man to man to God
Hebrews 6:12 (The Living Bible)
“Three-hundred million years from now, the only thing that will matter is whether you're in Heaven or in Hell.”
'MAN IN THE MIRROR' MINISTRY PLANNING TO DISCIPLE 1,000,000 MEN BY 2015
Man in the Mirror, the popular Florida non-profit men-only ministry under the leadership of charismatic evangelist and author Dr. Patrick Morley, says it will hire 330 ministers in a national effort to form 1,000,000 male disciples by 2015; and 10,000,000 by the end of 2020.
The 20-year-old ministry said it is looking to hire 330 full-time "area directors" who would disciple the men at their locations throughout the United States. The "casting" for the 330 positions opened nationwide Nov. 15, and is being organized in cooperation with Young Life, a non-denominational Christian youth ministry, and three evangelical non-profits: Campus Crusade for Christ International, Compass – Finances God's Way, and The Navigators. Candidates across the country are invited to apply via an online address.... Read this in full at
NATIONAL BIBLE WEEK...
...is Nov. 20-27, 2011.
6 WAYS TO HELP YOU DEVELOP CRAVINGS FOR GOD'S WORD
by Katrina Baker
1. Remember the Bible's benefits.
2. Ask God to give you desire for his Word.
3. Make daily Bible reading instinctual.
4. Keep a spiritual journal.
5. Customize your Bible study to fit your personality.
6. Customize your Bible study to fit your circumstances.... Read this in full at
WHAT THE BIBLE CHANGED IN ME
“The Bible isn't hocus pocus and reading it doesn't give you magical powers, but it does reveal to you who you really are and illumines a path that you were created to walk. When I began to believe its words and obey its instructions, life began to align with what it said, and this has made all the difference. My heart has been transformed completely. I find myself passionate about things that previously seemed drudgery... I have little use for the plastic life that makes many promises but rarely delivers on anything at all.
“The apostle Paul said, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:11-13). This pretty much sums up what the Bible seems to do to us when we allow it access to the deeper places in our lives. The discontent aligns with God's will, the broken heart is healed, the chaos of the world fades to a distant drone, and life becomes vibrant because there is a reason to live beyond the next paycheck.
“I began throwing out the challenge to [my] community that I am tossing to you now. If you will commit yourself to spending every day in the Bible for one month, you will notice something shifting inside. If you'll do it for three months, you'll feel as if major places in your heart are coming back to life. If you'll stick to it for a year, you will have been transformed from the inside out.”
Brian Hardin in Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You
UNCOVER THE WORD MOVEMENT LAUNCHED IN ORLANDO
300 Christian leaders gathered at the Forum of Bible Agencies - North America Summit Nov. 7-9 in Orlando, Fla., and signed the Uncover the Word Commitment, a public commitment and pledge to practice daily Bible engagement in their own lives and encourage it within their spheres of influence. A large number of North America's leading Christian Bible agencies, denominations and ministries came together to shine a light on the disconnect between Bible ownership and Bible reading.... Read this in full at
Also see “300 Christian Leaders Tackle Disconnect Between Bible Ownership, Literacy”
SURVEY: PORN POISONING CHRISTIAN HOMES
Most pastors believe pornography has adversely impacted the lives of their church members, but almost half cannot estimate what percentage of their congregation views porn.
That’s the finding of a recent survey by LifeWay Research of 1,000 American Protestant pastors.
When presented with the statement, “Pornography has adversely affected the lives of our church members,” 69% of pastors surveyed agree. That includes 42% who strongly agree, and 27% who somewhat agree. Nine percent somewhat disagree and 8% strongly disagree. Fourteen percent don’t know or preferred not to answer.
“Most pastors know pornography’s poisonous effects,” LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer said. “They’ve seen it destroy marriages, wreck lives and warp America’s moral compass when it comes to sexuality.”.... Read this in full at
THE WILL OF GOD – PART II
by Clare De Graaf
“I’m thinking of doing something different vocationally. I’ve been in a job that’s been OK, but I’m bored and there’s not much room for advancement. But, I just don’t know what the will of God is for my next job. I just don’t want to make the wrong move.”
