For week of February 22, 2009
Issue 241

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16

“Worship is nothing more nor less than love on its knees before the beloved; just as mission is love on its feet to serve the beloved.” N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth

by Charles Swindoll
I will always remember a young man named Eddie. He and I met when we were serving in the Third Marine Corps Division on the island of Okinawa, Japan. We shared the same bunk in a tiny Quonset hut. Forty-six other Marines lived under the same metal roof, giving new meaning to the phrase “up close and personal.”

After Eddie’s arrival on the island, it became obvious that my bunkmate had little interest in knowing about Christ. Once he found out I was a Christian, he forcefully stated, “I don’t want anything to do with all your religious stuff. . . . Back off!”

While I understood his resistance, I couldn’t ignore his need for Jesus. As I prayed for wisdom, I remembered the apostle Peter’s words, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). Soon after, I thought of a creative way to share my “reason” with Eddie.

Because we often had time on our hands, I asked Eddie to help me memorize verses of Scripture. At first he was really suspicious, but I assured him that he only needed to check my work as I reviewed verses I’d written on small cards. He reluctantly agreed. What he didn’t know was that I deliberately selected verses about eternal salvation. So I “stumbled” through verses like John 3:16.

“God so loved the . . . uh . . . uh . . .” “World!” Eddie would shout. “Oh . . . yes. God so loved the world that He gave . . . He gave . . .” “His only begotten Son,” he read. “Ah . . . God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” And on we would go for half an hour several times every week. I suppose you could call this approach “covert evangelism.”

Over the years, I’ve learned that sharing the gospel requires two key elements: preparation and creativity. First, we must be prepared. Christianity offers real, true answers to the world’s complicated questions. We have solid, reliable evidence to support our faith. And God’s Word offers wisdom, comfort, and encouragement for life’s challenges.

Second, we must be creative. Each person comes with his or her own unique background, needs, presuppositions, and questions. We can’t just rattle off a few verses and hope for the best. Effective evangelism flows out of genuine relationships and presents the truth in very personal, creative, and thoughtful ways.

Now . . . back to Eddie. Almost 30 years after our tour of duty had ended, my phone rang. Eddie’s voice boomed over the line; I’d know it anywhere. “Hey, Swindoll; you know those days on Okinawa when you tricked me into helping you memorize all those Bible verses?” I confessed that I did. He laughed and said, “Well, it worked! Earlier this year, I decided to trust Christ as my Savior.”

God was working on Eddie’s heart through all those years. He kept His promise: “[My Word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV). God’s Word works!

With varying estimates of millions of Muslims in America and increased interest in Muslim influence around the world only a minority of evangelical leaders have direct contact with Islam.

The February Evangelical Leaders Survey asked: “Do you have a mosque in your neighborhood? Have you personally had a serious discussion with a Muslim in the past year?” In response 27% reported living or working in proximity of a mosque and 33% said they had a serious conversation with a Muslim. A large majority (73% and 67%) have no close contact with institutional Islam or individual Muslims.

Some reporting serious discussions indicated they were more likely to have had those discussions through formal inter-faith dialogue, professional ministry or international travel than personal friendships. One denominational executive said that “except from a distance at an airport, I have not even seen a Muslim with which to have a conversation.”…. Read this in full at

by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

LENT 2009
Lent, in some Christian denominations, is the 40-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The 40 days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan. The 6 Sundays in Lent are not counted among the 40 days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter”, a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Different churches calculate the 40 days differently. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, tithing, and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lent in 2009 will start on Wednesday, the 25th of February and will continue for 46 days until Saturday, the 11th of April.

John the Apostle talks about fixing the desires of your heart upon an object. He tells us that it’s not wise to love the world or anything in the world. The world as referred to here is the realm of sin organized against God and His righteousness. But the Holy Spirit, who connects you to Jesus Christ, also produces the fruit in your life of love, joy, and peace with God; patience, kindness, and goodness with your neighbor; faithfulness to responsibility; and humility and self-control as He duplicates the life of Jesus in you (see Galatians 5:22-23). How will fixing the desires of your heart upon things of the Spirit help you also to rightly desire what is most important to you in your life?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, lead us through these days as we approach Easter. Teach us to keep our hearts fixed on Your priorities for our lives. Amen.
also see Lenten Prayers for Hungry People

