For week of February 8, 2009
Issue 239

If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
1 John 4:20-21

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” George Muller

The aggressive pursuit of personal success by adults is now the greatest threat to British children, a major independent report on childhood says. It calls for a sea-change in social attitudes and policies to counter the damage done to children by society. Family break-up, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and income inequality are mentioned as big contributing factors.

A panel of independent experts carried out the study over three years.
The report, called The Good Childhood Inquiry and commissioned by the Children’s Society, concludes that children’s lives in Britain have become “more difficult than in the past”, adding that “more young people are anxious and troubled”.

According to the panel, “excessive individualism” is to blame for many of the problems children face and needs to be replaced by a value system where people seek satisfaction more from helping others rather than pursuing private advantage.
Key findings include:
* Britain has more “broken families” than almost any other comparable country.
* New mothers are now far more likely to return to work and their financial independence directly contributes to family break-up.
* Children watch 21 hours a week of often violent television, video games and internet media.
* A quarter of 16 to 19-year-olds engage in “hazardous drinking.”
* School dominated by pressure to achieve good exam results, while leaving toddlers in group day care for too long can cause aggressive and anti-social behavior….
Read this in full at

I sit for six days a week like a weaver behind his loom, busily fingering the threads of an intricate pattern. On the seventh day, the church in its worship calls me around in front of the loom to look at the pattern on which I have been working. It bids me compare the design of my days with the pattern shown me on Mount Sinai and the Mount of Olives. Some threads thereupon I have to cut, others I pull more tightly, and most of all, I renew my picture of the whole plan. Ralph Sockman

Valentine’s Day is Feb. 14

On the eve of Black History Month, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released a new analysis that paints a detailed religious portrait of African-Americans. The analysis finds that African-Americans are markedly more religious than the US population as a whole on a variety of measures, including reporting a religious affiliation, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and the importance of religion in people’s lives.

Compared with other racial and ethnic groups, African-Americans are among the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation, with fully 87% of African-Americans describing themselves as belonging to one religious group or another. The analysis also finds that nearly eight-in-ten African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% among all U.S. adults.

These are among many findings of the new Pew Forum analysis detailing the unique nature of religion in the African-American community. Other highlights include:

* A large majority of African-Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular faith (72%) say religion plays at least a somewhat important role in their lives; nearly half (45%) of unaffiliated African-Americans say religion is very important in their lives, roughly three times the percentage who says this among the religiously unaffiliated population overall (16%)…. Read this in full at

The 10th annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration turned into a lively, sustained tribute to recently retired Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy for his faith in Jesus Christ and his mentoring of others.

“We all owe Tony a great debt because he set the bar so high for all of us coaches,” said newly hired Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris, who was picked by Dungy for his first NFL job.

Several of Dungy’s fellow coaches and former players took time out of their busy Friday night, 48 hours before Super Bowl XLIII, to honor Dungy, whom they consider a champion on the field and off.

“I am so glad to honor a great friend, a great coach and a future Hall of Famer in Tony Dungy,” said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith, whose Bears lost to Dungy’s Colts two years ago at Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

The highlight of the evening, held at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome, came when Dungy was presented with a large framed photo of him coaching the Indianapolis Colts with the words, “2009 Lifetime of Inspiration Award.” At the bottom of the picture were the words of Psalm 37:23: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.”

The surprise gift brought the crowd of more than 6,000, which included Chicago-based activist Jesse Jackson, to their feet with a prolonged standing ovation.

Smith said he would “do anything for Tony because he has done so much for me and my life.”

“I always knew I wanted to coach a different way and Tony showed us a different picture. You could coach without cursing, without shouting or losing your faith. He showed a different way and was able to win. That was the main thing,” Smith said.

Like many of the tributes he received while coaching and since his retirement, Dungy turned the human praise back to Jesus.

“So many [NFL] players have roots in the Lord,” Dungy said, “and to see them here on Friday night, 48 hours before the biggest game of the year, when all you’ve heard all week is game, game, game, is encouraging.” Read this in full at

by Daniel Burke
Seven score and four years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and said North and South alike must suffer for the sin of slavery.

