Sunday, September 29, 2013

The 3 - September 29, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, looks at a major gathering originating from Philadelphia this weekend that is being beamed into host locations across the nation, with the intention of helping to facilitate revival and spiritual awakening.  Also, the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of an Iranian-American pastor provided a catalyst for prayer gatherings.   And, students gathered at their school flagpoles on Wednesday to pray for their schools, their fellow students, teachers and administrators, and for God to be evident in and around their schools this year.

3 - Harvest America crusade covers the nation from Philadelphia

The Harvest America crusade, featuring pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie, took place over the weekend, beginning on Saturday night, when a crowd estimated at more than 17,500 filled Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, according to a report on The Christian Post website.  In addition, more than 2,000 host locations, including large and small venues such as churches and homes, were registered to watch Harvest America live as well.   The leadership team from Harvest Crusades selected Philadelphia for the event because of its history as the birthplace of our nation, organizers said.  Many believe the U.S. is at a new historic crossroads and hope that events such as this can help spark spiritual renewal.

According to that report, on Saturday night, Laurie asked rhetorically, "Are we happy people?"   He gave several examples of celebrities whose obsessive pursuit of happiness led to the realization that there lives were empty-feeling.  He then explained that Jesus is the only true source of joy, and beyond that, offers eternal salvation by his dying on the cross and resurrection from death.

Before his Gospel message, musical artists Lecrae, The Katinas, Kirk Franklin, and NEEDTOBREATHE performed.   Sunday night, musical artists scheduled to perform were Jeremy Camp, MercyMe, and The Katinas.

Laurie had told The Christian Post that, "We are excited about the difference this crusade will make in the lives of individuals around our nation, as many who come will be hearing the hope of the Gospel message for the very first time...We believe this is a pivotal time in our nation's history, and this weekend represents a chance to turn back to God and see revival sweep our land."

During his message Saturday evening, he said, "All have sinned, recognize there is a savior, his name is Jesus, repent of your sin, run to God not away, receive Jesus into your life ... Being a Christian means more than knowing about Jesus it means He lives inside you."

At one point he added, "Good people don't go to heaven, forgiven people do."

2 - Christians pray for Iranian-American pastor on one-year anniversary of his imprisonment

The Harvest America event came at the end of a week where instances of cooperative prayer had been taking place across the land.   Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who has been held in Tehran's brutal Evin Prison.   On that anniversary date, there were numerous prayer gatherings that were being encouraged, including a group that gathered in the nation's capital.

Pastor Saeed was mentioned in a conversation that was held this week between President Obama and new Iranian President Rouhani.   According to Religion News Service, in that 15-minute phone call that included other issues, the American President expressed his concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran — Robert Levinson, Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati — and noted U.S. interest in seeing them reunited with their families.

Earlier this week, Rouhani had crossed paths with Abedini’s wife at the United Nations. Naghmeh Abedini rushed to give a letter from her husband to one of Rouhani’s aides, who promised to give it to the president. With the news of Obama’s conversation with Rouhani, she called it an “answer to prayer.”

Also, this week, Naghmeh spoke at Liberty University, saying 30 people in Evin Prison, where Abedini is held, have become Christians because of him.  Billy Graham, in an ad in the New York Times, called for pastor Saeed's release, printing a copy of a letter that he had sent President Rouhani.

At the website,, over 626,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Pastor Saeed's release.  And, letters have been sent by over 131,000 people.  This shows a high degree of motivation for people about the cause of religious freedom.

1 - Millions of students gather at school flagpoles in annual "See You at the Pole" event

Students across America gathered to pray for their schools this past Wednesday as part of the 23rd annual See You At The Pole event.  Students from middle schools and high schools, as well as colleges and universities, showed up early to pray for their leaders, schools, and families.

According to CBN.comsince its inception, the See You At the Pole movement has spread to more than 20 countries.

A piece on the website mentioned that perhaps as many as 2 million were anticipated to take part in the event, including thousands of students in Alabama.   It mentioned First Priority, which helps to assist students in organizing events in the Birmingham area.   The piece stated that, "The movement toward religious clubs meeting on campus and organizing prayer rallies before school gained steam after the 1984 Equal Access Act granted student-led religious clubs the same right to meet on campus as other clubs. The law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990."   Christian legal groups informed students of their rights to assemble and lead prayer gatherings in non-instructional time, and offered assistance in case administrators did not allow the expression to take place.

The Wednesday activities were billed as part of a Global Week of Student Prayer, which began Sunday, the 22nd, and continued through Saturday.  The theme for this year's See You at the Pole events was centered in 2nd Chronicles 7:14, featuring #IFthen, recognizing that passage of Scripture says IF we pray, seek, turn. THEN God hears, forgives, heals.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 3 - September 22, 2013

The latest edition of "The 3" features a milestone celebrated by an initiative incorporating short videos by high-profile people.  Also, there has been Congressional legislation introduced, designed to protect the rights of conscience for non-profit organizations.  And, the top story involves violence in two nations - a church bombed in Pakistan and a mall attack in Kenya, a majority Christian nation, where Muslims were allowed to leave before the gunmen opened fire.

3 - "I Am Second" celebrates release of 100th video

This past week marked the release of the 100th short film of the initiative, "I Am Second", in partnership with e3 Partners.  "I Am Second" features video stories of a variety of musicians, athletes, actors and everyday people on the website, To date, according to a press release, the website has received more than 10 million visits from 219 countries and territories. The I Am Second films, which address an array of personal struggles, including abuse, addictions, pride, eating disorders, broken families and the search for success and meaning in life, have received a total of more than 20 million views. More than one-half million people “like” the I Am Second Facebook page.

Curtis Hail, president of e3 Partners, which birthed I Am Second just five years ago, is quoted as saying, “We are grateful for the 100 individuals who have officially shared their story through films on the website. But even more so, we are touched by the countless number of individuals who have seen I am Second and told us about their own experiences of discovering what it means to be ‘second.’ We believe this is only the beginning for the movement.”

The 100th video featured best-selling author and co-host of the daily Breakpoint radio commentary, Eric Metaxas. Prior to releasing the film to the public on Wednesday, I Am Second debuted it at a special 100th film celebration in Dallas on Sept. 18. I am Second Live, a late-night TV styled event, was hosted by Metaxas and featured additional individuals who have joined I am Second including Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, former prostitute Annie Lobert and Navy Seal Remi Adeleke.

I Am Second has released two books through Thomas Nelson – “I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives” and “Live Second.” The movement also offers numerous curriculums to accompany films as well as volunteer opportunities and expeditions to help encourage people to live second daily.

2 - Marriage and Religious Freedom Act introduced into Congress

Recently, there has been concern expressed about the rights of various organizations and their leaders to express their faith.   And, a group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation this week that could be an important first step in reversing a trend that has generated particular concern. According to CitizenLink, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would protect those who support traditional marriage, including institutions and individuals, from discrimination through the federal tax code.

Congressman Raul Labrador, a Republican from Idaho, has championed the bill, and Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said that, “As we’ve seen with the IRS scandals, nonprofit organizations and those who support them may be targeted and punished for their beliefs and principles.”

Other Representatives who introduced the bill include Democrats Mike McIntyre, from North Carolina, and Dan Lipinski, of Illinois. The Act has more than 60 original co-sponsors.

Labrador summarized the legislation by saying, “Our bill will protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman...This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. As President Obama said, ‘Americans hold a wide range of views’ on marriage and ‘maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom’ is ‘vital.’ We agree.”

Kim Trobee of the CitizenLink radio feature gave some analysis and commentary on The Meeting House radio program on Faith Radio recently.  You can listen to or download the conversation here.

1 - Christians focus of church bombing in Pakistan, Kenya attack apparently targets non-Muslims

On Sunday morning, a suicide bomber attacked a crowd receiving free food after the Sunday morning service at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, according to Christianity Today, citing a report in the The New York Times. More than 75 people were killed and 100 wounded.

Protests by Christian groups erupted in major cities nationwide.

The church was built in 1883 and was "inspired by the structures of the mosques," according to an AsiaNews report that was cited in the CT piece. "It is facing Mecca and is a landmark building for its attempt to promote peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority in Pakistan."

CT quotes The Hindu, as reporting that the government pledged to "bear the cost of rebuilding the damaged church and declared a three-day mourning...Missionary run schools will be shut for three days in protest."

This is a huge attack against Christians in Pakistan, who are a religious minority in that country. And, Christians were apparently targeted in a weekend tragedy at an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.

Islamist militants from Somalia laid seige to the mall, and at least 68 people are reported dead, with reports as late as Sunday afternoon that hostages were still being held.

Christianity Today also has a report on the violence in Kenya. It cites a Reuters report that Al Shabaab, which has increasingly sought to punish neighboring Kenya for its military role in an African peacekeeping mission in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack.