Reading the Bible aloud, start to finish, takes about 77 hours. Writing by hand the entire holy book? Try 6 months. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the New International Version of the Bible, the publishing house Zondervan is inviting people across the country to copy a verse in their own hand. The Bible Across America tour is producing 2 handwritten texts, one of which will go to the Smithsonian Institution…. Read this in full at,0,194379.story
also see

And the winner is …! The 81st annual Academy Awards ceremony just concluded. Films have long grappled with questions of ultimate meaning, and this year’s crop is no exception. Whether it’s the more overtly religious Doubt, based on John Patrick Shanley’s Broadway production, or the “life is beautiful” fantasy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, there’s a lot of potential here for out-of-the-box stories. Frost/Nixon explores moral ambiguity, and The Wrestler is a redemption tale both for the main character and for its real-life actor, Mickey Rourk.
Here are a few other observations…. Read this in full at

The key findings of the study “A Religious Portrait of African-Americans” are that blacks are far more likely to belong to a religious organization, attend church weekly, pray daily and express absolute certainty in the existence of God than the overall population. Neal Krause, a University of Michigan professor who studies and writes about the connection between religious affiliation and health, gender, race and age, said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll. The church traditionally has been a place where African-Americans could receive social services, find solace during decades of discrimination as well as worship, Krause said…. Read this in full at

Barack Obama has cited the 20th-century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as one of his favorite philosophers who has influenced his understanding of the world, of religion and of politics. In a public conversation in Washington, D.C. with political commentators David Brooks and E.J. Dionne, we explore how Niebuhr’s merger of intellect, faith, and realism might be speaking to a new era of American turmoil and American power. This live conversation took place on January 29, 2009 at the invitation of Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

The pilot of a deadly plane crash Feb. 12 in upstate New York was a Southern Baptist. Marvin Renslow, captain of the Continental Connection commuter flight that went down and crashed into a home while trying to land at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, attended First Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla. The 900-member congregation is affiliated with the Florida Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention.

Alan Burner, an associate pastor at the church, read a statement from the Renslow family. “They’re very proud of Marvin’s accomplishments as a pilot,” Burner said. “They know that he did everything that he could to save as many lives as he could, even in the accident.”

He continued, “They want you to know that their faith is that God is sovereign and God is in control even when it seems that everything is out of control. They want you to know that their faith, their trust, their hope is in the Lord, the one true and living God,” he said. They know — through their faith — that life does not end on this earth, but life continues as believers with God in heaven. They know that Marvin’s physical life as ended, but his eternal life has just begun.” Read this in full at

by Dr. James Emery White
There’s no point in dancing around this “sin” thing. Either it exists, or it doesn’t. Either there is true culpability, or not. We are either “mistakers” or “sinners.” Pay your quarter and take your choice.

The latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary for children did just that. In a sweeping revision, “crucial words used to describe…traditional topics have been stripped…in favour of more ‘modern’ terms.” One analyst was more forthcoming, noting that over six editions, dating back to the 1970’s, there seemed to be an increasing and systematic purging of all words related to Christianity.

Among the entries which have vanished in the most recent edition: disciple, saint, abbey, bishop, altar, chapel, christen, monk, and, yes, sin.

So whatever became of sin in our culture? Future generations may never know that such a word even existed…. Read this in full at

The word of God is on the move in London — literally. Beginning Feb. 9, three separate Christian groups launched advertisements on more than 200 of London’s buses to convince pedestrians of God’s existence. “It may be unpopular and unpleasant,” says David Larlham, assistant general secretary of London’s Trinitarian Bible Society, a group that distributes Bibles worldwide. “But there is a whole lot of truth in the Bible that people need to get to grips with.” His organization has paid $50,000 to display posters on 125 of London’s red double-decker buses that quote Psalm 53: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”

The move follows a monthlong campaign by atheists, agnostics, and other nonbelievers that saw 800 London buses plastered with a less God-fearing slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Ariane Sherine, an atheist and London-based comedy writer, devised the scheme after seeing a Christian bus advertisement. “It basically said that unless you believe this, you’re going to end up suffering,” she says of a pro-Jesus poster that featured what she describes as a “fiery apocalyptic sunset.” “Our campaign provides reassurance for people who might be agnostic and don’t quite believe and worry what will happen to them if they don’t.”…. Read this in full at,8599,1877658,00.html

Despite any popular doomsday predictions, most Americans aren’t concerned that the end of the world will occur in their lifetimes, according to a new study by LifeWay Research.

