For week of March 6, 2011
The weekly newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
Our mission is to lead men to Jesus Christ and provide opportunity for Christian men to grow in their faith and minister to others.
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“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.”
Edward Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648), The Autobiography of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, London: Walter Scott, 1888, p. 40
SPIRITUAL PREPARATION FOR EASTER NOT JUST A ‘CATHOLIC THING’
by Robert Dilday & Ken Camp
Easter Sunday — the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ — is for Christians the culmination of their community life, expressing the heart of their faith. But among Baptists and other evangelicals, an intentional period of preparation for their holiest day is often understated or absent — in contrast to Christmas, the other great Christian observance, typically the focus of elaborate church festivities for weeks prior to Dec. 25.
Many Baptists are seeking to reclaim that pre-Easter focus — historically called Lent — which has been an integral part of many Christians’ experience since the earliest years of the church.
“It’s a biblical thing, not a made-up Catholic thing,” says Kyle Henderson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas, acknowledging a robust Baptist suspicion of spiritual practices seen as too closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church or its distant cousins, the Anglicans…. Read this in full at
AGE-OLD LENT GETS A 21ST-CENTURY MAKEOVER
For Janis Galvin fasting for Lent has long meant saying no to candy for the 40 days before Easter. But when the season begins this year on March 9, it’s apt to mean something more: walking when she’d rather drive, for instance, or turning the thermostat way down.
Galvin, an Episcopalian, will join with about 1,000 others who’ve signed up for the 2011 Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast, a daily regimen for reducing energy consumption and fighting global warming.
Lent is getting a makeover, especially in some Protestant traditions where it hasn’t always drawn strong interest. The carbon fast is one of several initiatives aimed at reinvigorating Lent by linking themes of fasting and abstention to wider social causes. “It’s exciting because it’s not just suffering” for its own sake, said Galvin, who lives in Everett, Mass. “It’s doing good.”
For the first time, the United Methodist Church is urging its 7.8 million US members to refrain from drinking alcohol during Lent…. Read this in full at
by Mark Tooley
Most secular media in the USA imply that the world is largely dividing between resurgent Islam and enlightened secularists, with isolated evangelicals and Catholics left on the sideline. A recent report by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research indicates otherwise, with one third of the world professing Christianity, virtually unchanged as a global percentage since 100 years ago. Christians today are estimated to number about 2.3 billion. About 1.5 billion are estimated to attend church regularly at over 5 million congregations, up from 400,000 100 years ago.
There are 1.6 estimated Muslims, 951 million Hindus, and 468 million Buddhists. Atheists are thought to be 137 million, a declining number. The report estimates about 80,000 new Christians every day, 79,000 new Muslims every day, and 300 fewer atheists every day. These atheists are presumably disproportionately represented in the West, while religion is thriving in the Global South, where charismatic Christianity is exploding. Over 600 million Christians, including millions of Roman Catholics, are charismatic or Pentecostal.
Where Christians live has shifted dramatically of course. Once Christian Europe is now largely secularized, while “heathen” Africa is largely now either Christian or Islamic. China is on its way to possibly becoming the nation with the most practicing Christians. And Latin America has surging Catholic and evangelical populations. Contrary to common assumptions, America remains about as religious as ever. A 2008 Baylor University survey showed the percentage of American atheists at about 4%, unchanged since 1944. The survey also showed that only about 10% of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, unlike the 15% or so claimed in other recent surveys that claim growing secularization. Baylor found that many “unaffiliated” are actually tied to non-denominational churches or spiritual groups. Mainline Protestantism continues its 45-year meltdown, with Americans less and less identified with old denominations. But Americans by and large are attending churches at about the same rate they have for most of the last 70 years. About one third of Americans are now evangelical. Fewer and fewer attend, or even have a cultural memory of, oldline Episcopal or Presbyterian churches. Many stately old urban sanctuaries sit empty, while nearby thriving congregations meet in school gymnasiums or hotel ballrooms, if they haven’t already built a mega-church campus…. Read this in full at
SEX SYMBOL AND CHRIST FOLLOWER
Hollywood legend Jane Russell died Feb. 28 at age 89. She never intended the former reputation — indeed, she even fought it — but she was always serious about living her faith in Tinseltown.
She was one of the most celebrated sex symbols of the 1940s — and she was also a born-again Christian who hosted Bible studies in her home.
Jane Russell was only 19 years old when she signed a seven-year contract with legendary movie mogul Howard Hughes, and she spent most of those seven years waiting for her first film to be released. The Outlaw was produced in 1941 and had a limited release in 1943, but it didn’t play to a wide audience until 1946—largely because of a controversy over the way the film drew attention to Russell’s figure.
