Tag Archives: Christianity

All we can do is pray.

Ugh.  Recently this phrase has been everywhere; television, social media, the internet… I have no doubt there are cases of life getting to the point where “all we can do is pray,” but mostly that is poppycock, piffle, and balderdash. It’s also an excuse to be lazy, or offhand.  Don’t get me wrong, brothers and sisters, praying is powerful, praying is called for, and praying should precede other things… but it isn’t the only thing we can do in 99% of the cases.

Let’s take the recent and ongoing Ebola outbreak.  All we can do is pray. No, we can find out about it and become educated on what Ebola is, how it is spread, how to prevent it, what to do if you suspect you’ve been exposed, etc… We can also find out who it is effecting and how to help.  Whether it is Politics, Israel’s battle against the terrorist group Hamas, Economics, World Hunger, The Youth leaving the church, whatever it is we can do more than pray.

If you want this country of ours, the USA, to be different, then pray, but don’t stop there.  Do what you can when you can.  Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, find out who your representatives are, aid the campaigns of people you support, find a need in your local community and fill it, teach a class at your church, fly a flag, you get the picture.  Do we “have” to do these things? No, of course not, but don’t utter that phrase unless it is true… but don’t forget even in those circumstances, there is also singing, and praising, and worshiping.

As an aside, much of what we can “do” revolves around our own homes and our own families.  Educate yourself and your families, get your house in order (literally), see to your own finances, have strong bonds with your families, then learn to look outside of yourselves, outside of your own homes, or towns, or even countries.  Many of my readers have already done all of this, and to you I say; great job! Truly.  Keep it up.  But some of us, me included, need a nudge, a reminder.

God is powerful beyond measure.  He’s in control and history itself bends to His will.  Yes, pray.  Scripture tells us to pray.  But let us also open ourselves up to the nudges of the Holy Spirit and do the works He empowers us to do by grace through faith, that all flows from God.

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Famous Last Words

When we look at the books of the New Testament (NT) chronologically, we can do something kind of interesting.  We can look at the main authors of the NT (Peter, Paul, and John), and figure out which words we can read in scripture were the “last words” of aforesaid Peter, Paul, and John.  That is what we are going to do in this article, but it is also interesting to go through and read the last sentences of the books of the Bible; it doesn’t take long and it can really make you think, so when you have some free study time, try it out.

Alright, here’s the list:

Peter: 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Paul: 2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

John: Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Do you see the theme yet?  I see 3 components that are always there.  This article is inspired by a teaching by Doc Scott, and he picked one aspect to focus on so I mention that component first, and that is grace.  “Grow in grace,” “grace be with you,” and “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”  Do you think grace is important?  Each and every last word from the heavy hitters of the NT includes grace.  What is the second?  Jesus Christ.  What is the third?  The “amen,” the affirmation to the reader of these things.  When God repeats things, they tend to be important don’t they?

In order of importance:

1) Jesus.  Let’s look at the phrases used: Lord, Saviour, Christ.  Those are the titles given to Him in these three passages.  The way that the word “Lord” is used here by Jewish individuals can leave no room for debate, it means they are bestowing the honor of the word reserved for God and apply it to Jesus.  Remember Thomas’ “my Lord and my God?” Here that is underscored by the big 3.  Saviour meaning one who saves. Christ meaning Messiah.  So Jesus, our “God is with us,” Who is our Savior and Messiah is the cornerstone of the great last words of Peter, Paul, and John.  We would expect no less, but do we recognize Him in such a profound way in our speech, even in our churches in today’s world?  Should He not be included in every single last word that we have in our churches and between believers? Our Lord, Saviour, and Messiah; Jesus.

Peter even admonishes us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus.  We should learn of and be reminded of, His life, death, and resurrection.  His life including perfection, and His teachings, His death and why He had to die, and His resurrection as the sign and promise of our faith.  Study it, teach it, learn of Him because His yoke is easy and burden light.

