May it be…

We have happened upon With True Hope‘s one year anniversary!  Woo Hoo!  With True Hope was officially launched on Friday, June 1, 2012 with the post “with true hope…“, explaining the reason for this blog’s existence– the true hope of Christ Jesus!  As such, the purpose of this weekly blog is to communicate the true hope of Christ Jesus, as a ministry of True Hope Ministries (THM).1  Lots has happened over the course of With True Hope‘s first year…and ALL the glory goes to the Lord God, Jesus Christ!  We’ve had the privilege of writing with the True Hope Ministries team (“Arch Enemies”, Wait, WHO’S worthy of worship!?!, Samaria ), hosting several guest contributors (Humility – A Dirty Word, Light and Darkness, The Lord Our Righteousness), and even conducting an exclusive interview!

So what can we expect for With True Hope’s second year?

I would hope (no pun intended) to see us continue to communicate the true hope of Christ Jesus as He so wills– whether it be through writing with the True Hope Ministries team again, hosting/re-hosting guest contributors, conducting more interviews, or perhaps incorporating vlogging and endeavoring to provide some instructional post (series) especially in the category of Bible Study Tools and Tactics!  Regardless of the means through which we communicate the reality of the true hope of Christ Jesus on With True Hope this next year, it is absolutely necessary that we fervently communicate the reality of the true hope of Christ Jesus– and that will not change.

We’d appreciate it if you would remember us in your prayers that every word we write and/or speak will be what the Lord God, Jesus Christ wills so that With True Hope will accomplish what He pleases!  Thank you for reading and praying!  It is our prayer that you will be blessed and that the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ will minister to you and give you a reason to have hope with every word on this blog!

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“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, NKJV82).

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“You can heal the heartache, speak over the fear.  God, your voice is the only thing we need to hear.  Words can build us up, words can break us down, start a fire in our hearts, or put it out.  Let my words be life, let my words be truth, I don’t want to say a word unless it points the world back to You.  Let the words I say be the sound of Your grace, I don’t want to say a word unless it points the world back to You” (“Words”, Hawk Nelson)!

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Take joy my King, in what You hear, may it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear!

May it be,

Victoria

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1.  True Hope Ministries (THM) is a ministry dedicated to bringing the True Hope of JESUS CHRIST to the entire world! Learn more about THM at http://www.truehopeministries.com/.

NOTICE: The advertisements on this site  are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.

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At the Conner of Contentment and Complacency…

StreetSigns

Ever feel like you’re teetering between contentment and complacency?  Maybe you’re not sure where one ends and the other begins? Perhaps you’ve wondered if there even is a difference?  You’re not alone!  These are some questions I have been pondering.  So the aspiring educator in me went searching for some dictionary definitions…

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.) defines contentment (a variant of content(ed)) as an adjective meaning “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation”.  Merriam-Webster’s defines complacency as a noun meaning “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies”.  The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11th Ed.) similarly defines contentment as “a state of peaceful happiness or satisfaction” and complacency as “smug and [uncritical] satisf[action] with oneself or one’s achievements”.  Already we can notice some differences.  For starters, contentment is associated with peace and satisfaction, whereas complacency is associated with arrogance and ignorance.

But this wasn’t quite far enough, so the aspiring theologian in me went searching through Scripture for biblical definitions and descriptions…

The first passage I came across was 1 Timothy 6:6 and 17-19 which reads: “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment…Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (NASB95).  And the second passage I came across was Philippians 4:11-13 which reads: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (NASB95).

While the word “complacency” is not explicitly stated in the passages above, it seems to be implied as the direct opposite of contentment– complacency is then being conceited or fixing one’s hope on temporal and uncertain things, boasting in what oneself believes to have secured or supplied for himself or herself by his or her own strength.

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“[Be] content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NASB95).

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Complacency is entirely SELF CENTERED, while contentment is wholly GOD CENTERED, where the former concerns reliance on oneself and what is rather uncertain while the latter concerns reliance on God and what is absolutely certain.  Complacency would say something along the lines of “my hope is in myself and what I have done or what I can do”, whereas contentment would say “my hope is in God alone, who He is and what He has done and will do”.  Therefore, there is a huge difference between the conceited satisfaction in the meaningless “accomplishments” of oneself and the humble satisfaction in God and His holy sovereignty over every possession, status, situation, etc. of our lives.

