Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Friends of Israel' Supplying 8,000 Israeli Soldiers With Hanukkah Gifts

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) along with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (the Fellowship) and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (AWIS) are providing gifts to over 8,000 Israeli soldiers this holiday season.

"The economic difficulties experienced by large parts of Israel's population also affect the soldiers of the IDF," said Founder and President of the Fellowship, Rabbi Eckstein, in a statement shared with The Christian Post. "Military service is hard enough, and this burden is even greater for soldiers whose families are suffering economic hardship. Committed to helping all citizens of Israel experiencing poverty and privation, the IFJC is also enlisting to help these soldiers. We are proud to support those who choose, despite difficulties at home, to enlist and contribute to the defense of the State of Israel."
The gift vouchers can be used in major retail stores across Israel and will provide soldiers with access to food, clothing, shoes, sports and leisure products. The Fellowship says that there are over 5,700 Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) as well as over regular 4,500 soldiers who will be entitled to the financial support.

'I Am Second' Releases 'Live Second' Book to Encourage Putting God, Others First

Tuesday, Dec. 11 marked the release of Live Second: A Daily Guide to Live a God-honoring Life, the latest book of the "I Am Second" movement, which seeks to remind all people that they are second to God and others, and to live for a greater purpose in life.

"This book is for anyone looking to discover meaning in life, your mission on this planet, or the cure to life's difficulties," said Live Second author Doug Bender in a press statement.
"You do not need to believe in Jesus to start this journey, but I think you will be challenged by His message before you trek too far. I believe the power of His love, the vastness of His forgiveness and the strength of His presence will inspire you to rethink your relationship with God," Bender added.
Live Second is designed to be used hand-in-hand with the Bible, and consists of a daily devotion, which includes a reading, prayer, and action step, for all 365 days of the year.
Each devotion has a corresponding Twitter hashtag that allows readers to continue their discussion of the day's devotion online.
This is the second book to come from the "I Am Second" movement, which was founded by Norm Miller, Chairman of Dallas-based Interstate Batteries.

Archaeologist claims evidence of Noah’s biblical flood

First he found the Titanic -- will he find the only ship more famous?
Robert Ballard, the underwater archaeologist famed for discovering the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, claims to have found evidence of the biblical flood that Noah fled, surfing the waters for 40 days and 40 nights, according to Genesis. He says the Black Sea was once merely a freshwater lake -- until an enormous wall of water from the Mediterranean 200 times more powerful than Niagara Falls swept it and everything else away. Including Noah and his ark.
"We went in there to look for the flood," Ballard told ABC News. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed ... the land that went under stayed under."

CBS will Air Latest Odyssey Networks Production on Christmas Eve

One Christmas Story' Celebrates the Power of Hope
NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Like so many of America's once bustling industrial centers, Reading, PA, has been on a downward spiral for decades. The city has lost factories, jobs and population. The latest economic recession amplified its burdens. Something that Reading has never lost, however, is hope -- hope and an abiding belief in the power of community. ONE CHRISTMAS STORY: People Rich in Spirit, a new production from Odyssey Networks, takes viewers to the heart of this small American city for a celebration that reflects the true meaning of the holiday season -- hope and caring. CBS will air the one-hour program, without commercials, starting at 11:35 PM ET/PT on Christmas Eve.

The aptly named Hope Lutheran Church (a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), a beacon in Reading's poorest neighborhood, is the scene in which a diverse congregation gathers on Christmas Eve 2012 to share the joyful songs of the season, as performed by four local choirs, and to hear the story of the birth of Christ as told through the moving words of the Scripture. Woven through the music and the readings are the stories of Reading citizens today -- stories that illustrate the messages of the Gospel: sharing with neighbors, valuing the spiritual over the material, and welcoming the stranger.

Also featured in this Christmas special will be a gathering, hosted by the Salvation Army, for Reading citizens -- both the needy and those who are reaching out to help with a warm welcome, shelter, food, and holiday gifts. Viewers will be struck by the parallels between this gathering and the time-honored images from the Christmas story itself-the weary travelers Mary and Joseph finding shelter, the Three Kings bringing gifts to the Child, the humble shepherds being honored by heavenly messengers, and Bethlehem, a downtrodden town in Judea, becoming the birthplace of the long-awaited Messiah.

