CONNECTIONS – 1/18/09

For week of January 18, 2009
Issue 237

The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:11-12

CONSIDER
Faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Philip Yancey

RELIGION AND THE PRESIDENCY
On Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has assembled a variety of resources on religion and the presidency, including reports, event transcripts, polling data, and a graphic featuring the religious affiliations of US presidents past and present. See it all at
http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=385

INAUGURAL PRAYERS THROUGH HISTORY — THE ULTIMATE ARCHIVE
Here are the texts of invocations and benedictions at presidential inaugurals since 1937 when the practice began….
http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2009/01/inaugural-invocations-and-pray.html

IN ‘THE ALMIGHTY,’ BUSH SEES A PROVIDENTIAL GOD
Throughout his 8 years in the Oval Office, President Bush frequently made public references to God, but instead of always using the traditional Judeo-Christian term for the divine, he often chose the more generic “Almighty.”

“We can be confident because freedom is universal,” Bush said recently during a stop at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. “I strongly believe there’s an Almighty, and a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth is freedom.”

Bush invoked the “Almighty” as he departed Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, for example, when he wished Jews a meaningful new year, and most often, when he discussed freedom.

“Almighty” emerged as Bush’s frequent term for God as he embraced his Republican Party’s evangelical base, but especially as he reached out to non-Christian groups. It was the kind of civil religion reference to the divine that suited both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but for Bush, it also worked for a country that had grown more religiously diverse…. Read this in full at
http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=17338

GIDEONS MARK 100 YEARS OF GIVING OUT THE BIBLE
Long before cable television, spa treatments and eco-friendly soaps and shampoos became staples in hotel rooms, there was the Bible — the Gideon Bible. And the book with the familiar two-handled pitcher and torch on its cover that most guests find inside hotel nightstands doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Gideons International is celebrating its 100th anniversary distributing Bibles and has begun efforts to hand out more Scriptures in the U.S. to boost a distribution rate that’s remained relatively flat in recent years…. Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-01-09-gideon-bible_N.htm
also see
http://www.gideons.org/

NEW RESEARCH EXAMINES CHURCHGOERS’ DENOMINATIONAL LOYALTY
A new study finds that among people who attend church, only 30% are completely loyal to the denomination they are currently attending (meaning they would only consider attending church within that specific denomination). Another 44% prefer their current denomination, but would be willing to consider others. Denominational loyalty differs dramatically between Catholics and Protestants. Six out of ten Catholics will only consider attending a Roman Catholic church, while Protestants are about as likely to be loyal to their toothpaste or bathroom tissue as they are to their current denomination…. Read this in full at
http://www.ellisonresearch.com/releases/20090112.htm

COULD YOU LIVE LIKE JESUS FOR A YEAR? THIS PASTOR TRIED
The Rev. Ed Dobson has spent most of his life following Jesus. But only now does he realize how hard it is to live like him. The retired megachurch pastor and one-time architect of the religious right has spent the last year trying to eat, pray, talk and even vote as Jesus would. His revelation: Being Jesus is tough. “I’ve concluded that I am a follower, but I’m not a very good one,” Dobson said. “If you get serious about the Bible, it will really mess you up.” Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-01-01-jesus-year_N.htm

ED DOBSON’S WALK WITH JESUS LEADS HIM TO NATIONAL STAGE
The retired pastor of Calvary Church is in hot water with some conservatives over his statement that living like Jesus during 2008 influenced him to vote for President-elect Barack Obama — his first presidential vote for a Democrat. Dobson’s admission he took an occasional beer while witnessing for Christ also has raised eyebrows at Cornerstone University, where Dobson is vice president for spiritual formation. School policy prohibits drinking by faculty and students…. Read this in full at
http://www.mlive.com/living/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/01/ed_dobsons_walk_with_jesus_lea.html

CORNERSTONE PRESIDENT, ED DOBSON RESPOND TO CONTROVERSY
http://www.mlive.com/living/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/01/cornerstone_president_ed_dobso.html

