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Posts tagged ‘faith’

Putting Feet to Prayer – a Stillspeaking Devotional

Putting Feet to Our Faith(s)

Romans 12:2

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what [God] wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)

Reflection by Vance Taylor

“Every Christian should carry a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” This powerful call to prayerful action has been attributed to a wide array of political theologians and theological politicians, including Abraham Kuyper, Karl Barth, Billy Graham and Chuck Colson. Fact-checkers, not to worry, since what’s said is more important than who said it.

Yes, it’s perfectly fine not only to discuss religion and politics, but also to allow religion to inform politics, especially in those societies founded on separation of church and state. Modeling ourselves after Jesus Christ, we Christians are called to be the moral compass and corrective of our culture, speaking and acting prophetically, challenging conformity, spending more time and effort engaging, rather than embracing, many of the generally-accepted thoughts and practices of the day.

And I think our opening quotation has just as much relevancy if we replace “Christian” with “Jew” or “Muslim” or “person of faith,” and “Bible” with “Torah” or “Qur’an” or “sacred text.” People of faith, regardless of their particular practice, need to view the world through the lens of their religious beliefs. Then through our words, our deeds and our votes apply those beliefs to helping transform present reality into the Kingdom of Christ, or G_d, or Allah or other deity. We need to do so with great sensitivity, practicing mutual respect and understanding in the midst of pluralism, that we may all be one in our mission of local and global betterment. Focusing on our divinity will bring out the best in our humanity.


O God of Many Names, may I actively seek your will for me and for all humanity. And in my transformation, guide me to help leave your world a little better than the way I found it. May it be so!
Vance Taylor

About the Author
Vance Taylor is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a commercial real estate agent. Born and raised in the UCC, he resides with his family in Madison, Connecticut


“The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; [the Lord] upholds the orphan and the widow.”
– Psalm 146:7-9

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Vote for My Jesus?

From 2006, another thot to ponder as “we” prepare to vote:

Thursday, November 02, 2006
Becky Garrison: Vote for My Jesus?

As we gear up for the upcoming presidential election battles, once again Sojourners reminded me that God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat. In lieu of the plethora of partisan propaganda I often receive from both the Religious Right and the progressive left, I welcome their biblically based voting guide that outlines the Christian principles on a range of social issues.

Even though I want to cast my vote for God’s Politics, I have to ask myself, could our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ever be considered a viable candidate for public office?

The answer is, alas, a resounding, “No.”

According to conventional political wisdom, casting a vote for Christ would be akin to going green in 2000. For starters, the Sermon on the Mount speech (see Matthew 5-7) would lose the Soccer Mom, the NASCAR dad, and whatever other idealized demographic pollsters have determined must be placated in order for a candidate to procure their political prize.

Then you have the touchy subject of Jesus’ entourage, a group consisting of tax collectors, fishermen, and a host of undesirables. (Can you just picture all the Christian conspiracy books blasting the behavior of Jesus’ cabinet, as well as his scandalous encounters with unsavory women?)

Let’s not forget Jesus’ temple-turning tirade. How can a political party sponsor a candidate who can’t even be trusted to go to a fundraising event and behave in front of those all-important special-interest groups who are needed to finance the cost of mounting a political campaign? Besides, Jesus doesn’t even own the right Armani suit and tie needed to gain entrance into all the right clubs.

While today’s politicos are obsessed with advancing their own agenda, as Brian McLaren notes in A Generous Orthodoxy, Jesus didn’t overturn the tables “so that all the wrongs could be excluded.” No. Jesus turned the tables and scattered the doves and coins so that the temple could once again become a house of prayer for all nations – an inclusive place that welcomes all into the transforming mystery of prayer and worship, not only the “already right” or the “rich in spirit.”

This idea may be seen as radical to those who feel that the kingdom of God should be open only to a privileged few. But this radical rule-breaker and love-maker broke down all race and class barriers, bringing together into one body of believers such diverse individuals as tax collectors, fishermen, and prostitutes. Throughout his ministry, Jesus ignored conventional wisdom by healing on the Sabbath, treating women as equals, and celebrating “the least of these.” By following this way of life, the risen Christ and his followers transformed the world.

The challenge I present for us as Christians is to do likewise.


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This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

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Why Christians should celebrate Darwin

I beleive, affirm, an d avow that “ALL Truth is God’s Truth”

I think I was in fith grade – back in the Stone-Age – when I first heard any Christians having a probkem wuth the Theory of Evolution. I may have been a tiny bit brighter than my fellow students, but even I knew that was “kinda stupid”.

