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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

Ruler of Kings

June 10, 2010

Ruler of Kings

June/Training for Mission

10 June 2010

The frail, oppressive, and fleeting glory of the kings of the present world is laid low by God's will.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator

"Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings."

- Isaiah 51.7

Let's remember that Columcille, who wrote the poem, Altus Prosator, for the monks under his care on the island of Iona, was in the business of mission, and of training men to take the Gospel to faraway places. In those days petty rulers owned all the land, and if you wanted to set up a preaching station, you had to have the approval of the local authority. Many a Celtic missionary was subjected to red martyrdom by kings who didn't like what they heard.

At this point in his poem, Columcille has effectively nullified the devil's terror over his trainees. Now he wants to assure them that they have nothing to fear from the kings of the earth. The God they serve, and Whose Kingdom they are going forth to announce, rules the kings of the earth and brings them low when they try to oppose His will. Yes, some may know hardship in the process of advancing the Kingdom; however, ultimately the God Who made all things and bound the devil will flex His power over the oppressors of men as well.

When you think of initiating a conversation with someone in your Personal Mission Field, a conversation that you intend to direct toward the Gospel - how does that make you feel? Hesitant? Filled with trepidation? Fearful? The God Who rules the kings of the earth rules the hearts and minds of the people to whom He has sent us. He is readying many of them for the Good News of His Kingdom and His Son. And He has commissioned us to the task.

"Fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings." What can they do to us that is so fearful it would prevent us from telling them the Good News of Jesus?

Today in ReVision: Good as New - No, Better!

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry

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June 11, 2010



11 June 2010

By the divine powers of the great God the globe of the earth is suspended, and the circle of the great abyss set, held up by God, by the mighty hand of the Omnipotent.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

- Hebrews 1.3

Once the meaning and implications of the sovereignty of God and Jesus Christ begin to become real to you, your faith will change forever. You think you know the love of Christ, because you feel forgiven and you know He looks down on you with favor. Indeed. But if that's all you know of the love of Christ, it's no wonder your prayer life is so paltry.

Even as you take mild offense at that last sentence, the Lord upholds the photons of light streaming off the computer screen into your eyes, where, by His continuous sovereignty, He translates light into electricity and chemistry, speeding it along the neurons of your brain where, by some miracle of spiritual existence, meaning comes through. Every breath you take, every molecule and atom of your body, of the chair in which you're seated and the room around you is there, and remains there, because Jesus holds it in place. He loves you that much.

And even when you aren't thinking about Him, He never takes His eye off you, never withdraws His personal attention to all your needs, never fails to dispatch His angels to guard you or to direct His Spirit in how to guide you. He is with you always, sovereignly and lovingly doing all things well and working all things together for your good. If you love Him.

He is sovereign. Don't fret the small stuff. Don't worry about the unknown. Don't lose sight of His mission and purpose for you. He is sovereign and He will never fail you nor forsake you. With that message burned into the depths of their souls, young Irish monks felt fires of love igniting for Jesus, and they went by the thousands into unknown cultures and lands to declare the message that Jesus is sovereign, and that He loves us.

If only that message would work for us.

Today in ReVision: Count on It - The churches will be there to help in the Gulf.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Get a copy for your pastor. Will he thank you? He should.

And stop by the book store. Come on in, we have some very useful resources and more coming on line soon.

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The Tree of Life

June 14, 2010

The Tree of Life

June/Training for Mission

14 June 2010

We read in the most noble opening of Genesis that Paradise was planted by the Lord in the beginning, from whose spring the four rivers flow, and in whose flowering midst is the tree of life whose leaves, bringing health to the peoples, do not fall, and whose fertile delights cannot be told.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

...also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

- Revelation 22.2

This excerpt demonstrates both the poetical power and theological acumen of Columcille. In one stanza he collapses all of history - creation to new creation - and all of Scripture - Genesis 1, 2 to Revelation 22 - into a single idea, organized around the Tree of Life. This is the way God sees creation, time, history, and His redemptive economy - collapsed into a solid, rhythmic space where all His decrees come to pass in His way and time.

Note too the change in verb tenses - from "was" in the first part of the stanza to "do not fall" and "cannot be told" (present tenses) at the end. Columcille has brought all of God's original design for the creation forward to the present, along with all the future hope of the new heavens and new earth. This emphasizes the certainty of what God has promised and will do.

Imagine how such a way of thinking of the whole of history would have encouraged and emboldened a young recruit preparing to go off on mission! God's will is perfect and sure! What He has ordained cannot fail! And we are commissioned and privileged to carry this glorious Good News to the world! No wonder those thousands of young people didn't fail!

