. ... King Ahab sat in his chariot and endured the pain till sunset, and then he fainted away and died" [Antiquities of the Jews, book 8, chapter 15, section 5].

The one person in this whole narrative with the most positive attitude and the deepest faith is a young unnamed Jewish girl who was captured in a raid and enslaved in a foreign nation. In spite of her circumstances, she seems to have maintained a strong faith in God and a positive attitude toward those who were enslaving her. She even felt pity and compassion for Naaman. She said to his wife, "I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy!" (2 Kings 5:3). What a tribute to the parents of this little girl, who had instilled within her a knowledge of, love for, and faith in the one true God. Adam Clarke wrote, "Here the mystery of the Divine providence begins to develop itself. By the captivity of this little maid, one Syrian family at least, and one of the most considerable in the Syrian empire, is brought to the knowledge of the true God. So well had this little pious maid conducted herself, that her words are credited; and credited so fully, that an embassy from the king of Syria to the king of Israel is founded upon them!" [Clarke's Commentary, vol. 2, p. 496]. I can't help but regard this child as the heroine of this whole story! She was an ambassador of God's Grace, a proclaimer of Good News! Dare we say that this little female was one of the early "gospel preachers" (proclaimers of good news)?!

Naaman so valued the information provided by this girl that he approached the king of Aram (Syria) and told him what she had said. The king did not even hesitate: he wrote a letter to the king of Israel and gathered up a fortune in gifts to present to him in exchange for this act of healing. When Naaman arrived before the king of Israel, he presented the letter, which said, in part, "Behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy" (2 Kings 5:6). Well, that was not the best wording, for nothing was said of any prophet, but rather it implied that it was up to the king to cure this Syrian army commander. When king Jehoram read this he tore his clothes, saying, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?!" (vs. 7). The text reveals that king Jehoram felt this was some kind of trap or set up; a trick to perhaps end the time of peace and start up another battle between the two nations. Somehow, the prophet Elisha found out about what had happened, so he sent word to the king, saying, "Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel" (vs. 8).

Naaman and his entire entourage must have appeared quite grand to those beholding his journey to the prophet's humble abode. They finally arrive at the house where Elisha was staying, and they parked themselves before it, waiting for the prophet to come out and give a proper greeting to this Syrian nobleman. Instead, Elisha didn't even bother to show himself; he sent out his servant to Naaman with this message: "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you and you shall be clean" (vs. 10). As you might imagine, "Naaman was furious" (vs. 11). How dare this lowly Jewish prophet treat him this way!! He was sure, as verse 11 points out, that Elisha would come out, show him the proper courtesy his station in life demanded, and then perform some religious ritual, wave his hand over the leprosy, and he would be instantly healed. What?! No ceremony? No ritual? No magic words or wave of the hand? Just some lowly servant telling him to go jump in a muddy river?!! He could have done that back home where the rivers were at least cleaner, reasoned Naaman in his fury. Furthermore, "the nearest point on the course of Jordan was above twenty miles distant from Samaria" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 5 - II Kings, pt. 1, p. 94]. That was quite a trek. Nothing was going his way, or so it seemed to him. This whole journey had been a waste of time! There were no religious ceremonies proffered; no magic words pronounced.

"At first the Syrian general haughtily spurned his miscalculated humiliation, and rejected the remedy" [Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 2, p. 1167]. Naaman needed to learn a lesson in humility, and it was for this reason, in part, that Elisha refrained from coming out of the house to greet him. At this point in this whole process, Naaman was very likely having some very negative thoughts about the Jews, their religious leaders, and their God. He was not an Israelite; he was not a believer in their God; he worshipped idols; he was a sworn enemy of this little nation. "I'm out of here!," he must have thought in frustration and anger, and the sooner the better. This had been a long journey, however, and his entourage begin to reason with him. They said, "Had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" (2 Kings 5:13). "Hey, why not? Right?! After all, what have you got to lose?" Naaman listened to his advisors and headed for the Jordan river. I'm sure there was plenty of grumbling going on as he made that trip. He may even have believed he was being played for a fool, and would be the brunt of jokes for years to come! Yet, he made for the river, and when he got there he went in, however reluctantly, and washed himself seven times. "And his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (vs. 14).

