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Weekly encouraging news and information for Christians in the United States of America.
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American Christian Connection
July 11, 2022


Church destroyed during 9/11 attacks consecrated as national shrine 

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine was consecrated Monday in New York City. The original church, founded in 1916 on nearby Cedar Street in lower Manhattan, was destroyed in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11. "The rebuilding of Saint Nicholas as a Shrine for the Nation is also an act of restoration," said Archbishop Elpidophoros, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, in an encyclical released on Sunday. The restoration had been stalled for many years, due to ongoing issues with funding. Since 2019, the rebuilding project has been funded and overseen by the Friends of Saint Nicholas, a nonprofit group that includes the Rev Alexander Karloutsos, the former vicar general of the Greek archdiocese who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this week.



Could Roe’s Reversal Slow Global Trends to Legalize Abortion?

Some pro-life Christians hope the reversal of Roe v. Wade will help more countries outside the US resist legalizing abortion.

Evangelical advocates abroad hold out hope that America’s shift on abortion sets a new standard. Under the landmark ruling for nearly 50 years, the United States modeled abortion rights as a standard, an inevitable sign of social progress. As abortion policy becomes a state-by-state issue, advocates say, it will decrease the pressure the US and US-based aid groups put on foreign governments around abortion access, allowing them to focus on other aspects of women’s health instead.


Chick-fil-A Is America's Favorite Restaurant for the 8th Straight Year: Survey

For the eighth straight year, Chick-fil-A – a company founded on biblical principles – is America’s favorite restaurant. Founded by Christian businessman Truett Cathy in 1946, Chick-fil-A’s purpose statement is to “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us” and to “have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A,” according to its website. “Truett based his business on Biblical principles that he believed were also good business principles, and since 1982, our Corporate Purpose has guided all that we do,” the website says. “We keep our Purpose front and center because it helps us to steward our business and our work to positively influence everyone we meet.”

This Week's Thought

by Brad Campbell

Just a thought to help start your week.

My wife and I recently hosted our thirty-third annual July 4th cookout for our family at our house.  We started when it was just the two of us, our parents, and three siblings.  This year there were twenty of us able to attend, with at least six or eight missing.  Enjoying time with our family members is something we greatly cherish.  

There are different age brackets, occupations, and school grades represented.  Opinions are expressed and shared.  Our conversations vary as greatly as the food items we have each provided.  And we love it.  Even with the backyard slap-your-sibling-with-a-tortilla game, we laugh and have a great time together before it’s time for us all to return to our separate lives, locations, and jobs.

The goose, pony, and cat in my picture somewhat represent our family.  Diverse, yet all getting along, all loving and supporting one another.  A goose, a cat, and a pony have virtually nothing in common except for the space they occupy.  Some families are like that.  God’s family is sometimes like that as well.

I believe God loves diversity.  After all, he made us this way.  If every crayon in the box was the same color, it wouldn’t paint a very pretty picture, would it?  If every barnyard animal was alike, they wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining.  What a wonderful family we all are because of our differences.

We celebrate our great country’s birthday this month.  If only we all got along as well as these three critters.  What a wonderful world that would be.

You animals behave yourselves this week.

Just a thought.


Celebrate a Victory for Life While Focusing on Those in Need


by Ryan Kelly

Brothers and sisters,

Today is a day that I have prayed for since the mid 1990's.  

When I was young and first learned about Roe vs. Wade and the consequence of legal abortion of unborn children in our nation, my heart broke.  I was only a young teenager at that time, but I knew that this was something that was far from the Lord's intent.  

When I worked toward my bachelor's and masters' degrees in Medical Biology years later, I took a number of courses respective to genetics, human embryology and development.  The calculated precision of the beginnings of life were fascinating to me and only further cemented my belief and worship of our Creator for His amazing design.  Yet at this same time, I learned of the horrors of what abortion actually is and the exact procedures by which these unborn children were killed and removed from their mothers.  It is enough to sicken even the most fervent of horror movie watchers.  

In the last decade, I have had the opportunity to speak to women who have either had an abortion or thought heavily about having one, and the emotional and spiritual pain that they faced with this decision.  There is no question in my mind, abortion is not an easy decision for the vast majority.  But, so many are misled into believing it to be a viable 'way out' after being pregnant.  The short term decision nearly always creates a lifelong struggle of mental anguish and regret.  It is enough to bring any of us to tears.

As I said, I have been praying for the Lord's hand to reverse the allowance of abortion via the 1973 Supreme Court ruling known as Roe vs. Wade, and upheld and somewhat strengthened in the 1992 ruling known as Casey vs. Planned Parenthood.  I know that many of us have especially been praying in earnest since the filing of Dobbs vs. Jackson.

Today, June 24, 2022, is a day where the Lord has answered many of our prayers.  With this decision, tens of thousands of abortions will not take place.

HOWEVER - this is not the finish line.  In fact, I would argue that today is a starting line for a new race.  This new race is not to overturn a fault Supreme Court decision, but it is a race to fight for the mothers, fathers and children that will be affected by this law and ensure the most positive outcomes.

Our new fight must be to strengthen families, support mothers who are looking to deliver, and support the many young families that will be created.  We must support them with all that we have as the Lord instructs us to support those less fortunate than us.  We must celebrate the choice of life, while coming alongside those who make this choice by helping them to build the life that we know they need and want.  