I’ll bet you, yourself have sought an answer from God for any number of issues, from what college to attend, who to marry, serving in ministry – the list is probably endless. Here’s what we really want to know: Is it possible to know the sovereign will of God for our specific lives, before we make a decision? Is it possible to get a “peek at the script” for our lives with enough certainty to act on it?
Here’s my short answer: If God has a specific will for these areas of your life, and he may – I’m not certain you can know it ahead of time, with enough absolute certainty to act on it.
You don’t like that do you? We want direction for our lives and want to believe God gives it and now you think I’m telling you he doesn’t. I’m not actually saying that. Please allow me to explain. When thinking about the will of God, it’s helpful to think of his will in three separate, but related spheres.... Read this in full at
JOHN STOTT MEMORIAL: REMEMBERING THE HUMBLE GIANT IN FAITH
Hundreds of Christians inspired and impacted by the life of English evangelical theologian, preacher, and global thinker John Stott gathered at Wheaton College Nov. 11 for his US memorial service.
Intimate stories of a man driven until his last breath to live according to the will of God and make Him known were shared by friends, protégés and evangelical leaders. Stott died on July 27 at age 90.
The following is the biography found in the memorial service program pamphlet.... Read this in full at
JOHN STOTT'S DAILY PRAYER
The US memorial service of John Stott, one of the key Christian leaders who shaped evangelicalism in the 20th century, took place at College Church in Wheaton, Ill., Nov. 11. The following is John Stott’s daily prayer, as found on the memorial service program:
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.... Read this in full at
CAN EVANGELICALS FILL JOHN STOTT'S SHOES?
by Michael Cromartie and Wilfred M. McClay
Friday, Nov. 11, a memorial service was held at College Church in Wheaton, Ill., for the Rev. John R.W. Stott, a revered British clergyman and theologian whose death on July 27 at the age of 90 deprived the Christian church of one of its most universally beloved figures.
Although ordained as a priest in the Church of England, Stott was one of the leading figures in the evangelical revival of the postwar era, both inside the Anglican world and in the larger evangelical community. He played a key role in campus organizations such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and took a keen interest in the international ministry of the church, particularly in the nations of the global south. He was the chief author of the Lausanne Covenant, an important organizing doctrinal document for modern evangelicalism.
His impact was exceeded perhaps only by that of his fellow Anglican, C.S. Lewis, and Stott's influence has arguably been felt more extensively in the institutional life of the church.... Read this in full at
LIGHTHOUSE STILL BEAMING AFTER 100 YEARS
by Pat Gerbrandt
A mission launched a century ago in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada continues to be a beacon of hope in the city.
Lighthouse Mission first opened its doors in 1911, thanks to the efforts of people influenced by California's Azusa Street Revival. Even now, the mission's focus is firmly fastened to its doors—"Love all…serve all."
As many as 250 people arrive at the Main Street mission for a nourishing hot lunch each day. Emergency food hampers are prepared for those who have the greatest needs. Front-line supervisor Tom Murphy doesn't slacken his pace dicing vegetables for soup as he enthuses about the Lighthouse's ministry.
Lighthouse staff members also work with like-minded organizations to provide addiction treatment and transitional housing, as well as offering mentoring and work skills programs.... Read this in full at
DRINKING DEEPLY OF THE SPIRIT
“I was at a frozen yogurt hot spot, and a strange thing happened. As I was picking up my yogurt from the counter, a young friend of mine suddenly felt moved to pray for me. We walked outside onto the busy sidewalk and he turned to face me, putting his hands on my shoulders. Right there, in the midst of the crowd, he started praying, loudly and emotionally, oblivious to the people walking by or those who had stopped to stare at us. I'll be honest, I was embarrassed. I realized that I was more concerned about what people thought about me than about experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit.
“One of the biggest challenges we face when using the gifts that God gives us is overcoming our fear of what others think. By definition, the gifts are extraordinary and gracious. They are supernatural. At times, they seem very strange. The gifts invite us to appear childish — even foolish — to experience the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. Paul, in prison, [writes] ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline’ [2 Timothy 1:7]. This fear-rejecting power is found in the person of the Holy Spirit. Perfect love will cast out any fear.