Even I knew that the Bible was about God “doing things”, and Science was about “explaining how things” happen. How could there be a contradiction between the Bible and Science?

It was like saying that an appke wasn’t food because it was mashed potatoes, to me.

This article confirms what the 10 year old me thought.

(BTW” Hippie needs to point out this is yet another “post” from my files, and was orginally seen on my old MySpace blog in 2009. I hope all he URLs in the article are still “live”.)

Why Christians should celebrate Darwin
By Denis Alexander
12 Feb 2009

One of the deep mysteries of the early 21st century is why one set of Christians go round churches trying to persuade another set of Christians to reject the theory of evolution. This is in a world of incalculable need, both material and spiritual. Trying to persuade Christians to disbelieve Darwinism soaks up huge resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

The mystery deepens when one remembers three important facts. The first is that scientific theories become established or fall by the wayside as a result of publishing evidence in peer-reviewed journals, not by popular vote. So if someone has a problem with a theory, there is only one way to critique it properly, and that is to take the hard road of becoming a research scientist, and then to publish ideas supported (or not) by data in good journals.

Far from being a ‘holy cow’, evolution is no less immune to counter-evidence than any other theory, and any scientist publishing hard data significantly undermining Darwinian evolution (rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian, human foot-prints besides dinosaur foot-prints, variation in genetic codes between species, that kind of thing) would be an instant celebrity.

The second fact which highlights the mystery of the anti-Darwinian crusade is that evolutionary theory has been hugely strengthened over the past decade by the advent of genomics: the sequencing of the DNA of hundreds of living organisms, including ourselves, revealing a mass of new data that can only be explained by an evolutionary history, and establishing beyond any reasonable doubt our own common inheritance with the apes.

In other words, Christian opposition to Darwinism has increased at precisely the time when Darwin’s theory is being most powerfully supported by new discoveries. The complete DNA sequence of the wonderful platypus, published in Nature on 8 May 2008, provides further stunning information about evolutionary history.

Of course biologists still argue about the mechanisms of speciation; whether natural selection is at the level of the gene, the genome, the organism, or even the group; and about the details of different evolutionary lineages.
It is good there is still so much to sort out; otherwise many would be out of a job. But biologists are in no doubt that the evolutionary account is broadly correct, and indeed the theory provides the framework within which all current biological research is carried out.

The third fact that deepens the mystery even further, is that this anti-Darwinian crusade is a very modern phenomenon. Mainstream denominations in the 19th century were rather quick to baptise evolution into the Christian doctrine of creation.

The historian James Moore writes that “with but few exceptions the leading Christian thinkers in Britain and America came to terms quite readily with Darwinism and evolution”, and the American historian George Marsden reports that “with the exception of Harvard’s Louis Agassiz, virtually every American Protestant zoologist and botanist accepted some form of evolution by the early 1870s.”

Ironically, among the writers of the Fundamentals, that mass-produced series of twelve booklets published in the period 1910–15 which later contributed to the emergence of the term ‘fundamentalism’, we find a number of evangelical writers firmly committed to Darwinism, such as Benjamin Warfield, who called himself a “Darwinian of the purest water”, James Orr and the geologist George Wright.

Creationism is largely a late 20th century phenomenon, at least in Europe. Groups did not go round churches trying to persuade Christians to disbelieve in evolution in the 1960s. Now that’s quite common. Something has changed.

So what is it that has changed? From a sociological perspective, the phenomenon looks less mysterious. There is a very familiar process in the history of science whereby interest groups move in to utilise the prestige of scientific theories in support of their particular ideology.

Unfortunately the end result is that in the public consciousness the actual meaning of the label given to the theory itself changes, and so ‘Theory X’ becomes socially transformed into ‘Theory Y’ with all kinds of philosophical barnacles attached to it.

Evolution has suffered particularly badly from this kind of process and has been used in support of virtually every kind of ‘ism’ imaginable, including socialism, capitalism, racism, eugenics, and atheism. As George Bernard Shaw once remarked, Darwin “had the luck to please everybody who had an axe to grind”.

Ideological transformations need various kinds of energy inputs to nurture and sustain them, and in this context Richard Dawkins et al have done a great job by seeking to invest evolution with a radical atheist agenda, thereby unwittingly supplying fuel for the creationist cause.

“Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin”, claims Dawkins, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”.

The philosopher Daniel Dennett proclaims that “Evolution is not a process that was designed to produce us”. In his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea Dennett pictures evolution as a “universal acid” destroying in its path any basis for ultimate meaning and purpose in life.