Only 11% of 1,600 people who participated in a survey on the topic said they agree with statement, “I believe that the world will end in my lifetime,” the division of LifeWay Christian Resources said in the LifeWay Research Insights newsletter Feb. 3.

“Many religions predict a time when the world will end, be recreated or experience some cataclysmic transition,” Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said. “For others, that is not a religious issue but based on concerns from the environment to nuclear war. However, the belief that ‘the end is near’ is not that widespread, with a strong majority disagreeing with the statement.”…. Read this in full at

by Tom Rademacher
As a player in man’s quest to understand the opposite sex, I was all eyes when my wife forwarded me an e-mail containing a primer on “Things Women Say” but don’t exactly mean. Example? The word “Fine,” which “is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.” Oh, do I get that.

Another is “Nothing,” which foretells “the calm before the storm.” Arguments that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine.” The seven others include phrases such as “Five Minutes” (this means a half-hour), “Go Ahead” (translation: if you value your life, don’t!), and “That’s OK,” one of the most dangerous things a woman can utter, because “OK” means she wants to think before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

Of course, this revelation on womantalk demands a response, preferably from a columnist who works with words and has nothing to fear from his wife. Figuring one out of two aren’t bad odds, here are some “Things Guys Say,” and what they mean.

1. “You look great” is guy talk for “Enough already; the car’s been running for 20 minutes.”

2. “It’s a guy thing.” There are a host of possibilities here, including “I don’t understand it myself” and “I am going to engage in behavior so juvenile that I am too embarrassed to go into detail.”
….. Read this in full at

How to Give a Great Man to Man Hug

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Youth is not a time of life, it’s a state of mind. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” Unknown

Across the US, the recession is pinching churches and missions agencies–not to mention individual Christians such as Steven Wilkes, who said he lost more than $60,000 in retirement savings when Wall Street crashed last year. Yet Wilkes, editor of the Journal of Evangelism and Missions, says he believes a bad economy could be just what Christians need to evangelize the United States…. Read this in full at

The date that has lived in infamy for nearly 7 decades can provide lessons for Christian companies facing the same economic realities as their secular counterparts, according to the head of one of the largest Christian products and services provider in the world. “People did not know if they could recover from Dec. 7, 1941,” said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, referring to the date Pearl Harbor was attacked. “I am not saying the economy can compare to the loss of lives, but, like then, many are asking if there is hope,” he said during a recent meeting of trustees, according to a report by the company. “They are asking where God is in this.” …. Read this in full at

Snuffed-out candles, skulls and hourglasses were how the Old Masters portrayed the vanity of greed. For the Dutch, the credit crunch has revived a moralistic stance from back when the first share was issued in Amsterdam. Erupting on the 500th anniversary of the birth of Protestant theologian John Calvin, the financial crisis has spawned a splurge of puritanical debate and self-analysis. Calvin’s 16th-century teachings were influential for the Protestant Reformation in the Netherlands and across Europe, and as people reassess the forces that unleashed the global credit bubble, they are falling back on old truths. Even Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has turned to Calvin to explain the financial mess…. Read this in full at

Most folks probably couldn’t locate their parietal lobe with a map and a compass. …What makes the parietal lobe special is not where it lives but what it does–particularly concerning matters of faith. If you’ve ever prayed so hard that you’ve lost all sense of a larger world outside yourself, that’s your parietal lobe at work. If you’ve ever meditated so deeply that you’d swear the very boundaries of your body had dissolved, that’s your parietal, too…. Read this in full at,8599,1879016,00.html

Once again, family-friendly, uplifting and inspiring movies drew far more viewers in 2008 than films with themes of despair, or leftist political agendas. Sex, drugs and anti-religious themes were not automatic sellers, either. Among the 25 top-grossing movies alone, 14 out of 25 had strong or very strong Christian, redemptive and moral content, and nearly all had at least some such content…. Read this in full at

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.

