The IT Guy


He was the life of the party. The go-to guy. For a good time call...
Mr. Popularity had earned his place in the jet-set.


Or maybe it was more like camel-set. Regardless, in first century Israel, Sonny knew how to live life to the fullest. On Dad's money.

He'd helped himself to it before it was time, but after all, the old geezer could hang around another two or three hundred years and the parties were happening NOW! The world was waiting for a dashing guy like him.

It was, too. Waiting for him to foot the bills. Empty-headed women, shallow con artists, and schemers were all too excited when he showed up. Flattery gushed like syrup from a broken bottle and he knew he'd found his real self. Yeah, this was his kind of life.

Until the money ran out.

The party crowd deserted him like dust in the wind and he found himself jobless, penniless, and friendless. How long did he hop from tent to tent, assuring everyone it was a simple downturn? He'd be back to his old self any day now. C'mon, just a couple of bucks till his ship came in.

But any day now never arrived. Neither did the ship. And he was out of the loop. For good.

We don't know how long the prodigal son wallowed in self-pity or self-deception, but having known a few prodigals, I imagine it was longer than it should have been. One frantic scheme after another failed until he found himself on Skid Row, begging garbage from the pig farmers.

I love the way the Bible phrases what happened next, because that simple line is the key to change for every single one of us.

"He came to himself."

Can't you picture him? Sitting in squalor, gnawing on a rotting carcass, whining about his misfortune, when it hit him. Like a hammer to the head.

Clarity. Truth. Reality hit without warning and he became human again. He'd stopped being human when he took off with Dad's fortune, human in the sense that God created him to be.

We all cease to be human when we allow animal passion and lust to consume our lives. Each human spirit was created in the image of God, designed with certain deficits that can only be adequately filled by God Himself. As long as we stay on the path God orchestrated for us--seeking him, growing wiser, understanding life as it really is--we remain fully human as God intended us to be.

But when we choose to allow hedonistic cravings to take control of our lives, we debase ourselves, unworthy to be considered in the "image of God." As evidenced in our world gone mad, society follows the moral climate of its members, trending either up or down. Usually down, as Man cannot seem to maintain morality for longer than a few generations.

When the Prodigal "came to himself" sanity returned. He suddenly saw himself as he was, and the picture was not flattering. That's the first step to repentance. The first step to returning your soul to "the image of God."

Have you "come to yourself?" Or are you preparing to give the concrete wall another run? Those friends you can't leave behind? You might not have to. They'll leave you when you change directions. When they can't use you anymore.

Does the "fun life" have too strong a hold on you? Is the world's fair just too appealing?

Could it be that you're eating rotten sewage disguised as caviar? Maybe it's time you came to yourself.

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What in Hell Are They Talking About?