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“The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above” (Proverbs 14:14, NKJV82).

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To determine if we are walking along Contentment Lane or Complacency Avenue the question becomes, “What satisfies us– hope in ourselves or hope in God?”

Hope in God!

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site  are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.

Springs of Joy

In a recent Bible reading, I came across Psalm 87:

“His foundation is in the holy mountains.  The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.  Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!  Selah.  “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: ‘This one was born there.’”  And of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her; and the Most High Himself shall establish her.”  The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: “This one was born there.”  Selah.  Both the singers and the players on instruments say,  “All my springs are in you.””(NKJV82).

One particular verse jumped out at me, grabbed me, and stuck with me until I recognized that the Lord was prodding me to study it further.  The verse: “Both the singers and the players on instruments say,  “All my springs are in you.”” (Psalm 87:7, NKJV82).  For the remainder of this post, I’d like to briefly share with you the process I went through to study this verse a bit further.

#1 – READ PSALM 87:7 IN VARIOUS TRANSLATIONS…

The New American Standard Bible (95) translates it this way:  “Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, “All my springs of joy are in you””.  The New International Version (84), this way: “As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you””.  And the Holman Christian Standard Bible (09), this way: “Singers and dancers alike will say, “My whole source of joy is in you””.

#2 – READ PSALM 87’S IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING/PROCEEDING CONTEXT AND NOTED SELECT PHRASES…

“You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You…All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name” (Psalm 86:5, 9, NKJV82). “The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: “This one was born there”” (Psalm 87:6, NKJV82).  “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.  In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted.  For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted.  For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 89:15-18, NKJV82).

#3 – PERFORMED SELECT WORD STUDIES AND SEARCHED CROSS REFERENCES…

Springs, מַעְיָן (maʿyān), denotes headwaters or source.

He sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the mountains; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.  Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they lift up their voices among the branches.  He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works” (Psalm 104:10-13, NASB95).

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them.  “I will open rivers on the bare heights and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land fountains of water.  “I will put the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it” (Isaiah 41:17-20, NASB95).

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Rahab,רַ֫הַב  (rāḥāḇ), often denotes the world as does “Egypt” (especially as it is employed in association with Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia — i.e.: not Israel geographically).

“Thus the Lord will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the Lord and perform it.  The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them.  In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.  In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance”” (Isaiah 19:21-25, NASB95).

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Zion, צִיּוֹן (ṣîyôn), denotes Jerusalem, the holy city, the city of God– the location where the temple of the Lord God is in Israel.

Zion will be redeemed with justice and her repentant ones with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27, NASB95).

“Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”  And they will call them, “The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord”; and you will be called, “Sought out, a city not forsaken”” (Isaiah 62:11-12, NASB95).

#4 – CONSULTED SOME COMMENTARIES AND MORE SCRIPTURES…

The word “joy” in verse seven appears in the NASB (“All my springs of joy are in you”) and the HCSB (“My whole source of joy is in you”).  The verse is literally translated, “All my springs are in you” (NKJV82).  Yet, the appearance of the word “joy” in select translations seems to echo the verse’s theme of worship– players, singers, dancers– in response to God’s salvation which is for all those who are repentant among all nations.

“God himself is the speaker. He publicly acknowledges “Rahab and Babylon” among them that recognize Him as their God…God points the finger also to Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia and in each case makes the shocking announcement: “This one was born there,” i.e., in Zion. By divine edict each of these Gentile nations is invested with the full rights and privileges of citizenship as though they had been born in Zion. The divine utterance is introduced with “Behold!” which always introduces something that is shocking”.1  “This is what is spoken by God…literally, “for My knowers,” they are true worshippers (Ps 36:10; Is 19:21)”.2   “A Gentile convert shall stand upon a level with a native Jew”.3

Based on my study, I have come to understand that “All my springs [of joy] are in You” is a worshipful acknowledgement of the perfect, impartial salvation which only comes from God!  It’s a prayer of thanks which can be realized by men and women, boys and girls all around the world that He is the “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6, NASB95).  The God of Israel alone offers salvation!  “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.  He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them” (Psalm 148:18-19, NASB95)!  “[T]here is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11, NASB95)!  “Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:10, NASB95).

Being a child of the living God is certainly worth joyously singing about every day all day long throughout life’s journey long!