LEADERSHIP TIPS (BUSINESS, FAMILY, LIFE)
A new book summary is available online. The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders by Harry L. Reeder III and Rod Gragg (Crossway). The American church is on a downward spiral accelerated by worldly leadership. Instead of going to God’s Word as the basis for developing leaders, churches have adopted the models of big business. Certainly, churches can profit from corporate principles. But the church is not a business; and pastors are not CEOs. Churches must rise above such worldly models and return to biblical leadership principles. They must study the life of Christ and the way He trained His disciples. The biblical model focuses on a three-fold strategy that involves defining, developing, and deploying believers who will model Christ-centered leadership and intentionally multiply themselves for the purpose of transforming the world. See this detailed summary at
http://www.christianbooksummaries.com/

VERSE TO PONDER
[God] has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

CONSIDER
If there are a thousand steps between us and God, he will take all but one. He will leave the final one for us. The choice is ours.” Max Lucado

COLTS’ DUNGY RETIRES
Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, known for his strong Christian faith and his commitment to family, has announced his retirement, saying he wants to spend more time with his family and in volunteer work. “We just felt this was the right time,” Dungy said. “Don’t shed any tears for me. I got to live a dream most people don’t get to live.”

Dungy, 53, told his staff and some players after taking a week to discuss his options with his wife, Lauren. He will be succeeded by associate head coach Jim Caldwell. Dungy coached the Colts for seven seasons, including the 2006-07 season when he became the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl. At the time, he said he was just as proud as being an evangelical coach in the big game as he was of making black history. Dungy said he wants to spend more time with his family in Tampa, where he coached for six seasons, and do more work in the community…. Read this in full at
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2009/01/colts_dungy_to.html

FLORIDA QB MAKES ‘JOHN 3:16’ HOTTEST GOOGLE SEARCH
John 3:16″ has appeared in various forms at nationally televised sporting events over the years, but after University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow inscribed it on his eye black for the Jan. 8 BCS National Championship game, the biblical reference became the most popular search item on Google.com.

In previous games, Tebow, an outspoken evangelical Christian who was born to missionary parents in the Philippines, sported on his eye black Philippians 4:13, notes Christianity Today. The verse says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

The well-known verse John 3:16 is commonly presented as a summation of the Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy last year as a sophomore, led the Gators to a 24-14 victory over the University of Oklahoma. See a photo of Tebow’s eye black at
http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=85729

HEISMAN PROVIDES TEBOW BROADER AUDIENCE FOR MESSAGE OF FAITH
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow took the microphone, scanned the 14 rows of grim-faced men sitting in folding metal chairs and recognized the familiar hue of blue. “How many Gator fans do we have in the house today?” Tebow asked. After more than half the men raised their hands, Tebow added, “All right, those who didn’t raise their hands, that’s who I’m preaching to today.”

On a balmy Saturday morning in mid-April — the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback’s first weekend away from the bright spotlight of Florida football — Tebow had never seemed more comfortable. His playing field was a concrete basketball court in the middle of Gainesville Correctional Institute, a minimum-medium security state prison where banished major league baseball stars Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry once served hard time. His sideline was a 15-foot metal fence topped by razor wire and guarded by a correctional officer carrying a shotgun and driving a small pickup truck. His audience no longer was tens of thousands of Gator fans cheering his every move, but rather more than 150 inmates, many of whom are serving at least three-year prison sentences for drug-related offenses and still trying to kick the habit that put them in there…. Read this in full at
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?id=3381810

FORMER NFL STAR MOVES FROM PLAYING FIELD TO PULPIT, LEADING STARTUP CHURCH OUTSIDE ST. LOUIS
During his football career, Aeneas Williams earned a reputation as a quiet leader who professed a deep Christian faith. Behind the eight Pro Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl loss was a man often sought out in the locker room to help put things in perspective. Now, the 40-year-old Williams leads a small startup church that meets in rented space at a hotel in suburban St. Louis, where he weaves lessons from life and football into his sermons…. Read this in full at
http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/faith/37576389.html

FOLLOW-UP ON CONTROVERSIAL SURVEY
A new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that a significant minority of self-identified evangelicals believe that many religions can lead to salvation, even though some of those evangelicals apparently are confused over what the term “religion” means.