I find it interesting that after his miraculous healing, "He returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him" (2 Kings 5:15). Remember, that was a journey of over 20 miles, and out of his way. But, this miracle had changed his thinking and priorities. He desired to show his gratitude to the prophet (with whom he had not been overly pleased previously), and to inform him of the success of this remedy. This time Elisha came out to meet him, and Naaman said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant" (vs. 15). He wanted to show his gratitude, and, being a wealthy man, he naturally believed this could be best done by "writing a check" and giving it to the prophet to help with his ministry. The prophet, unlike far too many religious leaders since, refused the gift. This wasn't about money or possessions; this was not a "healing for hire" scenario. This gift of grace was from God, not the prophet of God, and the only gift God sought was a life surrendered to His will: a life lived in love, mercy, compassion, faithfulness, kindness, and justice toward all. Naaman was a powerful man in Syria; he was a man of great influence. His greatest gift would be to return to his people and evidence a new spirit, a godly life, before them. Did he do so? We don't know, but it is our hope and prayer that he did. What we do know is that Naaman asked to take a load of soil from this area of Israel back to Syria with him to help prepare a place of worship unto God. That certainly shows noble intent. He also sought advice on how to deal with a difficult aspect of his service to the king of Syria which obligated him to be present at certain idolatrous events. He was becoming aware that his spiritual transformation, now in its early stages, was certainly going to present some significant practical challenges that would have to be faced. Thus, he sought advice from Elisha, and the prophet, interestingly, offered no counsel (or, if he did, that counsel was not recorded for our enlightenment). He simply said, "Go in peace" (2 Kings 5:19).

As we look back on this "Naaman narrative" in 2 Kings 5, we can easily see that it lends itself well to a host of lessons relevant to our daily walk with our Lord. There is much to be learned from this account. Yet, for some of us who have devoted our lives to wrestling with the misconceptions and misapplications of the religiously blind, we almost cringe when we see this Syrian army general being told to "wash, and be clean" or "wash, and be healed" (the translations are about half one, half the other on this phrase). Why do we cringe? Because we know only too well what is coming! The legalists, patternists, and sacramentalists have just found, in their minds, another "proof-text" for salvation by immersion in water. A groan escapes our lips, coming from deep within our souls, for we know only too well how this Naaman narrative is about to be twisted and torn from its context to "prove" that one is saved at the precise moment of baptism in water, and not a second before. "What if Naaman had stopped after just 6 dips?" they ask. "Would he have been cured?" "Well, it's the same with baptism: if he dies one second before completing the sacrament, then it's off to hell with him!" Think I'm making this up? Google it. I did, and found a ton of teaching like this: " speaks volumes about the cleansing, regenerative, saving power of the sacrament of Baptism" [Joe Heschmeyer, Naaman the Leper and the Sacrament of Baptism]. I also found it interesting that this author stated in the same article that "this pre-Baptism baptism leads Naaman to faith in God." Notice that when speaking of the NT act of immersion in water, this author (as many do) uses the upper case "B" (that's because it is perceived as a sacrament of the church). We can even go back to the "Church Fathers" and find similar statements. Irenaeus (130-202 A.D.), as he wrote about Naaman dipping himself seven times in the Jordan, wrote, "It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but this served as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions" [Fragment 34].

To those who seek to make this Syrian nobleman and general, and his experience in the waters of the Jordan river, a type or prefiguring of Christian baptism in water, I need to make a few observations that they may find problematic. First is the fact that this was a miracle of healing from a physical condition, not a divine act of salvation from a spiritual condition. Nowhere does it speak of forgiving sins or saving a soul from eternal damnation. No such purpose is even hinted at in the text or context of 2 Kings 5. One might also wonder at the number seven. Why a seven-fold washing? I suppose some might seek to find some symbolism in that number, but that most likely never entered the minds of the actual participants in the narrative before us. A far bigger difficulty, however, is that these washings Naaman performed upon himself that day were not motivated by faith in God or His prophet. In fact, Naaman was furious that such washings were presented as the sole solution to his healing. Thus, he had no intention of dipping in the Jordan, and only did so because his entourage wore him down with their reasonings and arguments. For all we know, he may have given in just to shut them up. What we do know, however, is that the text states he did not believe until AFTER he was healed of his affliction. He made NO confession of belief in the one true God until He saw His power displayed. Notice 2 Kings 5:15 - when Naaman returned to Elisha, he declared, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel." He did not come to this point of faith until after the healing!! If Naaman's "baptism" (all 7 of them) in the Jordan is truly a type or prefiguring of Christian baptism in water, then does faith/belief (and even confession) follow immersion?