“Still my trust remains in Jesus though I face uncertainty for no matter what tomorrow holds His joy will be my strength and hope and it’s enough to know that He is here with me…this is a journey of joy” (Journey of Joy, Karen Pack and New River)!

With Much Joy,

Victoria

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1. James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996). Ps 87.

2. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). Ps 87:4.

3. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994). Ps 87:4–7.

NOTICE: The advertisements on this site  or referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.

Through My Father’s Eyes

I’m in the midst of working to finish this semester with final classes, papers, and exams- yes, the whole package! So I’d like to say a special thank you to Stephen of True Hope Ministries who has been helping me out these past few weeks by posting some really great blogs for you! If you haven’t had the chance to read them, I highly suggest that you do so: The Valley of Decision and Is that You God?
As I have American imperialism in the Philippines, Medieval interpretations of the Song of Songs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and post-Cold War globalization trends on my mind, I thought that you might enjoy an encouraging video today rather than my rambling on about these assignments. So here’s a music video from one of my favorite Christian Music Artists, Holly Starr…the song is “Through My Father’s Eyes” from Holly’s album Focus. I love this song because not only does it have a catchy melody but the message of its lyrics remind me that the Lord’s thoughts toward me are of peace and not of evil (Jeremiah 29:11), Jesus’ desire is for me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2), and as a new-born believer I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)!  Please watch it and I pray that you find encouragement in seeing things from God’s perspective!

Grace and Peace In Christ,
Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site or referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.

The Valley of Decision

I love (“sports love” that is) Football!   Now you have to understand that I am talking about US Football here.   The National Football League (NFL) has done a great job of captivating our attention and gaining market share not just during the 16 week football season, but now even into the Spring with all of the attention on the NFL Draft.   It is fascinating to see how something like the NFL draft which used to happen almost behind the scenes has become a passion for football fans beginning literally the day after the Super bowl.    This attention on the NFL draft has also had a side effect of bringing even more attention to college football players as everyone is determining who the right players are for “their team”.

As I was watching the NFL draft last week I couldn’t help but notice all of the decisions being made.  Each team had to decide:

  • Which player they should draft…
  • Who is the “best available athlete”…
  • Should they even draft a player or trade their spot to another team for a different selection spot…
  • They had to decide when in their allotted time where they going to announce their decision as well…

Not only did the teams need to make decisions, but the fans each had to make decisions about what they thought of the selections…would they “cheer” or “boo” the decisions made by their team.    The networks had to decide how they were going to present the draft, which players they were going to highlight, which commentators were going to be on location in New York City, how much they were going to sell advertising time for.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions….it’s always about decisions!

Thinking about this reminded me of Joel 3:14 in the Old Testament which states “…Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!   For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision…”.    Joel is not referring to a career related decision, or “best available athlete” decision, he is talking about an ETERNAL decision.

The Bible is filled with examples of decisions that people had to make:

  • Adam and Eve had to decide if they would obey GOD or eat the fruit from the forbidden tree.   (Genesis 3)
  • Cain had to decide how he would treat his brother Abel.  (Genesis 4)
  • The people of Noah’s day had to decide if they would listen to the call for repentance or take their chances swimming outside of the ark.    (Genesis 7)
  •  Joshua told the Israelites to decide “…whom [they would] serve…”   (Joshua 24:15)
  • David had to decide if he would attack the Giant or cower in fear.   (1 Samuel 17)
  • Esther had to decide if she would take a stand for what’s right or let her people die.   (Esther 5)
  • Blind Bartimaeus had to decide if he would cry out to Jesus or sit back quietly.  (Mark 10:48)
  • The Ethiopian had to decide if he would take help from Phillip or if he would let his pride get in the way.    (Acts 8:26-40)
  • King Agrippa had to decide if he would believe the testimony of Paul or if he would stay in his traditions.   Unfortunately, King Agrippa was only “almost persuaded”.   (Acts 26:28)

Earlier in chapter 3, Joel talks about this “valley of decision” occurring in the “the valley of Jehoshaphat” where the Bible tells us the nations will be judged.   The word Jehoshaphat in this context literally means “The Lord will Judge”.    This judgment will be based on the ETERNAL decision that each of us make.