With the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth just past (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

Karl Giberson believes in Charles Darwin’s theory and Jesus Christ’s divinity. What he can’t believe is the anger this inspires among some who embrace one belief and reject the other. His latest book, “Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution,” was published last summer by HarperOne. Since then, both sides have launched missiles at him, attacking in live debates, Internet forums, magazine articles and book reviews…. Read this in full at

When your lips gently brush against the mouth of your beloved, it may feel magically romantic, or sloppily slobbery, or blissfully gentle, or perhaps too rough and toothy. Regardless, the practice of kissing is nearly universal. It’s practiced in at least 90% of cultures among sexual or romantic partners, experts say. Now, scientists are investigating the biological factors underlying that ubiquitous expression of love. The science of kissing even has a name: philematology. Research on the subject was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on Feb. 13. “Kissing is not just kissing. It is a major escalation or de-escalation point in a powerful process of mate choice,” said Helen Fisher, professor at Rutgers University and author of the book “Why Him, Why Her: Finding Real Love by Understanding Your Personality Type.”…. Read this in full at

It’s not every day that we get to direct a $2.5 billion, school-bus-size instrument. But NASA is celebrating the International Year of Astronomy by letting us decide which object the Hubble telescope should target next. You get to choose from six heretofore unexamined regions of the universe: two planetary nebulae; two spiral galaxies, visible from different angles; the amorphous “Star-Forming Region NGC 6334”; and — the current front-runner — two “interacting galaxies” that appear to be merging and go by the joint name Arp 274. Voting closes March 1. NASA will post the results on March 2 and photos of the winner in early April.

by Carol Mithers
My habits weren’t horrible, but they weren’t great, either. No sodas, fast food, or cigarettes, and I ate my share of broccoli…but I also liked heavy cream in my coffee, butter with dinner, and fortifying spoonfuls of ice cream when afternoon hunger hit.

If I was stuck on what to have for lunch, the solution invariably included melted cheese. I was too fond of my evening cocktail(s). I exercised hard, but sporadically, and I never stretched. I wore sunscreen…sometimes. I usually forgot to floss. Etc.

I couldn’t deny seeing some changes as I hit my 50s: less energy, a growing pot belly, pain that I assumed was early arthritis in my neck whenever I looked over my shoulder. Caring for aged parents and in-laws offered a none-too-gentle reminder that this was just the beginning. But could it be slowed if I were very, very good? If I really cleaned up my act?

What if, for a month, I embraced every health dictate we all know we should follow but blithely ignore? Would I feel rejuvenated, young? Or just like the butt of that old joke: “Eating healthy doesn’t make you live longer…it just feels that way?”

With the help of the Internet, I researched a plan for perfect living. I’d follow traditional USDA guidelines for diet: 2,000 weight-maintaining calories a day, no more than 67 grams of fat (only 22 of them saturated fat), and no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium…. Read this in full at

“Christ is God’s self-disclosure. He is God showing himself to us in such a way that he leaves no room for doubt or error in our minds as to what God is like. This is why we call him the word of God. A word is a true word only as it reveals him who speaks it. In Christ we do not see all that there is of God; but all that we see in him is God, and it is enough for our present need.” Carroll Simcox

[Jesus said,] “‘In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 7:12

Words: Unknown author, 11th Century; translated from Latin to English by John M. Neale
Music: Christliche Gesangbüchlein, 1568

By precepts taught of ages past,
Now let us keep again the fast,
Which, year by year, in order meet
Of forty days is made complete.

The law and seers that were of old
In divers ways this Lent foretold,
Which Christ Himself, the Lord and Guide
Of every season, sanctified.

More sparing therefore let us make
The words we speak, the food we take,
Deny ourselves in mirth and sleep,
In stricter watch our senses keep.

In prayer together let us fall,
And cry for mercy, one and all;
And weep before the Judge, and say,
O turn from us Thy wrath away.

Thy grace have we offended sore
By sins, O God, which we deplore;
Pour down upon us from above
The riches of Thy pardoning love.

Remember, Lord, though frail we be,
That yet Thine handiwork are we:
Nor let the honor of Thy Name
Be by another put to shame.

Forgive the ill that we have wrought,
Increase the good that we have sought;
That we at length, our wanderings o’er,
May please Thee now and evermore.

Blest Three in One, and One in Three,
Almighty God, we pray to Thee,
That Thou wouldst now vouchsafe to bless
Our fast with fruits of righteousness.

>from CyberHymnal at

“O God, Who hast ordained that whatever is to be desired, should be sought by labor, and Who, by Thy blessing, bringest honest labor to good effect; look with mercy upon my studies and endeavors. Grant me, O Lord, to design only what is lawful and right, and afford me calmness of mind, and steadiness of purpose, that I may so do Thy will in this short life, as to obtain happiness in the world to come, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)


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.

So Many a Second

Sculpting the Impossible: Solid Renditions of Visual Illusions

MC Escher prints

The Gettysburg Address on Wordle

GeoEye super-high-resolution satellite images

(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.)

Where does all the white go when the snow melts?
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor

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