Friends, our vision is simply too small. We tend to see the life of faith only in terms of what's in it for us; how is trusting Jesus going to help me today? But the faith of Christ is a faith for all times, all people, all healing, and all fruitfulness. We are the ambassadors of that faith to the world, beginning in our own Personal Mission Fields. Let us be encouraged by the example of our forebears and the certainty of God's Word to go in Jesus' Name with the greatest news anyone could ever hope to hear!

To whom will you take this Good News today?

Today in ReVision: The False Hope of Politics - Meanwhile, no change in government will heal what ails this nation.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Pastor, make some copies of this for your pastor friends, and sit down and discuss it together.

Get your copy of The Legacy of Patrick and discover how the Celtic revival can enlarge your vision for the life of faith.

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The Prophet and His Law

June/Training for Mission

15 June 2010

Who has ascended Mount Sinai to speak with the Moses, judge of the people of Israel?

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers - it is to him you shall listen..."

- Deuteronomy 18.15

Only one stanza of Altus Prosator deals with events on earth - this one. The focus is on the giving of the Law and the authority of Moses, an authority ultimately passed down to Jesus, Who perfectly fulfilled the Law - for our redemption (Matt. 5.17-19) - and Who prescribed the Law as the way to love God and men (Matt. 22.34-40).

It's almost as if Columcille is saying to his disciples, "When it comes to things here on earth, all you have to know is, pursue holiness in the fear of God." This is the essence of Kingdom-seeking. We pursue holiness by resting in Jesus' finished work. He alone provides the righteousness we need to be acceptable to God.

But we also pursue holiness by walking in the steps of Jesus (1 Jn. 2.1-6), learning from His Spirit (Ezek. 36.26, 27), and finding in the Law not a burden to break us but a luminous path of liberty and life (Lev. 18.1-5). And when we find that, by the grace of God alone, we are actually able to keep the Law in the power of the Spirit, we will be quick to acknowledge that it is "not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but to Your own Name be glory!" (Ps. 115.1)

Christians are called to holiness; the Law of God is holy (Rom. 7.12) and the Holy Spirit teaches us by that law (Jn. 16.8-11). We cannot take up the mission to which we are called without underscoring and infusing all our conversation, works, and relationships with the holiness and love of God's Law. This is the foundation of mission, as of all the Christian life. If we listen to Jesus, the Prophet Moses foresaw, we will obey and teach the Law as central to our calling to follow Him.

Today in ReVision: The False Hope of Politics

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry

Get a copy of John Nunnikhoven's Voices Together and start learning to pray the psalms, as the saints of old did. Go to the book store today.

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In the Meantime

June 16, 2010

In the Meantime

June/Training for Mission

16 June 2010

When Christ, the most exalted Lord, descends from heaven, the most glorious sign of the Cross, and the banner, will shine forth. And when the two chief luminaries are covered up, the stars will fall to the earth like fruits from a fig-tree, the whole expanse of the world will be like the blaze of a furnace: then multitudes will hide themselves in caverns of the mountains.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming day of God...

- 2 Peter 3.11, 12

Christianity is a way of life lived with a view to the end. We have been given advanced notice of the way things work out and what will be the final disposition of all things. Awaiting the world is a time of judgment before God Almighty, in which only they will escape uncondemned who have trusted in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and confirmed that trust by loving and serving Him.

As for the rest, well, hiding in caverns and calling the mountains to cover them will do no good. The end of unrepentant sinners, Celtic Christians were taught, is too horrible to consider. Everyone must be given fair warning of the coming judgment and pleaded with to turn to Jesus while they can. And our lives must be of such virtue, self-denial, and service that people see in us a reality they cannot explain other than by the Word we urge them to receive for themselves.

This is how Celtic missionaries were trained. They knew every day was fraught with urgency and opportunities to persuade lost souls to find shelter and new life in Jesus Christ. The remarkable lives of the Celtic missionaries - both in terms of their daily disciplines and their service to others - made their message one to be carefully considered. And multitudes did.

What manner of people ought we to be, knowing what we know about the outcome of all history and the final estate of men? Do we love God enough to represent His message and lifestyle to the world? Do we love our neighbors enough to plead with them to repent and believe the Gospel? A time of judgment is coming; in the meantime, let us live like those who know this is so.

Today in ReVision: Oiling Along - The President's speech was smooth, but troubling.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Here's a little tool to evaluate your ministry, pastor. And it's free.