Scripture is very clear.   We are reminded by Paul that ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)    The Bible also tells us that there is only one way to get to Heaven…and that way is through Jesus Christ.   (John 14:6)  One of the most well known Bible verses is John 3:16 which tells us  “…For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him…”.   Every one of us must make the decision that will determine our eternal destination.   Either we will decide to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior or we will decide to reject HIM.    The decision is actually pretty simple, if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we will be forgiven of our sins and we will be a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) with a future heavenly destination of Heaven.   If we decide to reject Jesus Christ as our Savior we will remain unrepentant sinners with a future eternal destination of Hell.

You may be thinking, “but how do I decide to accept Jesus as my Savior? “, “Can He really forgive me?”  The bible makes us a promise found in John 1:12 where we are told “…But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…”     This means that if you believe and accept that JESUS is the Son of GOD who died on the cross for your sins and rose from the grave you have the right to become children of God.

Maybe you are thinking, “how can Jesus love me….you don’t know what I’ve done?”    Know that JESUS does love you and is waiting with open arms for you to make your decision.  In fact in Matthew 11:28, Jesus says “…Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened…”    Notice he doesn’t put any conditions on it, HE loves you and is waiting for you to decide to come to HIM!

Finalizing this critical decision is a straightforward process:

  • Admit that you are a sinner who is in need of JESUS CHRIST to be your Savior.  Everyone one of us are sinners (Romans 3:23).  That means that even if we just do one little thing wrong (yes, even a “white lie”) during our lifetime, we are not perfect and are not worthy of spending eternity in the presence of GOD.  There is only one way to GOD – we need a Savior…and HIS name is JESUS  (John 14:6).
  • Repent (turn from) your sins.   To repent means to turn away from something or to literally change our attitude about it.   It is not just feeling really bad about getting caught, but it is about making a conscious decision to turn from our sins – with the help of God – and change our attitude about our sins.   Matthew 4:17 tells us to “…repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near..”
  • Believe that JESUS CHRIST died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.    This “believing” is the next critical piece of the process.   Hebrews 11:6 tells us “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him…”.   JESUS never sinned, but HE died on the cross taking all of our sins on HIM and HE took the judgment that we deserved.   He literally paid the price that our sins required.    He made the decision to do this because of his great love for us and because of His sacrifice we can be forgiven!

Just talk directly to GOD, know that HE is listening and say something from your heart like:

“Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of Yo,u the Savior and I ask for Your forgiveness.   I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the dead.   I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart.   I trust You and have decided to follow You as my Savior and Lord.   In Your Name I pray….”

Once you surrender your life to Christ, you can be assured that you have made the best decision anyone could ever make!

Are you in the valley of decision today?   What decision have you made about your eternal destination?    Choose wisely!

God Bless!

Stephen

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site  or referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.

Scripture for today…

Hello Friends!  I realize that today is not one of my usual post days, so this is going to be a bit of an unusual post 😉  [Don’t worry, Stephen of True Hope Ministries will be posting later this week about the valley of decision and the NFL Draft!]  In my Scripture reading this morning, I encountered the beauty of the gospel in Psalm 61!  And I’d like to share this Scripture for today with you–

“HEAR MY CRY, O GOD; ATTEND TO MY PRAYER.  FROM THE END OF THE EARTH I WILL CRY TO YOU, WHEN MY HEART IS OVERWHELMED; LEAD ME TO THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN I.  FOR YOU HAVE BEEN A SHELTER FOR ME, A STRONG TOWER FROM THE ENEMY.  I WILL ABIDE IN YOUR TABERNACLE FOREVER; I WILL TRUST IN THE SHELTER OF YOUR WINGS.  SELAH” (Psalm 61:1-4, NKJV)!

A few things…

God’s sovereignty: “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to You…”.  God hears, He attends to our prayers!  “O You who hear prayer, to You all men will come” (Psalm 65:2, NASB95)

God’s provision: “…when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.  For You have been a Shelter for me, a Strong Tower from the enemy.”  Before we ever recognized our overwhelming need for Him, He made provision for us, providing the Rock, Jesus Christ, our Sure Deliverance and Foundation!

God’s faithfulness: “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the Shelter of Your Wings.  Selah”.  The Lord is perfectly trustworthy!  He won’t fail!  “To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed” (Psalm 22:5, NASB95)!  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a Chosen and Precious Cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6, NASB95; cf. Romans 9:33 and Isaiah 28:16)!

So with that, I leave you today!  Rest assuredly in the sovereignty, provision, and faithfulness of Almighty God!

Victoria

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site or referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.