“If God wills that (the war) continue until … every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, so it still must be said `the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,”’ Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, quoting the Psalms.

Called “Lincoln’s Sermon on the Mount,” his 1865 address has been deemed the most religiously sophisticated presidential speech in American history. It was delivered by a backwoods lawyer with just one year of formal schooling who never joined a church.

As the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth approaches on Feb. 12, the 16th president and his unconventional faith continue to inspire and to confound. Churches, community centers and colleges across the country are celebrating the bicentennial by pondering the Great Emancipator’s words and mounting exhibits exploring his dealings with various faiths…. Read this in full at

John 3:16 in Popular Culture,29307,1870689,00.html

The World Beard and Mustache Championships,29307,1658835,00.html

The 1976 Oscar-winning movie Rocky is the story of a small-time boxer who trained long and hard for the opportunity to fight heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. When he lost the first fight against Creed, he resolved to train harder and fight him again. He said all he wanted to do was “go the distance” with Creed. When he finally did go the distance, he was bloody, swollen, broken and completely exhausted. But he had finished the fight!

David Jeremiah says, “The original Rocky Balboa was Paul in the New Testament. He was beaten; stoned; shipwrecked; in perils of waters, robbers, his own countrymen, in the city, in the wilderness, and at sea (2 Cor. 11:22-31). Yet, his one desire was to go the distance for Christ, and he did. Paul was able to remain committed to Christ because he trusted Him with his future and his life.

“We should all strive for complete commitment in our walk with Christ; and when the going gets rough, let us not quickly forget our promise. Resolve to go the distance for the glory of God!”
(Turning Point Daily Devotional, 1-28-09)

A warm gathering of friends, family and loved ones celebrated the latest achievement of one of Christian music’s most beloved ministers Feb. 2, as legendary gospel soloist George Beverly Shea marked his 100th birthday. Longtime friends, evangelist Billy Graham, music director Cliff Barrows, and gospel music legends Bill and Gloria Gaither attended the private event, hosted at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.

Testimonies during the program accented the humility and grace of the man often called “America’s Beloved Gospel Singer,” as well as his vital contribution to the work of evangelism for the Billy Graham Crusade team for more than 60 years.

“I’m deeply grateful to him,” said Mr. Graham during remarks at the event. “I count him as one of my closest friends and confidantes.”

Still in remarkably good health, the centenarian greeted well-wishers with a few words, and also took the opportunity to recite one of his favorite hymns, “The Shadow of a Cross,” in his familiar — and still strong and clear — bass-baritone voice. The scene was reminiscent of his unmistakable presence at Billy Graham Crusades over decades and in countries throughout the world.

In a gesture perfect for a musician, Mr. Shea was presented with a Rodgers organ, eventually to be used at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Angola’s warden, Burl Cain, was in attendance at the celebration. Following a Franklin Graham Prison Festival at Angola in 2006, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association donated funds to build a chapel there that was dedicated in April 2008.

“I was overwhelmed that so many people were here tonight,” said Mr. Shea after the event. “And I never dreamed I would get a gift like this.”

“All these years, Daddy always said that a Crusade really began when Uncle Bev walked up to the mic and began to sing,” said Franklin Graham.

George Beverly Shea was born in Winchester, Ontario, February 1, 1909, the son of a minister. He first sang for Billy Graham on the Chicago radio hymn program, “Songs in the Night,” in 1943 and since then has carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the country.

Mr. Shea is the recipient of ten Grammy nominations with one Grammy Award (1965) and is a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (1978). For his significant contributions to Gospel music, he was inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame (NRB) in February 1996. See a film tribute to Mr. Shea at

The controversy over a Dallas Christian school’s girls basketball team walloping an opposing team 100-0 not only consumed Dallas for a week, but even made national headlines. The headmaster of The Covenant School apologized for the merciless victory, and ultimately fired the unrepentant coach. The story, however, raises a complex question for people of faith: How should a believer reconcile the obligation to be morally excellent with the aspiration to excel in competition?…. Read this in full at

Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

by Martin E. Marty
The apostle Paul claimed that Jesus, in the form of “Christ crucified,” was “a stumbling block [skandalon = scandal = offence] to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”
(I Corinthians 1.23) Jews + Gentiles = pretty much everybody.