“In Acts 2 and Ephesians 5:18, we find references to the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 describes when people first experienced this power, and it tells us that those who were watching thought that the believers were loaded on alcohol [Acts 2:1-15]. Again, in Ephesians 5:18, Paul makes a similar comparison between a life full of the Spirit and a person filled with spirits of a different kind. He writes, ‘Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ In other words, there is something about being filled with the Holy Spirit that is comparable to being drunk! Some of the very same things that people look for from a can of beer are actually sustainable characteristics of a life filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit can lead to a loss of our inhibitions, a sense of freedom to be ourselves, the confidence to pray loudly when we're standing in front of a yogurt shop. Alcohol is the cheap substitute. Drinking deeply of the Spirit doesn't dehydrate us. The Spirit is a source of living water, a fountain of life that God can use to quench the thirst of others [John 7:37-39].”
Dave Gibbons in Xealots: Defying the Gravity of Normality
DOES CALVINISM EXTOL GOD'S GLORY OR MAKE HIM A MORAL MONSTER?
by Ken Camp
Roger Olson, professor at Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary, agreed to write a new book refuting Calvinism because he believes somebody needs to rescue God's reputation.
"I am against any Calvinism -- and any theology -- that impugns the goodness of God in favor of absolute sovereignty, leading to the conclusion that evil, sin and every horror of human history are planned and rendered certain by God," he writes.
Olson doesn't particularly like the title of the book, Against Calvinism, but Zondervan publishing insisted on it. He admires Calvinist colleagues and students, and he makes it clear he respects their Christian commitment. It's radical Calvinism -- generally held by those who identify themselves as "young, restless and Reformed" -- he feels the need to oppose.
Olson believes Calvinist theology crosses the line into radical territory when it "makes assertions about God that necessarily, logically imply that God is less than perfectly good in the highest sense of goodness found in the New Testament and especially in Jesus Christ, the fullest revelation of God for us."
So, when it comes to the TULIP of so-called five-point Calvinist doctrine -- total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of saints -- Olson seeks to mow down at least the U, L, and I, leaving just two petals blooming.... Read this in full at
GOD IN THE NOW
“Whether you see God or not, He is at work in your life this very moment. He specializes in turning the mundane into the meaningful. God not only moves in unusual ways, he also moves on uneventful days. He is just as involved in the mundane as He is in the miraculous.”
TWELVE BASIC NEEDS OF SEVEN BILLION PEOPLE
by Bill Ellis
Having traveled in much of the world, on the five major continents and in many countries, I try to imagine the magnitude of seven billion people.
Considering what I have seen, heard, and read about the immensity and significance of that many people is, indeed, mind staggering. Standing on the Great Wall of China 26 years ago, our Chinese tour guide said to Kitty and me, “In China we could lose two million people and never miss them.” Can you imagine that kind of loss and hardly noticing it?
You could and would miss them if they lived next door and you were accustomed to seeing them each day. Just what would you and what would I suggest as physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs, the greatest needs of all who are counted in the world’s total population? Some of my suggestions about those important needs are based in part on what I have experienced in various countries.... Read this in full at
THE BASTARD CHILD OF CHRISTIAN LOVE
by Joel Miller
If you follow the conversations and events of our day, it’s clear that our contemporary culture values agreeableness over truth. Christians have fallen for this as well because the greatest Christian virtue is love, and love is patient, kind, etc. In other words, love comes off as pretty agreeable. It’s not going to interrupt. It’s not going to correct and chastise. It’s definitely not going to judge. It’s going to calm the mood and make nice.
I think that is the key word, nice. Many Christians think they’re being loving when they’re being nice and decry perceived lapses of niceness as unloving. Maybe so, but these are not the same thing even if they look and smell alike to many people. Niceness is the bastard child of Christian love, the illegitimate offspring of Christianity and the cult of agreeableness.... Read this in full at
OBESITY RISING: RELIGION AND FOOD CAN BE UNHEALTHY COMBINATION
by David Briggs
The nation’s churches and synagogues have a weight problem. The multiple health benefits of an active faith life tend to stop at four-course Shabbat meals and church supper tables groaning with fried meat, biscuits and gravy, new research shows.
