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Seas ons 1


of Love By Gene Oden

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Copyright Š 2007 Gene D. Oden All Rights Reserved Printed in USA

ISBN ___________________

Gene Oden Ministries www.geneodenministries.org

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The text of this mini-book was taken directly from a message I preached at Cornerstone Church on October 1st, 2006. - Gene Oden

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Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundreds minutes Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundreds minutes How do you measure – measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee – In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundreds minutes How do you measure a year in the life? How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of Love. - Jonathon Larson

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Chapter One Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes: what a wonderful, lyrical expression of the finite reality that is one year. The playwright and songwriter Jonathon Larson penned those lyrics on the previous page. They appeared in the opening and closing songs of his hit musical Rent. Those who knew him certainly knew well the value of each and every one of those minutes. He died at 36 years

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of age, just days before his breakthrough musical opened, changing Broadway forever. Psalm 90 (NIV) 1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. 10 The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they

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quickly pass, and we fly away. 12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Leslie and I have had a running thing pretty much our whole 25 years of marriage and it is this: significant change in our lives always seems to come in the month of October. But let’s not build a doctrine out of this, it’s not every October, and certainly different times of change have occurred at different times during the year, but it always seems – for us – that real, big, dramatic change (mind you not necessarily something bad) just real, meaningful, significant change always seems to come in October of the year. I don’t know why, but I’m certain that it’s less a matter of WHEN than WHAT, and HOW we respond to the change.

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There are ALWAYS opportunities for change and they come throughout our lives at various times, but I believe that I have nailed down this October thing to a fitting description that quantifies it as being different from run of the mill change. The change I am talking about is a CHANGE OF SEASON. Not “season”, like fall, winter, spring and summer – although not unlike it – a change of season in a life is distinctly different. It feels different, and it is different. But regarding spiritual matters, through the change we should remain constant. Leslie spent the last couple of days in Atlanta; helping our oldest son Max, move. It is the first time he has ever

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lived away from home, and though we expect that we will see him many weekends right here at church, nothing will ever be the same again. Selah. Many of you have gone through such an event in your lives, it is our first, and I am sure that if you have gone through it, you can recall how bitter and how sweet such a big change is. Bittersweet: what an appropriate adjective to characterize seasons of change. How comforting it is to know that God in heaven is in control of the seasons, not just the fall, the winter, the spring and the summer that mark our calendar, but the God of heaven and earth knows and directs the times and seasons of our lives. That’s the sweet that overcomes the bitter.

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In the Book of Genesis in the first chapter we read that, “God said let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. God said. When those two words appear together, sit up and listen. Isn’t it a comfort to know that through these changes, though everything may become unfamiliar, one thing is constant, one thing will never, ever change, God’s word remains regardless of the time or the season. It is not for us to know the times or the seasons, Acts 1:7 says, “which the Father has put in His own power”. It is not for us to know. Though it seems clear to me that it is October. I cannot

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tell you which October1. I don’t know. The Bible says in Psalm 90, which we just read, that to God a thousand years is as a day and a day is as a thousand years. Just because it’s October again, doesn’t mean another year has past for God. God is ETERNAL. He gave us, “the day, the night, for signs, for seasons, for days, for years”. He didn’t do it because He was confused. He did it to lend order and structure to our lives, and as an expression of his power and authority. God does not need a cosmic alarm clock to tell Him when to go to work. He’s never late.

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Authors Note: I am editing this book in the month of October 2007, as Leslie and I find ourselves about to launch a new church, in a season of the most radical change we have ever experienced!

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Chapter Two Let me challenge your thinking for a moment. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”. Some Christians think that verse of scripture means that ALL of the stuff that happens in life – especially the 16


bad stuff – is God’s idea. But let me ask you a question. Where is “under the heaven”. Why, it’s right here on earth isn’t it? I want you to understand that in the Hebrew text, the word “purpose” is described as “pleasure”, or “desire”. Perhaps it would be good to remind ourselves that when bad things happen “under the heaven”, they are the fulfillment NOT of God’s plan and purpose, but a fulfillment of the desire of those whose lives and ambitions are dictated by the god of this world, satan. We’re fond of that scripture in Ecclesiastes. We have written songs about it: “To everything turn, turn, turn”. It’s easy to remember. It is also easy to use, to blame God when things don’t go our way. But we must

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not forget that the Book of Ecclesiastes is a picture of life without God, and as such it is a picture of life without faith. We say, “Hey there’s a time to live a time to die, a time to reap a time to sow, a time for laughter, a time for mourning – the Bible says so”, and all those things seem so right. And we dig a little deeper and there’s a time for war, and we dig a little deeper and there’s a time to lose, and before you know it there’s a time to hate and it’s God’s fault because it’s in the Bible, right? Think about it. Christian people; let me ask you something. In the last 525,600 minutes that you spent on earth, was there ever a time to hate anyone or anything? I mean, other your own sin,

