to man to God
you feel insecure, then it must be that you are looking inward at
yourself rather than upward at Jesus Christ.”
ROB BELL TO LEAVE MARS HILL CHURCH
Rob Bell has decided to leave Mars Hill Church, the Grandville, MI megachurch he and his wife founded 12 years ago, to focus on a broader audience, the church announced Sept. 22.
Flickering Pixels author Shane Hipps will take over for Bell during spring 2012 after Bell finishes his series on Acts in December.... Read this in full at
BIBLE TRANSLATOR LAUNCHES 40 DAYS OF PRAYER CAMPAIGN
The Wycliffe Bible Translator 40 Days of Prayer campaign is underway. The organization's goal is to ensure that every person has access to the Bible in his or her own language.
According to Wycliffe Bible Translator USA, there are more than 6,800 languages spoken in the world, but only 469 communities have access to the entire Bible in their native language.
This year, Wycliffe USA wants to gather as many people to focus prayer on the Bible translation process as possible. Supporters of the 40-day journey can receive prayer updates via email or by accessing the organization's Pray Today blog.
Members of Wycliffe USA work to translate Scripture, train field personnel and promote the interest in translation.... Read this in full at
THE NEW COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE HAPPENED ONLY BECAUSE OF 21ST CENTURY TECHNOLOGY
Jerome died more than 1500 years ago, he had laboriously translated the Bible into Latin, taking more than 20 years working within the confined technology of the late 4th century. Considered the patron saint of all translators, today the Feast of St. Jerome is celebrated Sept. 30 as International Translation Day to highlight the degree of difficulty in translating from one language to another.
Electricity, the Internet, and instant global communication have allowed immense strides in communicating across languages, including new Bible translations like the Common English Bible, (http://CommonEnglishBible.com), in which 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world joined together to clearly translate, in record time, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages from thousands of centuries ago into the English of today. See an interactive Google Map showing the locations of the translators (http://j.mp/p5aiO0).
"Even the usual Bible translation schedule is not for the timid," says Paul Franklyn, PhD, associate publisher for the Common English Bible. "Accomplishing it in less than four years requires extra stamina—and modern technology." Less than four years is phenomenal when compared with other recent modern English Bible translations that took 10–17 years to complete.... Read this in full at
GLOBAL VOICES OF NONVIOLENCE 2011
EthnoGraphic Media is conducting Global Voices of Nonviolence, a 12-day global conversation that kicked-off on the UN International Day of Peace, Sept. 21 with live events in Washington DC and London (UK), the online premiere of the award-winning nonviolence documentary Little Town of Bethlehem, and a live panel discussion streamed online.... Read this in full at
THE CONFESSION OF A GRACE ABUSER
by Clare De Graaf
Here’s what goes on in my head and heart whenever I’m tempted to sin; I’m not talking about the automatic, unkind word that springs from my lips, or a lustful thought that came out of nowhere but lingers too long, sin. I’m talking about me contemplating a sin, even for a few minutes that I know full well is wrong (a felony in my hierarchy of sins). Why is it a spiritually mature man, would ever choose to sin?
Because I know there’s always GRACE. And, so do you.
And there have been times I’ve used my “grace card” like it was some kind of unlimited hall pass that allows me to go anywhere or do anything without fear of the consequences.... Read this in full at
HOCKEY PLAYER'S FAITH KEEPS HIM POSITIVE DESPITE TOUGH TIMES
Winnipeg Jets right-winger Eric Fehr's NHL career has not been what one might call a breezy afternoon skate in the park.
Since he entered the league in 2005, Fehr has never played a full season. In 2007-08, he missed almost the entire year after undergoing back surgery. The last couple of seasons he's battled shoulder problems and played 61 games in 2008-09, 69 games in 2009-10 and 52 games last season.
So for Fehr, playing in Winnipeg is new in many ways.
But it will be a bit old, too. And that's a good thing. Even when he played five seasons with the Washington Capitals, he maintained his permanent home in Winnipeg. With the Jets return to the Manitoba capital, he's also back near family and friends, close to his hometown south of the city and near a church that's welcoming and comfortable.... Read this in full at
WHERE RELIGION AND BUSINESS DO MIX
by Vereronica Dagher
Talking about religion is often seen as taboo in business. But not for some financial advisers. In fact, many of them argue that it's crucial to speak with clients about their religion or spirituality, as a way to gain a full understanding of their financial goals.
