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August 05 2006 By virtueonline FINISHING WELL

How can we finish well? How can we remain feeling valuable?

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience, inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:10-12)

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June 24 2006 By virtueonline LOVELESS LANGUAGE - by Ted Schroder

So does most of the church and the world. We want articulate, persuasive, and interesting speakers and preachers. But there are many dangers with slick speakers, who can appear so sincere, and so spiritual. That is why St. James warned, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

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June 17 2006 By virtueonline WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR?

"Do not commit adultery [with all that Jesus interpreted that to mean in terms of our attitude to sexual desire, to lust, to treat people as sexual objects, to define ourselves in terms of our gender, our proclivities],

Do not murder [with all that Jesus interpreted that to mean in terms of our anger, our insulting words, our grievances and resentments],

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June 10 2006 By virtueonline BORN FROM ABOVE

How do we experience this new birth? Spiritual rebirth is a new creation. It changes the recipient from being merely a physical being into a new creature in Christ. As we owe our physical birth to our parents, so we owe our spiritual rebirth to God the Spirit. We cannot give life to ourselves, it is a gift. We do not deserve it. It is a gift of grace to the undeserving. It is a gift of love from the God who loves us. Only God can give us this life.

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June 03 2006 By virtueonline THE BIRTHDAY GIFT

Genesis tells us in the creation story, that the difference between the first man and other primates, was the result of God breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. In this creation story of the church in Acts, God breathed his Spirit into those who believed in Christ. So today we celebrate the new birth, the new life of the Spirit, which marks the beginning of the family of the church of Jesus Christ .

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May 26 2006 By virtueonline TAKEN INTO HEAVEN

As my mind took me back all those years, Phil Yancey reminded me of Bill's twenty-eight years as pastor of that church. One Sunday Bill was attacked by three men in the sanctuary, as they sought to rob him of the morning offering. He was hit over the head with a bowling pin, kicked and battered with a fire extinguisher. They stripped him of his clothing, gagged and tied him up before leaving him. He began a tutoring program for the local students.

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May 20 2006 By virtueonline LOVE IS BLIND TO DISTINCTIONS

Jesus gives an example of this at a dinner party hosted by a prominent Pharisee, when he noticed how the guests were picking the places of honor at the table. "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.

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May 12 2006 By virtueonline Love Your Neighbor "As Yourself"

This raises another problem. There is a strain of teaching in some Christian circles that would denigrate self-love. Conviction of sin is so heavily stressed in some teaching that the believer is led to an attitude of self-abhorrence and self-loathing. But how can such an attitude be compatible with measuring our love for others by our love for ourselves?

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May 07 2006 By virtueonline HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT LOVE EXISTS?

There are some people who are so skeptical about love that they deceive themselves into thinking that love does not exist.

They cheat themselves out of love. They are self-deceived. They lock themselves out from love.

They prevent themselves from experiencing the essence of life; for it is love that endures. Love never ends. Love is eternal. In eternity to find out that you have rejected love, and been self-deceived, is to find that you have lost everything.

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April 28 2006 By virtueonline THE RESURRECTION BODY

St. Paul turns the tables on such thinking in 1 Corinthians 15 when he uses the analogies of nature to explain the resurrection of the body. He answers the question: "But someone may ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?'" (v.35)

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