2) Grace.  I’ve taught on here about grace.  The Greek means “unmerited favor.”  Peter received the grace of Jesus firsthand after denying Him 3 times.  Jesus forgave and forgave and forgave.  Peter never earned it.  Neither do we ever earn forgiveness.  We cannot work our way to forgiveness, there is no physical act we can do to earn forgiveness, He bestows it upon us and we are to grow in it!  This is why I decry anything that smacks of sacramentalism.  Peter, Paul and John offer the reminder of grace and the free flowing nature of it from God to us, and we don’t do anything to merit it.  The Lord and Saviour Jesus the Messiah did everything to merit the grace for us!!  What is our response? Faith.

In Galatians 2:21 Paul boldly proclaims “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”  Jesus died for the free flow of grace to us from our God!  His death was both necessary and sufficient to open the gate… to tear down the curtain dividing us from God.  Paul clearly says, “grace be with you.”  Unmerited favor be with you.  No hoops, no red tape; grace be with you.  The same comes from John, the Apostle of love; “grace be with you.”  Do you get it yet? lol Grace be with YOU.

3) Amen.  Amen translates into “so be it.”  Grace be with you, so be it.  That’s double affirmation being displayed with faith.  It is the communication that what has proceeded the “amen” is in line with God’s will, and that it shall be done because of His goodness and promises. When we have faith, which is trust, in what God has said and done, we have that ability to say amen; so be it.  Jesus is Lord, Saviour, and Messiah.  Learn about Him.  Grow in His grace. So be it!  If only our preachers and teachers reminded us of this, and underscored the meaning of it, and taught it with authority.

So, those are the things that Peter, Paul, and John believed were so fundamental that they included them at the very end of their correspondence.  Humans tend to remember the first things and the last things mentioned to them in letters and speeches. Pay attention to these things and put them in your heart, because they are fundamental to what it means to be Christians.

To my fellow believers in Jesus who have placed their trust in Him, I say; grace and peace be with you through faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

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Christian Response to the Illegal Immigrant Crisis

The present crisis here in the US centered on illegal immigration can present a bit of conundrum for the born-again’s.  We have people flooding here that have nothing, are sick, are hurting, and are breaking the law.  So, what do we do?  Do we listen to our head or do we listen to our hearts?  The answer is both.

We are American Christians.  We have an individual responsibility, like the good Samaritan, and we have a responsibility to our country as good citizens.  So the answer can seem elusive, but it’s not.  As individuals we are to help those that are here that are legitimately hurting, scared, sick, and alone… mainly children and widows, those that have no church, those that have no family.  We feed them, clothe them, help them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

At the same time we call our gov’t to task for allowing this to happen.  Our borders are breached, our health is at stake, and this is taking away resources that the gov’t should be handling in fiscally responsible ways for people that are citizens of this country.  The borders need secured and protected.  The American people need protection from the terrorists, gang member, and drug cartels that are free to come and go as they please because we have had a series of administrations that refuse to protect us, as well as protection from communicable diseases.  We need to send these illegal immigrants home.

There is no paradox here.  This is our faith.  We do as we can to aid the needy, sick, and lost, AND we demand our gov’t enforce it’s borders and its laws.

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Book Review; Kisses From Katie

I mentioned in a recent post that I would be review this book soon, and here it is!  The full title is Kisses from Kate: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie J. Davis, and Beth Clark.  The story is written from Katie’s perspective and Katie is a very interesting sister in Christ.  Katie traveled to Uganda on a short-term mission trip that changed her, and her family’s lives forever.  That short-term trip turned into what is shaping up to be a lifelong adventure.

Falling in love with the people there, and seeing the poverty, disease, and suffering first hand, Katie felt called to return to Uganda… and now she has 13 adopted Ugandan daughters, and is the founder of a really neat charity; Amazima Ministries.  Obviously the book is an account of how all of this went down with the focus being on Jesus and His call on our lives, whatever that call may be.

