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Shuffling and the 53rd Card

"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them.' So he told them this parable: 'What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.'" - Luke 15:1-6 (ESV)

A standard deck of American playing cards consists of 52 cards divided into 4 suits.  The suits contain cards numbered 2 through 10 as well as 3 face cards (Jack, Queen, King) and the Ace for a total of 13 cards in e…

The Old Covenant:Powerless and Bankrupt

"However, in the past, when you did not know God, you were slaves to things that are not really gods at all. But now that you know God, or rather have been known by God, how can you turn back again to those powerless and bankrupt basic principles? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again? You are observing days, months, seasons, and years. I am afraid for you! I don’t want my work for you to have been wasted!"  - Galatians 4:8-11 (ISV)
To begin with, it is recommended that you read an article entitled, "Your Prayer Shawl Scares Me" before continuing.  
The book of Galatians presents major obstacles to several erroneous, and sometimes generally accepted, doctrines of modern Christianity.  Not the least of these is the Apostle Paul's thorough and absolute purging of the trappings of the Mosaic Law from the New Covenant.  In the early Church there existed, as it does today, a faction which desired to hold onto Moses with one hand and Christ with the oth…

Dear Muslim Friend, How Can I Trust You?

My subject is not an easy one for many reasons and, frankly, might come as a surprise to some of my readers, especially those who know me on a more personal level.  Furthermore, I realize that I have a lot of readers in predominantly Muslim countries and some of the things I will be addressing might be a bit hard to hear.  So let me say to any Muslims who might read this - this is the display of an honest question, not an attempt to defame you.

To begin with, I have taken a lot of flack over the years for not going along with the philosophy of some political Conservatives and religious Fundamentalists in calling for a ban on the practice of Islam in the United States.  In fact I have received quite a few hateful responses from some of your more loving Christians because I have wholeheartedly and publicly condemned the defacing of Mosques, public burning of the Quran and the call by some on the fringe radical right for the mass deportation of Muslims based strictly on their religious …

Good Try, But Not Good Enough

By: Sis. Elaine Hood

The man and his wife came in and sat down.  As the first songs were played a sweet move of the Spirit of God began to sweep through the congregation.  Saints raised their hands in worship, some clapped, and still others rejoiced in dancing.  The man and his wife sat perfectly still, but they were not unaffected.  Slowly a tear trickled down the man’s face.  His wife sniffed.  Another tear followed the first one.  She reached for a tissue.  Soon both were crying in earnest as the Presence of God tugged at their hearts, drawing them toward Him.  The worship service came to an end, the Pastor read his text and began to preach.  He preached the Word of God in love and sincerity, desperately trying to reach the man and his wife.  The couple’s tears had not abated, rather they cried through the entire sermon.

When the Pastor had preached everything he felt like God had asked him to say, he invited everyone that would to come to the front and pray.  The man sat rigidly,…

Dinner With A Hypocrite

"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party." - Galatians 2:11-12 (ESV)

In the Apostle Paul's letter to the churches of the region of Galatia we find a few very interesting historical details in regard to the author's experiences in his introduction to the early Christians and Christian leaders.  We are told of his difficulties, his status as being relatively unknown by sight and, finally, his acceptance by the leaders at Jerusalem.  From that point, we are lead to the city of Antioch and the scene of what would be a most eventful and educational dinner.

There in Antioch, where the Disciples were first called Christians, the Apostle Peter, called Cephas, was eating with the Gentiles.  It is reasonable to assume that these Gentiles were Gentile Christians but whether …

When Soap Gets In Your Eyes

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.'" - Luke 17:1 (NIV)

Inspiration comes to me in some strange places frequently.  For example, I remember reading the label on a shampoo bottle and noticing a couple of things.  First of all, I was surprised that there was a need for actual instructions on something as self explanatory as shampoo.  Secondly, I noticed a warning printed in bold letters.  Since that time I have tried to find that warning on other shampoo bottles and haven't had a lot of success in my search.  Occasionally I've found a brand of shampoo that includes these words:  "WARNING: Eye irritant.  If product comes in contact with eyes wash thoroughly with water immediately."  Again, this seems like common sense and not really necessary on the label of a shampoo bottle.  Then again, we do live in the age where a can of very clearly labeled honey roasted pe…

It's Just Prayer Meeting

"The believers continued to devote themselves to what the apostles were teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to times of prayer." - Acts 2:42 (ISV)

We're going to begin this article with a hard statement of fact: many churches do NOT have prayer meetings anymore.  And when we say "prayer meeting" we're not just talking about a regular service dedicated to nothing but the practice of prayer.  We are also referencing the lack of prayer meetings before worship services.  Pre-service prayer, it is often called.  The lack of prayer in the house of prayer is alarming.  Even in those churches where prayer meetings are still on the schedule, it is going to be the one service every week when people will find a reason not to attend.

Pre-service prayer is optional, after all, because "having church" really doesn't start until the worship team steps to the stage to perform.  Being there for "having church" is the most importan…