No wonder creationists are so active. Who wants a universal acid flowing down their street and into the front door of their homes and churches?
The first and important response to all this is to knock the philosophical barnacles off the theory of evolution in order to allow it to do its important scientific task: to explain the origins of biological diversity on this planet.

Evolution as a biological theory has no ideological implications. It simply represents the inference to the best explanation to account for a huge mass of disparate data that spans a great array of different disciplines.

Scientific theories are like maps that join up many different types of data to render them coherent. Evolution provides a brilliant historical narrative to make sense of biological life on this planet in all its remarkable variety.

The other narrative, the Christian doctrine of creation, refers not mainly to the origins of things, but why they exist. The biblical claim is that there is only one great duality, that which exists between the Creator and everything else. God is transcendent, distinct from the created order, but at the same time also immanent in its every aspect. All things exist by the creative and sustaining power of the Word of God.

So all that scientists can describe is the out-working of God’s will, mediated through secondary causes, for there is nothing else to investigate. But the narrative that they provide is complementary to the creation narrative, which addresses a different set of questions: why has God brought all things into existence? Why are we here and what is our future?

Biologists who seek to invest evolution with an atheistic agenda have simply missed the point. It is not that evolution cannot be presented in a way that appears compatible with atheism. Of course it can. But equally you can baptise evolution into virtually any world-view you like and it will fit comfortably within most.

In other words, scientific data are simply unable to adjudicate between different metaphysical world-views, which have to be assessed on different grounds.

Asking a different kind of question is more useful: “Is evolution consistent with a particular world-view?” This is the type of question that scientists often ask in the discussion sections of their papers when assessing their data in relation to rival theories.

Christian thought does rather well in answering that kind of enquiry in the evolutionary context. If there is a God with intentions and purposes for creation, then we expect order, directionality and the emergence of personhood. This is precisely what evolution delivers. Taken overall it is far from being a chance process, with design space repeatedly filling up with organisms living within the constraints of particular ecological niches.

Very similar organs, structures and biochemical pathways evolved independently many times in the remarkable phenomenon known as convergence, because these are what you need to flourish in a given niche. On a planet of light and darkness you need eyes, so eyes are what you’ll get, and indeed compound and camera eyes have evolved independently more than twenty times.

The arrow of biological time also displays a marked increase in complexity over its 3.8 billion years, leading eventually to the recent (past 2 million years) remarkable explosion in brain size, and the emergence of humankind with the most complex known entity in the universe located between the ears, equipped to pray, worship and know God. Such a historical narrative seems quite consistent with the creation narrative that the biblical narrative provides.

Likewise creationists are wrong in thinking that if you accept evolution, then somehow basic Christian doctrines will be watered down or even jettisoned. That is not my experience, nor do I observe that happening in the lives of my many Christian colleagues who are evolutionary biologists.

But Christians do need to pay serious attention to the way that the scientific and theological accounts relate to each other: we cannot take the intellectually lazy route of keeping the narratives in watertight compartments.

I take the early chapters of Genesis to represent a profound theological essay, written using figurative language, that is foundational to our understanding of the rest of the Bible. It is not scientific literature.

Indeed it cannot be scientific literature because this only began to emerge as a more specialised form of language two thousand years later with the founding of the first scientific journals, and the further specialisation of this scientific genre of literature has been continuing ever since.

Understanding of our own evolutionary lineage has been steadily improving over the past 50 years, taking something of a leap forward with the completion of the Human Genome project in 2003.

Our genomes are littered with the fossil evidence of our evolutionary history, including thousands of pseudogenes, genes that are functional in other mammals, but switched off in humans because we don’t need them; retroviral insertions in which a virus has left its leaving card in a primate ancestor millions of years ago, a stretch of DNA faithfully replicated ever since; and transposons (‘jumping genes’) that act as similar signatures of our inheritance. We are all walking fossil museums; every cell of our body contains a little history book, written in the language of DNA.

As we engage with Darwin’s double anniversary in 2009 (birth: 1809; Origin of Species, 1859) my hope is that Christians will be celebrating Darwin enthusiastically, for he has provided us with a great theory that provides the framework for all contemporary biological and biomedical research.

All truth is God’s truth. But Christians have an extra reason to celebrate: creation theology (as distinct from creationism) places the evolutionary narrative within the larger scheme of God’s purposes. Thankfully there is more to life than biology.
© Denis Alexander is director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where he is a Fellow. His latest book is Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (Monarch, August 2008). Dr Alexander was previously Chairman of the Molecular Immunology Programme and Head of the Laboratory of Lymphocyte Signalling and Development at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge.