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of course. In the next 525,600 minutes, how much time will you allot for hating other people, other cultures, different ideas, rap music, your job, your car, or yourself. I submit to you, that we cannot afford one minute of hate. It’s October: a season of change. But we can be constant in this season. We can love in this season. Are things changing in your life? Have you begun a new season? Do you know tonight that Christmas is not the only season of love? The season you’re in right now can be a season of love. You know, if you look throughout the bible at seasons, some seasons were very, very long seasons. In Joshua 24 God reminds his people Israel, that they “dwelt in the wilderness a long

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season”. Forty years, right? That’s a very long season, friend. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any seasons that long. Can you imagine forty years of hot summer? Or, forty years of eating nothing but hot-dogs morning, noon and night? Or, forty years of living in a tent? Or, forty years of losing football? Why was it such a long season? God’s chosen people tried to live Godfree, faith-free, obedience-free lives, full of fear and doubt and unbelief. That kind of life will lead to a very long season in the wilderness. That wasn’t the only time in the Bible Israel had a long season. 2 Chronicles 15:3 says, “Now for a long season Israel had been without the true God,

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without a teaching priest, and without law. Why did they have a long season that time? Because they had God-free leadership, and they were living Godfree lives. That makes for a long season. We have thousands of years of scripture in this area and one truth is clear: living God-free lives makes for a long season of bad junk. You don’t have to wonder what life without the God of hope will be like. It will be hope-free, and it will be a long season. You don’t have to wonder what a life without the God kind of faith will be like. It will be faith-free, and it will be a long season. Is there a solution to long season living? Listen to the very next verse, 2 Chronicles 15:4.

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“But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them”. And guess what? Their season turned around. They got to put some marks in the ‘W’ column, not just the ‘L’ column. Look, seasons will come and seasons will go. Some seasons are cold and harsh, some are temperate and mild, some are short, some are long, but seasons will come and seasons will go. What kind of season will you have? Will you have a winning season, or a losing season? I don’t know what conclusions you have reached in your life. But I can tell you that I have come to the conclusion that, whatever the season is comprised of, having a

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winning season or a losing season is much less about the events of the season, then it is about my attitude during the season. Paul said to Timothy, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season”. That word instant means to be present, or to stand. Perhaps you feel scripture like that is just for preachers. But really, if you’re a Christian, you’re an ambassador for Christ. You’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation, to preach the word, and share the gospel. I really believe that being instant and sharing the gospel with others, can help you have a winning attitude, even in a tough season. You know, the very best way to get our minds off ourselves and our problems and our

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season, and improve our attitude, is to focus on the needs of others. Is there a more important need in the life of people than the need to be saved? So be instant, and watch your spirits soar! You know, if we look at that word, “instant”, in the context of being present, it really speaks loudly about our attitudes during any season. A lot of times where we get into trouble is when we get “out of the moment”. We allow ourselves to begin thinking about things past and future, about how we messed up, or about the doom and gloom that surely waits on the horizon. If we’ll be present, in the moment, “instant”, during whatever season of life we are in, our attitudes cannot help but be positive. Friends I am confident that when we reflect morbidly on the past, we cannot

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help but face the future with fear and trepidation. When that happens, our attitudes begin to sour, and we find ourselves caught in a vicious circle. But there is a way out of that destructive cycle, and I think the answer is deceptively simple. Did you ever smell sour milk? I love that commercial for Sharpies (you know, the magic marker?) where the college-age looking fellow comes into the kitchen, takes the milk out of the refrigerator, takes a swig, makes a face, takes out his Sharpie and writes “BAD” on the milk carton…AND PUTS IT BACK IN THE REFRIGERATOR!! You know, people do that all the time. Stop and think about it, it’s true. But

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when we do, we deceive ourselves. The milk is still sour even if it’s back in the refrigerator. Look. We need to do something here. We need to stop regurgitating past failures and labeling them “BAD”, and putting them back in the refrigerator of our lives. “Refrigerator of our lives, you say? Is that really the best you can do?” Just wait until I get started! To keep the whole kitchen thing going for a minute: We need to stop taking the sour former failure funk out of the fridge to fix ourselves fear of the future flapjacks! In other words, we don’t want to keep cooking up our future using bad ingredients from the past. Simple, right? Mistakes of the past, and past failures,

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are like leaven. They are a catalyst that we can allow to shape our future, to dull our enthusiasm, and to lower our expectations. But Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans that I have for you says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. What am I saying? I’m saying that we’ve got to start living in the moment. Take a minute, to be in the moment. In the moment there is no failure. In the moment there is no fear. In the moment, there is only God. Faith resides, in the moment. We need to stop looking at the future through the eyes of past failure. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. Faith is now.