"Ah," sighs the Prince of Darkness. He inhales the tantalizing smell of sulfur and turns his red eyes on his newest protege.
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"You're back. Finish your training on our favorite puppet? What did you use this time? Rebellion? Anger? Addictions? She's so predictable. Hardly a challenge anymore."
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The newest demon slithers to attention. "Blame, this time, Your Highest. She liked Blame's ideas and took them for her own. Self-righteousness was already there. Idolatry too. They live with her."
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Curdling laughter echoes from the canyon walls. "Not bad for your first attempt. That's why I assigned her to you. She's an easy mark. We filled her life with arrogance, self-hate, and idolatry. She bought the whole thing without a whimper. I can't wait to rub Yahweh's face in it. He thinks she's His."
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In a flash of sulphurous light, he stands before a great throne. Flashes of brilliant light torture his eyes and the aroma of incense nauseates him. He tucks his claws into his robe to stop their trembling. "I-I beg an audience with you, Sir. I've come to report another victory for the Darkness. That little twit we've been toying with. The one You think is yours..." He snarls and tries to make eye contact, but the pain is too intense and he is forced to look down. Again.
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"She's mine." Thunder rolls across the sky and for a moment the Prince of Darkness nearly loses his perch.
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"Ah, see. That's where you're wrong. I know her parents dedicated her to you when she was a baby, but..."
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"She is sanctified, set apart for My glory. You can't have her."
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"Ha--" The phlegmy chuckle is cut short by another roll of thunder, and the Prince of Darkness flinches. "I've already got her. She's in my grasp. She can't even hear your voice; all she hears is mine. But I must admit, I'm growing tired of her. She's no challenge at all. I use her to train my newest demons because she offers so little resistance."
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He coughs and prepares for what he's come here to say. "I'm ready to destroy her. I'm moving on because I've got my sights on that family of hers. Now they really tick me off. All that piety, all those people they're influencing for you, the other kids starting to serve you on their own..." He swears and spits. "I hate them! All of them, but I can't touch them, all your stinkin' angels everywhere..."
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He draws a ragged breath and swells his chest as full as it will go. "Destroying her will get to them. She's no challenge anymore, but them..." He cackles and rubs his claws together. "Oh, such delight to destroy them! I've sent Fear already. He's one of my best. Anger and Despair are right on his heels. We'll figure a way around Your guard and then they'll all be mine! Not only them, but the ones they minister to, their church, their kids' friends....Oh, the potential thrills me!"
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"NO."
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Lightening cracks a foot away and the Prince of Darkness cowers, but plunges on. "They'll curse you, just wait and see! When I've taken their daughter, they'll blame themselves and You! I've already got her, but I want the rest. Those other kids make me salivate. Juicy morsels! Tender little hearts think they love you! Ha! Just wait until I'm through with them!"
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In a flash of putrid smoke he stands once more in his domain, the taste of victory like fresh blood on his lips. He blinks his red eyes as he surveys the prospects.
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"Y-your H-highest?" squeaks the newest trainee. "H-he said no. Wh-what are we gonna do now? All we can do is torment her if He said no. You know that--"
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"I know something else!" Darkness shrieks. "He's given her the key! It's not up to Him. It's not up to those stupid parents of hers! He gave those fool humans a free will and that's been their downfall since the beginning. The prayer from her family hurts us a lot, that's why we haven't been able to destroy her yet, but we will. And we'll take them with her!"
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The maniacal yell echoes three universes away. A flock of dark spirits races to his side, filling the air like black smoke.
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"Okay, listen up. Don't focus on the girl anymore. The word was no on her, but don't worry. She's destroying herself anyway. She doesn't need us to do it.

"All attention now on the family. The Enemy is about to do some frightening things in that church of theirs, that horrible ministry, that praying Life Group...Ugh-h, I shudder to say it! I know the Angel guard is tight, but we'll find a way. Use the girl if you can, but stop those people! Those kids and their witnessing, their Bible study, praying for people. The Enemy has plans for them that will really harm our cause. Yuck! I can't stand it! We're losing ground here and I want it stopped! Do you hear me? Stopped!"
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The horde leaves like a flock of vultures and the Prince of Darkness smiles to himself. "Yes, I'll have them all cursing Him before nightfall. I'll make them think the girl is fine now. They'll stop praying for her, stop being vigilant, let their guard down. Make 'em overconfident, make 'em think it's faith!" He cackles and rubs his hands. "The girl is ours, but I want them all! More and more...Oh, such a nasty plan!"
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His words become a guttural groan. "Oh-h, they're praying again! And that praise! Ee-eek! Hurts like a pitchfork through my chest. But never mind, all the prayer in the world won't stop her free will. Only she can choose who wins. I'll make certain it's the darkness."

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It's Not Rocket Science





It's me writing today. Babe.



I need to file a complaint.


These people I live with, they expect the IMPOSSIBLE! They're always throwing new words at me, expecting me to know what to do.


Now I won't argue with the fact that we Irish gals aren't famous for our intellect, but c'mon...


For example, ever since I got here, they've been speaking human words to me as though I speak human.


That word "sit" they're so crazy about. How am I supposed to remember that it has to do with the position of my hindquarters?


And that other word, "sit." What's that about?


As if I'm not confused enough, they hurl other random words at me like "sit," "sit", and "sit." You see my point?


I try. I really do, but their demands are ridiculous. Orders flying at me all day long, sometimes they even wake me up! I've started to wonder if they care about me at all, or if they just like bossing me around.


Just yesterday, I heard a new one: "sit." Now what does that mean?

