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September 07 2008 By virtueonline THE DRIVING FORCE OF PRAYER

In 2 Thessalonians 1 he gives us an example of how central and urgent prayer was to him. He begins and ends his remarks with an acknowledgement of our complete and utter dependence upon God for everything. The word he uses to describe this dependence is "grace". It means an unmerited gift, something that is given to us without our deserving it. Life itself is such a gift. So also is peace, forgiveness and salvation. The Gospel is the good news of God's grace to us in Jesus Christ.

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July 12 2008 By virtueonline A TOUGH NEIGHBORHOOD

In addition, the more educated the people, the less open they are to issues of faith. The more highly educated see religion as a crutch for the less educated. They cannot understand why people would believe in anything they could not prove scientifically.

Among those who are unchurched, the older the person, the more they have avoided church, and have stayed in control of their lives, the less likely they will be open to the gospel.

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June 15 2008 By virtueonline AN IMPROBABLE TESTIMONY

She was a Samaritan woman. Jews like Jesus did not associate with Samaritans. They were regarded as religious heretics, and ethnic half-breeds, unfit to worship in the Temple at Jerusalem . They worshipped instead at their own temple on Mt. Gerizim . Yet Jesus asserted to her that although salvation was to come through the Jewish Messiah, his Heavenly Father would not discriminate between Jerusalem and Gerizim.

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May 17 2008 By virtueonline THE DEBT WE OWE

Kierkegaard paraphrases St. Paul: "Owe no man anything, what you have borrowed from him, what you have promised him, what he rightfully may demand of you in return. If possible, owe no man anything, no obligation, no service, no sympathy in joy or sorrow, no leniency in judging, no help in life, no advice in dangers, no sacrifice, even the most difficult - no, in all these things owe no man anything.

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May 08 2008 By virtueonline THE FILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

What is the difference between someone who is full of themselves, and someone who is full of love? When someone is full of themselves they are uncomfortable to be around. When someone is full of love they attract others. What transforms a person from being full of themselves into someone who is full of love? The disciples of Jesus found out on the day of Pentecost.

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Many have our personal and family stories of this kind. My father-in-law contracted multiple sclerosis, and was an invalid for over twenty years, while my mother-in-law had to cope with raising seven children on a limited income. Yet he and she continued to trust in the Lord, and left a legacy of faith that includes three children and spouses, and three grandchildren, serving in Christian ministry.

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A friend of mine, whom I greatly respect, responded to that sermon by challenging me to fill out what I meant about God taking care of us. He wrote: "I certainly know of many, many, many, many harrowing cases in which it does not seem as though God was watching out for anyone.

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March 29 2008 By virtueonline FAITH AND DOUBT

But Thomas was not there. He missed church that Sunday! The other disciples told him what had happened. They gave their first hand testimony: "We have seen the Lord!" But Thomas was not easily persuaded. He wanted proof. "Unless I see with my own eyes the nail marks in his hand and put my own finger where the nails were, and put my own hand into his side, I will not believe it." He wanted verifiable proof that Jesus had risen from the dead.

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March 18 2008 By virtueonline "I Don't Believe in God..." Count of Monte Cristo

In the Dumas biography 'Genius of Life', we are told about young Dumas' tragic loss of his father: "Why should I not see (my father) any more?"

"Because God has taken him back"

"...I'm going to heaven", said young Dumas, "I'm going to kill God who killed my papa."

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February 13 2008 By virtueonline LIFE AS A JOURNEY: INTEGRATION

After five winters we moved south to Jacksonville and became very much part of north Florida. My congregation in Orange Park was home to many navy families, and we became integrated into the military culture and participated in many change of command, and retirement ceremonies.

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