First, let me say that I loved the book, loved the story, and it is very readable.  I would highly suggest this book to Christian high school students.  All believers would enjoy this account, but I single out students of that age because I feel it would open their hearts to possibilities.  Having said that, this is also the book that prompted me to post an article I titled “Two Left Feet.”  The danger is that those that read Kisses from Katie will either take away legalism, and/or the idea that we all have to go to Uganda and adopt orphans.  Katie is very clear in her book that isn’t the case, but it is not stated in as clear of a manner as I embrace, hence my article.

I admit, the story amazes me, esp. because of Katie’s age (starts at 17/18) and this is from a person who believes that children and adolescents are capable of moving mountains under certain circumstances, and that hard work should not be denied them.  The only thing about this book that may bother certain readers is the sometimes heart-wrenchingly accurate descriptions of the aforesaid poverty, disease, and suffering.  This is definitely a book that helps redefine priorities and does so in a manner that is so refreshingly straightforward with good storytelling and very little “preaching.”  I give it the Scribbler honor of being one of those books I plan to read again.

Get it, read it, give it to a teen, you won’t regret it.

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Two Left Feet

We are the body of Christ. All of us who faithe on Him, all of us who believe.  We are the body.  My understanding of this is evolving as I study it, it is evolving as I read, and it is evolving as I pray.  One recent thing that has been bouncing around my brain came up again as a result of reading a really good book that I will review soon: Kisses From Katie.  I’m going to say some things in this article that may indicate I didn’t like the book, or the philosophy found it in, but that’s not true.  It is a jumping off point for me because certain themes keep cropping up in the Christian community.

We have amongst us people that are hands, people that are feet, people that are heart, that are ears, that are blood, that are nerve endings, etc… and that’s wonderful! As Paul says, we are all members of the body of Christ and we each have a role to play.  The problem I see in certain aspects of our Christian society is that we have certain members, say feet, demanding that everyone else be feet too.  I’m a foot, why aren’t you a foot? If you were really a part of the body, you’d be a foot.

Wait… what?  That is antithetical to what Paul directly and clearly teaches in scripture.  If I’m a heart and I try to be a  foot; ouch.  If the body of Christ has two metaphorical left feet, there is no dancing.  I must be what I’m called to be, where I’m called to be it.  Not all of us are called to the mission field in China.  Not all of us are called to go wash people’s bodies in Uganda, India, or Southeast Asia.  Not all of us are called to be lawyers.  Not all of us are called to be preachers in the U.S. Not all of us are called to be kindergarten teachers, or economists, or business men.

There are, however, certain things that the body of Christ has in common, certain traits that we are all called to have because we belong to the same body.  The character of the person connects each bit; my hand can’t be moral or immoral, but I can be moral or immoral and can involve my hand and its actions directed by “me.”  This also holds true since we are a part of the body of who? Christ.  Loving, caring, sober-minded, sharing the gospel with all, helping those around us, etc…  So, yes, there are traits in common, but different roles in life, and we need each person fulfilling their God-given role to make this whole thing run smoothly.

I guess my point is that we need to make sure that we are seeking out what God has in mind for us and our role and not to try to conform ourselves to other believers in their personal roles.  If I’m an eye and try to act like mouth, it isn’t going to work out very well for me or the rest of the body.  Instead of concerning ourselves with modeling ourselves after others who we see doing a really good job in their role, we need to be seeking the wisdom of God in finding and fulfilling our role, as well as being open the possibility that even if our favorite role model is a knee, we just might be an elbow. No role is insignificant.

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The Christian and Debt

Debt is all around us, and most of us have some type of debt currently.  I just read a statistic yesterday that less than 50% of all Americans have any net worth at all, meaning that less than 50% of us have monetary value (including assets) over the amount of monetary debt we owe.  Financially, then, most Americans are worth less than zero. Think about that.  Our country has changed over time and we are a nation of debtors living in a nation of debt.  Yes, debt has always, and will always be around, but we are now going into debt for things people in the past would never have considered signing away their future earnings for.