Russell’s second film, Young Widow, also came out in 1946, and after that, she stayed fairly busy on the big screen until the late 1950s, co-starring with the likes of Bob Hope (The Paleface), Roy Rogers (Son of Paleface) and Marilyn Monroe (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) in movies that capitalized not only on her appearance, but on her tough-gal persona.
She spoke to Christianity Today Movies in 2009 by phone from her home in the Santa Maria Valley in California…. Read this interview in full at
NEW BLOG LAUNCHED IN RESPONSE TO BIBLICAL ILLITERACY
The first-ever blog written entirely by seminary faculty was just launched by Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. Thirty professors have joined together to provide free education and a public forum for those who cannot attend seminary. Updated daily, the blog, titled The Good Book Blog (http://thegoodbookblog.com), aspires to be a vital addition to the online evangelical discourse.
Sharing their expertise in areas like biblical studies, theology, philosophy, spiritual formation, and Christian education, the 30 professors hope to serve others by giving of their resources and combat biblical illiteracy which, according to research from The Barna Group in 2010, is on the rise. With its goal of resourcing the wider Christian world with the insights and scholarship of Talbot professors such as author J.P. Moreland, professor of spiritual formation Steve Porter, and author Clint Arnold, the blog fits well with the mission of Talbot to train men and women in the study of God’s word for the service of his world.
“At a time when biblical literacy is at an all time low and there are so many muddled, uninformed views of the Bible, something like The Good Book Blog is such a breath of fresh air,” said author of Hipster Christianity and blogger Brett McCracken. “For a seminary to take its vast academic resources and put it online for the world’s benefit is not only to be lauded, but it’s to be modeled. More schools should be doing things like this.” …. Read this in full at
NEW AMERICAN BIBLE CHANGES SOME WORDS SUCH AS “HOLOCAUST”
A new edition of one the most popular English-language Bibles will offer substitutes for words such as “booty” and “holocaust” to better reflect modern understanding. Nearly 50 scholars from all faiths and a committee of Roman Catholic bishops have labored since 1994 over the first fresh edition of the New American Bible since 1970, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said.
The annual best-seller to be issued by a dozen publishers beginning on Ash Wednesday “is a beautiful translation — it’s a new way to look at an old love,” said Mary Sperry, who oversees Bible licensing for the bishops.
The changes go beyond a few words being altered, and include freshly-written notes that should help readers better understand the Catholic church’s interpretation of biblical concepts, Sperry said. The Book of Psalms contains over 70,000 words, both text and notes, she said.
The revisions more accurately reflect translations of ancient Hebrew and Greek versions of the Old Testament and the constant evolution of modern-day language, Sperry said. For example, the word “holocaust,” which for most people refers to the World War Two genocide of Jews, was changed to “burnt offerings,” which clarifies the original, positive idea of making offerings to God…. Read this in full at
Also see “Translating the Bible is ‘dangerous’: Words have consequences”
15 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM 50 YEARS OF MINISTRY
by Dr. Charles Swindoll
The following excerpt is from a message delivered on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at the NRB Convention in Nashville, TN (as compiled by Robert Steinhagen):
1. I’ve learned that I should tell people how I feel about them now, not later. Tomorrow may never come.
2. I’ve learned that things that I’m not even aware of are being noticed and remembered by others.
3. I’ve learned that being real is better than looking religious. Authenticity will keep you from a lot of problems.
4. I’ve learned that when you fit, things flow, and when they don’t, they have to be unnaturally forced. When God is in something there is a flow. When I force things there is often an unsatisfying result.
5. I’ve learned that trying to persuade people into or out of a big decision is a mistake…. Read this in full at
BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON QUIET VIOLENCE
“Violence comes in obvious forms – in yellow and purple bruises and shattered bones. We may recognize it in the harshness of words or the impact of a clenched fist. Yet it is beastly and equally harmful … in its less dramatically obvious forms: in cruelty and in crushing the confidence and self-respect rightfully carried by another.
“And then, what of carelessness, where the essence and spirit of a human being are compromised and manipulated for our purposes?… Is this not its own form of violence? … [An] act we can inflict on another even in the absence of evil motives.
“It is what we can do to another in romantic love when we try to make them into something they are not, when we love them for our own sake and not their sake … It is also what we can do in the name of ministry when we try to shape someone into God’s calling on our lives, into what we think she should be and because of what we have done for her…
“For if we beat [those we serve] with our own reflection, even into the worthy callings that God gave to us, what once carried potential to be warm and glowing will instead become dull and colorless… [Each of us] reflects something miraculous – a reflection of God himself.”
