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Archive for the ‘Kingdom of God’ Category

by Mike Edwards

Freedom by God is necessary for perhaps the highest good in relationships – authenticity. Not even God can force true love. Freedom has possible consequences such as suffering, but if God didn’t create freedom we could accuse God of not creating the “most loving” world. So, freedom must exist here or earth and freedom surely exist in heaven.

Freedom requires that God can’t know the future.

The future must be open if we are truly free and God is truly loving. There really isn’t freedom if the future is already known thus determined. The good news about God not knowing the future is that we can feel God truly want us to feel free without strings attached. Is that what we desire to feel from our human parents when making decisions?

Why it matters that God doesn’t know the future.

A young woman may ask God for wisdom in marrying their partner. It seems a match made in heaven, but their partner becomes abusive. If God supposedly knows the future, why didn’t God warn the young woman? A human parent would warn their child if they knew ahead of time. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. A controlling God can lead to asking “why or what is God punishing me for” or “God, do you really love me?”

We don’t have to live in fear of making “right decisions” or missing out on God’s will. We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making best decisions at the time that make our lives and the lives of others better. There isn’t one correct decision. Joy and good is achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths.

Even the Bible suggest an all-powerful God can’t know the future.

Hundreds of biblical passages could be cited to defend either God does or doesn’t know the future. For example, in the beginning the writers suggested that an all-powerful Being doesn’t know much less control the future. Genesis 6:5-6 speaks of God regretting decisions: “God saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth…God regretted that he had made human beings on the earth and his heart was deeply troubled.” If God knew the outcome of decisions, why did God make regrettable decisions? Many biblical passages refer to God changing their mind depending on what choices humans freely make.

What About Freedom In Heaven Then?

It would not be loving for God to force others to accept God’s ways even in heaven. Perhaps character developed on earth may eventually lead to seeing no good reasons for doing bad in heaven, which surely is the highest form of freedom. If one wishes to entertain the possibility of sin in heaven because of the presence of freedom, we can at least hope God’s presence will have a greater impact than earthly, human authority to dissuade selfishness. We thrive more under certain types of parental love and leadership because of their qualities such as integrity and understanding. Also, we can hope heaven will not have certain negative temptations.

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by Jim Gordon

Although within the church system we have been told the Spirit of God has been given to us, the real emphasis on the fact that the Spirit of God actually lives within us seems to be missed. If we could get this deep down within us, that we now live in the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit of God actually lives within us, we would be able to share the love and power of God with people we meet each day. We do not need to sit back and wait for some future day when we die and enter the Kingdom of God. We can live as one with the Spirit of God in the spiritual Kingdom of God each and every day beginning right now.

Here are a few verses from the bible that mention being one with the Spirit and living in the Kingdom of God:

Matthew 6:10

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Luke 17:21

nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

John 14:16,17

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:20

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 17:11

I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.

John 17:20-23

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. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Romans 5:5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 8:9

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Romans 8:11

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 14:17

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:17

But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 12:13

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

2 Corinthians 6:16

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Galatians 4:6

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!

Ephesians 3:16

That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

2 Timothy 1:14

Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

1 John 2:27

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

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by Jim Gordon

Here in the United States, things have seemed to be pretty weird this year. Just with the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election and all the strange events with demonstrations, hurricanes, forest fires and such, it really makes a person wonder what is happening. I have to say, what we see going on in the world and especially in the USA is quite disturbing.

Many people like to blame politicians and political parties, a president, police, militant groups and many other reasons. I am not sure any one person or group can be blamed for everything, yet I personally do not put any faith or trust into any politician or political party. I do not think any of them are the answer.

It makes me angry that here in the US, so many people would rather focus on a politician or political party and fight and argue, even ruining friendships and separating families over people who do not even know or care about us. Politics will never be the answer for the world’s problems. I believe if we would stop putting our entire hope and trust in any political party or politician, things would be better. Politicians do not care for the people. They say they do, but they really only care for their party and their interest in gaining power and money.