The poll seeks to bring clarity to a much-criticized poll by Pew in June that found 70% of Americans, including 56% of white evangelicals, believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life.” Several Christian commentators criticized that first survey’s general wording, saying that Christians often refer to their denomination as their religion. In other words, those critics wondered: Were the evangelicals who were polled saying they believe people within multiple Christian denominations can obtain eternal life, or were they saying that Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus also have a path to salvation?

The new poll asked follow-up questions, and its findings do — as least partially — support the claims of those critics. Nevertheless, the poll contains very little good news for the evangelical church…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=29629

DEAN JONES: ‘I WOULDN’T TRADE THIS FOR AN OSCAR’
The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) recently presented actor Dean Jones with a Lifetime Achievement Award before a capacity crowd at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. Ken Wales, producer of “Amazing Grace,” the 2007 film on the life of William Wilberforce, introduced the award to Mr. Jones on behalf of the festival.

“I wouldn’t trade this for an Oscar,” remarked Jones upon receiving the special Jubilee Award. Jones has played in 46 films and 5 Broadway shows over his career of more than half a century, including 10 films with Disney, 6 of which are on Variety’s all-time hit list. His best-known role is that of racecar driver Jim Douglas in “The Love Bug.” In more recent years, he has appeared in such films as “Beethoven” and “Clear and Present Danger.”

The special presentation in honor of Mr. Jones followed on the heels of the world premiere of “Abraham and Isaac,” a short film by Crown Financial Ministries (www.crown.org) which brings to life the biblical epic of Abraham’s call to give up his own son. Jones plays the lead role of Abraham in the new film…. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/221829148.html

A LOOK AT 2008 TOP RELIGION BESTSELLERS
Forty-seven different titles landed on Publishers Weekly’s monthly 2008 hardcover charts but only two of them — Joel Osteen’s Become a Better You (Free Press) and Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect (Thomas Nelson) — enjoyed double-digit monthly runs, 11 times for each. There was no single title that dominated the top spot and seven books made it to #1. The longest run was Become a Better You, which lead the charts five times, followed by Mistaken Identity with two months at #1. The other titles — Quiet Strength, Walking with God, Before You Do, What in the World Is Going On? and The Purpose of Christmas — each had a single landing…. Read this in full at
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6629552.html

RELIGION A BIG STORY IN 2008
Religion took center stage in the news during 2008. NPR’s radio program Tell Me More looks back at the people and the stories that rocked the faith world — from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Rev. Rick Warren to the fallout over gay marriage in California. Salim Muwakkil, editor for In These Times magazine, is joined by Michael Sean Winters, a political blogger for the Catholic magazine America, to discuss how 2008 helped shape religious dialogue.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98946854&ft=1&f=1016

IS THE BIBLE RELIABLE?
by Aaron Menikoff
One of the most interesting stories of last year involved the CERN laboratory outside of Geneva, Switzerland. On Wednesday, September 10, 2008, scientists turned on the Large Hadron Collider, an eight-billion dollar experiment, designed to see what happens when protons crash into one another at ridiculously fast speeds. “We can now look forward,” said the project director, “to a new era of understanding about the origins and evolution of the universe.” Christians can and should be excited about this kind of research. Our knowledge of reality, however, is not limited to what science can prove.

Christians believe God has spoken (which presumes, of course, a God who can speak!). As the apostle Paul wrote Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16). If this text is not true — if Scripture is not inspired by God — the gospel, the church, and Christianity itself are all just smoke-and-mirrors — a mirage that disappears upon closer inspection. Confidence in the Bible as God’s Word is essential to Christianity…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/Home/Christian%20Living%20Features/11598166/

MILKY WAY IS BIGGER THAN THOUGHT, STUDY SAYS
Take that, Andromeda! For decades, astronomers thought when it came to the major galaxies in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood, our Milky Way was a weak sister to the larger Andromeda. Not anymore. The Milky Way is considerably larger, bulkier and spinning faster than astronomers once thought, Andromeda’s equal. Scientists mapped the Milky Way in a more detailed, three-dimensional way and found that it’s 15% larger in breadth. More important, it’s denser, with 50% more mass, which is like weight. The new findings were presented at the American Astronomical Society’s convention in Long Beach, California…. Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2009-01-05-milky-way_N.htm