Naomi Zacharias in The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of Broken
MOURNERS GATHER AT FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN PASADENA TO REMEMBER JOAN AND SCOTT ADAM, WHO WERE KILLED BY PIRATES OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA
Weeks before Scott and Jean Adam’s yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates, the couple told their friends in a monthly email that they were about to approach the Horn of Africa but were traveling with a large flotilla and didn’t feel afraid of what lay ahead.
The couple had been sailing around the world in their 58-foot yacht, the Quest, for years and joked that they felt more at home on the high seas — even with the risk of pirates — than in their native Southern California.
“She spoke of the dangers of piracy that lay ahead and assured us they were not taking any risks,” said their friend Scott Sternberg. “She said she was more afraid of driving on the 405 freeway. I only wish she’d been right.”
Also see “Fuller President: We’re Proud of Scott Adam’s Christian Witness”
CHRISTIANS SHOULD STAND UP FOR THEIR BELIEFS
British society regards Christians with scorn and is too ready to dismiss believers as bigots who do not have a brain, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s wife.
Jane Williams, a theologian and teacher, said many Christians felt uncomfortable talking about their beliefs and feared that doing so was “not politically correct”. But “lazy” and “scornful” attitudes towards people of faith in Britain must be challenged, she said, urging Christians to be more prepared to “argue our corner”.
Mrs. Williams’s remarks come amid warnings from Church leaders that the prevailing attitudes in politics and human rights law discriminate against Christians…. Read this in full at
CLINTON: MIDEAST RELIGIOUS MINORITIES UNDER THREAT
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is warning that Christians and other religious minorities are being targeted across the Middle East and need protection as many flee their homes to escape repression.
She didn’t say how many people are affected, but noted that sects in several countries are experiencing more persecution. She told lawmakers that attacks are on the rise against Christians and minority Muslim sects from North Africa to South Asia…. Read this in full at
CHRISTIAN LEADERS URGED TO RETHINK TWITTER ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS
Twitter has played an increasing role in organizing revolution and advocating for human rights, but sometimes the limelight doesn’t have the intended effect on the plight of oppressed believers. US government officials and various, high-profile Christian leaders met Mar. 2 for a private conversation about leveraging their voices in social media campaigns.
Christian leaders including Rick Warren and John Piper joined a Twitter campaign in February to raise awareness about Afghan convert Said Musa, who was awaiting execution. “There are some highly volatile situations in the world – and Afghanistan being one of them – where high public attention can actually be detrimental to securing the outcome we want,” said one Christian leader, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the talk. “So we have to, within the Christian community, become more nuanced and informed and interact with each other before making public statements and campaign,” he said, noting that this includes all public communication and not just Twitter…. Read this in full at
THE FOLLY OF ANSWERING FOOLS
by Christopher B. Hays
From beach novels (The Da Vinci Code) to photography (Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ”) to video games (keep reading), Christian outrage and criticism have helped lift numerous works up from obscurity—and made household names of their creators. It’s time to reassess.
In our pop-cultural world, getting noticed is by far the most difficult feat. Any author who monitors his or her Amazon sales rankings can attest as much. Blogs and tweets and vanity presses—which once were supposed to empower the talented but voiceless—have instead created a cacophony from which scarcely any influential voices emerge.
One easy way for an author to break out is to offend Christians — easier, apparently, than writing something beautiful or profound…. Read this in full at
FORMER DODGERS PITCHER MEASURES SUCCESS GOD’S WAY
by Mark Ellis
He was the youngest starting pitcher in Dodgers history, which led to some difficult moments for a fresh-faced kid with high ideals who learned to measure success God’s way.
“I was drawn to God,” says Joe Moeller, who played for the Dodgers between 1962 and 1971 and now is an advance scout for the Florida Marlins.
He felt God’s tug on the heart from his earliest days. At only 8-years-old, he snuck out of his house in Manhattan Beach on Sunday mornings to attend a small church down the street. “My parents had no idea I did that,” he says.