I do believe if we human beings could look past the labels and differences of opinions and work together, care for one another and look for what would be the best for everyone, things would improve.

Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was more concerned in the heavenly kingdom of God than he was in any political party or kingdom of this world. We would be so much better off if we could do the same.

Nothing wrong with being actively trying to improve your country through political action. Yet to put your complete hope and confidence in a political party is futile.

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by Jim Gordon

I am not much into politics and I certainly do not put much hope or trust in politicians. I very seldom make political statements since I feel politics is a personal thing. Who you vote for or if you vote at all is up to each individual, so this will be one of very few statements I will make on politics and it will not be an endorsement for any candidate.

First off, whether you vote party lines, independent or third-party is entirely a personal choice. Whether you vote at all is a personal choice. I understand the concept that as christians we live in the Kingdom of God and we trust God as our head and pledge no allegiance to man. Yet living in this world many believe in the political process and they vote for those they feel is best to lead the country. I believe in praying for our leaders and trying to get the best people into office for the good of the country no matter which party they belong too.

Either way we look at this, the one thing that really bothers me is seeing christian people, especially those in leadership positions such as pastors, evangelists, elders and such making comments such as “if you are a christian you cannot support this person or party”, or, “if you were a real christian you would not be voting for that candidate or that party”.

I understand pastors and leaders giving their personal opinions about who they like as a candidate, we all do that, but that should be done on a more personal and private basis. I think to tell people who to vote for, and to say you are or are not a christian based on who you vote for is crossing the line and is just plain wrong.

I think most people are smart enough to listen, read and decide for themselves who they want to support. Most people want the best for our country and they really believe they are voting for the person who will do the best job.

I personally think that christians, especially those such as pastors and leaders who make these type statements should keep their views to themselves. We all should have the right to vote for the person we feel is best, and to do so without someone trying to put a guilt trip on us for having a different view, and especially when it comes to our christianity.

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by Jim Gordon

Many of us go through life with a very low opinion of ourselves. Often it is due to what we hear others say about us. What actually is our identity in this world? Many of us as christians are told that we are just poor sinners saved by grace and that we are no more than a worm deserving of hell.

Yet Jesus has something very different to say. It is time to ignore what people tell us we are based on beliefs, or a label we wear or for whatever reason people come up with and listen to what is written in the bible. Stop listening to others and focus on what Jesus tells us we are. Following are some verses that tell us what we are in Christ:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17)

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6)

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us [a]diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (Galatians 3:13)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir (Galatians 4:7)

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  (Ephesians 1:4)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13)

He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (Colossians 1:22)

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10)

We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all (Hebrews 10:10)

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)

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by Jim Gordon

Many people wonder if Christianity and politics can actually exist together. It seems that Jesus really had no real interest in the political system of his day, yet he also did not condemn it. He said to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

In our day and age politics can be a powerful thing and many people find it extremely important. No matter what country you live in it is controlled by a political party in one way or another. Many countries, like the United States participate in free elections and others are under more of a dictatorship. Either way, we humans are all under some type of political influence and control.

I find that coming from a Christian viewpoint it seems many Christian people in the United States feel that if you are a Christian you have to be a republican. Personally, the way I feel about politics I really do not care which political party a person belongs too. Unfortunately, I really do not see much of the ways of Jesus in either of our main political parties. It seems politicians are more concerned on political power and financial gain rather than on serving the people and making things better for all.

When I vote, I try to vote for the person I feel will do that best job for the most people and I do not worry which political party they belong too. I know there are many politicians who are of the Christian faith, yet there are also many who only use Christianity to get more votes.

Truthfully, being a Christian has nothing to do with a political party. Those of us who are followers of Christ live every day by our faith which involves every aspect of living. Our faith in God is not a Sunday only thing or a political thing. Many people seem to think they have a spiritual life on Sunday and a secular and political life the rest of the week. Yet the truth is we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we walk with the Spirit of God each and every day. Everything we do can be considered spiritual because God is within us all the time.