What has this to do with religion in modern public life? Try this: On Saturday 25 January 2009 my Internet search engine turned up 484,000 references to “Jesus” or “Christ” linked with “inauguration,” and yours may find even more by today. That’s “public.”

So Jesus is my topic, as we leave the inaugural events surrounding President Barack Obama behind but still have controversies ahead.

Many US citizens are at ease with prayers in pluralistic America when they are generic, civil, God-ly. Invoke Jesus, however, and not a few are scandalized by the reference, while others are scandalized by the scandalized.

I propose a thesis. Correct me if I have it wrong, lest I keep spreading wrongness. Thesis: Jesus is not the scandal. The use of Jesus in public at “we the people of the United States” occasions is usually the offence. Jesus gets from one- to four-star ratings in the following publics:…. Read this in full at

The church in the world is a lot like the story that E. Stanley Jones tells of the missionary in the jungle. He got lost with nothing around him but bush and a few cleared places. He finally found a small village and asked one of the natives if he could lead him out of the jungle. The native said he could. “All right,” the missionary said, “Show me the way.” They walked for hours through dense brush hacking their way through unmarked jungle. The missionary began to worry and said, “Are you quite sure this is the way? Where is the path?” The native said. “In this place there is no path. I am the path.”

Our path out of the jungle of this world is God in Christ. We may have some Rabbis, Masters, Father’s, Teachers and Reverends; but we are all like the missionary. We rely not upon men but Christ, who is our path.
(Brett Blair, newsletter)

Millard Fuller, the millionaire entrepreneur who gave it all away to help found the Christian house-building charity Habitat for Humanity, died Feb. 3. He was 74. Fuller died about 3 a.m. after being taken to a hospital emergency room, according to his wife, Linda. The cause of death was not immediately known.

The couple was to have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August with a 100-house “blitz build” across the globe, she said. “We’ll probably go ahead with the ‘blitz build.’ Millard would not want people to mourn his death,” she said. “He would be more interested in having people put on a tool belt and build a house for people in need.”

One of Habitat’s highest-profile volunteers, former President Jimmy Carter, called Fuller “one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known. “He used his remarkable gifts as an entrepreneur for the benefit of millions of needy people around the world by providing them with decent housing,” Carter said in a statement. “As the founder of Habitat for Humanity and later the Fuller Center, he was an inspiration to me, other members of our family and an untold number of volunteers who worked side-by-side under his leadership.”

After running Habitat for Humanity with his wife for nearly three decades, Fuller lost control of the charity in a conflict with its board. When ousted in January 2005, he and his wife vowed to continue working on housing the poor and started The Fuller Center for Housing to raise money for Habitat affiliates…. Read this in full at

The oppressive, isolated country of North Korea headed by dictator Kim Jong Il retains its grip as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. According to Open Doors’ 2008 World Watch List, North Korea is ranked No. 1 for the 7th year in a row. Christians are persecuted constantly under the communist government, which denies human rights to its citizens. The Wahhabi kingdom of Saudi Arabia is No. 2 and Iran No. 3. Both countries are ruled by Shariah law.

Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Maldives take the 4th, 5th, and 6th positions, respectively. Afghanistan moved up three spots on the list this year as a result of increased pressure from the Taliban movement during 2008. Yemen is No. 7, Laos No. 8, Eritrea No. 9 and Uzbekistan No. 10.

Somalia and Eritrea are new countries to the top 10 list. In Somalia, the number of incidents against Christians increased dramatically in 2008, explaining its rise to No. 5 from No. 12 in 2007. For Eritrea, there was no major change in the lack of religious freedom for Christians. Around 3,000 Christians are being held in Eritrean prisons.