We thank those of you who have contributed to our ministry and visited our book store. May the Lord's blessings be with you in all things.

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Hindrance to Faith

June 17, 2010

Hindrance to Faith

June/Training for Mission

17 June 2010

The wrathful zeal of fire will consume the enemy, who do not wish to believe that Christ came from God the Father.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

- John 17.20, 21

Three of the defining features of the Christianity that flourished during the Celtic revival (ca. 430-790 AD) are their powerful commitment to the spiritual life, their devotion to mission, and their strong communal bond. They understood the value of working hard, all day long, at their relationship with Christ - to see Him in His glory, commune with Him in prayer, and sink their roots in Him through His Word. They risked their lives over and over to reach pagan peoples with the Gospel. And they built and maintained strong communities of co-laborers and friends in service to others.

So what do you think? Were Columcille's words in this stanza just an accident? Or did he deliberately choose that phrasing - "Christ came from God the Father" - to pull those three facets of Celtic Christianity into a focus for his disciples? That phrase captures the importance of union with Christ and God, of unity in the community of the brethren, and of mission to the lost world in a brilliant and memorable way. Those preparing for mission would have gotten the point and understood that Columcille was underscoring all three of these aspects of the life of faith as crucial to their success.

It's no wonder we're so poor at evangelism and at winning people to Christ these days. Most Christians have a fairly superficial relationship with the Lord; I watch their eyes glaze over in complete unknowing as I talk to them about engaging God in His glory as our highest calling in life. Most churches have nothing to do with any other churches in their community, thus offering a hindrance to the credibility of the Gospel. And most believers haven't talked about their faith with anybody outside the church in years - for whatever reason. We have very little burden for mission.

What is the greatest hindrance to evangelism and belief? We are. We are, friends; and until we face up and 'fess up on this, nothing's going to change and the lost will just continue on their merry way to the consuming fire of the Lord.

Today in ReVision: Oiling Along - How'd the President do in his speech the other night? Well...

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Download a free copy for your pastor. If he won't take it, take it for him.

Tonight we pray for revival. Write me if you like to join us, and I'll send you the call-in information and prayer sheet.

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Love not the World

June 18, 2010

Love not the World

June/Training for Mission

18 June 2010

Who can satisfy God in the last times, when the noble rules of truth have been changed, save for those who scorn this present world?

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

- 1 John 2.15

Celtic missionaries lived an austere life. In the first generations, at least, they took nothing from the world, but learned to live off the generous supply of their faithful God and the work of their own hands. Initially a missionary might go off by himself and build a little hut in the woods. There he could live off the land while he learned to trust God and praise Him with greater frequency and consistency, and began to build bridges with whatever people might be living around him.

He might then be joined by a few disciples, and they would acquire property - often as a gift from some friendly ruler - which they would then develop for agriculture, living, and worship. As the community grew, so did their industry and their outreach. They rejected the comforts of the court and refused the lavish gifts often proffered to gain their favor. They lived simply but powerfully, and many came to Christ through their efforts.

They did not love the world, and, as a result, the love of God shone mightily in and through them. And what about us? Would those who know us say that we do not love the world? That we are so manifestly focused on pleasing our heavenly Father that nothing this world might offer to entice us away from Him has any allure whatsoever?

The way to keep from loving the world is to love God more. This means prayer, solitude, contemplation, observing His glory in the world around, and talking with others about Him as though He were, indeed, just the best thing in your life. When we know God truly, we will love nothing more. And then we will be ready to be used for His glory.

Today in ReVision: What They Really Think - South Carolina Democrats just can't get it right.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Evaluate your own ministry, free of charge.

Visit our book store and check out the resource there. More to come later this summer.

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Lament for a Departed Prophet

June/Training for Mission

21 June 2010

Now he is not, nothing is left to us, no relief for a soul, our sage. For he has died to us, the leader of nations who guarded the living, who was our chief of the needy, he has died to us, who was our messenger of the Lord...

- Dallan Forgaill, Amra Choluimb Chille (Irish, 6th century)

And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.

- Acts 20.37, 38

The death of Columcille struck his community like a bolt of lightning. He was much loved and would be greatly missed. It fell to Dallan Forgaill to summarize the community's feelings about their beloved saint and mentor.

Columcilled was their guardian, servant, and teacher. His example and instruction opened the door for many Irish missionaries to take the Gospel to far away places, and to do so with great effects. The Iona community was devasted by his death. However, his legacy continued in a string of equally capable and effective abbots, who carried on Columcille's work and extended it even further.