Many people seem to think we can use political power to force our Christian values on everyone. I for one do not believe we should or can legislate Christian values and morality on anyone. God does not force his love and ways on us, so why should we try to force our values and beliefs on others. Only by the power of the Spirit living within us can righteous living and loving others be accomplished.

Jesus was obviously more interested in speaking of and teaching about the kingdom he was a part of, the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not nearly as worried or concerned about worldly kingdoms or political powers.

I would love to see people stop bringing Christianity down to a political purpose. Focus on Christ and loving others no matter which political party they endorse, if any. Politics is not the answer and is not worth all the fighting and arguing over. Loving God and loving one another is a much more important and meaningful way of life.

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by Jim Gordon

War, terrorism, politics, COVID-19 pandemic, how could we possibly be at peace in our world today with all this turmoil?

How can we be at peace with people with all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations, beliefs, different religions and ways of life?

The dictionary says of peace: harmony in personal relations; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. We certain have a lot of strain in personal relations and much unrest and worry in thoughts and emotions about events going on in our world today.

Romans 12:18 reads, if possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men. To me this means we are to live in harmony with others, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of us. In other words, we live in love. That does not mean total agreement, but love and acceptance of who the other person was created to be.

Jesus told us we were given the peace of God by saying “peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. It is a peace that we, in our finite human minds cannot make sense of or understand.

Jesus also said “in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This world will provide plenty of worrisome events, plenty of turmoil and plenty of things to worry about each day. Yet Jesus said by putting our trust and hope in God we can overcome the worry and fear we have in the world.

The Kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. Our world is a temporary home, yet the Kingdom of God is now. It is within us. The Spirit of Christ is within us. Our spiritual home right now is in the Kingdom of God. We do not recognize all the effects because we are to accustomed to the ways of the world. Jesus said the ways of the world have been overcome by the Kingdom of God.

The more we can focus on the Spirit and the Kingdom within, the more we can enjoy the peace Jesus provides. The peace of Christ works within our spirit, much different than the peace we think about in our world system.

Remember that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live and trust God. We are not responsible to live as others do or think we should. We are not responsible to tell others how they should live. We are to allow the Spirit to work in our lives and follow the Spirit on the path we are following. Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in all our lives. Living in this manner would accomplish much more in showing the love of Christ and allow us to live in peace amidst all the turmoil in our lives.

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by Jim Gordon

We all know it is a fact that no matter what you believe, what your interpretation someone always has a completely opposite view. This is true on about any subject, religion, nationalism, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, abortion and during the present day especially on COVID-19.

It seems we can get excited about hearing some truth that really connects. Then the next thing we read is an article by another person that completely disagrees with what you just heard. This is true whether it is religion, politics or the medical world.

More than that, most of us Christians get mad when someone disagrees with us and believes something different from “our” way of thinking. We get on Facebook and make ourselves look crazy because we talk about brotherly love, then we fight and argue with someone because they interpret things differently. Most of the time it is about things we cannot prove one way or the other.

We really have to stop and think that whatever it is we believe, whatever our interpretation, everyone is not going to agree with us. Everyone has a right to their way of interpretation as long as they do not force it on others. There is no reason for us to get mad at someone for seeing things differently.

In regard to our christian life, it is all a matter of faith. No matter what it is in spiritual matters, no one can really prove what is right and what is not, or what is real and what is not. Just because someone has a different interpretation does not mean they are right or wrong.

We need to keep our ears open to the leading of the Spirit, and follow on our own path looking to Jesus. That does not mean any and every path is the right one, but we cannot be the judge of who is right and who is wrong. Jeremy Myers, in his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire’ states, “The beautiful thing about following Jesus is that while He leads us all in the same direction, there are millions of different paths He can take to get us there. His goal, of course, is to advance the Kingdom of God on earth through the people of God who are being conformed into the image of God”. We need to follow Christ as he leads us individually, and then be ready to love all people, no matter if they are on the same path or not.