China and Bhutan dropped out of the top 10 with China now No. 12 and Bhutan No. 11. Last year China was No. 10 and Bhutan No. 5.

Islam is the majority religion in seven of the top 10 countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, and Uzbekistan. Two countries have communist governments: North Korea and Laos. Eritrea is the only dictatorial country in the 10 highest countries on the list…. Read this in full at

by Shane Claiborne
It seems that much of our conversation as a Church is in a perpetual cycle of reaction. We are tempted to exaggerate the neglected truth, and end up making incomplete disciples, either social justice disciples without Jesus or Jesus disciples without social justice. Then there are those special moments where Jesus and Justice kiss. I recently had a moment of that kind of romance, in Australia.

I just got back from a trip to Australia where I was saw folks fall in love with Jesus, the real Jesus, for the first time… and with the innocence of a kid at the altar in a big tent revival, fell on their knees with tears going down there cheeks for they found had found their Lover. It was a revival.

First off, I’ll have to say that the Uniting Church and National Christian Youth Conference have raised the bar on what you can do with a few thousand Christians gathered in a city together. They sent hundreds of folks out in small affinity groups all over the city of Melbourne to infiltrate the city with grace and holy mischief. Here are a few of the things the groups did:…. Read this in full at

Evangelical pastor Ted Haggard spoke to CNN’s Larry King about Haggard’s relationship with a male escort, which resulted in his being fired from the influential megachurch that he founded. Haggard also spoke about allegations of another relationship with a man. Haggard’s wife, Gayle Haggard, also shared her feelings. Here are excerpts of the interview.

Larry King: February 2005, Time magazine lists you as one of the 20 most influential evangelicals in the United States. What happened?

Ted Haggard: Well, I made the worst mistake in my life. I embarrassed my wife and violated her and my children and everybody that trusted me and myself. I — I did some things that were contrary to the things that I believe. And — and I made a mess of my life.

King: Were these feelings about men, were these feelings that you had for a long time?

Haggard: Well, the first I remember them is in high school. And — but I never acted on them. I married Gayle in college. It was a wonderful relationship with Gayle through the years. And — but I would, I’d wrestle with it and I would have to deal with it and struggle with them. And then I reached a point where I…

King: Gave in?

Haggard: Gave in. I did it. And I’m guilty of many of the things that — but I’m guilty enough. Many of the charges against me are exaggerated, but it doesn’t matter. I’m guilty enough of so many things that I just said, I’m a deceiver, I’m a liar, I’m a hypocrite, I’ve got to work these things out. And we’ve spent the last two years in the desert personally and going through counseling and working it out…. Read this in full at

by Phil Boatwright
Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. star in the romantic comedy “New In Town.” And I’m pleased to report that there’s something more to this odd-couple coupling than found in the usual banal January fare.

Co-writer Kenneth Rance, who professes a faith in Christ, infused the script with a Christ-awareness, never suspecting those sensibilities to remain after the final cut of the movie, which is rated PG for language and some suggestive material.

“As a Christian writer, what I liked was the fact that the Christian values were retained in the transition from the script to the screen,” he said.

The writer’s aim was supported by at least one cast member. Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who plays Zellweger’s quirky but sincere secretary/liaison, Blanche, was happy about her character development.

“What I appreciated about the script was that my character talks about Jesus and it’s not done disrespectfully,” she said. “It’s so beautifully done.”

The situation comedy has to do with a businesswoman from balmy Miami who suddenly finds herself transferred to the frigid small town of New Ulm, Minn. She’s there to cut jobs, but after adjusting to Midwestern sensibilities (not to mention the unearthly cold of a Minnesota winter), Lucy (Zellweger) discovers greater meaning in life, as well as her dream man (Harry Connick Jr.)…. Read this in full at

The Trials of Ted Haggard,” a documentary film that debuts tonight on HBO (click here for full listings), opens with a scene of the megachurch pastor toasting marshmallows over an open fire. He tells filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, “Some people make poor decisions, other people make better decisions.” Sadly, Haggard seems to be the poster boy for poor decisions.

