Sunday, April 29, 2012

The 3 - April 29, 2012

This week on "The 3", my week-in-review feature, people are reading God's Word continuously in the nation's capital and other locales across the nation, leading up to the National Day of Prayer.   Also, residents of the South took a few moments to look back on the devastating tornadoes of April 27, 2011.   And, Christians were reminded of the power of the Internet and creative ways it can be used as a tool to share the gospel.

3 - Bible-reading marathon kicks off in nation's capital

In advance of the National Day of Prayer, which is coming up on Thursday, May 3rd, people have gathered in Washington, DC for the 23rd Annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, which will be attracting hundreds of people to Capitol Hill, each of whom are reading portions of God's Word.   The Bible reading in the nation's capital is one of a number of such events across the country and around the world, organized in association with Bible Pathway Ministries.

Terry Shaffer Hall, one of the directors for the DC Marathon, told The Christian Post that the purpose of the marathon was to promote biblical literacy and understanding.  She said that it was, "To call people to daily read their Bibles and look to it, as the inspired Word of God, for guidance, truth, hope, peace in troubling times...Standing on the West Steps of the Capitol looking westward and reading God's [Word] across this great nation fills your heart with hope for this country."

The Global Bible Reading Marathon will originate from Bible Pathway's headquarters in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and will continue until May 3rd and feature 95 hours streamed on the Internet.   Because of a Congressional scheduling conflict, the Washington event will conclude Tuesday; other marathons are scheduled through Thursday, the 3rd.   Organizers believe the Bible reading marathons lay a solid foundation for the National Day of Prayer.  To learn more, go to

2 - Christian and governmental leaders mark one-year anniversary of day of devastation
This past Friday, April 27th, was the one-year anniversary of a major tornado outbreak that caused death and damage across a number of Southeastern states.  The outbreak was the second-largest such event in history, with an estimated 349 people losing their lives, 239 of them within the state of Alabama, which experienced major tornadoes, such as the F5 which destroyed Hackleburg and Phil Campbell, and the powerful F4 that ravaged parts of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.   Other communities that suffered significant damage included Cullman, areas close to Huntsville and Decatur, and cities in DeKalb County, such as Rainsville and Sylvania, as well as Elmore and Tallapoosa counties.  

Churches and ministry organizations were again on the front lines, bringing not only physical relief, but also a sense of hope through Christ.  To observe the one-year anniversary of the event, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was part of a special prayer time on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.   Franklin Graham, whose Samaritan's Purse organization worked extensively in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham areas, returned to West Alabama for a special prayer breakfast.   And, The Alabama Baptist released a 56-page commemorative edition which highlighted some of the churches that were damaged and their rebuilding efforts, the work of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams, and the hope that was evident throughout the recovery effort. 

I highlighted 4 lessons that we could take away from the storms:
1 - We don't always know why bad things happen.  But, we can rest assured that crisis becomes an opportunity for the glory of God - we live in a fallen world, and adversity will come - the storms will blow through, as Jesus illustrated in the Sermon on the Mount. The question is: how will we handle them? If we respond in faith, then He will do amazing things either inside our hearts or around or lives - and if we don't respond properly, still God can show us by His Spirit how we can be ready the next time.

2 - We can always be better prepared. During this past year, people have evaluated their personal emergency plans. Organizations that provide relief are looking at ways they can respond even better. We can look for definite areas of improvement.

3 - Working together brings more effective results. There are great benefits when we as believers can lay down our differences - of doctrine, culture, ethnicity, or geography - and seek after the common goal of bringing relief to those who have been affected and glory to God. Partnerships have been key in the restoration effort.

4 - Our God is a God of restoration.  Even where lives have been devastated and livelihood destroyed, we can know that the Lord is a builder...He always brings hope, and His people are often called to be communicators of that hope - with our mouths, our hands, and our hearts. The display of the love of Christ is a powerful force in letting other people know that He is interested in them, He loves them deeply, and He desires to repair what is broken.

Special commemorative events were held on Friday, bringing people together to reflect on their losses and to recognize the incredible efforts that were expressed by devoted relief workers.   This series of events, tragic as they may be, remind us of the dependence that we can have on Almighty God in those tough times we experience.

1 - "Internet Evangelism Day" encourages Christians to use technology to spread the gospel

Sunday, April 29th was set aside as "Internet Evangelism Day", which is an effort to recognize the power of technology to communicate the truth of the gospel, and to encourage Christians and their churches to be more involved in using technology in this way.   Tony Whittaker, IE Day coordinator in the United Kingdom is quoted by Christian Today as saying:  "At last it has become remarkably easy for any Jesus-follower to build relationships and discuss truth appropriately, especially within social networking platforms...Our digital communication culture has become highly visual and dialogue-based, and the sharing of conversation-starting video shorts on Facebook and Twitter is as easy as a mouse-click, though only if we know where to find them."

More information can be found at, and free e-books were made available on Sunday at that website. 

The opportunities to reach people through the Internet continue to expand - there are an estimated 2.3 billion people online and 4 billion mobile phone users.   And mobile apps are continuing to be released - some recent additions include:

Talking About Jesus, which is directly evangelistic and offers 18 short videos by insightful speakers such as Philip Yancey, Anna Robbins, Andrew White, Krish Kandiah, Nick Pollard and Gary Habermas.

A second new evangelism-related web app is called God’s GPS.   That app is designed to guide Christians on ways to share the good news appropriately and conversationally. The interface operates in 40-plus languages and explains the principles that Doug Pollock - author of God Space - offers in his books and seminars.

The ways to use technology to share our faith and to grow in our faith are increasing, and Internet Evangelism Day provides a reminder of the electronic tools that God has given us to share His truth.

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