While his mother was a Christian Scientist, his hardworking parents slept late on Sunday mornings and showed little interest in church. “My dad didn’t believe in anything,” he says…. Read this in full at
1. Precious Lord, Take my Hand (And Help Me Get Up)
2. It is Well with My Soul (but my back hurts)
3. Nobody Knows the Trouble I have Seeing
4. Amazing Grace (Considering My Age)
5. Just a Slower Walk With Thee
6. Count Your Many Birthdays, Name Them One by One
7. Go Tell It on the Mountain (And Speak Up)
8. Give Me that Old Timers Religion
9. Blessed Insurance
10. Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah (I’ve forgotten where I parked)
VERSE TO PONDER
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams
ROB BELL’S UPCOMING BOOK ON HEAVEN & HELL STIRS BLOG, TWITTER BACKLASH ON UNIVERSALISM
Mars Hill pastor Rob Bell drew significant attention on Twitter and blogs today after Justin Taylor penned a blog post titled “Rob Bell: Universalist?” on Bell’s upcoming book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.
Taylor, vice president of editorial at Crossway, has not seen Bell’s book (though he read some chapters that were sent to him), but he expressed concern with a video. “[T]his video from Bell himself shows that he is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity,” Taylor wrote.
Taylor pointed to the publishers’ description of the book, which does not come out until March 29 from HarperOne. “With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic — eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins,” part of the description states…. Read this in full at
Also see “Christian author’s book sparks charges of heresy”
and “Heaven, Hell, and Rob Bell: Putting the Pastor in Context”
and “Waiting for Rob Bell” blog post by Scot McNight
EVANGELICALS PUSH BACK ON PROPOSED BUDGET CUTS
Balancing the federal budget at the expense of the poor would be un-Christian, evangelical leaders warned Congress March 3 as they work to reject proposed spending cuts to domestic and foreign aid.
“The Bible says that God has a special concern for the poor,” said Ron Sider, president of the group Evangelicals for Social Action. “This is one of the central biblical teachings.”
The evangelical leaders, convened by the left-leaning group Faith in Public Life, face an uphill challenge in trying to win over fellow evangelicals: a recent poll found that evangelicals are more likely than Americans overall to support cutting foreign aid while also supporting increased military spending…. Read this in full at
17 CAMPUS MINISTRIES SIGN AGREEMENT
by Gordon Govier
Seventeen Christian ministries that work on U.S. college campuses have established a new standard of cooperation and mutual respect for their work with college students and faculty. Meeting in a Chicago suburb last October, leaders of the ministries agreed to 8 basic points of unity in mission aimed at keeping their work on campus cooperative rather than competitive.
The meeting was held at the offices of InterVarsity Press in Westmont, Illinois. The “Chicago Agreement” (The Chicago Agreement is posted online at: http://www.intervarsity.org/sites/default/files/uploaded/Chicago_Agreement2010Final2-16-11.pdf) as it is called, is an update of an earlier agreement forged between leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ, Navigators, Young Life, and InterVarsity, in 1971…. Read this in full at
EGM’S LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM RECEIVES REEL ROSE AWARD BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM
Little Town of Bethlehem (http://littletownofbethlehem.org/), from EthnoGraphic Media (EGM) has been awarded the 2011 Reel Rose Award for Best Documentary Film at the John Paul II International Film Festival. This distinguished film festival, held in south Florida, is modeled after the artistic and humanitarian ideas of the late pope and themed The Mystery of Love.
“We are humbled to receive this honor,” states Little Town of Bethlehem film director Jim Hanon. “Just knowing that we were selected out of a multitude of submissions from around the world is very encouraging.” Produced by Mart Green and directed by Jim Hanon, this full-length documentary shares the gripping story of three men — a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and an Israeli Jew — each born into violence but willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime. Little Town of Bethlehem was filmed on location in the West Bank, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem with a hope to bring awareness to a growing nonviolent movement in the Holy Land that rarely, if ever, makes international headlines. “This kind of recognition for a story that is about a crucial issue of our time is encouraging. As one of the films that brings a message of hope to a world conflict, we believe peaceful solutions may be found.” comments EGM president Bill Oechsler…. Read this in full at
WHY DO SO MANY AMERICANS SUPPORT SAME-SEX ‘MARRIAGE’?
by R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Why does same-sex “marriage” make sense to so many people? The momentum toward the full legalization of same-sex “marriage” seems to intensify with every passing month — or even faster. The moral divide in this nation is now seen most clearly in the distance between those for whom marriage is exclusively heterosexual and thus a settled issue and, on the other hand, those who honestly see the legalization of same-sex “marriage” as a moral mandate required by justice.
Given the venerable status of marriage and its universally established heterosexual character — at least until very recently — the burden of argument falls on the need to explain how such a movement for a moral revolution gained credibility, cultural mass and momentum. How did this happen?