You may need to sit down for this! Ready? There are some leaders in my own faith-heritage (that branch of the Stone-Campbell Movement denominated "Churches of Christ") who are teaching that, just like in the Naaman narrative, belief/faith does indeed come AFTER baptism. I have documented this in my article dated September 20, 2011 titled "The 'Belief After Baptism' Doctrine: Sectarian Sacramentalism and the Philippian Jailer" (Reflections #503), and have even provided the identity of this noted preacher. It is amazing the lengths to which some will go to try and defend their sacramental view of baptism in water. The New Covenant writings make it abundantly clear that we are saved by grace through faith, and that baptism in water is just one of several acts that demonstrate the reality of this faith/belief within our hearts and minds. However, no such firm faith existed in Naaman when he entered the Jordan to wash. As the text states, he came to that point of genuine faith AFTER he was healed, NOT BEFORE. "Naaman's marvelous cure made him a believer in the God of Israel" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 5 - II Kings, pt. 1, p. 106]. "His cure has wrought in him a change of belief. It has convinced him that the God of Elisha is the God of the whole earth" [ibid, p. 95]. "Following his cleansing, he professed faith in Israel's God" [Holman Bible Dictionary, p. 1000]. Noted OT scholars Drs. Keil and Delitzsch pointed out that Naaman "had been brought to belief in the God of Israel as the true God by the miraculous cure of his leprosy" [Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3, p. 321]. Dr. James E. Smith summed it up quite well: "At the Jordan, Naaman's heart was transformed as well as his flesh. He waded into the waters a worshipper of Rimmon and emerged a worshipper of Yahweh" [Bible Study Textbook Series: I & II Kings, p. 504].

Although this will not be appreciated by some, it needs to be stated boldly and clearly nevertheless: The Naaman narrative (2 Kings 5) has absolutely NOTHING to do with baptism (neither pre- nor post-Pentecost). Religious ceremonialism was not even in view in this passage (except for the fact that Naaman thought it might be the methodology of Elisha; he was clearly mistaken). This entire event served another purpose; it reflected the reality of far greater Good News for mankind. It was a preview of the unbounded love and grace of God in calling unto Himself, and in being willing to accept, men and women far beyond the parameters of the people of Israel. It was Jesus Himself who revealed this divine purpose. In the synagogue in Nazareth, our Lord's hometown, He read from the Scriptures and then made this comment to those assembled, "Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner - a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian" (Luke 4:25-27). When the people gathered in the synagogue that day heard this statement, "they were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed Him and forced Him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push Him over the cliff, but He passed right through the crowd and went on His way" (Luke 4:28-30).

There was indeed a message being sent via the Naaman narrative, as well as the account of the widow of Sidon (1 Kings 17). It had nothing to do with rigid religious ceremonialism or sacramentalism; it had to do with a loving Creator reaching out to His creation ... ALL within His creation, regardless of race or place or circumstance. "The meaning of these verses is: God dispenses His benefits when, where, and to whom He pleases" [Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, vol. 5, p. 397]. Time and again, in both OT and NT writings, we see the Jews spurning the grace of God, and time and again we see the Lord sending His messengers of grace to Gentiles as a result. This broader acceptance of mankind infuriated the Jews. They couldn't bear the thought that the Father could love anyone other than "the chosen ones." Sadly, we find much the same twisted perception being perpetuated in countless sects, factions, and schisms of Christianity. WE are the "favored few," all others are damned. Not so!! "Jesus uses Naaman to illustrate God's freedom - God chose to heal Naaman, an enemy of Israel, but no Israelites. This scandal of God's grace so provoked Jesus' listeners that they attempted to kill Him" [The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 3, p. 465]. Let me close this study with this insight from Dr. James Hastings: "Our Lord in these words rebuked Jewish exclusiveness in general, and quite clearly indicated the great truth that the benefits of His gospel, whether bodily or spiritual, were not only for the Jew, but also for the Gentile" [Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, vol. 2, p. 216].


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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in Unknown:

Al, My name is ------. I read your Reflections all the time. However, it has been a long time since I have received one, and I am concerned about you. I hope you are just taking a break, and that you will write the next one soon. You are the lamp that lights up the Scriptures for my wife and me! Thank you.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Al, your writings always make me think, which I need. I don't believe I am 100% on board with all of your thoughts on water baptism, but that's no big deal. I do have questions concerning what I have believed and taught on the subject over the years (I am now in my 80's and no longer in full time ministry). For example, we know water baptism in Romans 6 is pictured as one's death to sin (the "old man" is crucified). The person, having died, is buried and raised into a new life. All that die are buried, and all who are buried are raised. But Paul tells the Galatians they are children by faith in Jesus. Then he apparently explains when and how. For as many of you as have been immersed into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). But, water baptism is a burial and a resurrection from the element one has been immersed into. That doesn't fit Gal. 3:27 nor 1 Cor. 12:13; it just doesn't make sense. If in fact we are raised up from out of that into which we have been immersed, then this would mean one is immersed into and then raised up out of Christ and/or the One Body. Yet, there is nothing in those two passages that say we are raised up out of either Christ or the One Body after having been baptized into them!! A resurrection in both those passages doesn't make sense! Perhaps I'm failing to see what is needed to make sense of those two passages in light of Romans 6. Perhaps you've already addressed these questions I have?! Thanks.