Faraday Institute website: http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/index.php

People often say with pride, “I’m not interested in politics.” They might as well say, “I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.”
    — Martha Gellhorn, writer/journalist   (1908-1998)

Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

‘God does not share his love between all of his creatures; He gives *all* of his love to *each* of His creatures!’ (Hugh of St. Victor).


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Hippie Rant: School Prayer

One of the folks on my “friends” keeps sending out to this Hippie e-mail about “putting God back in America”.

You have no idea how hard it to refrain from responding with “I don’t know where YOUR God went, but MINE never left.”

I know some people think that for “God to be in the country”, we need all kinds of public displays of “piety”. These displays should include, but would not be limited to all the little children reciting a Pledge with the word “god” in it, and there being school endorsed, promoted, public prayer in public schools.

I think I posted early on in my blog my problems with (and an alternative to) having children reciting mindlessly any sort of Pledge….wuth refrences to the Divine or not.

But most people are surprised when I tell them I am opposed to “School Prayer”….

“How can you, a Christian, be opposed to prayer in the pub;ic schools??!!!??”

“How can you, a Christian, be for it when Jesus clearly condemed that kind of prayer?”

“Where did you come up with THAT?”

“The Bible…particularly the Gospels of Matthew and Luke..you otta try reading them sometime. Jesus had some specific thinhs to say about how and when His followers should pray…”

Well I think you must be taking something out of context, or reading what you wamt to into His words, or….

Okay…this is one more of those cases that Bible literalists decide that that the text isn’t to be taken literally… but let’s leave that arguement alone for now…

Thjere are some practical reasons a “believer” should be more than hesitant to push for “School Prayer”, and the following certainly should help to make that clear:

Letter from Juan (author unknown)

JUAN NINGUNO, and old preacher-friend of mine from days past, sent me a letter not long ago. His letters are always fantastic (in the sense of the primary meaning of that word). I never know when I’ll hear from Juan. He moves around a lot – mostly in almost forgotten places where I myself have journeyed. This letter was sent from Nevada. Allow me to share it with you:

Dear John,
As you know, we’ve been working real hard in our town to get prayer back in the schools. Finally, the school board approved a plan of teacher-led prayer with the children participating at their own option. Children not wishing to participate were to be allowed to stand out in the hallway during the prayer time. We hoped someone would sue us so we could go all the way to the Supreme Court and get that old devil-inspired ruling reversed.

Naturally, we were all excited by the school board’s action. As you know, our own little Billy (not so little, any more, though) is now in the second grade. Of course, Margaret and I explained to him no matter what the other kids did, he was going to stay in the classroom and participate.

After the first day of school, I asked him, “How did the prayer time go?”


“Did many kids go out into the hallway?”


“Excellent. How did you like your teacher’s prayer?”

“It was different, Dad. Real different from the way you pray.”

“Oh? Like how?”

“She said, ‘Hail, Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…'”

The next day I talked with the principal. I politely explained I wasn’t prejudice against Catholics but I would appreciate Billy being transferred to a non-Catholic teacher. The principal said it would be done right away.

At supper that evening I asked Billy to say the blessings. He slipped out of his chair, sat cross-legged on the floor, closed his eyes, raised his hands palms up and began to hum.

You’d better believe I was at the principal’s office at eight o’clock the next morning. “Look,” I said. “I don’t really know much about these Transcendental Meditationists, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if you could move Billy to a room where the teacher practices and older, more established religion.'”

That afternoon I met Billy as soon as he walked in the door after school.

“I don’t think your going to like Mrs. Nakasone’s prayer, either, Dad.”

“Out with it.”

“She kept calling God ‘O Great Budda…'”

The following morning I was waiting for the principal in the school parking lot. “Look, I don’t want my son praying to the Eternal Spirit of whatever or to Buddha. I want him to have a teacher that prays in Jesus’ name!”

“What about Bertha Smith?”


I could hardly wait to hear about Mrs. Smith’s prayer. I was standing on the front steps of the school when the final bell rang.

“Well?” I asked Billy as we walked towards the car.


“Okay what?”

“Mrs. Smith asked God to bless us and ended her prayer in Jesus name, amen – just like you.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “Now we’re getting some place.”

“She even taught us a verse of scripture about prayer,” said Billy.

I beamed. “Wonderful. What was the verse?”

“Let’s see…” he mused for a moment. ” ‘And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.'”

We had reached the car. “Fantastic,” I said, reaching for the door handle. Then I paused. I couldn’t place the scripture. “Billy, did Mrs. Smith say what book that verse was from?”

“Third Nephi, chapter 19, verse 18.”

“Third what?”

“Nephi,” he said, “It’s in the Book of Mormon.”