So, what does God teach us about debt, money, and how we can faithfully handle our finances? Now, obviously I’m not going to be able to cover every scripture or every situation.  There are many good resources out in the market today that do a better job covering all of that than I ever could.  But, I did want to cover a specific aspect of debt that people tend to wink at; Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.  Really think that over; you are a slave to anyone you have borrowed money from.  Do you owe a  bank, credit company, hospital, the government, etc…?

Whoever you owe money to, you are their slave.  You work for them.  Your money is theirs, and that is a Biblical concept.  In an age where we borrow money from all of these places, we have so many masters we can’t count them.  Remember where it says that we can’t serve two masters? Wow.  We just don’t think of these things, and what we want, we want it now.  If we need an automobile, why of course we take out a loan because the masters make it easy to make monthly payments.  We demand a college education, so we take out a loan because the masters act as though we’ll be able to easily pay it back.  Our very nation is sinking in debt, and whoever holds our debt is our master.  Scarey, hunh?

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another… If we owe someone money, we give them power over us, and it limits what we can do with our work.  Everything that we have comes from God, and our best position is to be free to use what God blesses us with how He sees fit.  If we owe money, our money is yoked to the lender.  Now, if someone is in need, the answer can be giving, not borrowing.

Giving someone money (or things) freely, with no strings is different than lending.  It by-passes usury, and hard feelings.  The other answers come in how we view the world and our needs.  When I taught logic and philosophy at college, I urged my students to sit and write out their actual needs; what do you need to live?  It’s a short list.  We live in a world that tells us we NEED all of these various things, but it is a lie.  Don’t believe the lie, live below your means, surround yourself with wise people, read wise words, control you money, don’t let it control you, etc…

We should strive to be aware, strive after Godly wisdom and Godly ways.  We should also chafe a little bit when contemplating who are master, or masters are, and finally ask ourselves if our money is serving us (and God), or are we serving it?

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Proverbs 20:3

The book of Proverbs is one of those books in the Bible that you can read, read, and read over again, and always find something new.  These Proverbs are words of wisdom that we can glean important lessons from, if we actually take the time to absorb what is being said, and to meditate on it.  I have finally picked up the habit of reading the Proverb chapter of the day that corresponds to the day of the month.  If I get behind, I catch up by reading the previous day’s reading.

My studies yesterday included Proverbs 20:3 Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.  How often do we run into people that like to argue simply for the sake of arguing, for stirring up strife?  Honestly, in my earlier years, this was very often me.  I love conversation, and sometimes argumentation a little too much.  Looking deeper at this Proverb we see that we can differentiate ourselves from fools by becoming, in essence, peacemakers at best, and at the very least people that avoid strife.

I want to say that this idea isn’t limited to politics, religion, or other things people fight over,  but also includes silly things that we should never fight or get angry with out fellow humans about.  This also isn’t saying that we shouldn’t stand up for things that we believe in, but rather that we don’t argue for arguing-sake, because “any fool will quarrel,” so quarreling doesn’t separate or elevate you above the average human.  Calmly stating truth isn’t quarreling, and a quarrel usually takes at least two to tango, so the next time someone baits you into quarreling, remember that honor is yours if you avoid strife.

As I’ve previously stated on here, the same is true for the friends we pick to be around, so combining these ideas means we shouldn’t surround ourselves with friends that like to quarrel.  There is enough strife in this world to go around without deliberately exposing ourselves to it.

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True Feminism

Say you are a Feminist in Conservative circles and you are likely to get a lot of looks and raised eyebrows.  I still maintain that it is up to my generation of women (and the one following us) to reclaim Feminism.  There are also people who insist that the God of the Bible is some kind of sexist bigot, but that cannot be further from the truth.  God has always recognized the role and power of women, after all, He is the one that calls us a “helpmeet” and the He calls Himself a “Help”… guess what, in Hebrew they are from the same root word.  A weak thing with no worth cannot help anyone.