In addition, I believe there must be a renewed fight to show that sex before marriage is not what the Lord intends, and that abstinence before marriage is the ideal path toward purity and proper reflection of God's intent for each of us, male and female alike.  To this extent, we have a huge mountain in front of us...driven largely by mass media, social media, and our culture.  

When we can fight for the viability and sustainability of the family, we do so as a direct reflection of the relationship of Jesus and the Church.  We must fight for loving, positive, nuclear families where the child is loved and all are supported by fellow brothers and sisters who want the best for them.

This starts with each of us.  The effort will take all of us.  But praise the Lord for the opportunity to show love and compassion on those around us!  And lastly, please be in prayer for our nation in the wake of this Supreme Court ruling.  God bless you all.

Why Do Optimists Live Longer? Trusting God When it's Hard to Trust God

by Jim Denison

Here’s some good news: to live longer, focus on good news in the news. 

A study now being reported by the Washington Post notes that people with the highest levels of optimism enjoyed a life span between 11 and 15 percent longer than those who were the least optimistic. Research links optimism to eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, and being less likely to smoke cigarettes. Optimists also tend to manage stress in healthy ways.

We can use such optimism these days.

In this news this morning: A California woman was caught on video dousing a man with gasoline and then setting him on fire. A fifteen-year-old boy was charged with murder after allegedly stabbing a fourteen-year-old to death on a subway platform in New York City. A wildfire in Yosemite National Forest is uncontained at this writing; at least eighteen were killed after a Russian missile struck an apartment building in eastern Ukraine; at least fifteen are dead in a mass shooting in South Africa.

Since studies clearly link religious commitment with a more optimistic outlook, you and I should be especially positioned to benefit from such positivism even in challenging times. But as I have learned personally in recent days, trust in God does not guarantee optimism, especially when God does not do what we are trusting him to do.

WHY I AM DISAPPOINTED WITH GOD

I underwent four-level spinal fusion surgery on July 1. I will be limited in activities and mobility for the next several weeks; full recovery is expected to take nine months to a year.

My wife has been beyond amazing through all of this. Janet prepared our home in advance, walked with me through the surgery and four-day hospitalization, and is caring for me at home with her usual brilliance, humor, and servant-hearted generosity. I hav e seen as never before how far I “over-married” and am so grateful to her and for her every day. 

My surgeon did an exemplary job with a very complex procedure. The staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Plano, Texas, were outstanding.

Our ministry team has been terrific as well. I’m deeply grateful to Dr. Ryan Denison for writing the Daily Article brilliantly in my absence and to our Denison Forum colleagues for the outstanding content they continue to produce each day. Jen Abohosh and our Denison Ministries team are doing their usual superlative work in fulfilling our mission day by day.

As grateful as I am for each of them, I am still disappointed to be in this position today.

I first injured my back eight years ago. For eight years, as my condition deteriorated, I prayed for God to heal me using medical or even miraculous means. I have witnessed such healings in my personal ministry over the years, so I asked the Lord to do for me what I know he has done for many others in Scripture and in our world today.

But he did not give me the answer for which I prayed.

"DECEIVE YOURSELF NO LONGER"

How do we trust God when he doesn’t do what we’re trusting him to do?

Each of us experiences disappointment with God on occasion; only the most naïve would expect the Lord to give them everything they ask for every time they ask for it. However, when a true challenge arises and God does not give us what we ask, our faith can be shaken to its foundations.

We can question whether God is who the Bible and the Christian faith claim him to be. For example, responding to his wife’s death to cancer, C. S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed, “The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’” 

Or we can question whether we are who the Bible and the Christian faith claim us to be. Scripture teaches that Christians are the children of God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), that there is nothing we can do to earn or forfeit his compassion and love. Why, then, has God not done for us what we know he has done for others?

"HAS GOD FORGOTTEN TO BE GRACIOUS?"

You are either where I am today or afraid you will be one day. So, I’ll close with reflections on a biblical text that has greatly encouraged me over the past week in hopes it will help you as well.

I believe that God redeems all he allows. As a result, I know he is redeeming my back surgery for a greater good than would have been the case if he had healed me prior to surgery.

However, I have no biblical assurance that I will understand this “greater good” on this side of heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12). But I do understand two practical principles from Psalm 77:

One: It is normal in hard times to question our faith.

The writer testifies, “I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (v. 4) and asks of the Lord, “Has his steadfast love forever ceased? ... Has God forgotten to be gracious?” (vv. 8–9). Jesus similarly cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, echoing Psalm 22:1; cf. Isaiah 1:18).

Two: On the hard days, remember the good days.

The psalmist pivots from his present questions to his previous experience: “I will remember the deeds of the Lᴏʀᴅ; yes, I will remember your wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11). He proceeds to list God’s “mighty deeds” in creation and Jewish history (vv. 12–20). In light of all God has done, the psalmist finds the strength to trust God for all he will do. 

THE FAITH TO HAVE FAITH

This week, I have been reflecting on the many ways my Lord has previously demonstrated his omnipotent love in my life. I believe that my unchanging Father (Malachi 3:6) loves me as much as on the day he sent his Son to die on my cross to pay for my eternal salvation. As a result, I am trusting that when his “ways” are not my “ways,” this is only because they are “higher than [my] ways” (Isaiah 55:9).

And I am asking God for the faith to have faith where I need faith most (Mark 9:24).

I invite you to join me today, to the glory of God.

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