"You can't properly plan without addressing this issue," says Martin Shenkman, a Paramus, NJ, estate-planning attorney.
To be sure, religion is a subject to be approached carefully with clients. Some may not want to discuss it at all, others only in a very limited way. But some advisers say that talking about religion can help clients and advisers clarify financial goals — as well as develop appropriate strategies to reach those goals.... Read this in full at
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY LAYS OFF 49 MORE WORKERS
Focus on the Family on Sept. 16 announced the layoff of 49 more employees due to decreased donations, bringing down the number of employees to less than half it had in 2002.
This new 7% staff reduction in the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based pro-family group brought the employee number to 650, down from a 2002 peak of 1,400 people, according to The Denver Post.
“God has never promised us a certain budget number. We’re sad today but not distraught about the future,” FOTF Vice President Gary Schneeberger was quoted as saying. “Even in these bad economic times people who care about the ministry gave us more than $90 million. We’ve been able to help tens of thousands of families with their marriages, raising their kids and walking in their faith. Our commitment to that mission is unabated.”
Focus on the Family’s budget for fiscal year 2008-2009 was $160 million, which came down to $138 million in 2009-2010. For the fiscal year 2010-2011 ending Sept. 30, it further shrunk to $105 million, and now officials project it will receive donations of only $90 million to $95 million.... Read this in full at
'MACHINE GUN PREACHER' UNDER HEAVY FIRE
While Sam Childers travels around North America promoting Machine Gun Preacher, a movie that opened Sept. 23 based on his life story, the orphanage he founded in South Sudan is under fire from the community and local government for alleged neglect of the nearly 150 children who live there.
Witnesses have said that the children at Shekinah Fellowship Children's Village are malnourished, unhealthy, and unhappy. Several locals—including pastors, government officials, and a high-ranking member of the military—tell Christianity Today that Childers has exaggerated or outright lied about his work in the African nation.... Read this in full at
3 LESSONS FROM TOPPLING THE OUTHOUSE
“Many years ago, a little boy lived in the country, out in a rural part of West Texas. For facilities, his family had to use an outhouse, and the boy hated it because it was hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and stunk all the time. Well, one afternoon after a hard spring rain, the little creek [near the outhouse] became so swollen that the boy decided it was his perfect chance to get rid of the much-hated outhouse. [He pushed] until the outhouse toppled backward into the creek and floated away.
“That evening, his dad [threatened a punishment for the boy, without explanation]. The boy decided to play innocent and asked why. His father replied, ‘Someone pushed the outhouse into the creek today. It was you, wasn't it, son?’ The boy thought for a moment, switched strategies, and answered, ‘Yes. [But] Dad, I read in school last week that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn't get into trouble because he told the truth.’ His dad said, ‘Well, son, George Washington's father wasn't in that cherry tree!’
“While you may have never pushed an outhouse into a creek with your dad in it, all of us can identify with this story in at least three ways:
* There is something inside us that wants to do things our own way, no matter what the consequences. The Bible refers to this as the realm of "the flesh."
* Our lack of goodness affects other people, not just us. [And] most of us have been in a lot of outhouses that have been pushed over by sinful people.
* None of us get away with keeping our sinful acts secret. In fact, we often end up sinning more — lying and deceiving — to cover up the reality of our bad choices.
knows we will break his rules — rules that he established to
help us live well and treat each other with kindness and respect.
It breaks his heart when this happens, but it doesn't prevent him
from giving us the most remarkable gift he can give: forgiveness.
But he can only do this if we acknowledge what we've done and
refuse to rationalize our way out of it. One of the great promises
in the Bible is this: "If we confess our sins, [God] is
faithful and just and will forgive us our sins." God is more
interested in how we respond to breaking the rules than in simply
punishing us for disobeying. He wants to know what is in our
hearts — are we humble and teachable and willing to learn
from our mistakes, or are we proud and defensive and oblivious to
our need for God's mercy and love?”
AFTER YEARS OF LOSS, ONLY THE STRONG CHRISTIAN STORES SURVIVE
“Struggling,” challenging,” “difficult” — these are the words used to characterize the current state of Christian retailing. It’s a story that has unfolded over the past 10 to 15 years, mirroring what general-interest indies experienced earlier — hundreds of stores closing and a shrinking cohort of booksellers.