They start shoving on my backside until it lands on the floor and then they praise me like I danced a jig. I still don't know what they want. Life is very confusing when you are beautiful and... well, beautiful.

But I noticed something about you humans as well.

I hear you all talking about God giving you commands and how hard it is to follow them. You get downright fussy about some of them, acting like our Creator doesn't know what He's talking about. You argue back and forth about whether he really meant what he said, whether you'll be in big trouble if you disobey, and how you don't think he truly cares.



I so understand. I feel the same way about my masters. But my question is: If you humans don't want to obey your Master, why are you so aggravated when I feel the same about you?



Come, now is the time...

Another re-run from last year. Be back soon.




I've been an active Christian for over 40 years. (Please, do not do the math!) But there is an element to Christianity that I never truly understood until recently.

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I won't give you all my credentials, but they include Bible college, mission work, countless seminars, faithful church attendance, Sunday school teacher, etc. I only mention that to underscore the curiosity of what I'm about to say.



I believe there is an aspect of modern Christianity that is grossly understated, to the detriment of millions of professing Christians. It has been abused in some circles and avoided in others, neither of which is what God intends. I'm talking about true unrestrained worship of our Lord.

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Worship, by its very nature, requires a giving up of oneself to the majesty of another. Oddly we have no difficulty offering unrestrained worship to the winning team, the hottest rock star, or a Hollywood celebrity within our reach.


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But when it comes to worshipping the only One we have the right to worship, we are suddenly full of reserve. We stand sedately, hymnbook in hand, muttering obscure words and hoping we're not going to do all five verses. Even in so-called "contemporary" services, often the emphasis is on how good the worship team is or whether the songs make us feel good. None of that has anything to do with real worship. Worship forgets about me and makes it all about God.


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Scripture is packed with models, enticements, and outright commands to worship our Creator with everything we have. With instruments, with dancing, with the lifting of our hands. That in no way implies chaos, disruptions, or theatrics. Scripture is clear about that too. And worship is not an emotional hemorrhage that looks spiritual but leaves nothing changed on the inside.


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So why is personal worship of God not more emphasized in American so-called "worship services?"
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There is a natural resistance in the human heart against the giving up of self to the authority of another and that's what worship is all about. Worship requires me to let go of my pride, my self-sufficiency, my achievements, and offer everything I am and will be to the control of Christ. It reminds me that He alone is worthy of the best I have.


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Worship takes us directly into the throne room of God where we cast off anything that doesn't belong there. Worship shines a spotlight on the ugly blotches still present in our hearts and gives us the opportunity to confess and get rid of them. If we refuse, the light dims and the object of our worship is no longer so accessible.


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Unlike prayer, worship is God-controlled. Many times, our prayers are merely lists of items we need to discuss with God, while the items He wants to discuss with us are left unchecked.



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But don't confuse worship with praise. Praise is important and goes along with worship, but the two are separate. Praise thanks God for what He's done. Worship adores God for who He is.





In worship, there's no one else in the room. Through lifting our voices, our hearts, our souls as an offering to Almighty God, He is able to release in us His presence, His peace, His joy which we've kept bottled up in a box in the corner, wondering why it isn't working for us.


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Worship opens the box. Worship reveals the majesty of God anew every time you enter into His presence---and who wants to go through a day without seeing God?






What about you? Have you learned to come before His presence in real worship or are you tied to your traditions, your background, your denomination?


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Worship cuts through all that. It's not confined to our human tradition or limited by our understanding. Worship keeps our pride in check, our priorities in perspective, and reminds us Who is in charge.


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If God has seemed far away lately, check your worship meter.




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An Audience of Angels


There's a party going on!


The town drunk went sober.

The sleazy girl cleaned up her act.

The gang of delinquents became a youth Bible study.


Luke 15 tell us that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

We usually interpret that to mean that the angels are rejoicing.

And they may be.


But read that carefully. Jesus said that there was joy "in their presence." In other words, they were witnesses to the joy of another. Someone is rejoicing in front of them.

And Who might that be?

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It is not the angels who are delirious with excitement when one lost sinner is reclaimed for God's kingdom. It is not the angels who have so much of themselves invested in rebellious Man. It is God Himself.
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His joy is uncontainable when His plan of redemption rescues one more from the clutches of the enemy.