The school board doesn’t meet for a month. I’ve given Billy very

definite instructions that at prayer time each day he’s to go out into the hallway. I plan to be at that board meeting. If they don’t do something about this situation, I’ll sue. I’ll take it all the way to the Supreme Court if I have to. I don’t need the schools or anybody else teaching my son about religion. We can take care of that ourselves at home and at church,
thank you very much.

Give my love to Sandi and the boys.
Your buddy,


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The Bible in Fifty Words


The Bible in Fifty Words

God made, Adam bit, Noah arked, Abraham split, Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled, Bush talked, Moses balked; Pharaoh plagued, people walked. Sea divided, tablets guided, Promise landed. Saul freaked, David peeked, prophets warned, Jesus born. God walked, love talked, anger crucified, hope died. Love rose, Spirit flamed, Word spread, God remained.


Reinhold Niebuhr

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Source: Theologian, 1892-1971


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Product Placement

I have no true knowledge where this came from, it seems to have been put in my files in 2002!! – Ninure da Hippie

Some Bible translations can indeed get WAY out of hand (yes, this is a joke and not a serious translation):

The Product Placement Bible
Dear Mr. Madison:

You’re a shrewd advertiser. You’ve run television and radio ads.
You’ve bought product placement in movies. You’ve paid to make your
Website the #1 hit on every OpenText search. You’ve supported the
freedom of speech that made this country great by buying product
placement in books. Maybe you’ve even helped shape young minds by
putting your logo on the walls of the public schools. But now, for a
limited time only, you can put your corporate name on something even
more sacred than public education by sponsoring a brand new
translation of the Bible. Many placements have been sold, but a few
are still available. Act now to secure your space.

Rates: New Testament $5000 per verse; Old Testament $6500 per verse.
(The Old Testament has a wider audience, since it reaches Jewish as
well as Christian consumers. Your placement in the Original Testament
will automatically appear in our Product Placement Tanakh, available
early next year.) Red-letter costs $500 extra per word. Call for
Apocrypha rates.

Thanks to our hostile takeover of the Gideons, we are proud to
announce that your advertisement in the Product Placement Bible will
appear in hotel rooms around the world. So act now!

Sample Advertisements

Genesis 3:22
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to
know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take
also of the Mentos, and eat, and become fresh with me….

Genesis 9:12-15
And McDonald’s said, This is the token of the covenant which I make
between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for
perpetual generations: I do set my arches in the cloud, and it shall
be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And I will
remember my covenant, and the coffee shall no longer be heated to one
hundred and eighty degrees to destroy thy flesh.

1 Kings 17:6
And the ravens brought Oroweat Bread and Spam unto Elijah in the
morning, and Oroweat Bread and Spam in the evening; and he drank of
the Coca-Cola.

Job 38:1-6 and 42:1-6
Then Intel answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Where wast
thou when I cast the wafer of the Pentium chip? Declare, if thou hast
understanding. Who hath made the floating-point processor thereof, if
thou knowest?… Then Job answered Intel, and said, Who is he that
asks corrections for insignificant bugs? Therefore have I uttered
what I understood not.

Psalms 23:5
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
thou anointest my head with Brylcream; my Super Big Gulp runneth

Ecclesiastes 12:12
Of making many Ziff-Davis magazines there is no end; and much posting
to Usenet is a weariness to the wrists.

Song of Solomon 1:2-3
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for thy love is better
than Miller Genuine Draft.

Song of Solomon 4:2
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely; thy
temples are like a piece of Sunkist Navel Orange amid thy locks.

Matthew 2:11
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with
Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him; and when they had
opened their Samsonite travelling bags, they presented unto him
gifts; Obsession for Men, and Lady Speed Stick, and a genuine 10
carat gold filled necklace from the Home Shopping Channel for only

Matthew 7:9-10
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask for Barbie, will he
give him a Tammy? Or if he ask for a Tickle Me Elmo, will he give him
an Erector set? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts
unto your children, how much more shall the Wheel of Fortune give
luxury cars and cash prizes to them that win them?

Matthew 8:22
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me, and let James Brothers Funeral
Homes bury the dead.

Matthew 10:29
Are not two Original Buffalo Wings sold for a quarter? And yet one of
these is not sold without a discount coupon. Fear ye not therefore,
ye are of more value than many chickens.

Matthew 15:17-20
And they say unto him, we have here but five Lender’s bagels, and two
Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks. He said, bring them hither unto me. And he
commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five
loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he took out his
Motorola cellular phone and called Domino’s Pizza. And they did all
eat, and were filled; and they took up of the slices that remained
twelve boxes full for breakfast.

Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
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