The downward spiral began when, in the early 1990s, the new chain bookstores began to carry Christian books in significant numbers. While once Christian bookstores were the only places these books could be found, suddenly sales were siphoned off as Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million began to stock bestsellers like the Left Behind series and Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life, as well as popular genres like prairie romances. Wal-Mart, Costco, and Sam’s Club also got into the act, selling top titles at prices Christian specialty stores couldn’t match. It was great news for publishers, but a death knell for many stores.
Another body blow was the loss of the music segment of their business to digital downloads. Music once brought in a significant percentage of the revenue at the average Christian store, with some having up to 50% of their inventory in music. When those sales went away, so did many stores.... Read this in full at
'58: THE FILM' CALLS CHRISTIANS TO FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL POVERTY, INJUSTICE
A new film, based on God's call in Isaiah 58 to “loose the chains of injustice” and provide for the poor, puts a face on the problem of global poverty and oppression, and calls Christians to act on their faith.
“58: The Film” was filmed over the course of two years in 15 different countries, and is set to begin showing in October in select theaters, on iTunes, on television and in major church screenings. It features powerful stories of the poor and of those who are out to help them. Audiences will be introduced to individuals who live on the drought-ridden Ethiopian plains and in the slums of Kenya. There are also stories of people surrounded by gang violence, chemical addictions, the sex trafficking trade and more.... Read this in full at
POLL: PASTORS SAY DENOMINATIONS ARE 'VITAL' BUT WILL BECOME LESS SO IN FUTURE
Three-quarters of pastors with denominational affiliation believe it is vital to be part of a denomination, but a majority also believe that the importance of identifying with a denomination will diminish over the next 10 years.
That is the finding of a survey by LifeWay Research of more than 900 American Protestant pastors. The survey excluded pastors of nondenominational churches.
In response to the statement, "Personally, I consider it vital for me to be part of a denomination," three-quarters of pastors (76%) agree. That includes 57% who strongly agree and 19% who somewhat agree. Ten percent somewhat disagree and 14% strongly disagree while 1% don't know.... Read this in full at
FAILING CHURCHES FIND NEW LIFE AS OUTPOSTS FOR MEGACHURCHES
Five years ago, Living Word Church in Alabama had dwindled to 40 members, had lost its founding pastor and was unable to pack more than about 80 people into its 280-seat sanctuary and unsure of the future.
Now, it’s part of one of the nation’s largest megachurches — and could serve as a model for the thousands of small US churches that are closed every year.
“The story’s pretty amazing,” said the Rev. Layne Schranz, associate pastor at Church of the Highlands, a Birmingham megachurch that attracts an average of more than 13,500 across its six campuses.
After the merger, teams from Church of the Highlands spent six weeks renovating the building, expanding parking and adding technology for its heavy emphasis on video feeds. Highlands then sent a worship team to lead weekly services at what was now the megachurch’s Riverchase campus.... Read this in full at
A ROUGH DECADE FOR AMERICAN CONGREGATIONS
A new decade-long survey of American congregations shows religious health and vitality are weaker than they were 10 years ago. While the survey showed that many congregations are adopting new technologies and innovative worship, there were steep drops in financial health and attendance at weekly worship services.
The Hartford Institute for Religion Research released the study's findings Sept. 17 in a report titled "A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000 – 2010" authored by David A. Roozen.
In the measured decade, churches, temples and synagogues told surveyors that congregations that were innovative and contemporary showed the highest amount of "high spiritual vitality."
Forty-seven percent of congregations that said their worship experience was "innovative and contemporary" reported high spiritual vitality, versus 17% that said their congregations were "neither innovative nor contemporary." .... Read this in full at
MAX LUCADO CONVINCED THAT COMPASSION IS THE CHURCH'S BEST APOLOGETIC
After more than 20 years of pastoring and discipling Christians, bestselling author Max Lucado is delving into a new apologetics – compassion. "This whole idea of compassion being the best apologetic has really captured my heart," he said.
It was some four to six years ago when Third Day band member Tai Anderson asked Lucado a challenging question. "When your great grandchildren learn that you lived in a day in which a billion people were hungry and 27,000 people die every day of preventable diseases, how would they gauge your response?" "The Lord used that question to wake me up," Lucado said.... Read this in full at
THE PERFECTION OF ENGLISH AND THE MAKING OF THE KJB
by David E. Anderson
At the end of the “almost entirely secular” funeral for singer Michael Jackson, Pastor Lucious Smith, in a concluding prayer, reminded mourners that “even now the King of Pop must bow his knee to the King of Kings. And we pray that you would remind us, Lord, that our lives are but dust.”