Heaven is always full of joy, the epitome of complete delight; yet, this verse indicates that even more can be added. The only possible way to increase such joy is through the repentance of those created in His image.

Popular notion, as well as distorted legalistic views of the past, have us imagining God as a frowning dictator, disgusted with everything we do. A stern parent who can never be pleased.


But the Bible gives a much different picture. He spares no effort or expense to draw every human soul to Himself and when one hard heart softens, His joy reverberates throughout the universe.


One of my clients accepted God's greatest gift this week and was born into God's family. And I'm certain I can hear the shouts of joy still bouncing off the planets. One weary human soul amidst the millions; yet, we have the promise of Jesus that each has the power to make the Creator of everything even more joyful.


Has Heaven rejoiced over you?

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Raising My Ebenezer to the Balm of Beulah...

Another rerun due to extreme busyness. Be back soon.

There is a quiet but often strongly-felt division among Christians in the area of worship music.
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With the upsurge of worship/pop bands---many of whom have taken the concept of crossover music to new lows---some worshipers (especially those over 50) have turned away from the whole concept of contemporary worship music and elevated anything written before 1800 to holy status.
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On the opposite side are the younger people who cannot relate to antiquated verses and plodding tempos and leave the church altogether in search of something that speaks into their lives.

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So who's right? What does God want to hear?

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In a recent church debate over this very thing, one well-meaning lady commented, "Well, I may be a martyr for this, but I love the old hymns and we just need to stick with the Bible. That new rock stuff distorts the truth of God's Word."

. Really? Is it as cut-and-dried as that?

. If it were, I think a whole lot of us would flock to her side. . In the early '70's when contemporary Christian music first tiptoed onto the scene, it was as shallow as a summer puddle.
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"Jesus...ooooh, yeah. Jesus, ooh-ooh, yeah."
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That was about it.

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But in recent years, praise and worship music has exploded with a variety rivaling that of secular. The choice of current praise songs is unending and high quality, both Scripturally and musically. Many are Scripture passages set to music and you can hardly be more Biblical than that.
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I remember as a child, standing in the pew with hymnbook in hand, some of the mental images that flitted through my mind as we sang all five verses of a song I didn't understand were not remotely spiritual.


  • "Raising my Ebenezer" always sounded slightly pornographic and it certainly wasn't something I wanted to do in church.



  • I had no clue where Beulah Land was, but was certain I didn't want to go there, and as for marching to Zion, it wasn't even lunchtime yet.

  • The Balm in Gilead reminded me of war and I wondered who we were blowing up.

Now before you get any hotter under the collar, let me assure you I love the old hymns too. Many were written by stellar heroes of faith under the most adverse of circumstances. A study of the history of some of those songs gives them all the more meaning.


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However, why must we make everything an either/or situation? Hymns were once the "new songs" of their time and many people objected to them as well.



. The answer is clearly compromise. It won't hurt the under-25 set to learn some of those comforting hymns, and those of us past a certain age can learn a lot from the new music as well.
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Times change, people change, customs change. What is appreciated by one generation is often discarded by the next. The key is what's in the heart. If the goal is to show off your new electric guitar and the key changes you've mastered, then it doesn't matter what you're playing. It isn't worship music.
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Likewise, if you insist on leading all five verses of a Gregorian chant, you're going to lose the majority of your congregation to boredom. Pretending we're all still living in the 1600's just won't cut it with the Nintendo-crowd. Outdated concepts and terms don't speak into the lives of the ones singing them and leave the impression that God is also out-of-date and out-of-touch.
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So what's the answer? Many churches have gone to two or more services to try to appease the different tastes, but I hate to see that. If we're all worshipping the same God, there's no reason we can't do it together. If the younger crowd can't worship without blaring synthesizers and screaming vocals, there's something wrong there. It begs the question: Exactly what or who is being worshipped?
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On the flip side, if the older folks get their hackles up because some of tonight's songs will be sung with guitars, they need to loosen up. Where does Scripture dictate a piano and organ? If you want to really rile some feathers, mention that Psalms also instructs us to "praise Him with the dance!"
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The bottom line is that worship is a personal thing between you and God. Jesus said it must be done in "Spirit and in truth." Without that, you may as well be singing "Boomer Sooner."
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When we start dictating how another must worship the Lord, we've just gone legalistic. King David's wife, Michal, was mortified to see him dancing before the Lord.