From a Reader in South Carolina:

Good Morning Al. Thanks for this article: "A Perversion of Immersion: Are We Baptized into the Church?" (Reflections #770). I have wrestled with this question for a long time. Thanks for providing some clarity. I agree that we are added to the universal Church, but "at what point?" during the conversion process is the question. Thanks for all your Reflections.

From a Reader in Florida:

AMEN to your study "A Perversion of Immersion." JESUS is God's plan for salvation - His ONLY plan!! Thank you!

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Another great article, brother! But, get ready for the backlash from the legalists!!

From an Author in Nevada:

Al, this particular lesson of yours is sorely needed by the Legal Eagles!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Al, "A Perversion of Immersion" is a great article! I believe there are many who think just as you do (including myself). However, when it comes to actually stating or teaching the Scriptures without our human traditions clouding these truths, many of these people will NOT do so out of fear that they and their families will be targeted. It is sad that this is so common.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Al, you stir up the waters better than anyone I know! And by that I mean: you challenge the precepts and traditions of people with sound Scripture, and you don't back down from what you believe to be the truth. I happen to agree with you; there are some who probably will disagree with you from a sincere heart. Bless their hearts! Others will disagree with you simply because it challenges their teaching and authority, and their claim to perfect knowledge of "the one true church." You will easily tell who is who by their comments. The ones who sling verbal stones and arrows - they are the ones who can't stand being challenged (and who also wouldn't know Jesus if He shook their hand). But, some can see the angels in fiery chariots, and some can't. Just how it is, I suppose! Blessings, my friend!

From a Reader in Texas:

Thank you, Al, for all your studies you have shared with us (so that we may study along with you). I am so thankful for the deeper understandings you are providing on so many truths that have been distorted in the past! We are praying for you.

From a Reader in Texas:

Greetings from rainy Houston, Al. A New Mexico buddy and I go round and round over who gets into Heaven. Does Gandhi? Any Hindus? Any Muslims? Any Catholics? Any JWs? Many thanks, and keep up the good work.

From a PhD in Utah:

Just read "A Perversion of Immersion." Excellent observations! I too am amazed at how we argue over the precise timing of God. Our arguments with the Baptists have been on the precise moment of salvation. Yet, which is the real issue: being saved or being correct in our understanding of Scripture? I really don't care how or when Christ saves me ... just so long as He does! We are far more worried about clocks than eternity. Being immersed by the Spirit is what circumcised my heart. When, precisely, did that happen? I have my idea, but I don't care as long as it happened. I don't remember the precise time I was physically circumcised, but its effects have lasted me a lifetime. The Spirit's circumcision was done in His own good time, but its effect will last an eternity!

From a Reader in Texas:

Al, I had much to do today in my job with a major utility company here in Texas, but when I saw your new Reflections article earlier today ("A Perversion of Immersion") I couldn't stop reading! Thank you for your deep reverence for God's Word and for sharing His truths with us, even when it means we need to change or accept a broader understanding of His Word. Love you, dear brother!

From a Reader in Ottawa, Canada:

I tend not to regard things as "coincidence." I was starting an email to you at the exact same time that your new Reflections ("A Perversion of Immersion") arrived in my inbox. Al, I was baptized into the Body of Christ in an offshoot of the Stone-Campbell Movement known as the ICOC (International Churches of Christ). At the height of their hubris they were obliged to go through the fire, to confront their carnality, and to shed their excess. What I increasingly find refreshing is that having done so, they are refreshingly different. They started as a movement, and they became a monument. And one brave man called it to the church's attention. Watching the effects of an entire organization go through the rigors of repentance is, in many ways, a heart-stopping sight. But, from the very top to the very bottom, they cleansed as much of the evil within as they were able. But this is what your ongoing Reflections bring to my mind: a church institution that becomes too monumental tends to refuse to repent. That each congregation is autonomous (something else I neither understand nor see reflected in Scripture) makes the task even more difficult. No, one is not immersed into a church; one is immersed into the Body of Jesus, and we have been given the same task as the first disciples: to reflect His glory to the rest of the world. I am aware that I am rambling. Yesterday I received a phone call to inform me that I would no longer be allowed to teach at our congregation owing to my understanding that it is okay for women to pass the trays, that musical instruments are permissible, and that God's "silence" in Scripture means that we are free to choose a wise course based on all of His pronouncements. Thank you, brother, for your continued insights, and your encouragement to think very carefully about all that is going on. As my mother said when I was a wee boy: "Puddles are often deeper than they look." I have ordered some of your books and CDs via PayPal, and I look forward with ill-disguised glee to receiving them! Best wishes, heartfelt thanks, and much prayer for you! Much love to you, brother, and many thanks for your dedication to the cause of Christ.

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