Renaissance studies professor Gordon Campbell writes that this incident is emblematic of the melding of contemporary popular culture with the words of a 400-year-old translation of the Bible. “The formality of the language acknowledges its origin in the KJV,’’ he observes in his book Bible: The Story of the King James Version, 1611-2011 (Oxford University Press). While the modern idiom would be “bend his knee,” the use of “bow” recalls instead the repeated use of this idiom in the King James Version. Similarly, “our lives are but dust” echoes “he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14), but it does so, Campbell says, in an archaic construction in which a negative is suppressed. The word “but” becomes adverbial and means “merely,” a construction common to the KJV..... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
strong! Be fearless! Don't be afraid and don't be scared by your
good marriage is the union of two forgivers.”
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS START DEBATE ON NAME CHANGE
The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the nation's largest Protestant denomination, is giving serious thought to changing its name in order to better reach people for Jesus Christ.
But changing a 166-year-old name that 16 million members reportedly identify with is expected to spark some heated debate. Emotions were already high when SBC President Bryant Wright placed the proposal on the table Sept. 19.
"Vigorous and emotional discussion over potential SBC name change now on floor of SBC Executive Committee," R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted Monday.
"There is much emotion & memory invested in the SBC name question, as well as hope among others. Hard family talks are the hardest," he added.
A presidential task force has been set up to study a possible name change.... Read this in full at
WHAT BUSINESS LEADERS CAN LEARN FROM MOTHER TERESA
The Los Angeles Times reviews the book Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership by Ruma Bose and Lou Faust which lays out 8 “Teresa principles” that business leaders should adopt:
1. dream it simple, say it strong
2. to get to the angels, deal with the devil
3. wait, then pick your moment
4. embrace the power of doubt
5. discover the joy of discipline
6. communicate in a language people understand
7. pay attention to the janitor
8. use the power of silence.
The first step to leading like Mother Teresa is to decide "What are you Mother Teresa of?" What’s the vision you are capable of bringing to reality?.... Read this in full at
MORE BELIEF IN GOD'S PLAN, LESS FAITH IN GOVERNMENT HELP
Should the government help people in these tough financial times? A poll by the Gallup Organization released Sept. 20 shows that people who strongly believe that God has a plan for them are less willing than others to have the government send checks to able-bodied, unemployed Americans.
The poll was made for a Baylor University study: “The Values and Beliefs of the American Public.”
About 73% of those polled said they believe God has a plan for them. And 40.9% of the people polled said they “strongly” believed that. Those who “strongly agree” that God has a plan for them are the most likely to believe that the United States’ economic system has too much government intervention, said Paul Froese, a Baylor University sociology professor and researcher at the university’s Institute for Studies of Religion.... Read this in full at
Q&A: THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL – 'PAGAN TEACHING WITH A CHRISTIAN FACE'
A dangerous "egocentric gospel" that omits Jesus, neglects the cross, and instead promises health and wealth is being promoted by some of America's most well-known preachers today, and their teachings are readily available on cable TV and in local bookstores.
That's the conclusion of two seminary professors whose new book, "Health, Wealth & Happiness" (Kregel), critiques what is often called the prosperity or "health & wealth" gospel -- the claim by some of America's most well-known preachers that God desires all Christians to be materially wealthy and physically healthy.
The prosperity gospel is dangerous, the professors say, because it contains just enough truth to make it appear biblical but more than enough distortions to make it heretical. That, they say, has led Christians to become discouraged in their faith or angry at God, or worse, to walk away from the church for good. After all, if a preacher says that enough faith can make a sick person well, and no healing ensues, then -- according to the preachers -- that person's faith is weak.... Read this in full at
INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS LIBERTY REPORT GETS BAD REVIEWS
The US State Department's first list under the Obama administration of the worst violators of overseas religious freedom received disappointing reviews from some advocates on the issue.
A bipartisan panel and a veteran congressman expressed displeasure with the State Department's designation of the same eight "countries of particular concern" (CPCs) last cited more than two and a half years ago. The secretary of state is expected under federal law to name CPCs each year, but the list announced Sept. 13 was the first since the Bush administration's final designations only days before President Obama took office in January 2009.