In one study of some 5,500 women and men ages 45 to 84, participants were more likely to be obese the more religiously active they were. Each step of the way, from those never attending worship to those attending weekly, greater religious activity was associated with significantly higher rates of obesity.
And in a separate study of a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community in Chicago, more than half of adult respondents were overweight, including 24% who were obese. Even more troubling, 26% of the children in the study were obese, twice the rate found in the general population.... Read this in full at
SEARCHING FOR JESUS IN THE HOLY LAND
What happens when an enthusiastic artist, a skeptical radio host and First Nations youth worker travel to Israel to discover the true meaning of Christmas?
Journey to Christmas is a new four part documentary series, which follows Drew Marshall, along with the other 'seekers,' as they look for a meaningful experience of faith in the Holy Land.
They are guided by Nazareth-born biblical scholar Nizar Shaheen. The documentary also includes theologians, historical scholars and an astrophysicist.... See the trailer at
NEW BIBLE MUSEUM TO BE BUILT IN JERUSALEM
A Bible museum that will include a sculpture garden featuring biblical characters and exhibits showing what daily life was like in biblical times will be built in the Jerusalem area, the cabinet decided in a unanimous vote Nov. 13.
"It's absurd that in the land of the Bible, there is no center dedicated to it," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The value of the project, Netanyahu added, lies "not just in the heritage of the Bible, but also in its accessibility to the greater public in Israel and around the world."
The museum will be funded primarily by a nonprofit group called Emek Hatanakh (Valley of the Bible), which aims to make people around the world more familiar with the Bible. The government has yet to decide whether it will help support the museum, but Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the facility would receive the land for free.... Read this in full at
THE BIBLE OF KING JAMES
by Adam Nicolson
Rome Wager stands in front of the rodeo chutes on a small ranch just outside the Navajo Reservation in Waterflow, New Mexico. He is surrounded by a group of young cowboys here for midweek practice. With a big silver buckle at his waist and a long mustache that rolls down on each side of his mouth like the curving ends of a pair of banisters, Wager holds up a Bible in his left hand. The young men take their hats off to balance them on their knees. "My stories always begin a little different," Brother Rome says to them as they crouch in the dust of the yard, "but the Lord always provides the punctuation."
Wager, a Baptist preacher now, is a former bull-riding and saddle-bronc pro, "with more bone breaks in my body than you've got bones in yours." He's part Dutch, part Seneca on his father's side, Lakota on his mother's, married to a full-blood Jicarilla Apache.
He tells them about his wild career. He was raised on a ranch in South Dakota; he fought and was beaten up, shot, and stabbed. He wrestled and boxed, he won prizes and started drinking. "I was a saphead drunk."
But this cowboy life was empty. He was looking for meaning, and one day in the drunk tank in a jail in Montana, he found himself reading the pages of the Bible. "I looked at that book in jail, and I saw then that He'd established me a house in heaven?... He came into my heart." .... Read this in full at
NEW 'HOLY ROLLERS' DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS MORAL DILEMMA OVER CARD-COUNTING CHRISTIANS
by Ray Downs
A new documentary about a blackjack team that uses card-counting techniques to win is being released soon. The hook? They are also devout evangelical Christians who believe playing blackjack is not only in accordance with their faith, but actually makes it stronger.
The new film, titled "Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card-Counting Christians", tells the story of a group of blackjack players who are mostly Christian (at least one agnostic is on the team at one point), including pastors and church leaders who have practiced their card-counting skills to the point where they can walk into a casino and make the casino security nervous because not only do they win, but they win millions.
However, the whole reason the film's title sounds provocative is because "card-counting Christians" seems contradictory. After all, "card counting" sounds like cheating is involved. However, Colin Jones, one of the team's founding members, explains that moral dilemma.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
“It is not about never doubting, it is about coming out on the other side with twice the faith you had going into your doubt.”