Paul was careful to ensure that his own work would not end with his departure from this world. As we see in 2 Timothy 2.2, he trained his disciples to labor at the task of disciple-making until they could see their efforts being carried on to three generations beyond themselves.

In our day of Christian narcissism, when the Gospel, the Church, and even God Himself are supposed to exist for the sake of each "seeker," it's frightening to consider what legacy we might be leaving to the next generation: "I got mine from God, now you get yours, too"?

The work of personal evangelism has already pretty much ground to a halt. Will the work of world missions follow? Without a commitment to equip the generations that succeed us with the vision, spiritual vitality, and practical skills for disciple-making, the faith of Christ will wither and be discarded. What is your responsibility in this high and holy calling, and how will you carry it out?

Today in ReVision: Subjunctive Science - Scientists on the trail of the origins of life - maybe.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry- Here's a tool you can use to evaluate your work in making disciples.

Come on over to the book store where you can find some useful resources to help you take up this calling to make disciples.

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He Lit Up the East

June 23, 2010

He Lit Up the East

June/Training for Mission

23 June 2010

He was learning's pillar in every stronghold, he was foremost in the book of complex law. The northern land shone, the western people blazed, he lit up the east with chaste clerics.

- Dallan Forgaill, Amra Cholumb Chille (Irish, 6th century)

In the place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

- Psalm 45.16, 17

What a lovely tribute to the departed Columcille. He made the northern island of Iona shine with his learning and purity. From Ireland, in the west, multitudes flocked to learn from him, until they fairly blazed with the glory of God. And from Iona they went to Scotland, Wales, the Low Countries, and beyond, lighting up the world with the true light of the Gospel.

Who'd have thought it? When Columcille set sail from Ireland, alone, exiled for some unclear reason, most, watching him go, undoubtedly thought it was the end of a promising life and career. But he must have been thinking otherwise. He knew he belonged to God, and, whatever his failings or shortcomings, Colum was not going to be denied the opportunity of leaving a legacy to the glory of God.

Which provokes the question: What legacy are you planning to leave behind when at last the Lord calls you home? Will you bequeath to the world people who live in the Kingdom like the true sons and daughters - princes and princesses - of God? Are you preparing a legacy of disciples, writings, or good works that will cause the name of God to be extolled for generations to come?

This much is certain: If we don't plan for a legacy to glorify God, we're not likely to leave one. It is much to be preferred, I think, to set aside every perceived shortcoming, face up to every obstacle or hindrance, and determine that, by God's grace and might, you will do and leave something in your brief life on earth that causes others to remember Him when you are gone.

Columcille did, and we may - must - as well. It's not the size or nature of the legacy that counts, just the legacy. Let your presence here and now leave a glow of glory when you have departed to there and then.

Today in ReVision: Why They Hate Us - Thanks, Governor, for nothing.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry

The poems and exercises in The Hidden Life can help you prepare a legacy of glory for the generations to come. Order your copy today from our book store.

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Man of the Word

June 29, 2010

Man of the Word

June/Training for Mission

29 June 2010

The teacher wove the word. By his wisdom he made glosses clear. He fixed the Psalms, he made known the books of the Law...the books of Solomon, he followed them...he read mysteries and distributed the Scriptures among the schools...

- Dallan Forgaill, Amra Cholumb Chille (Irish, 6th century)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

- 2 Timothy 2.15

I've had occasion recently to peek in on a few of our television preachers, just to see the latest message which is being fed to the people of God. Of course, if you're on television, it's assumed you're a successful preacher, and the many admiring congregants in attendance would seem to support that view.

But the word I've heard preached from these men is not the Word of God, but some word designed to uplift, encourage, affirm, or otherwise make hearers feel good about believing in God. In many cases the Gospel itself is not even presented; in some, the name of Jesus comes at the end, as a kind of add on ("Have you prayed to receive Jesus? You can, you know, right now!")

You would not have heard such preaching from Columcille, nor from those he sent out into the fields of Europe to proclaim the Kingdom of God. But then, he wasn't trying to raise funds with his preaching, and those who sat under his teaching did not expect to attract adoring audiences to lap up their every word. Most likely they expected some kind of martyrdom for their pains. Many were not disappointed.

To preach the Word one must know the Word, love and live the Word, and have a passion for the Word that sets the priorities and will of God above everything else, even that which people might like to hear. Columcille preached this way, as did the other great saints of the Celtic revival. They endured hardship, want, and opposition as they preached, but they brought the light of Truth back to a dying continent. Today's celebrity preachers strike me as having a different agenda, and a much lower regard for the Word of God.

And what about us? Do we know and love the Word well enough to know when we're being misled?