ON FAITH
I prayed for faith, and thought that someday faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, “Now faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” I had closed my Bible, and prayer for faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.” D. L. Moody

A HISTORY OF DOUBT
Poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht says that as a scholar she always noticed the “shadow history” of doubt out of the corner of her eye. She shows how non-belief, skepticism, and doubt have paralleled and at times shaped the world’s great religious and secular belief systems. She suggests that only in modern time has doubt been narrowly equated with a complete rejection of faith, or a broader sense of mystery. Listen to this interview on Speaking of Faith at
http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2009/doubt/

HISTORIANS TRACE BEGINNING OF BAPTIST MOVEMENT BACK 400 YEARS
Some Christians before 1609 held what many refer to as distinctively Baptist beliefs. Baptists in 1609 practiced believer’s baptism, but they didn’t immerse. Even so, most church historians agree Baptists emerged as a distinct movement 400 years ago.

From their beginning, Baptists have been characterized by a restless pursuit of God’s truth, Bill Leonard said. “Historically, the Baptist movement began in a time of great political and religious turmoil, when individuals and churches were searching for the ultimate revelation. Many were willing to relinquish once-cherished beliefs and practices when convinced that a greater and more biblical truth had been discovered,” Leonard, dean at Wake Forest University Divinity School, wrote in Baptist Ways: A History. “Such theological inquisitiveness led Baptist founder John Smyth to move from Anglicanism to Puritan Separatism in his quest for the true church. He then elected to administer believer’s baptism to himself — an act that marked the beginning of the Baptist movement.” Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3769&Itemid=53

CONSIDER
I have on my table a violin string. It is free. I twist one end of it and it responds. It is free. But it is not free to do what a violin string is supposed to do- to produce music. So I take it, fix it in my violin, and tighten it until it is taut. Only then is it free to be a violin string.” Rabindranath Tagore

VERSE TO PONDER
Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17

THIS WEEK’S HYMN: REDEEMED, HOW I LOVE TO PROCLAIM IT!
Words: Fanny Crosby, 1882
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Refrain
Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.
Refrain

I think of my blessèd Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.
Refrain

I know there’s a crown that is waiting,
In yonder bright mansion for me,
And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
At home with the Lord I shall be.
Refrain

>from CyberHymnal at
http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/r/e/redeemed.htm

ON PRAYER
How many Christians look upon it as a burden and a duty and a difficulty to get alone with God! That is the great hindrance to our Christian life everywhere.” Andrew Murray

PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
http://christiansincrisis.net/

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!

PERSONAL
Marital harmony
Family unity
Children saved
Faithful pastor
Spirit-filled church
Real friendships
Relatives redeemed
Educational benefits
Recreational time
Fulfilling career
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will

FINANCIAL
Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Benefits
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
Settlements
Estates & inheritances
Investment increase
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 the church guys to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness. I’ll add your name to the list for the time you’ll be away.]

CLASSIFIEDS
Are you looking for something or do you have something to sell? Let me know and I’ll put it in this newsletter.

Book your next vacation with us!
ChristianConnectionTravel.com

Books, Music & More!
ChristianConnectionBooks.com

Get your domain name here!
GoGlobalDomains.com

Let me show you how to earn money as you travel!
http://FrankColeman.WorldVentures.biz/
It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.

US Airways Crash Rescue Photo: Citizen Journalism, Twitter At Work
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2009/1/us-airways-crash-rescue-picture-citizen-jouralism-twitter-at-work

AccuRadio
http://www.accuradio.com/

Artcyclopedia
http://www.artcyclopedia.com/mostpopular.html

(BTW: whenever the URLs in this newsletter are too long to turn into links on your e-mail program, just copy the entire URL (two lines or more) and paste it into a temporary email message. Then delete the return in the middle of it and copy it again. Then paste it into your web browser and hit enter.)

A closed mouth gathers no foot.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
Rev.frank@gmail.com

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