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When is faith? Now, in the moment. You know, that’s one of the things I like the most about riding motorcycles. When I ride, I am absolutely in the moment. When you are precariously perched atop 800-plus pounds of Milwaukee steel, going 70 miles an hour, with only your blue jeans and a leather jacket separating you from oncoming traffic, you cannot afford to daydream. You have to be in the moment. TAKE A MINUTE TO BE IN THE MOMENT. You can afford to take a minute to be in the moment, you’ve got 525,600 of them to work with every year! No failure, no fear…just God.

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Chapter Three Every season presents a great opportunity to learn and grow. My mother was always fond of saying, “Change is inevitable; Growth is optional�. That is a saying I have used

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myself many, many times, especially when counseling others on the dynamics of change in our lives. But you know, I have come to believe that my mother was only half right. Sorry, Ma! Change is inevitable, God’s word proves it over and over, and you’ve seen it first-hand in your own life, so we all know that it’s true. But I’m not sure that for the Christian growth is optional. Oh we may treat it like it is, we may be so resistant to change that we simply refuse to grow, but it isn’t optional. In fact, choosing not to grow through change is one of those things that can lead to a long season. David, in Psalm 1, likens us to trees planted by streams of water; tress that are supposed to bear fruit. He says of those, whose delight is in the law of

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the Lord that we are to “bring forth fruit in its season”. What kind of fruit is brought forth from a tree that never grows? What produce can we bring forth if we refuse to grow? Grow we must, throughout all seasons of life. Let me just make a statement right here. There is NO SEASON in our life – that God has purposed or directed – that will or should result in the absence of our attention from the things of God. I don’t want to get sidetracked on this, but it’s a big deal to God. Don’t think so? Look in Leviticus and read about the feasts. There is great detail in there about when to work, and when to rest. And the Sabbath was not optional. I’m not trying to get religious here; I am just saying that God doesn’t purpose or direct seasons for our lives

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that include being absent from His presence. Let me just meddle for a minute: If you are being led to stay away from the things of God for a time to “clear your head”, that is not the Holy Ghost leading you. Leviticus 23:3 says, “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings”. The phrase “in all your dwellings” literally means wherever you go. Don’t be misled by that kind of thing. If this isn’t your church, then it’s not your church, but do get in church somewhere and get under some anointed leadership and teaching. When we stay away from leadership and teaching in our lives our growth

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can become stunted and we risk not bearing Kingdom fruit. You know, I’ve been around folks in church for a while now, and I hear things like, “Well, we just needed a little time off, to get away from church for a while”. And, not surprisingly, that’s exactly what they get; a little time off. A little time off God’s plan for your life. And often, a little time off turns into a little more time off, and before you know it, your little time off has taken you far away from God’s best for you and your family. Five Hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes: That’s all we get each year. How much of that do we spend in church? Well, if we come to church on Sunday morning 50 Sundays a year and we’re here for two hours than we have spent exactly 6000

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of our 525,600 minutes on him. And we need a little time off? I’m just sayin’ is all. Okay, enough of that. We’re supposed to GROW, through all the seasons of our life. Some seasons we may grow a little more than other seasons, but that’s really our doing and not God’s doing. He wants us to grow all the time. How do we do that in a cold, hard season? The same way we do it in a mild, temperate season. Psalm 1 1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

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3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. I have purposed to be that man, how about you? There’s not a caveat, or a qualifier with that scripture that says we bring forth fruit “unless it’s a cold, hard season”. When it’s cold out meditate on his word day and night. When it’s hot out meditate on his word day and night. When you’re down on your chips, meditate on his word day and night. When you’re rolling in clover meditate on his word day and night. The scripture says that we will be like trees planted by the rivers of water bringing forth fruit in our season. Whatever season that may be. The way never, ever changes.

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Paul tells one of my all time favorite preacher stories in Acts chapter 20. (Just in case any of us think we have ever been in some long services, listen to this). In Acts chapter 20 Paul is preaching in Troas and they all gather together on Sunday morning for church and they are meeting in an upper room on the third floor. Now, Paul’s posse of young servants of God thought they’d be getting out of town quickly, but Paul started preaching and the bible says that he preached on “till well past midnight”. That’s a long meeting brother, but with Paul doing it I’m sure it was a humdinger. However, apparently a young fellow named Eutychus didn’t realize how great the preaching was and the Bible says he fell sound asleep. Can you imagine falling asleep…in church? I

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know none of us have ever done that, right? Now remember they didn’t have any air conditioning back then, and this young fellow Eutychus was sitting in a chair by the window. I kind of envision him with his feet about half propped-up, you know kind of balancing on his chair like young people are apt to do. Remember also, they are meeting up on the third floor. Well Eutychus goes nigh-night, and nods off and OUT the third floor window and falls to the ground…DEAD! (Young people, remember that next time I’m preaching upstairs in The LOFT, and you’re leaning backwards in your chair, nodding off). Well, you needn’t worry about Eutychus, Paul went down to the street and hugged on him and he was raised back to life. What a