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.  I really like this particular verse because it shows some very important concepts that are often quibbled over in Christendom.  For example, it shows that we have free will, even women.  If we did not truly have free will, could God tell us that a foolish woman tears down her very own house with her own hands?  Without free will that would make no sense for a bit of wisdom that we are supposed to learn from and implement; be wise, not foolish.

Another aspect to this verse to note is that we women do the building up.  I build my house.  I do so by what I choose to put my faith in, and Who I choose to put my faith in.  I do so by my work ethic.  I do so by the way I treat my guests, my self-respect, my morality, my choice of mates, my choice of friends, how I handle my money, etc… I do that, not my husband, nor my father, nor my pastor.  Do I spend all my time on Facebook?  Do I spend it with my nose in the latest tabloid or watching TV 24 hours a day?  Do I have friends that truly care about me and care about the Lord, or do they just care about gossip?  Am I taking care of my house, my spouse, my family or am I letting the world take care of them?  Do I keep track of the money, the expenses, the investments, or do I let my husband do all of that?

Have we taught our daughters, nieces, friends, etc… that their choice of spouse is extraordinarily important, and that there are certain factors other than how “cute” a guy is to consider when building your home? And to any males who have read this article this far; have YOU took a good hard look at what God desires for you to have in a wife?  Are you willing to let your wife truly be a help to you, while at the same time being a good, kind, respectful, loving, strong leader in your home?  We are to be like a team of oxen in marriage; equally yoked and watching out for one another, each pulling the load.

And, of course, the number one issue; have I built my house on Jesus Christ?  He is the sure foundation and the only thing that cannot be moved. Have I trusted Him, do I talk to the Lord, do I read and study His word?  I need to make sure I have built my house on Him and not trusted someone else to do that for me.  So your husband is the bible expert?  Fantastic… but his faith isn’t yours.  Do you know why you believe on Jesus?  Do you have a personal relationship with God and not just one that is attached to someone else’s faith?

Anywho, dear readers, just some passing thoughts and questions…

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Parents; it is your job to teach your kids about God.

I heard something on the radio today that disturbed me greatly.  What was it?  A preacher trying to tell parents the way to tell their kids about God, Jesus, and salvation.  Ugh.  No.  He was tossing words out there like “justification.”  Yeah, say that word to your three year old, and see if they understand.  The preacher was making a point in saying that you just keep telling the child the same thing over and over, and eventually, mysteriously, they’ll get it.

Any developmentalist will tell you that you don’t talk to a three year old the way you talk to a nine year old, it’s useless.  The preacher seemed to think that a child has to jump through a series of hoops in order to be well and truly saved, and that the kid needs to know everything an adult would know, and that the child needs to make sure to be old enough, etc… Well, yeah, children need to have an understanding of who Jesus is, and what He did.  But, Jesus didn’t ask how old the children were who wanted to come to Him.

Anyone, regardless of age is allowed to go to Jesus, in fact, it is encouraged.  The child isn’t going to be able to set down and write out a dissertation on sin and redemption, but that’s fine.  A child’s faith is held up as what we adults are to aim for.  A parent needs to evaluate each child and not compare them to one another.  Some will “get it” sooner than others, and that’s fine.  It is indeed your responsibility to always check along the way, for example, when your child wants to take communion, you need to make sure they do understand what it means.

Further, parents, it is your job to teach you children, not a preacher.  You need to know your own faith, and why you have it, good enough to explain that to your children.  Know faith and grace, know scripture, know Jesus.  Remember your kids are watching you and you need to make sure you realize you are their number one model.  Also, realize your child does not know what you know, you are not your child.  You may know that baptism isn’t required for salvation, and why, but your kids don’t, unless you TEACH them.

Some parents think that they can just give their children books, or have them watch cartoons, or listen to a certain preacher and that will be fine.  No, it won’t.  You are to raise your children up with the instruction that they need from you personally.  Ask questions, and then really listen to their answers.  Listen to sermons together, watch those cartoons together. Read the Bible together, and don’t water it down.