ONE CHRISTMAS STORY: PEOPLE RICH IN SPIRIT promises to be a unique and joyous celebration of Christmas that makes the story of the birth of Christ immediate and relatable to the world in which we live now. For more information, visit

About Odyssey Networks
Established in 1987, Odyssey Networks, a non-profit 501 c (3), is a service of the National Interfaith Cable Coalition, Inc. It has over 150 denominational, organizational and individual members representing the world's major faith traditions. Odyssey produces award-winning content for cable TV, the Internet and mobile in their mission to promote understanding among people of different beliefs and perspectives

Christian Newswire

Prof: 'Charlie Brown Christmas' can be helpful

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- In the classic TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Linus reminds the rest of the Peanuts gang of the true meaning of Christmas by reciting the story of Christ's birth from Luke 2.

Christians could do worse than to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas this holiday season, seminary professor David Mills says, because it can remind them to share the Gospel.

"Linus gets it," said Mills, assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

"God gave us Jesus in Bethlehem because we need His death at Calvary," Mills said, emphasizing the necessity of Jesus to be fully human and fully divine in order to fulfill God's plan for the redemption of sinners.

Mills suggested that Christmas be celebrated by looking forward to the second coming of Christ.

"Connect the birth of Christ with the throne of David," Mills said. "The manger points toward the throne, and the first birth anticipates the second coming. The Old Testament does not miss this connection. We shouldn't either."


Despite Funding Challenges and Volunteer Shortages, Survey Shows Churches Determined to Do More in 2013

Outlook for Outreach reveals the impact of churches on local communities and the world at large.
CAROL STREAM, Ill., Dec. 12, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Where would Americans be if churches didn't make outreach a priority? Many would feel the pain of unmet needs for basics such as food and clothing, not to mention a slow-down in disaster recovery efforts. For many hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, it was churches that provided the first signs of relief. In fact, a new survey -- Outlook for Outreach -- shows that of the 58% of churches in America that provide hands-on assistance for causes throughout our country, 75% of them engage in national disaster relief efforts.
To better quantify how churches engage in outreach ministries to provide for physical needs within their local communities and the world at large, Christianity Today (CT) and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company (BMIC) recently conducted the joint national Outlook for Outreach study. Responses collected during the summer of 2012 from 1,486 church leaders and volunteers involved in outreach reveal that nearly all churches (96%) are serving those in their local community, especially in feeding and clothing the poor.
Results show that churches meet -- and even exceed -- the need for food and clothing at the local level, however, they're providing less hands-on assistance in addressing unemployment and preventing crime and gang-related violence than the perceived need. Along with providing disaster relief, more than half of the churches send teams on in-country mission trips (54%) and are engaged in housing construction projects.

Churches are involved in international outreach efforts (70%). Fully 60% of them fund building projects overseas, including homes, churches, schools, medical clinics, and orphanages, and 53% travel abroad to physically assist with the construction work.

Nine in ten churches allow other organizations to use their facility for outreach programs, so churches are opening their doors for others to serve too. The survey also shows that churches are taking care to select suitable volunteers and provide adequate training before doing hands-on ministry.

"Churches engage in all kinds of outreach efforts," says Dave Lantz, vice president, claims, Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. "Church leaders need to be aware of the risks associated with outreach and recognize the importance of managing those risks. It's encouraging that many are already taking steps to minimize them."

The majority of churches say that finding enough funding and volunteers are the two biggest obstacles to doing outreach locally, nationally, and internationally. At the same time, 41% of churches report that volunteerism is up for outreach ministries, and nearly half (45%) expect their church budget for outreach to increase in the coming year.

According to 62% of respondents, the number one result of serving others is a sense of maturing discipleship among those involved. Another added benefit: more than one-third (35%) of the respondents say that more previously unchurched people now attend their church as a result of their outreach efforts.

"Outreach and compassion are important hallmarks of church life," said Marshall Shelley, editorial vice president of Christianity Today. "The results of this study show the high percentage of churches and church members that are involved in serving their neighbors locally, nationally, and internationally. If faith must be exercised to remain healthy, then most churches see outreach as the fitness center for faith."

An executive summary of the survey findings is available on and at

Christianity Today is a nonprofit, global media ministry that serves the church through digital and print publications, as well as practical and accessible web resources that together reach more than 2.5 million people every month.

Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company offers comprehensive property, liability, workers' compensation and commercial auto insurance for churches and related ministries throughout the United States. Other programs include foreign liability and travel assistance for short- and long-term mission trips and payroll and tax filing services.

Christian Newswire