A Denver couple is challenging a city order barring them from holding more than one prayer meeting at their home each month.

So if one week they did a Bible study, the next week a prayer meeting, the next week praise and worship, and the next week a foot washing, then the city would not have a problem with it?

That would be four different functions in the month. Or what if they decided to gather for Monday night football, every week during football season? Would the government come knock on their door and tell them they were breaking an ordinance.  Apparently not, because the administrator of the zoning department is reported to have said that they were only being shut down because the gathering was religious in nature.

Maybe the citizens of Denver need to elect officials who understand freedom of speech and assembly, who have a semi-grasp of the U.S. constitution, and who have the guts to protect and defend it.

In the meantime, I want to encourage people in Denver to hold prayer groups during Monday night football, until they pass a law saying it is illegal to pray for the Denver Broncos. Then, we might see some changes in government.

When the Soviet Union rejected communism, freedom of religion became an accepted part of life.

In one area, where Bibles had been confiscated and stored in warehouses for decades, the churches asked if they could have them. These Bibles belonged to people who loved the Lord and had been persecuted and killed for their faith.

When one church was given permission to have the Bibles, they recruited students from the local university to load them from the warehouse into trucks. One young man, an avowed atheist, agreed to help because the pay was attractive. He ridiculed the church leaders for wanting to distribute mythology again and laughed at their devotion to a simple book.

After a few hours of hard work, they noticed the young man was missing. One of the church members found him sitting in a corner of the warehouse, holding one of the Bibles, weeping quietly. He lifted the book to reveal that the one Bible, he happened to pick up, to continue his ridicule of the Christian faith . . . was his grandmother’s

. Her persecution and death had hardened his heart to God . . . and now . . . the miracle of her living faith had melted it.

I just returned from Mali in Western Africa where 99% of the people are Muslim.

You could safely say it is a Muslim country even though it is not a state-sponsored religion. Every day at certain times, you can hear the bells in the mosques calling people to prayer. And that meant they would stop, kneel, and pray. They were never hesitant to mention God in conversation, or thank him for . . . everything.

It was a very humbling lesson to realize how much more dedicated to their faith they are than most Christians who may give God one hour on Sunday morning. But what is interesting is that no one from a non-Muslim country considers this expression to be fanatic. It is the way they express their sincerely held religious beliefs.

But in America, which was founded as a Christian country, in spite of what revisionists will say, just having a Bible at work, wearing a cross, or mentioning the name of Jesus is considered fanatic behaviour.

Perhaps if Christians became more fanatic with their love of God and their love of their fellow man, their fanaticism would be embraced instead of symbolically ridiculed.

My son asked me once if God answered prayers and I said of course, but for many, prayer has become a one-way conversation with no expectation of an answer.

One Day, I told my son I had written something special for him and I wanted to give it to him later. He said he wanted to hear it then and persisted with the request. In my heart I knew he was distracted and wasn’t ready to receive, but because he petitioned me with such fervor, I couldn’t say no. So I had him sit down and began explaining the significance of what I had written and asked him if he was really ready to receive. He assured me he was and I began reading my gift to him. I glanced up after a couple of lines and saw him playing with his toys, looking around the room and generally not listening.

I paused and analyzed the situation and thought to myself how much like that we are with God. We beg him and beg him to answer us, or impart knowledge or give us a gift of faith or wisdom, and when He is ready to answer our prayers, we are on to the next project.

We need to remember that prayer is a two way street and it is as much about listening as it is talking.

The Box Jellyfish is found off the coast of northern Australia near the Great Barrier Reef.

These fish are deadly when they sting you and the prognosis for recovery is measured in the length of the sting. Precautions are taken along the resort beaches to keep them away from the bathing area. They stretch nets out past where the swimmers are and keep bottles of Clorox in little boxes up and down the beach to put on the smaller, shorter stings. The longer stings require immediate hospitalization.

The most frustrating thing about them is that they are clear and you can’t see them except when you look through the water, to the sand and see their shadow. With this early warning system that signals that danger is near, you can avoid the sting.

That is like the spiritual radar we each possess that alerts us to the impending threat of spiritual affliction. God gives us the ability to discern the shadows in our spirits to know that danger is near. But He also provides the Clorox of the Holy Spirit to heal us if we are stung. But wisdom, insight and vigilance keep the sting of the enemy from being deadly.

There was some controversy swirling around the National Prayer Breakfast last week concerning the attendance of Yasser Arafat. There were many Christians who threatened to boycott if he attended.

My question for these Christians is .. . have they met the person of Jesus Christ? The one who ate with the tax collectors and prostitutes, the one who ministered to the woman at the well when she was considered a social outcast, the one who dined in Zachias’ house.

Jesus came so ALL might have life and have it more abundantly . . . not just people we like, or agree with politically. Believe it or not, Jesus died for Yasser Arafat too.

God is not a respecter of persons, and ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all have a Yasser Arafat in our lives . . . Someone we think is less worthy to receive grace than we are. Well think again.

As a Christian you are called to love God and love your neighbor. Who knows, that person you have condemned, or Yasser even, might be the Saul who becomes Paul. This is Nina May encouraging you to pray for Yasser Arafat not condemn him.

Recently a group of visitors to the U.S. Capitol were told by a Capitol policeman that they could not stand and pray quietly while in the building. He told them that praying was a form of demonstration and it was not allowed.

Let’s forget for a moment that their first amendment rights to free speech, assembly and religious expression were being denied and look at the reality of that statement. Praying is considered demonstrating.

In a way, they are right. The visitors were demonstrating their faith in God, their belief in something greater than themselves and they were demonstrating their humility. They were demonstrating that they have the courage todemonstrate for the world that God is the ultimate power in their lives.

It is ironic that in the structure that was founded on Godly principles and Biblical teachings, that visitors can’t even thank God for their freedoms without those freedoms being denied.

Maybe it is time for the Body of Christ to start demonstrating to the world that prayer is a radical idea that really works.

This is Nina May praying for God’s blessings in your life.

It is interesting to see the number of Bible clubs popping up in schools across America. Many without incident, but most finding road blocks called separation of church and state.

These children are forced to dust off the constitution and highlight the part that says the Government allows free expression, even if its religious. These children have been forced to defend their constitutional rights against adults who think that reading the Bible and praying is particularly harmful to them. Its no coincidence that pre-marital sex has declined too.

This is not necessarily because of Bible classes. But both of these situations are a direct result of the natural state of man questioning authority. So as the adults have created an environment of free sex and accessible birth control, while banning moral teaching . . . they have created an interesting back lash.

Kids are now curious about this banned-book called the Bible, and think that being a virgin is far more rebellious than having pre-marital sex. There’s hope . . . this might be the generation that brings sanity back to America.

The Golden Rule is not taught in the public schools because of its religious content.

The characteristics of love, compassion, humility, faith, and gentleness are not religious precepts. They are the characteristics that God has etched on each of our hearts. That truth, although taught by many religions, and called by many names, is the inherent and undeniable truth of God’s ultimate purpose in each person’s life.

As women, we can chose to embrace these qualities and rise from obscurity in the eyes of the world, to positions of great height in the eyes of God. Or we can wallow in self-pity, condemnation and intolerance.

The women of the world are at a crossroads and can chose to be numbered in the camp of victim, or they can turn their hurt, pain and anger into life and love.

The Renaissance Women want to inspire women to nurture, support, and encourage other women to seek their better angels within themselves and appeal to that side of man which responds best to love.