As a final thought; as you walk this road with your child, I would bet they’ll teach you a lot about God too, so be willing to learn.

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Teaching the tithe; holding the church back?

I’m continually blown away with how many preachers get the tithe completely wrong, especially in regards to the New Testament church.  I’m frustrated because I believe if giving where taught correctly, we would have a totally different attitude toward money.  I believe that the teaching of the tithe actually stifles giving.  I can “hear” myriads of preachers groaning, and rushing to claim that teaching the tithe is the only way to insure a percentage of the congregation actually gives.  Meh, that’s no reason to downplay the truth.

The tithe as a tool is fine.  The tithe as an obligation or means to a blessing isn’t.  If you need to use the tithe as an “easy” way to portion out your money, or are called by God to tithe, that’s perfectly fine, I’m not directing this article at you.  There are so many preachers out there making a certain statement that makes me grind my teeth.  What is that statement?  “How much of your income is God’s?”  What do they say the answer is?  Ten percent.  Sometimes they think they go more detailed and say the first ten percent. Wrong answer.

All of it.  ALL of it is God’s, not yours.  Further, if you are a believer, your house is His, your car is His, every minute of your day is His, your business is His, etc…  If we don’t change the way we preach this, we are limiting our understanding of God, and His relationship with us.  You may be called at any moment to utilize anything you “own” for His good.  I’m not saying this figuratively.  It is all His.  What do you think presenting yourself a living sacrifice to Him is all about?

The OT tithes, that were in place for the Jewish people were for them specifically.  And, it was much much more than 10%.  As with the law in the OT, the tithe was to teach us, it was to foreshadow what was to come.  The tithe was so that God’s business could be carried out and that was centered on the temple and the priests.  Guess what, now you are the temple and you are the priests.

If your reaction to this is “Yes! Now I don’t have to give up anything!” then you’ve missed the entire point.  No longer are we legally required to give, now we are to pay attention to God’ guidance on a very personal level and give as we are called.  Free will, cheerful giving.  That is the model for the NT church.  The early church had to be reigned in from giving too much.  The were giving everything to the apostles and those in need and keeping nothing to live on.

I just heard one preacher say that if you tithe you’ll be amazed that you never lack for anything. Bull.  I know good believers who thought they had to tithe, doing so “religiously,” with good hearts and wind up broke and in debt.  Preachers need to preach financial accountability to their congregations.  If you need help, follow someone like Dave Ramsey’s plan in a secular way.  If you owe a debt to someone else, pay it.  If you owe bills, those ARE debt.  God wants you to be a good steward and pay your debt.  God also wants you to be a good steward and quit being a consumer driven by every want and fad.

You are to be responsible and take care of your family, and you are to be responsible so that when God calls on you to give to a cause, or a teacher, or preacher, or to help someone you will be able to do so.    Remember, you are handling His money, not yours.  Are you to give?  Yes.  There are a few examples of where money should go in the NT; to those that teach you in the faith (Galatians 6:6), to those in need (esp. to widows and orphans), and to those who ask.  How many of us really look at Matthew 5?

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Wow.  This only makes sense and only works if we realize all that we have is God’s.  We are to be responsible with what He gives us whether it’s money, time, a house, car, land, a phone, a camera, etc…  We need to be praying to see what God would like us to do with His things, and then yield to the urge of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it is no one’s business to know how much you make, or how much you give.  That is between you and God.  But, be warned, God knows your heart, and He obviously knows what He is communicating to you.  Pray, and pay attention and ask for His help in doing as He directs.

Give generously, give cheerfully, be responsible with your money and make it serve you, don’t serve it.  The tithe is not a requirement for the church, but excuse making doesn’t work either.  As you sow, so shall you reap, and God truly loves a “hilarious” giver, for it mirrors Him and uses what He has given you to further His will.  Could you imagine the things our church could do if everyone embraced this idea?

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