Today in ReVision: Why They Hate Us

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry

Just a reminder to visit our book store to discover the resources there that can help you in Christian growth and ministry. Thanks to those of you who have sent gifts to our ministry via the donate button on our website.

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He Lived His Name

June 30, 2010

He Lived His Name

June/Training for Mission

30 June 2010

Living his name, living his soul, from the crowds he prepared under the holy Law.

- Dallan Forgaill, Amra Cholumb Chille (Irish, 6th century)

She said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me."

- Ruth 1.20

In the Bible names often carried great significance, as Naomi showed. Her life, which had been "pleasant" (Naomi), had turned out "bitter" (Mara). But joy would return because of the grace of God. Her faith in seeking the Lord and returning to Judah showed that she knew where relief from bitterness could be found, and that she was determined to seek it.

Columcille means "dove of the Church." Dallan tells us two beautiful things in this little line of his long poem. First, Colum lived out his name in his own life. He was the dove of the Church, bringing peace, new hope, and the promise of a new day. He was a man of peace and he trained many to take the peace of the Gospel to other parts of the world.

And that is the second sense: He lived his name out in the ones he trained in the holy Law of God. Interesting to think of missionary training as being subsumed under that rubric, no? These days we teach missionaries everything but the Law of God. Perhaps we should review the missions curriculum? Columcille taught his students to know and love the Law, to proclaim it in Jesus Christ, and to call men to lives of disciplined living in obedience to God's Law, that they might know and share the peace of God with Him and with their neighbors.

He lived his name, and those he trained lived it as well. What about us? We are "Christians" - "Christ-in-you-ones." Are we living that Name? Are we helping others to embrace and live that Name? Generations from now will people trace their own faith in Jesus Christ back to us and the way we lived and the work we did to leave a legacy for them (Ps. 45.17)?

Well, not if we don't follow the example of Colum and make a point to live out the Name of Jesus and to help others live that Name out as well. How will you do this today?

Today in ReVision: Work with Dignity - Work has meaning...if...

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Last day to get yours. New downloads tomorrow.

Thanks for the encouraging words you share with us. We love to hear from you. How about forwarding Crosfigell to some friends, and urging them to sign up? You could even invite them to check out the book store.

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Pursue Holiness

July 01, 2010

Pursue Holiness


1 July 2010

Faith together with works, eagerness together with steadfastness, tranquility together with zeal, chastity together with humility, fasting together with moderation, poverty together with generosity, silence together with conversation, division together with equality...

- Colman mac Beognai, Aipgitir Chrabaid (Irish, 7th century)

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

- 2 Corinthians 7.1

Colman was a nephew of Columcille, and his "Broom of Devotion" is a catalog of the kind of virtues expected of the followers of Christ. The opening quote - begun above - reminds us of Ecclesiastes 3 and the opposites there set forth which all have their place "under the heavens."

Celtic Christians were earnest about holiness. They disciplined soul and body in the pursuit of it and submitted themselves to soul friends and the discipline of penance to maintain and advance holiness in their lives. They understood that living for Christ - being a witness - was as much a matter of how they lived as what they said.

God is holy; Christ is holy; the Spirit of God is holy; God's Law is holy and righteous and good. It only makes sense that believers - "saints", or "holy ones" - should devote themselves to the pursuit of holiness as of the highest priority in their lives (Matt. 6.33). This means daily prayer and waiting on the Lord to illuminate areas where holiness is lacking in our lives. It requires vigilance over all our words and deeds, clear planning as to how we may improve our walk with the Lord, and daily praise and thanks for whatever progress the Lord allows us to make.

Are you "bringing holiness to completion" in your walk with Christ? Are you conscious of daily striving to become more like Jesus, to follow in His footsteps in the Law of God, and of laying aside everything in your life that is contrary to the good and holy purposes of God? If not, "bringing holiness to completion" is not likely to occur. If so, full and abundant life will be increasingly yours.

July Exercise: Download "Called to Be Witnesses." For the first week (July 1-11), read this little brochure over several times each day. On several days during this period, rate yourself - 1 to 10 - on the two areas, A Way of Life and Empowered for Witness. Talk with the Lord about why you rated yourself the way you did, and look for ways to improve these two aspects of your call to be holy.

Today in ReVision: Work with Dignity - Your work is a great place to live out your devotion to the Lord.

This Week's Download: Called to Be Witnesses - Get it and use it all this month, following the suggested guidelines in the "July Exercise" above.

And if you don't have a copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics, a basic handbook for holiness, get one from the book store today.

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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