MULTI-SITE MEGACHURCHES MULTIPLY IN AMERICA
Many young Evangelical Protestant Christians shun the expansive form of worship that drew their parents to so-called megachurches and opt instead for a more intimate religious experience. But one congregation may have found a way to have both size and intimacy.
The way to church leads through turnstiles, into a ballpark. It comes with a friendly greeting ... a concert ... and crowd-revving antics. All a warm-up to the main act - Pastor J.D. Greear. "Here Jesus says this question is of the utmost importance, one that literally your entire eternity hangs upon!" he said.
Thousands of people came for this Church in the Ballpark event. But it is far from what this congregation looks like most of the time.
“The Summit Church is not a traditional megachurch. The main service is normally held in this chapel. And the pastor's sermon is simulcast from this stage behind me."
It goes out to satellite campuses that serve many neighborhoods.... Read this in full at
CHRISTIANITY TODAY MAGAZINE SEEKS SIGNS OF FLOURISHING WITH "THIS IS OUR CITY"
Christianity Today magazine, founded in 1956 by Billy Graham and currently providing news and cultural analysis to over two million monthly readers, is embarking on a multi-year project highlighting stories of how Christians are contributing to the flourishing of the world around them. This Is Our City will document a notable shift in how evangelicals think about cultural engagement in the twenty-first century.... Read this in full at
CONDOLEEZZA RICE VOICES FAITH & OPTIMISM
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told University of Mobile students that her Christian faith is inseparable from the decisions she makes and is the source of her optimism in the face of difficulties.
Rice addressed 400-plus students in a question-and-answer session prior to being the featured speaker at the university's 7th annual Leadership Banquet on Nov. 10, which supports the school's scholarship fund.
Students used social media such as Twitter and Facebook to ask questions of Rice, a native of Birmingham, Ala., who became the first black woman to serve as secretary of state during President George W. Bush's administration. Rice, now a political science professor at Stanford University, fielded questions ranging from her most embarrassing moments to the one word she would want to be remembered by -- "perseverance.".... Read this in full at
What popular misconceptions about hell appear today and in church history? Michael Horton
EVANGELICALS AND THE CASE FOR FOREIGN AID
by Richard E. Stearns
Washington is in an era of budget-cutting, so we frequently hear calls to shrink or eliminate U.S. foreign-assistance programs. In response, several religious groups (including my own) are highlighting how these programs reduce global poverty and hunger, saving millions of lives. But why are evangelical Christians largely absent from this religious coalition?
In a recent closed-door session on Capitol Hill, representatives from the National Council of Churches, Catholic Relief Services and Bread for the World met with several senators about the Senate's proposed reduction of $3 billion from last year's foreign-affairs budget. (The House would eliminate $9 billion.) The director of Church World Service, John McCullough, told reporters afterward that “responding to hunger and poverty is not a partisan issue. . . . It is a moral issue that people of faith, across the political spectrum, agree upon.”.... Read this in full at
A FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN HOLIDAY GIVING?
The struggling economy continues to affect holiday spending and holiday generosity. According to a World Vision study, more than 7 in 10 (71%) Americans report that they'll spend less on holiday presents this year because of the current economic climate. This number has remained nearly the same three out of the last four years. This trend appears to reflect a fundamental shift in how Americans perceive holiday generosity. This is the third year World Vision has commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct research on holiday charitable giving. This is the second year the US and Canada have been included in the same comprehensive study.... Read this in full at
OPERATION MOBILIZATION ANNOUNCES THE FREEDOM CLIMB
In an effort to raise awareness and funds to combat oppression, slavery, exploitation and global trafficking, The Freedom Climb (http://www.thefreedomclimb.net/) will unite 47 women from around the world who have volunteered to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The event was chosen as a symbol for the challenging climb that marginalized women face while climbing out of oppression and into freedom.
It is estimated that there are 27 million slaves in the world today, trapped in various forms of bondage and abuse. Three out of 4 are women. Eight hundred thousand people will be sex-trafficked this year. Eighty percent will be female and 50% will be children.