In November 2006, the founding pastor of Colorado Springs’ New Life Church (NLC) and then-president of the National Association of Evangelicals was the focus of news reports that he had bought sex and drugs from a Denver-based male prostitute. In a matter of days, he went from denial to disgrace and from national prominence to obscurity. What has obscurity been like for Haggard? “We’re miserable,” he says in the film. “In this stage of my life, I’m a loser. First … class … loser.”

Filmmaker Pelosi developed a friendship with Haggard and his family while making Friends with God, a 2007 documentary on Christian activism, political and otherwise. Of all the Christian leaders she interviewed, Ted Haggard opened up the most and welcomed her into his home. So when she discovered that Haggard’s exile put him literally around the corner from her sister’s house in Scottsdale, Arizona, Pelosi took the video camera she uses to document family events — not a camera crew — to look in on the Haggards and see how they were doing. The home movies she took over the next year and a half became this new documentary…. Read this review in full at

A chemist who led to the invention of the birth control pill says he regrets the demographic catastrophe that has resulted from people using the contraceptive device to separate reproduction from sexuality.

Carl Djerassi, the 85-year-old Austrian chemist who was one of three whose formulation of synthetic hormones paved the way for the pill, wrote an opinion piece in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard lamenting the way the pill has been used.

Austria’s population now includes more people over age 65 than under 15, and Djerassi said the country soon will face an “impossible situation” as the working class becomes too small to support the needs of senior citizens. Each family in Austria needs to produce three children to maintain population levels, he said, but on average couples have 1.4 children.

The fall in the birth rate in European countries, he said, is an epidemic far worse than obesity, but it receives less attention.

In order to curb the population problem, Djerassi said in the column that Austrians would have to adopt quickly an immigration policy designed to counteract the effects of widespread contraception before the population commits “national suicide.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., in a 2006 New York Times Magazine article, called the birth control pill one of the most profound developments ever…. Read this in full at

Pope Benedict XVI says euthanasia is a “false solution” to suffering, adding his voice to a bitter debate in Italy over the fate of a comatose woman whose father wants to remove her feeding tube. During his weekly blessing, Benedict said that love can help confront pain and that “no tear, from those who suffer and those who are with them, is lost before God.”

Benedict didn’t mention Eluana Englaro by name, but it was clear he was referring to her case, which has made headlines in Italy for months. Englaro has been in a vegetative state since 1992 after a car accident. She was 20 at the time. Her father has fought a decade-long court battle to disconnect her feeding tube; he says his daughter visited a friend in a coma shortly before her accident and expressed the will to refuse treatment in the same situation.

In July, Italy’s highest court ruled that Englaro’s feeding tube could be removed, upholding a lower court ruling. But Italy’s health minister, Maurizio Sacconi, issued a decree in December telling hospitals across the country that they must guarantee care for people in vegetative states…. Read this in full at

The Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps quickly acknowledged his poor judgment after a photograph showing him inhaling from a marijuana pipe was published Sunday in a British newspaper. Although his admission is unlikely to affect his swimming eligibility, it could affect the millions of dollars he has secured in endorsement deals…. Read this in full at

Death for the Christian is a turning off the light because the dawn has come.”
Leon Jaworski

Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Galatians 5:16

Words: Rhea F. Miller, 1922
Music: George Beverly Shea, 1932

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

>from CyberHymnal at

According to Jesus, by far the most important thing about praying is to keep at it… Be importunate, Jesus says — not, one assumes, because you have to beat a path to God’s door before he’ll open it, but because until you beat the path maybe there’s no way of getting to your door.” Frederick Buechner (b.1926), Beyond Words, p.321


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!

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

Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
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.]

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!

Books, Music & More!

Get your domain name here!

Let me show you how to earn money as you travel!
It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.

The CEO Refresher

Michelangelo’s Life

(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.)

Archaeologists will date any old thing.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor

Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!

Subscribe to CONNECTIONS here

Get Archives of all past issues here:

Check out my blog

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: