Food for the Soul

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Posted 6/17/09 at 6:25 PM | Audra Jennings

38,102 miles, 38 years, 1 mission

From Hollywood to Iran, Jerusalem to Poland,
One Man with One Message: The Cross

The Cross by Arthur Blessitt
The Cross by Arthur Blessitt

"And then Jesus said to lay it all down, and let your vision be no bigger than the next person you meet. Following that vision has carried me around the world."
-Arthur Blessitt

Over the past thirty-eight years, Arthur Blessitt has walked the globe with one purpose in mind as he carried a twelve-foot wooden cross. Traveling more than 38,000 miles, visiting every sovereign nation and island group in the world, his pursuit has amazed and puzzled the world. This journey, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under "World's Longest Walk," is one that has taken him through war zones, across jungles, and even to the penguins of Antarctica.

Blessitt's new autobiography, The Cross (Authentic), will destroy, and then re-define, every reader's assumptions about the cross and what it means to follow Jesus. Blessitt's cross walk converts to action two foundational ideas: The cross is God's message of love, and the cross is for everyone.

"I have had the privilege of reinterpreting the cross. Many people feel that the cross is against them. They [falsely] think the cross is against my sexual orientation or I had an abortion, so God hates me," Blessitt says. The Cross is filled with story after story of the miraculous reception the cross-and with it, Blessitt's delivery of the gospel-has received in unlikely places like Communist Poland, Lebanon, Iran, isolated tribal lands, and Los Angeles' Sunset Strip. Blessitt explains, "In many places-particularly in Muslim countries-the cross has historically been a sign of offense, due mainly to the actions of ‘Christendom.' I have carried the cross of love into Muslim countries and not only survived, but I've been welcomed."

Blessitt's journey has attracted worldwide attention, and his story has been covered by ABC News, Christianity Today, Variety, and a host of other noted media. The Cross offers Blessitt's perspective on the most fascinating moments such as meeting with Yasser Arafat on two different occasions, once after walking through a battle between five different armies with his twelve-year-old son. Blessitt was also able to share the message of Jesus with Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. On another occasion, he was beaten and jailed along with a group of Spanish pastors under Francisco Franco's fascist regime.

Blessitt has befriended presidents, held audience with kings, and spoken before crowds 500,000 strong, however, his ministry was never about seeking the spotlight. More often than not, he has sought "the least of these"-the nameless victims of war, the obscure tribe on a hidden island, the oppressed people forgotten by the rest of the world.

The power of Blessitt's cross has not only changed the world, it has transformed him. "Many people have dreams and visions of doing mighty things for God and making an impact on the world. That was my prayer also."

The Cross by Arthur Blessitt
Authentic Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-934068-67-0/221 pages/softcover/$17.99
www.authenticpublishing.com  www.arthurblessitt.com

Posted 6/4/09 at 2:54 PM | Religion Ethics

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - June 5

Listed below are program highlights for RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY #1240 distributed nationally this Friday, June 5, 2009:

  • Muslim Reaction to Obama's Address - Bob Abernethy is joined by Dr. Vali Nasr, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Kate Seelye, RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY correspondent who specializes in coverage of the Middle East, for a studio discussion and analysis of Muslim reaction to President Barack Obama's speech this week in Egypt.
  • Thomas Merton - Judy Valente looks at the spiritual legacy of the late Thomas Merton, one of the most influential Catholic writers of the 20th century. (Rebroadcast from November 21, 2008) 

        Web link: www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/november-21-2008/thomas-merton/1378/

Posted 5/30/09 at 12:39 PM | Audra Jennings

How could the Good News get any better?

When the Good News Gets Even Better by Neb Hayden
When the Good News Gets Even Better by Neb Hayden

Witness the Gospels Through the Eyes of a First-Century Hebrew

New Bible study from David C Cook gives readers a fresh new way to experience the Good News

How is it possible to make the Good News of the Gospel better? How can truth be enhanced? Can Jesus Christ be improved upon? In his new Bible study, author Neb Hayden emphatically answers, "Impossible! The Gospel gets even better only when it's more clearly understood. The Good News gets even better only when we read the Gospels as they were communicated and in the way they were meant to be seen."

That's why in his new study, When the Good News Gets Even Better (David C Cook, June 2009), Hayden gives students of the New Testament the opportunity to walk through the Gospel narratives in Hebrew sandals. This unique Bible study allows readers to see these letters just as their original audience did and provides vital insights into the Jewish culture, customs, and perspectives, giving a fresh and thoroughly relevant context to the life of Christ.

"The Gospels are the foundation of our faith because our faith is built on a Person," explains Hayden. "He was a Jew, living in a Jewish world, and communicating with Jewish people. This study offers readers the chance to walk the dusty roads with Him, to be there as a participant rather than simply as an observer."

Using a three-month format, When the Good News Gets Even Better combines all four Gospels into one comprehensive and chronological narrative, allowing readers to focus on the overall themes and truths as they occurred. Among many other subjects, Hayden examines the births and childhoods of Jesus and John the Baptist, Jesus' public ministry, the training of the twelve disciples, and Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. Features also include days sectioned into key points of Jesus' ministry, suggestions for when to skim or thoroughly read a selection, and interactive questions for individual study and group discussion.

Neb Hayden, author of When the Good News Gets Even Better
Neb Hayden, author of When the Good News Gets Even Better

"The Gospels are just the beginning of God's continuing pursuit of intimacy with mankind," says Hayden. "These biographies of Jesus are our stories too. Every move Jesus made and every word He spoke has direct implications for our lives in the twenty-first century. I pray that readers will be permanently transformed as they become first-hand witnesses to the Gospels' miraculous events and times explored in this guide."

Author Bio
Neb Hayden is director of International Student Development at The King's College in New York City. A former quarterback for "Bear Bryant" at Alabama, Neb has been involved his adult life with the fellowship in Washington, D.C., which works behind the scenes to nurture and encourage the leadership in over 180 nations. The group also works behind the scenes of the National Prayer Breakfast. Neb speaks and teaches extensively at seminars, conferences, and retreats. He and his wife, Susan, live in New York City and are the parents of three grown sons and two daughters-in-law.

When the Good News Gets Even Better: Rediscovering the Gospels Through First-Century Jewish Eyes by Neb Hayden
David C Cook/June 2009/ISBN: 978-1-434767-00-4/240 pages/softcover/$16.99
www.davidccook.com

Posted 5/28/09 at 3:14 PM | Audra Jennings

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph by Linda Weddle
How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph by Linda Weddle

Develop Spiritual Champions for Jesus Christ with New Practical Guide for Growing Children of Faith

With her newest release, Awana author and staff member Linda Massey Weddle equips parents to build a foundation of faith for their children

Parents long to help their children reach their full potential. They schedule regular medical exams, get them involved in planned activities, help them with their homework, and invest for their college education. Yet while they may plan for their success, they can overlook a vital part of their personal development: Nurturing and encouraging a solid, lasting foundation of faith. Though we often assume that children are growing spiritually through church youth groups and programs, it's essential that parents take an active, encouraging, and purposeful role in developing their values and morals.

Linda Massey Weddle, the U.S. program senior designer for Awana and established author of children's books and curriculums, has created How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph (David C Cook, June 2009) as a resource for parents who are longing to help their children find spiritual success. Based on Raising a Modern-Day Joseph, this unique guidebook encourages parents to develop a practical, personalized plan for instilling faith-based values and beliefs in their children that will last a lifetime.

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph is modeled after Joseph of the Old Testament, who maintained his faith in spite of challenging circumstances. It features insights for growing kids spiritually and plotting out critical milestones from the toddler years through adolescence, while also allowing for the uniqueness of each child.

An ideal target for how parents want their kids to develop spiritually and morally, Joseph of Genesis offers parents a Biblical standard for building children of character. Using his story, How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph will help them do just that. They'll discover how to instill five Master Life Threads for each stage of life, from preschool through high school. The practical guide helps children:

• Acquire wisdom from the Bible
• Understand God's grace
• Gain a sense of destiny and purpose
• Develop a life-perspective based on God's perfect plan

Linda Weddle, author of How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph
Linda Weddle, author of How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph

The result: Children and teenagers who know, love, and serve the Lord. How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph is a sure investment in the spiritual development of our youngest generation.

Author Bio
Linda Massey Weddle is a gifted teacher, speaker, and prolific writer. A children's author and regular contributor to publications including Women's Day and Christian Parenting Today, she has published twelve books and more than 2,500 articles, stories, devotionals, and radio scripts. Linda also develops Bible-based curriculum for young people and has been involved in children's and youth ministry for the past forty years. She has two grown children and six grandchildren and resides in suburban Chicago.

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph by Linda Massey Weddle
David C Cook/June 2009/ISBN: 978-1-434765-31-4/240 pages/softcover/$16.99
www.davidccook.com

Posted 5/28/09 at 2:59 PM | Audra Jennings

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World

Scared by Tom Davis
Scared by Tom Davis

Author Tom Davis explores today's most vital social issues in his new international saga

The United Nations estimates the world orphan population to be over 143 million children. Poverty, war, disease, and AIDS are the primary enemies of children across the globe, leaving those who are robbed of their parents at-risk for criminal behavior, prostitution, drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide.

In his debut novel, accomplished author and speaker Tom Davis offers readers a sweeping narrative that explores these most critical social concerns. Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World (June 2009/David C Cook) delves into the lives of a photojournalist struggling to redeem his past and an African orphan fighting for survival.

Once a celebrated and award-winning photojournalist, Stuart Daniels is reeling from debt, a broken marriage, and crippling depression. The source of Stuart's grief is his most famous photo, a snapshot of brutality in the dangerous Congo. This haunting image indicts him as a passive witness to gross injustice.

Stuart is given one last chance to redeem his career: A make-or-break assignment covering the AIDS crisis in a small African country. It is here that Stuart meets Adanna, a young orphan fighting for her life in a community ravaged by tragedy and disease. But in the face of overwhelming odds, Adanna finds hope in a special dream, where she is visited by an illuminated man and given a precious gift. Now what seemed like a chance encounter will forever change their lives.

Tom Davis, Author of Scared
Tom Davis, Author of Scared

In Scared, Tom Davis, also the author of Red Letters and Fields of the Fatherless, weaves a beautiful story of redemption that takes place in a world far away from our own. Readers will discover, along with Stuart, that, "Sorrow is a part of life, but our tears can leave us with clearer sight, if we look to God."

True "fiction with a conscience," Davis' novel is the first in a planned series of three. Narrated in the first person by both Stuart and Adanna, Scared offers a unique perspective on the tragedies taking place in Africa today and encourages readers to step out and help the "least of these."

Author Bio
Tom Davis is the well-known author of Red Letters and Fields of the Fatherless. He also serves as a trainer in leadership development. He holds a Business and Pastoral Ministry degree from Dallas Baptist University and a Master's Degree in Theology from The Criswell College. He is the president of Children's HopeChest (www.hopechest.org), a Christian-based child advocacy organization helping orphans in Eastern Europe and Africa. Tom and his wife, Emily, have five children.

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis
David C Cook/June 2009/ ISBN 978-1-589191-02-0/288 pages/softcover/$14.99
www.davidccook.com ~ www.scaredthebook.com

Posted 5/27/09 at 5:37 PM | Audra Jennings

Operation Kid-to-Kid Brings Comfort to Kids in Crisis

What do think about when you read headlines about economic hardships, natural disasters, and politically charged conflict? Circumstances like these set families and entire communities reeling, and few people are affected as profoundly as the children involved. How do the littlest victims cope with the changes and uncertainty around them? And what can the church do to reach out specifically to these little ones?

Group Publishing, the premier publishers of children's Bible curriculum including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. That's why they have created a program called Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K), which partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like International Bible Society and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God's love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. Since its inception ten years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted millions of kids all over the world.

"Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service," says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. "Children learn by doing. It's one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers."

This year's OK2K project features two easy to make (no sewing required) Comfort Critters-small plush turtles with a sewn in pocket for exchanging pictures or notes of encouragement and hope. After they make the turtles, each child will keep one and send the other to a child in need. With a cute little turtle as a friendly and safe messenger, children will understand and communicate Christian compassion and the hope of Jesus. . . and they'll have fun doing it. Group offers many other resources for OK2K initiatives, including an affordable booklet entitled The Survivors: For Kids in Tough Places.

Over the years, OK2K has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world through gifts of school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. Between recent natural disasters and the global economic crisis, there are more opportunities than ever for children to show the love of Christ to other children-and not just for a VBS event. Operation Kid-to-Kid can mobilize service projects any time of the year.

Group is also starting a new venture between OK2K and Lifetree Adventures, an organization that combines unique vacations with meaningful service projects. This new venture will be the "follow through" option for those who feel called to take the VBS OK2K effort to the next level. For 2009, Operation Kid-to-Kid will sponsor a trip to New Orleans for children's leaders to deliver the Comfort Critter turtles to Katrina victims.

"There is still much to be done in New Orleans after the nation's largest natural disaster. You saw the horror of Hurricane Katrina where over 1,500 people died," says Group VBS Senior Editor Jody Brolsma. "But did you know Christians have led the way, quietly rebuilding and cleaning up after the disaster? Now you can help minister to the children of the 7th Ward, where flooding caused massive destruction. Take your passion for Jesus to kids who have lived through challenging times."

This trip is open to adult volunteers, but space is very limited. Service activities will include painting, cleanup, and repair of a volunteer center and homes in the 7th Ward and connecting with kids after school.

Plan now to connect with Jody and reach out with love to the kids and families of New Orleans, November 8-13, 2009. Visit www.lifetreeadventures.com or call 1.800.747.2157 to review the itinerary and reserve your trip.

www.ok2k.org

Posted 5/27/09 at 12:17 PM | Audra Jennings

Bottke's offers contemporary fiction for mature women

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke

Where Life Is a Dance and Disco Is a State of Mind

In Her Latest Novel, Queen of Boomer Lit Allison Bottke Offers Mature Women Contemporary Fiction with an Attitude!

With over seventy-eight million baby boomers alive today, a demand for women's fiction that deals with age-appropriate issues has grown exponentially in recent years. Out of the ever-increasing number of novelists that feature characters in their 40's, 50's, and 60's, best-selling author Allison Bottke has distinguished herself as a true "queen" of boomer lit.

This summer, Allison will launch her new Va-Va-Va Boom series, published by David C Cook, where vibrant, successful fifty-somethings share laughter, tears, and advice as they pop into each others' lives via the Internet-and the airlines! Brought together in an online community known as Boomer Babes Rock, Susan, Patricia, and Mary form a fast friendship, even though they live in different parts of the country and lead completely different lives.

"My boomer babe characters are fun, fashionable, funky, and faithful women who are following the dreams of their hearts," Allison says. "I want to provide readers with enjoyable fiction about sassy and seasoned women achieving dreams, not complaining about their aches and pains. I also want to provide an honest but positive look at long-term marriage."

In You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, the first book in the Va-Va-Va Boom series, Susan Anderson owns and operates a hip hair salon on the Las Vegas strip, decorated with her collection of disco memorabilia accumulated decades ago when she was one of the beautiful people on New York's disco scene. Now happily married, Susan is known for her business savvy, her fabulous vintage ensembles, her faith, her big heart-and the impromptu disco dance numbers salon staff and clients join in when the spirit moves. If life is a dance, Susan's mastered all the moves.