Let’s stop arguing, fighting and demanding that everyone agree with us. Follow the leading of the Spirit within and love those we meet along the journey. I think the Spirit of God is big enough to lead us all into truth in individual ways, yet all to the same goal.

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by Jim Gordon

As we start a new year, do we really need to say anything more than to love one another?

The message you heard from the very beginning is this: we must love one another. (1 John 3:11)

Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)

Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Be under obligation to no one—the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. (Romans 13:8)

My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action. (1 John 3:18)

No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. (1 John 4:12-13)

Do all your work in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. (1 Peter 3:8-9)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 12:8)

As we start into the year 2020, let us remember to put down our prejudices, ignore the labels placed upon people and let the love of God and love of all people be what we are known for. Happy New Year and thanks to all who followed our articles during the past year.

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by Jordan Hathcock

We don’t want the Christian tradition to become an antique shop just preserving old things. We want to build on old things and allow them to be useful in different ages, vocabularies, and cultures. We want our faith to be ever new, so that it can speak to souls alive and in need right now! – Richard Rohr

During the holiday season, we can see the old ways of tradition booming forth within each culture context. In most Western societies, the Christmas tradition rings loudest with its songs, lights, decorations and food. Not to take way the amazing traditions of Hanukkah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Yule, etc. What I am doing here is simply pointing out a renewed since of presence within the Christmas tradition. It’s easy to see the beauty within the holiday of Christmas and forget how much it has evolved since it’s beginnings.

In many instances, the Christmas holiday borrows from other ancient traditions to capture the currents cultures needs and desires. For example, the lights on the Christmas tree. Early Christians adopted this custom from early Celtics due to its symbolism of keeping “the evil spirits at bay”. Christians repurposed this custom into a symbol of resurrection to the “tree of paradise”. Both customs bring with it a truth of protection and new beginnings. Thus, the reason early Christians adopted the custom.

Also, even with the issues the Santa Clause brings (consumerism, greed, etc.), he did stem from a real Christian figure in Saint Nicholas as well as the folklore character known as Woden. Both figures brought gifts to the ones in need (which is a great symbol of what God does for her creation). I think the actual historic figure in this (Saint Nicholas) should be the one we tell our kids about. Here is what the real deal good old Saint Nicholas was about:

He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from execution, provided grain in a famine, and rescued a kidnaped boy.

All of this really points to numerous amounts of diverse traditions from ancient times that are still bringing about new ways of life in this holiday season. See, when we discover that the old ways were new once in time, we discover that the old ways always can become the new ways if we allow them to be renewed. I think we get to caught up in the tug between old vs. new that it ends up always being this dualistic battle instead of being a beautiful complementation.

We must let go of the idea that we must have this ageism divide between the old and new. To become unified (John 17:23) we will have to be more open to both sides of the old and new paradigm. Of course, when we see a tradition that brings harm to and individual or group, we have to cease the practice of that particular tradition and let it go. This can be hard for both sides. There will always be a time where regardless of how new or old a practice is, death and resurrection is going to be needed for a new type of design.

Jesus brings this same type of idea up when he said: “Every disciple of the kingdom is like a householder who draws out from his storage room, things both old and new”. —Matthew 13:52. It’s when come to the reality of the responsibilities of someone who is for the abundant life of all (not just some who have the same type of beliefs), regardless if it holds to the old or new ways. This is no easy feat. Fear has to die and love has to reign. It’ll be difficult but I believe it’s something that needs to be done if we ever want a world that brings life instead of death…

Oh, my ways are strange ways and new ways and old ways, And deep ways and steep ways and high ways and low, I’m at home and at ease on a track that I know not, And restless and lost on a road that I know.- Henry Lawson

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