The vision for the Freedom Climb began with a deep desire to be a voice for those who have no voice and a burden to do something about the global oppression of women and children. Cathey Anderson, whose ministry was teaching sustainable farming to African nationals in Malawi, had the vision to get a small group of friends to climb Kilimanjaro...and make a difference. In just a few months, that vision has grown to 47 women from all over the world, ranging in age from 18-73, who are committed to raising their voices and funds through their networks of friends and family.... Read this in full at
THANKSGIVING DAY: NOV. 24, 2011
In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving. Historians have also recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.... Read this in full at
THE AMERICAN PURITANS: DID YOU KNOW?
Critic H. L. Mencken once said, wrongly, “Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” On the contrary, Puritans read good books and enjoyed music. They drank beer with meals and rum at weddings. Puritans swam and skated, hunted and fished, and played at archery and bowling (as long as the games were not in a public tavern or on Sunday).
The famous “Pilgrims,” who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, were so radical they were usually disliked and sometimes hated. Unlike most Puritans, they did not seek to reform the Church of England; they thought the church was beyond help.
Most weddings in New England were performed not by ministers but by magistrates. Wedding rings, seen as “popish,” were not used.... Read this in full at
Ducking into confession with a turkey in his arms, Brian said, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I stole this turkey to feed my family. Would you take it and settle my guilt?"
"Certainly not," said the priest. "As penance, you must return it to the one from whom you stole it."
"I tried," Brian sobbed, "but he refused. Oh, Father, what should I do?"
"If what you say is true, then it is all right for you to keep it for your family."
Thanking the priest, Brian hurried off.
When confession was over, the priest returned to his residence. When he walked into the kitchen, he found that someone had stolen his turkey.
(from Sermon Fodder and Joke-A-Day Ministries)
SIGNS YOU ATE TOO MUCH AT THANKSGIVING
~ Doctor tells you your weight would be perfect for a man 17 feet tall.
~ You are responsible for a slight but measurable shift in the earth's axis.
~ Paramedics bring in the Jaws of Life to pry you out of the EZ-Boy.
~ The potatoes you used set off another famine in Ireland.
~ You receive a Sumo Wrestler application in your e-mail.
~ You set off three earthquake seismographs on your morning jog Friday.
~ Pricking your finger for cholesterol screening only yielded gravy.
~ That rash on your stomach turns out to be steering wheel burn.
~ Your wife wears a life jacket at night in your waterbed.
~ Representatives from the Butterball Hall of Fame called twice.
~ Your arms are too short to reach the keyboard and delete this.
(From the Sermon Fodder list)
CHARITABLE GIVING STAYS STRONG
The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) says cash charitable giving to ECFA members continues to be very strong, totaling $9.38 billion last year, a 5.8% increase from the 2009 level of $8.87 billion.
"It is very significant that this segment of the giving world continues to receive strong support during a difficult economic time," said Dan Busby, ECFA president. "Our report demonstrates a strong commitment of givers to the Christian faith and the generosity of God's people."
ECFA's second Annual State of Giving Report (ecfa.org/stateofgiving) showed charitable contributions held up especially well among larger charities. Donations to ECFA-member organizations with more than $10 million in annual revenue increased 6.7% in 2010, compared with 2009, while organizations with less than $10 million in annual revenue increased 1.6% during the same span.... Read this in full at
JAMESTOWN THOUGHT TO YIELD RUINS OF OLDEST US PROTESTANT CHURCH
For more than a decade, the marshy island in Virginia where British colonists landed in 1607 has yielded uncounted surprises. And yet William M. Kelso’s voice still brims with excitement as he plants his feet atop a long-buried discovery at the settlement’s heart: what he believes are the nation’s oldest remains of a Protestant church.
The discovery has excited scholars and preservationists, and unearthed a long-hidden dimension of religious life in the first permanent colony.