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I wonder what some of us would think if we saw the same thing?

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Got a Bungee Cord?




Imagine climbing up the face of a rocky mountain, the summit scarcely visible through the clouds. Your task is made more difficult by a thick bungee cord tied around your waist and anchored at the base camp.

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The harder you press upward, the tighter the cord grows, the pressure mounting with every step. One slip and you'll go zinging right back down where you started.

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When we try to approach God on our terms, it can feel like climbing a mountain with a bungee cord pulling us backward.

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That bungee cord is unconfessed sin.

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Satan has a host of tired but effective suggestions to dissuade us from bringing our sin before the Lord. He knows quite well God offers forgiveness, but he also knows how many Christians don't realize it.

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It was so long ago, God has forgotten it...

It was such a little thing...

It wasn't as bad as what some people do...

Everyone else was doing it too... If I can move on, God can too...

I'll just start fresh from here.

No sense digging into the past...

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There are other variations on the theme, but the results are the same. The thick curtain that separates you from the presence of God stays in place and no amount of dutiful activity quite removes it. Human effort kicks into high gear and we do everything we can think of to impress God, except the very thing He requires: repentance.

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If you're struggling with the feeling that there exists a vast canyon between you and God, you may be right. When you set aside all the excuses you've been relying on for so long, God will clearly show you the shovel you've been using to dig that canyon. All it takes is a humble, willing heart and God does the rest.

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God is not bound by time. A sin in your past is a sin in the present to God, if it has never been taken to the Cross and paid for.

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So what's lurking in your past? That unconfessed sin of the past may be the very thing that is keeping the warmth and favor of God out of your present.

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The amazing part is that once sin is gone and your heart is clean before God, the very bungee cord that held you back, reverses direction. It is now attached to the top of the mountain and your trip to God is effortless.

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Is He Your Guest Or Is He the Owner?



He was here! He'd moved in and life would never be the same! So thrilling and new! She prepared the best guest room, hoping he'd like it, and fluttered around, asking questions, getting to know him, waiting on him hand and foot.
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To think, he'd honored her with his presence! She could scarcely believe it. She threw a party and showed him off to some of her friends. Others she didn't invite. They wouldn't understand.
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 Days became weeks. Months. Years. He never left. He was always there, mostly in his room, but sometimes she'd invite him out to tour the rest of the house, show off a little, ask his advice.  
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But it was embarrassing. She didn't keep the rest of the house as beautifully decorated as she did his room. In fact, from the outside you couldn't even tell he lived there. Maybe he didn't mind. He never said much about it, just got a funny look on his face. It was something of a relief when he finally went back to his room and she could feel comfortable again. 

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And then one day it happened. The house was falling down around her ears. The upkeep was out of control, the responsibility too much. She'd thought having him here would make things easier, but instead, it was worse. She tried so hard to please him, but why hadn't someone told her how exhausting it would be? 
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She cast furtive glances at the guest room. She'd been afraid to ask. What if...? . No, it was fine like it was, wasn't it? He wasn't supposed to run things, just hang around and be her friend. At least that's what she'd always thought. 
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She glanced at the cracked ceiling and heard the creak of the pipes in the wall. Whatever he did couldn't be worse than this, could it? The place was going to ruin. She couldn't live like this a minute longer.
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With pounding heart, she rummaged through her file box and pulled out the one thing she'd never thought she'd part with.
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Her hands were moist as she knocked on his door. The paper rattled in her hand and to her surprise, she burst into tears as she handed it to him. 

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By the end of the week, things had changed. She now occupied the guest room and watched as he tore out walls, ripped up moldy carpet, and repainted stained walls. The place was already shaping up and the 
stress was over. Why hadn't she given him the deed a long time ago? 
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Is the Holy Spirit a guest in your life or have you given him the deed? It makes all the difference in the world. .

And that is the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation and receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit later on.
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