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Why I Hail Jesus and Not Mary

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Mention the phrase “Hail Mary” and football fans think of a desperation pass usually thrown by a team trailing in the final seconds of a close game. The phrase became part of the football lexicon following a 1975 NFL playoff game in which (to my disappointment) the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach revealed he “closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary” before throwing the winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson.
The traditional Hail Mary prayer recited by Catholics like Staubach goes like this…
Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

When witnessing to Catholics, I’m sometimes asked about praying to the Virgin Mary. There are reasons why that is unscriptural… Mary did not remain a virgin after Jesus’ birth. Matthew 1:25 says Joseph “...did not know her till she had b…

O Christmas Tree…Oh No?

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With the holiday season approaching, many businesses and individuals have already put up decorations. Among them are Christmas trees. A popular carol “O Christmas Tree” originated from Germany as “O Tannenbaum”, which translates as “O Fir Tree.” The original lyrics had nothing to do with Christmas. Nevertheless, I remember singing the German version a time or two while in grade school.
Like other holiday traditions, some Christians oppose the usage of Christmas trees. One of my Facebook friends made a judgmental comment that people putting up Christmas trees “are worshiping the devil and have a mental disease.” Before giving my life to Christ, I didn’t have a Christmas tree in my apartment because of the time and expense involved. Instead, I drove up to Mom and Dad’s house for the holidays and enjoyed looking at their decorations. Nowadays, I still don’t own a Christmas tree mainly due to my missionary lifestyle.
Once I heard evangelist Jesse Duplantis talk about the time he bought and …

What About Your Friends?

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There’s an old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” The people we associate with can deeply influence our lives. 
As a kid, I had decided to stay away from alcoholic beverages. But during my late teens, many friends of mine and co-workers were into drinking beer. Wanting to have fun with them, I started going to parties and nightclubs. Gradually I fell into a lifestyle of sin. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived; evil company corrupts good habits.” By the time I committed my life to the Lord, many of my drinking buddies didn’t want to hang with me anymore.
I’ve also noticed God will allow certain relationships with other Christians to end. This is so He can connect you with like-minded believers who will encourage you in your calling. Once I had a blind friend who didn’t believe it was God’s will to heal everyone. I shared Scripture proving otherwise since I wanted my friend to receive his sight. This man wouldn’t accept the truth and one day announced he didn’t want t…

A Ready Writer

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I always had a knack for writing. During second grade, I was inspired by the TV show “Sesame Street” to create my own stories based on a letter of the alphabet. Apart from class assignments, I dabbled in other writing projects throughout my childhood but didn’t get serious about it until college. I wrote a few Letters to the Editor that got published nationally in Billboard magazine. That inspired me to write a music column called “The Listening Post” for Moorhead State University’s newspaper.
Seven years after committing my life to the Lord, I started writing a monthly newsletter that was eventually named “Signs & Wonders.” During a season when I briefly stopped publishing the newsletter, the Lord spoke to me about resuming it again. Later that same day, I found out someone who got saved as a result of one of my articles died a few months later. That person might have gone to hell if I hadn’t written that newsletter!Other ideas for articles led me to start a weekly blog and later …

The Ministry of Church Security

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Last Sunday afternoon while riding with a pastor to his church, we got to talking about ministers hiring security personnel for protection. My friend told me of a Messianic pastor he knows who has bodyguards because of death threats. Little did we know a mass shooting had just taken place at a church in Texas. A lone gunman killed twenty-six people plus wounded twenty others at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Two men then chased after the killer who was eventually killed himself.
Ever since 9/11, many places in America have implemented increased security including churches. Occasionally, I’ve been asked to have my backpack examined, which I use to carry my laptop for taking notes during services. This used to annoy me. Then last year at a church leadership conference, I attended a workshop taught by the man in charge of security there. The information he shared gave me a greater appreciation for what they do. One thing he pointed out was his team look at their jobs as a min…

Serving God and Country

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This coming Saturday, the United States of America will observe Veteran’s Day in honor of those who served in our armed forces. In recent years, I’ve gone out of my way to thank veterans who helped preserve liberties we often take for granted…especially the freedom to preach the gospel.
As a teenager, I cringed when a friend suggested the idea of reinstating the draft. I dreaded the thought of going to boot camp and having some drill sergeant yelling at me. But at 21, I became dissatisfied with my life and enlisted in the Army National Guard. The military taught me much needed discipline and respect for authority. Today there are national anthem protestors who I believe should spend time in the armed forces. Perhaps they would develop a greater appreciation for this country.
A young minister I knew once wrote on her Facebook page, “I will not bow to a country nor will I pledge to a flag. This country is not my home. My home is in heaven as is yours if you know Jesus.” Except for her men…

Teachers Wanted

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As a young Christian, I listened to numerous sermon tapes. Among the ministers I gleaned from the most were Mac Hammond, Jerry Savelle, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Murdock, and Joyce Meyer. God used them at different seasons in my life to build a solid foundation on His word. In recent years, I’ve probably listened to Perry Stone more than any other preacher. Perry estimates he's studied the Bible for more than 100,000 hours in his lifetime. His “Manna-Fest” programs often filmed in Israel help illustrate his points.
Besides their pastor, most believers have a favorite preacher they like listening to. However, one must avoid seeking out ministers who proclaim only what they want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3 warns, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers”
Wrong doctrines have been built based on one Bible verse alone. Look at 1 John 2:27…
But t…