A culture does not consist only of ideas and ideologies, but no culture exists without them. Given the complexity of any culture, a comprehensive map of these ideas, moral intuitions and philosophies is impossible to create. Nevertheless, some patterns are clear enough. We can trace the acceptance of same-sex “marriage” to at least three major ideas that have been shaping the modern mind for some time — and are held to some extent by both social liberals and conservatives…. Read this in full at
“ONE” ORGANIZES APRIL 10 LAZARUS SUNDAY IN CHURCHES NATIONWIDE
ONE (http://www.one.org/faith), the global grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization working to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease, is inviting churches nationwide to participate in Lazarus Sunday on April 10 in an effort to bring awareness of HIV/AIDS and the “Lazarus Effect.”
A term coined by medical professionals, government officials, business leaders and others, the “Lazarus Effect” refers to the 180-degree turn-around that individuals dying from AIDS experience when they are given access anti-retroviral (ARV) treatments. Individual treatments cost about 40 cents a day and produce results within 40 days…. Read this in full at
REDISCOVERED, ANCIENT COLOR IS RECLAIMING ISRAELI INTEREST
One of the mysteries that scholars have puzzled over for centuries is the exact shade of blue represented by “tekhelet,” which the Bible mentions as the color of ceremonial robes donned by high priests and ritual prayer tassels worn by the common Israelite.
What was known about tekhelet (pronounced t-CHELL-et) was that the Talmud said it was produced from the secretion of the sea snail, which is still found on Israeli beaches.
Traditional interpretations have characterized tekhelet as a pure blue, symbolic of the heavens so that Jews would remember God. Not so, according to an Israeli scholar who has a new analysis: tekhelet appears to have been closer to a bluish purple…. Read this in full at
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER LAUDS POPE BENEDICT XVI’S ABSOLVING JEWISH COLLECTIVE GUILT FOR THE DEATH OF JESUS
The Simon Wiesenthal Center applauds Pope Benedict XVI’s forceful arguments against collective Jewish responsibility for the Crucifixion in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth—Part II, released Mar. 2.
“This is a critically important and timely statement by his Holiness, particularly at a time of increased mainstream anti-Semitism around the world,” declared Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Center’s Founder and Dean who has led numerous delegations to Vatican City and had audiences with Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor Pope John Paul II. “As I told his Holiness during our November 2005 meeting at the Vatican, “Prior to (The Nostra Aetate), Jews were often held in contempt and derided as an accursed people. Millions suffered through the ages because there were none to defend them.” …. Read this in full at
ATHEIST ADS: YOU CAN LIVE MORAL, MEANINGFUL LIVES WITHOUT GOD
A humanist group has launched a multimedia ad campaign, declaring that atheists and the nonreligious can live good, meaningful lives without God. “You don’t need God – to hope, to care, to love, to live,” the ad states.
The campaign is sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, an Amherst, N.Y.-based organization whose mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.
CFI president and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay said the ads are aimed at dispelling some myths about the nonreligious. “One common myth is that the nonreligious lead empty, meaningless, selfish, self-centered lives. This is not only false, it’s ridiculous,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, all too many people accept this myth because that’s what they hear about nonbelievers.” CFI asserts that nonreligious people can find meaning in a life that is human-centered, and that reliance on the supernatural is unnecessary…. Read this in full at
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
John C. Maxwell
VERSE TO PONDER
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: I LOVE YOU, CHRIST, MY CRUCIFIED
Words: Eric Schumacher, circa 2004
Music: William Gardiner, 1815
For the redeeming agony
You suffered there on Calvary,
For blood You shed and tears You cried,
I love You, Christ my crucified.
O for Your bruised and bludgeoned frame
That bore my every sin and shame
Which You for me did take and die,
I love You, Christ my crucified.
Yes, for the faithful love You showed,
Which with abundant grace once flowed
Out of Your opened hands and side,
I love You, Christ my crucified.
That You, my King, would suffer scorn
Beneath a crown of twisted thorn,
Then in this rebel’s grave go lie,
I love You, Christ my crucified.
And hearing how You left the grave
Alive and ever strong to save,
And then ascended as the sun,
I love You, Christ my risen one.
O when I see you, risen King,
I’ll do none else but fall to sing
And with my all let this strain rise:
I love You, Christ my glorified.
>from NetHymnal at
“God insists that we ask, not because He needs to know our situation, but because we need the spiritual discipline of asking.”
PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
DAILY BLESSING PACT
Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.
I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Estates & inheritances
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase
“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deut. 28:2).
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