But an exciting business opportunity, her husband's impending retirement, and her fiftieth birthday rock her world, shaking Susan's foundation and revealing regrets and painful memories she thought she'd dealt with. Will Susan be able to face her past, reinvent her marriage, launch a new dream . . . and keep on dancing?Allison Bottke spent 17 years as a professional fund-raiser before her personal journey prompted her to create the best-selling God Allows U-Turns anthologies. Now a popular speaker and author of hip-lit fiction as well as nonfiction, Allison was one of the first plus-size models with the Wilhelmina agency. Today, she has created a place where fun, fashion, food, family, and faith merge to empower and inspire boomer women all around the world. That place is www.BoomerBabesRock.com.

Allison Bottke, Author of You Make Me Feel Like Dancing
Allison Bottke, Author of You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Author Bio

Allison Bottke spent 17 years as a professional fund-raiser before her personal journey prompted her to create the best-selling God Allows U-Turns anthologies. Now a popular speaker and author of hip-lit fiction as well as nonfiction, Allison was one of the first plus-size models with the Wilhelmina agency. Today, she has created a place where fun, fashion, food, family, and faith merge to empower and inspire boomer women all around the world. That place is www.BoomerBabesRock.com.

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke
David C Cook/June 2009/ISBN: 978-1-434799-49-4/437 pages/softcover/$14.99
www.davidccook.com

Posted 5/26/09 at 9:53 PM | Audra Jennings

Trading rumors of God for firsthand faith

Secondhand Jesus by Glenn Packiam
Secondhand Jesus by Glenn Packiam

Taking a Shortcut to God?

In Secondhand Jesus, rising author and musician Glenn Packiam helps Christians exchange rumors of God for a firsthand faith

We live in a culture of experts. Everywhere one turns, there are professionals touting advice on everything from how to repair your car to how to fix your marriage. And, in Christian circles, some have even started to believe that there are "God experts"-people who can pray in just the right way that God hears them or who worship in such a way as to make God listen. We begin to rely on these people as our sole source of information about God, rather than make the effort to encounter Him directly ourselves.

In his new book, Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith (David C Cook, June 2009), author and worship pastor of New Life Church Glenn Packiam summons readers upon a passionate quest-a holy pursuit-to truly experience Christ's power and love for themselves. "God wants us to know Him deeply and personally," Packiam says. "But there are no shortcuts to God. The Bible tells us that ‘The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention.'" (Matthew 7:14, The Message)

God has offered us firsthand knowledge of His love, His grace, and His power. Yet so often, we too easily settle for someone else's descriptions, the Cliff notes from another's spiritual journey. We are content for others to do the heavy lifting and then give us the bottom line. And, like any secondhand information, after enough times through the grapevine, the truth about God deteriorates and crumbs of rumor are all that remain.

But when life derails, and things don't go as we had planned, our thin view of God is challenged. In those critical moments, we can choose to walk away from God, or to let our questions lead us home. When we choose to wrestle with God, to engage Him individually, we-like Jacob and Job and David-will see rumors die and revelation come alive. FULL POST

Posted 5/7/09 at 4:34 PM | Religion Ethics

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - May 8

This week's edition of the PBS newsmagazine program RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY (distributed Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m., check local listings) will include the following reports: FULL POST

Posted 5/1/09 at 10:19 AM | Religion Ethics

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - May 1

This week's edition of the PBS newsmagazine program RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY (distributed Friday, May 1 at 5 p.m., check local listings) will include the following reports:

  • The Moral Debate About Torture - Bob Abernethy talks with Dr. Shaun Casey from Wesley Theological Seminary and Dr. Jean Bethke Elshtain with the University of Chicago about the moral debate over whether torture is justified and what should be done to those who authorize it.
  • Sister Cyril - Fred de Sam Lazaro travels to Calcutta for a look at how Sister Cyril Mooney, an Irish nun belonging to the Loreto Order, is transforming the lives of thousands of underprivileged students.
  • Religion and Obama's First 100 Days - Kim Lawton reports on how some religious groups are assessing the first 100 days of the Obama Administration and their access to the White House.

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