The CPC list, which was released with the State Department's annual report on global religious liberty, continues to consist of Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom had urged the State Department in May to redesignate those eight regimes as CPCs and to add six others: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam.... Read this in full at
GOODBYE TO THAT OLD MOUNTAIN RELIGION
by Terry Mattingly
Travelers who frequent the winding mountain roads of Southern Appalachia know that, every few miles, they're going to pass yet another small Baptist church sitting close to some rushing water.
It's all about location, location, location.
Why would a preacher want to baptize a new believer in a heated, indoor tank when he can dunk them in the powerful, living, frigid waters of the river that created the valley in which his flock has lived for generations? There's no question which option the self-proclaimed Primitive Baptists will choose, even if it adds an element of risk.
"Among Primitive Baptists, you almost always see two ministers when they baptize someone -- one to do the baptism and one to hold on. It's even become part of their unique liturgical tradition to have two ministers there," said Baptist historian Bill Leonard of the Wake Forest School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"As the saying goes, you could get baptized and go to heaven on the same day if there wasn't somebody there to hang on so you didn't wash away and drown." .... Read this in full at
CHAPLAINS WATCH AND WAIT AFTER DADT ENDS
Chaplains are waiting to see if this week's end to the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy offers repercussions for their ability to express their views on homosexuality.
Despite others' initial concerns that chaplains could leave over the repeal, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Carleton W. Birch said that only one out of 2,900 active Army Reserve and National Guard chaplains has left since DADT was repealed. "Chaplains have not left the Army over this issue, nor have denominations that endorse chaplains pulled their chaplains, even though doctrinally they have strong views on the subject," said Birch, spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains. The military requires chaplains to be endorsed or sponsored by a religious organization.... Read this in full at
There was an engineer, manager, and a programmer driving down a steep mountain road. The brakes failed and the car careened down the road out of control. Half way down the driver managed to stop the car by running it against the embankment narrowly avoiding careening off the cliff. They all got out, shaken by their narrow escape from death, but otherwise unharmed.
The manager said, "To fix this problem we need to organize a committee, have meetings, and through the process of exchanging ideas, develop a solution."
The engineer said, "No that would take too long, besides that method never worked before. I have my trusty pen knife here and will take apart the brake
system, isolate the problem and correct it."
The programmer said, "I think you're both wrong! I think we should all push the car back up the hill and see if it happens again."
FROM THE GUTENBERG BIBLE TO THE DIGITAL BIBLE, NEW TECHNOLOGY MEANS SWEEPING CHANGES TO DELIVERY SYSTEMS FOR GOD’S WORD
Just as Gutenberg’s printing press paved the way for the Reformation and changed the world’s economic, social and spiritual order, today’s digital technology is dramatically transforming the religious dynamics of our world.
According to a media release from A. Larry Ross Communications, Bible League International has joined with Digital Bible Society (DBS) to create a virtual Christian library with multiple free Bible versions and translations and hundreds of hours of audio and video materials, all on a DVD or other digital storage device.
“It’s like a miniature Christian bookstore,” said Robert T. Frank, global CEO of Bible League International® (BLI).
“Working with Digital Bible Society, we’re able to expand our ministry’s impact exponentially. We can get these materials into areas where believers are persecuted and in places where the demand for Scripture far outweighs the supply,” he said.
Frank added: “Even in impoverished areas, we’re placing all of this Christian material into the hands of ordinary people who can’t afford to buy even one Bible.” .... Read this in full at
words make good echoes.”
VERSE TO PONDER
lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My
help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: THE RADIANT MORN HATH PASSED AWAY
Words: Godfrey Thring, 1864
Music: Charles F. Gounod, 1872
The radiant morn hath passed away,
And spent too soon her golden store;
The shadows of departing day
Creep on once more.
Our life is but an autumn sun,
Its glorious noon how quickly past!
Lead us, O Christ, our life work done,
Safe home at last.
O by Thy soul inspiring grace
Uplift our hearts to realms on high;
Help us to look to that bright place
Beyond the sky.
Where light, and life, and joy, and peace
In undivided empire reign,
And thronging angels never cease
Their deathless strain.
Where saints are clothed in spotless white,
And evening shadows never fall;
Where Thou, eternal Light of light,
Art Lord of all.
>from NetHymnal at
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