It may prove to be an attraction for another reason: the church would have been the site of America’s first celebrity wedding, so to speak, where the Indian princess Pocahontas was baptized and married to the settler John Rolfe in 1614. The union temporarily halted warfare with the region’s tribal federation.... Read this in full at
FREEDOM OF MORE THAN ‘WORSHIP’
In his public statements in recent months, Louisville, KY Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz has talked about religious liberty as something more than “freedom of worship,” and he cites a “very dangerous” trend toward using the latter phrase is “very dangerous.”
Kurtz has not been alone in talking about this lately. So have other Roman Catholic bishops and other advocates.
The possible distinction between “worship” and “freedom” involve more than a parsing of words. It touches directly on some of the hot-button church-state issues of the day, such as laws and regulations affecting faith-based organizations that provide health care and other human services. And it ties in to U.S. advocacy for human rights abroad.... Read this in full at
CATHOLIC MASS CHANGES HAVE LITURGISTS SCURRYING TO CRAFT NEW MUSIC
For the average American Catholic in the pews, the upcoming changes to the text of the Mass might mean little more than memorizing a few new prayer responses.
But when the revised translation of the Mass sweeps into churches across America on the first Sunday of Advent (Nov. 27), it will bring with it a slew of new missals and hymnals -- and perhaps a whole new (or old) style of worship.
For the last 40 years, there has been some leeway for "mild paraphrasing of texts" when singing parts of the Mass, said Monsignor Richard Hilgartner, who heads the committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that’s responsible for approving all liturgical books, including hymnals and missals.
But, said Hilgartner, the instructions with the new Roman Missal "are much more clear that musical settings are only approved when they follow the text strictly." .... Read this in full at
also see “Catholics Prepare for a New Poetic Mass”
COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF FAST-GROWING 90-AND-OLDER POPULATION
The nation's 90-and-older population nearly tripled over the past three decades, reaching 1.9 million in 2010, according to a report by the US Census Bureau and supported by the National Institute on Aging. Over the next four decades, this population is projected to more than quadruple.
Because of increases in life expectancy at older ages, people 90 and older now comprise 4.7% of the older population (age 65 and older), as compared with only 2.8% in 1980. By 2050, this share is likely to reach 10%.
The majority of people 90 and older report having one or more disabilities, living alone or in a nursing home and graduating from high school. People in this age group also are more likely to be women and to have higher widowhood, poverty and disability rates than people just under this age cutoff.... Read this in full at
See also “Census projects fast-growing 90-plus age group will quadruple to 8 million in US by midcentury”
“Every man is a fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding that limit.”
VERSE TO PONDER
“Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
2 Corinthians 7:1
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD
Words: Martin Rinkart, circa 1636; translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, 1856.
Music: attributed to Johann Crüger, 1647; harmony by Felix Mendelssohn, 1840. Though the tune is found in Crüger’s Praxis Pietatis Melica, and is attributed to Crüger, Catherine Winkworth believed Martin Rinkart wrote the tune in 1644.
Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran minister, was in Eilenburg, Saxony, during the Thirty Years’ War. The walled city of Eilenburg saw a steady stream of refugees pour through its gates. The Swedish army surrounded the city, and famine and plague were rampant. Eight hundred homes were destroyed, and the people began to perish. There was a tremendous strain on the pastors who had to conduct dozens of funerals daily. Finally, the pastors, too, succumbed, and Rinkart was the only one left — doing 50 funerals a day. When the Swedes demanded a huge ransom, Rinkart left the safety of the walls to plead for mercy. The Swedish commander, impressed by his faith and courage, lowered his demands. Soon afterward, the Thirty Years’ War ended, and Rinkart wrote this hymn for a grand celebration service. It is a testament to his faith that, after such misery, he was able to write a hymn of abiding trust and gratitude toward God.
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
>from NetHymnal at
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings each morning, thank You, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes tightly closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank You Lord, that I can see. There are many who are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off the effort of rising, thank You, Lord that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, and tempers are short, thank You, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, thank You, Lord for the food we have. There are many who have no job.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank You, Lord, for the gift of life.
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).
[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you'd like us to add you to our prayer chain to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness. I'll add your name to the list for the time you'll be away.]
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All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
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