USA Today reports that witnesses told local and national news media that the gunman asked Muslims to leave before opening fire. Kenya is 83% Christian with a sizable Muslim community — about 11% of its 44 million people.

According to CT, a witness told The Observer how he survived:
Covering the Christian name on his ID with his thumb he approached one of the attackers, whom he described as Somali, and showed them the plastic card. "They told me to go. Then an Indian man came forward and they said, 'What is the name of Muhammad's mother?' When he couldn't answer they just shot him."
al Shabaab has reportedly been recruiting those converting to Islam out of a Christian background to attack Kenyan churches.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The 3 - September 15, 2013

On this week's edition of "The 3", I take a look at a nationwide event calling people to prayer on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  While those who prayed were crying out to God for revival and spiritual awakening, by contrast, there are those who would want to erase the symbolic evidence of God's hand upon our nation, and a Federal court judge made a decision upholding our national motto, "In God We Trust" this week.   And, the top story involves over 21,000 churches who stated they would commit to inviting people to return to church on National Back to Church Sunday.

3 - "Cry Out America" on 9/11 brings thousands to public places to pray for the nation

On Wednesday, 9/11, "Cry Out America" was observed for the 6th consecutive year.  It is a grass-roots prayer and renewal movement seeking to unite citizens of every state, every county, and every church in prayer for a "Christ Awakening" in the nation. Prayer gatherings were located at state capitols, county courthouses, city parks, churches, and other public venues.

According to the organization that oversees the event, the Awakening America Alliance, this prayer initiative is designed to encourage Christian believers to "remember the sacrifices of yesterday, seek God’s face for the restoration of godliness today, and help redeem future generations from the forces of darkness that they could potentially face."

People assembled at an estimated 3,000 prayer points across the nation, with potentially as many as 300,000 in attendance, according to National Coordinator Kay Horner, who was interviewed on The Meeting House radio show on Faith Radio.   Multiple gatherings were reported in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas, and smaller events were held in public places across America.  People recognize that our nation is in need of a spiritual awakening and that the answers to the moral decline we have observed and the challenges we face lie in the presence and wisdom of Almighty God.

2 - Judge turns back challenge to "In God We Trust", court action continues on "under God" in Pledge

Last Monday, a Federal district court judge in New York dismissed a case filed by atheists who want the national motto, "In God We Trust," removed from U.S. currency.  According to a report on the Baptist Press website, the judge, Harold Baer, Jr., found that the presence of the national motto on currency had not created a "substantial burden" on the plaintiffs, who included 18 atheists and humanists, the New York City Atheists and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

He wrote, "While Plaintiffs may be inconvenienced or offended by the appearance of the motto on currency, these burdens are a far cry from the coercion, penalty, or denial of benefits required under the 'substantial burden' standard." In the case, Newdow, et al., v. U.S. Treasury, the plaintiffs had alleged that their repeated use of federal currency bearing the national motto forced them to endorse the idea of the existence of God each time they undertook a financial transaction.

The judge also stated, ""The Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the motto's secular purpose and effect, and all circuit courts that have considered this issue -- namely the Ninth, Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuit -- have found no constitutional violation in the motto's inclusion on currency..."

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said in a statement from ACLJ the judge's opinion in the case is "welcome and well-reasoned."

"Time after time, flawed legal challenges like this one are brought by atheists," Sekulow said in the statement. "And time after time, the courts soundly reject their attempts to change the historical and cultural landscape of America. In our amicus brief on behalf of members of Congress and nearly 90,000 Americans, we argued that the national motto poses no constitutional violations and [cases against it] must be dismissed. We're extremely pleased that the court did just that."

The "In God We Trust" case was brought by the mother of Michael Newdow - he is perhaps best known for trying to get the words, "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. He lost that case before the U.S. Supreme Court on procedural grounds in 2004. The effort to remove those words from the Pledge has been renewed, and a case is being weighed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, where state law requires schoolchildren to recite the pledge daily as a patriotic exercise.  Here is the report from Baptist Press on that story.

Attorneys for the humanist plaintiffs avoided claiming that the pledge represents a state establishment of religion, as most of the pledge cases have in the past. Instead, attorneys they have argued that reciting the pledge, which requires atheists to say the words "under God," is discriminatory and violates the state's equal protection laws.

A state Superior Court judge ruled in 2012 that the words "under God" did not violate the law, but reflected a political philosophy evident in the history of the pledge and state law itself.  The judge also stated reciting the pledge is not a religious exercise.