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testimony Eutychus had after that! I’ll bet he never fell asleep in church again. That was a long side trip but a great story, read about it in Acts 20. But here’s what I want to get to, later in that chapter Paul has assembled the leaders of the congregation at Ephesus and he says this most amazing and – for us tonight – fitting thing to them. He says in Acts 20:18, “Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you AT ALL SEASONS, Serving the LORD…” Now that’s powerful, friends. Paul had been through some SEASONS, and some were tough seasons, man. But he did THE SAME THING regardless of the season. He served

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the Lord. “Well it was easier for him, because he was PAUL”. Sure if you consider being beaten, jailed, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel easier than what your going through this season, you’re right. Look, most of us will never live to kind of struggle for the Gospel that Paul lived, yet through it all he could say – and MEAN IT – “You don’t have to wonder about me, from day one you have known what kind of man I have been in EVERY SEASON”. He really WAS a man for all seasons, wasn’t he? You see, Paul knew God, and he trusted God. Look, if God were going to harm Paul, He would have done it on the road to Damascus. But God chose to use him, rather than kill him.

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Don’t you know Jesus could have just gone <BAM!>, “Well we don’t have to worry about Saul stoning anymore of my followers now, do we God? You like apples Saul?” <BOOM!> “How do you like them apples, baby?” No, no. God took Saul’s imperious, and self-righteous, and murderous condemnation and absolute hatred, and converted it to love, compassion and forgiveness with his words. And from that moment forward, Paul went through many, many seasons. Seasons of change, seasons of growth, and seasons of love. What would your season be like, if you made it a season of love? If the love of God really constrained you, truly controlled you? How would you grow? Like a tree planted by rivers of water, bringing forth fruit in your

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season. Kingdom fruit. When you know God, and you trust God, then you know that you can risk loving in your season regardless of what you are going through, because your first concern is the welfare of others. And you know that you can trust God to take care of your needs as you are caring for those around you. Psalm 145:14-16 says that God upholds all that fall and that he raises up those that are bowed down. And it says about the Lord that He, “gives them their mean in due season”. It says He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. I’ve heard many people say, “Don’t worry, your time is coming”. But I say to you tonight: Your time is right now. It’s here. It’s up to you what

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kind of season it will be. When love guides you, leads you, and feeds you, no enemy can conquer you. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How will we choose to live them? Moses certainly had the right idea when he prayed, “Teach us to number our days, Lord”. Finally, Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”. Friends, when is due season? By faith, it is right now, in the moment. No failure, no fear, just God.

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You can begin a real relationship with God today. Really. Human beings were created in Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s image, designed and destined for friendship with Him. But Adamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s disobedience in the garden created a huge divide between a holy God and the now sinful human race. There was no way for us to bridge the gap, no way to earn our way back to God. So God made a way back to Himself. He sent Jesus, His only Son. Jesus was born of a virgin, showed the world what God is like by the sinless life He lived on Earth, then willingly endured the cruel death of the cross to pay the

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penalty for mankind’s sin. But three days later, in a spectacular display of power and compassion, God raised Jesus from the dead, forever victorious over sin and death, building an unshakeable bridge back to God. And all that mercy and kindness and forgiveness belongs to us, if only we’ll believe it. If you’re tired of the endless cycle of mistakes and remorse, tired of feeling empty and defeated, Jesus is the answer. A lifelong journey of joy, peace and purpose begins with a single step, a prayer from your heart: Father, I admit that I have sinned, and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus is Your Son, that You raised Him from the dead, and that faith in His sacrifice is all I need to be right with You, and to spend eternity with You when this life is over. Please forgive my sins and give me a brand new

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start. Help me fulfill your plan for my life on earth. From this day forward, I’m a follower of Christ, and my life belongs to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer I want you to know that you are now a brand new creation! To start your brand new life I encourage you to learn more about God and His word by hooking up with a local group of people that believe just like you do. For more information on how to do that, and on your new life as a believer, go to our website We’ve www.geneodenministries.org. got lots of great resources to get you started!

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About the Author

Gene Oden has served over 18 years in the ministry, much of that as a worship leader and youth minister. A songwriter, author and anointed preacher, he currently serves as worship leader at Cornerstone Church in Dothan, Alabama. Married since 1981, Gene and his wife Leslie have four children, two boxers, and three gray cats. Other books in this series include: Keep Your Hands to Yourself Gottaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Be Bold! Seasons of Love Women of Destiny Do You Love Me? Communication Breakdown I Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Fit In Learn more at: www.geneodenministries.org

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Seasons Of Love