These are clear indications of the intention of some to remove the vestiges of our religious heritage from various parts of American life.  And, it underscores the importance of a commitment to not only know the Judeo-Christian principles upon which we were founded, but to pray for our nation's leaders, including judges, to recognize and uphold those magnificent truths.

1 - National Back to Church Sunday involving over 20,000 churches nationwide

This Sunday, September 15th, marked the 5th annual National Back to Church Sunday, and leading into the day, over 21,000 churches had signed up to participate.  According to a press release on behalf of the event, attendance estimates are related to results from the survey following Back to Church Sunday 2012, when survey respondents reported a 38% increase in their Sunday attendance over usual average attendance.  96% of 2012 respondents indicated their interest in participating again.  This initiative has now established a track record, which contributes to the increase of over 8000 churches from last year's effort.

Scott Evans, founder and CEO of Outreach, Inc., which provides church communications resources and helped launch the initiative, says, "Each year we've been excited to see the enormous increase in the number of participating churches as people get on board with the vision of National Back To Church Sunday." He went on the say that, "The movement was started with two stunning statistics: 82% of people said they would attend church if someone they knew invited them, but only 2% of church members were inviting people to come with them to their church. We wanted to make it easy on everyone and open church doors wide across our nation to welcome people back to church."

More than 3 million people were expected to be welcomed into churches across the nation on National Back to Church Sunday.   The website address is  

And, has reported on why people do not go "back to church".   Citing a Pew Research poll, it stated that of those who do not attend, 24% cite personal priorities—including 16% who say they are too busy.

Also, 24% mention practical difficulties—including work conflicts, health problems or transportation difficulties.

37% point to an issue directly related to religion—including disagreements with the beliefs of the religion or their church leaders, or beliefs that attending worship services is not important.

Overall, Pew finds that church attendance in America has held rather steady over the past decade. Essentially, 37% of Americans in 2013 say they attend worship services at least weekly (vs. 39% in 2003), and 29% of Americans today say they seldom or never attend worship services (vs. 25% in 2003).

So, the encouraging word is that over 8-in-10 people said they would attend if someone invited them, and it's also important to know the personal barriers that people have to attending church - those can be determined in the course of personal relationships and sensitivity to the needs of others.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The 3 - September 8, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3" includes the actual passage of a new regulation in San Antonio that I reported on last week, that could limit freedom of religious expression in that city.   Also, that much-anticipated new organization designed as an alternative to the Boy Scouts had an official meeting this past weekend, including the announcement of its name.  And, while American leaders contemplate military action against Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical attack, Christians around the globe were being encouraged to pray for that nation this weekend.

3 - San Antonio council passed non-discrimination act; opponents say it stifles freedom of expression

In a follow-up story to one of last week's items from this blog, the San Antonio City Council, by an 8-3 margin, approved an ordinance that calls for the removal of city officials from office and businesses made liable if they demonstrate "a bias in word or deed" on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a report on the Baptist Press website.

For businesses that offer services to the general public, the ordinance makes such discrimination a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $500.

Last-minute amendments clarified that the measure does not require businesses to allow transgendered persons to use restrooms or locker rooms intended for people of the opposite sex -- a change that angered some of the ordinance's supporters.

One amendment stated that a "religious corporation, association, society or educational institution" may limit employment to members of the same religion.  Interestingly enough, another amendment added the phrase, "Nothing herein shall be construed as requiring any person or organization to support or advocate any particular lifestyle or religious view, or advance any particular message or idea."

Oh, really?  But, doesn't a demonstrated "bias in word or deed" actually require someone to adhere to a particular point of view?  Liberty Institute, in a press release, said that the ordinance is "one of the most dangerous constitutional violations Liberty Institute has ever seen" in limiting free speech and religious liberty.

Here is some language from the ordinance: it prohibits any "appointed official or member of a board or commission" from engaging "in discrimination or demonstrat[ing] a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group of persons, or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability, while acting in their official capacity while in such public position."

The Baptist Press report says that the ordinance labels "bias" against homosexuals as "malfeasance" and authorizes the city council to "remove the offending person from office."

Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford is quoted as saying that, "The ordinance is a cloudy and confusing collection of poorly thought out and conflicting statements that could have been more clearly and cleanly handled by simply including a broad religious liberty exemption to protect the free speech and religious liberty rights of both individuals and organizations that have religious objections to the requirements mandated by the ordinance."

He added that the ordinance "should alarm every American who values their religious freedom" and has ramifications that "could go far beyond San Antonio."

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, said that, "This ordinance will be used as a weapon against people of faith and family values just as other laws have been used in other states...This ordinance lacks transparency, lacks evidence of a real need and is plagued with major constitutional concerns. The question now is when will the first legal challenge begin and what will the cost be to taxpayers at the end of the litigation that will certainly come." Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has already taken issue with the ordinance and former Texas Solicitor General, now U.S. Senator, Ted Cruz has also spoken out against it.

2 - Trail Life USA announced as alternative to Boy Scouts

This weekend in Nashville, over 1,200 people from 44 states gathered for a meeting at which Trail Life USA was unveiled.   Trail Life USA is a new group that is designed to be a Christian alternative for the Boy Scouts of America, focusing on adventure, character, and leadership for boys ages 5-17.

Warren Cole Smith, Vice-President of the WORLD News Group, reported on the event, which he says is the culmination of intense planning that began just over two months ago when a steering committee gathered in Louisville to discuss the feasibility of starting a new organization after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) changed its membership policy in May to allow openly homosexual youth to participate in its program. Since then, the new group has created a constitution and bylaws, a logo, and other organizing documents and procedures.

According to Mark Hancock, vice chairman of the board and the convention’s host, said, “For this to happen in 68 days, that doesn’t happen by the power of men.”

In his opening address, John Stemberger, chairman of the board of directors for the new group, said,
“First of all, we’re not an anti-BSA organization...We’re not an anti-anything organization. We honor the legacy of the Boy Scouts of America and the contributions it has made to us and our families. The men and boys we have left behind are not our opponents. They are our brothers and our friends. I encourage you to interact with them with charity and good faith.” 

He did say that charity requires him to “continue to expose the real dangers and risks that the [BSA’s] new membership policy poses to boys. Real men value integrity above institutions.” 

He said Trail Life USA would be explicitly Christian, but would be open to boys of all religious faiths. 

Ranks would be transferable from the Boy Scouts, and Trail Life USA's top award would be the Freedom Award.

Stemberger said that, “Our vision will be to become the premier national character development organization for young men, which produces godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.”

1 - Syrian conflict has religious elements; people of faith called to pray 

Christians around the world have been praying over the weekend for peace in Syria and for the wellbeing of millions of refugees who have left their homes because of the fighting.   The ChristianToday website has an overview.

Pope Francis appealed to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to join him in a day of prayer and fasting for the country.   He stated, "From the bottom of my heart, I would like to express my closeness in prayer and solidarity with all the victims of this conflict, with all those who suffer, especially children, and I invite you to keep alive the hope of peace."  He encouraged the international community to be sensitive to the situation and to make every effort to help Syrians find a solution to the brutal civil war.

In a letter to Pope Francis, the Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassou, spiritual leader of Sunni Islam, welcomed the appeal and said he would be joining in praying and fasting for peace in his country.

Orthodox leader, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I and the head of the World Evangelical Alliance, Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, have both backed the prayer call.

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Right Reverend Stephen Platten, encouraged Church of England parishes to join with others this past weekend in praying for peace in Syria.

A group of Arab Christian leaders was called together by Jordan's King Abdullah this past week.   American Christians who attended include reality show and "The Bible" miniseries producer Mark Burnett, his wife Roma Downey, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, and Dr. Tunnicliffe.   In a piece for the Washington Post, Roma Downey wrote: 
The consensus among the Arab Christian leaders in the region is that any military intervention by the United States will have a detrimental effect on the situation, and have unintended negative consequences particularly for Christians in Syria. Christians in Syria have already been threatened by some opposition leaders, indicating that a different regime in Syria will not welcome Christians. I was asked over and over: “Does the U.S. administration have a plan on how to protect Christians and perhaps other minority groups in the event of a regime change?
Syrian Christians are apparently quite concerned about how they will be treated if Bashir Assad is removed from power.  Several incidents, even within the last few days, are indicative of the tension in the country.  International Christian Concern cites a report from Al-Monitor, that said that jihadists from the Syrian armed opposition opened a new battle, this time in the historic town of Maaloula on the outskirts of Damascus.  Maaloula is one of the best-known Christian cities in the region or even the world and witnessed violent clashes on Wednesday between extremist militants and members of the Syrian regime army. Militants took control of large segments of that historical town.   Also, this week, ICC reports that a rebel group linked to Al-Qaeda took over a Christian village in the northeast section of the nation.   There is a convent in the village, and nuns report that some 100 people have travelled there to seek shelter in the midst of the rebel bombing.

The battles throughout Syria pit Muslim against Muslim and Muslims against Christians.   There is a significant religious component there and the makeup of the opposition is quite complex, with some strong Islamist elements.   There is a great need for prayer, as well as for humanitarian relief, as thousands have fled the nation.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The 3 - September 1, 2013

This week on "The 3", I begin with a high-profile Christian athlete who suffered what could be regarded a career setback, but handled the occasion with grace.  Also, officials in San Antonio are considering a new policy which some say would inhibit religious freedom.  And, the 50th anniversary of a landmark occasion in American and civil rights history was marked with festivities in the nation's capital.

3 - Tebow cut by Patriots, responds graciously

On Saturday, it was announced that the New England Patriots had cut former Heisman Trophy winner and outspoken Christian Tim Tebow from their roster.   Tebow had signed with the Patriots after a disastrous season last year with the New York Jets, following his successful stint leading the Denver Broncos to a playoff berth.

This is not your average case of an NFL player not making the cut - it's a larger-than-life figure who has instant name recognition and an unusual level of popularity, due in a large part to his ability to relate the Christian faith in a bold, but winsome manner.

Tebow took the news with grace and class.   According to, in a series of tweets, Tebow said, "“I would like to thank Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, Coach McDaniels and the entire Patriots organization for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a classy organization. I pray for nothing but the best for you all. I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback. 2 Corinthians 12:9: And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

So, even in a moment of defeat, if you will, Tim Tebow exalted Christ and exhibited a gracious spirit.   It's a great example for all of us when things don't go the way we think they should - we attempt to respond in a Christlike manner.

2 - San Antonio non-discrimination proposal stirs emotions

The City of San Antonio has proposed a new non-discrimination policy which would include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to a list of categories, including race, color, religion, national origin, sex, veteran status, age and disability, for which discrimination would be prohibited.

There is an exemption in the proposal for religious groups, but, according to a story on The Christian Post website, it only says that religious groups may limit hiring to co-religionists.

About 500 people showed up at a city council meeting this past Wednesday to voice their opinions on the measure, according to local television station KVEO. Most of them were opposed to the measure and wore blue shirts to demonstrate their solidarity.   African-American and Latino pastors have been on the forefront of the opposition to the measure.

Supporters say that the language of the ordinance is necessary to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians, but opponents claim it could prevent Christians from living according to their religious beliefs and censor their speech.

Rev. Eliezer Bonilla, pastor of Abundant Life Church in San Antonio and a National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Executive Board Member, said: "Now, the attack of cultural elites against everyday common law-abiding citizens is being fought at the altar of political expediency. Whether the ordinance passes or fails, the rise of a peace loving people has been awakened. Righteousness and justice will stand."

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, claimed that the proposed ordinance would be used to harm those who believe that homosexuality is harmful and sinful.

"This ordinance is not about preventing discrimination," he said. "It is about promoting an intolerant agenda directed at Christians, people of faith, and those who believe that homosexuality is contrary to the natural order. This ordinance will punish people because of their views on human sexuality. Everyone must wake up and realize the agenda behind this ordinance before it is too late."

1 - Christian presence at 50th anniversary of MLK "I Have a Dream" speech

This past Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall in Washington, DC.   Speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King laid out his vision for a colorblind society, and matters of justice and equality for African-Americans.   To commemorate the occasion, the day began with an interfaith service at the Shiloh Baptist Church in the nation's capital and concluded with a gathering of thousands at the site of the original speech.  Two former Presidents - Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter - and current President Obama also delivered messages.   Past Presidents George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, declined to attend because of health concerns.

The service at Shiloh featured a variety of faith perspectives represented.   The church's pastor, Wallace Charles Smith, had spoken with Washington television station, WUSA9, saying that the church was glad to host the event with only 2 weeks notice, and emphasized the importance of the church as a component in fueling Dr. King's dream:

"...He really saw himself as someone who was speaking for all people, not just to ... African-Americans. Although clearly, the African-American cause was most prominent in his mind and certainly in the minds of a lot of people in those days. His overall goal, his dream was that people would see that justice is not just for any one community but justice is for everyone."

In addition to a host of speakers, musicians included Natalie Grant, who sang "I Love the Lord" from the steps of the memorial.  The day's lineup also included BeBe Winans and his brothers, Marvin and Carvin, who debuted their new song, "If God Be For Us", which will be included on a new project slated for release in 2014. They are being called 3WB, or 3 Winans Brothers.   The ceremony at the memorial also included the ringing of bells at 3:00pm Eastern Time, which was duplicated at sites across America, marking the time the words, "Let Freedom Ring" were spoken.