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Jeeva Sam
 
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Several years ago the Peanuts comic strip had Lucy and Charlie Brown practicing football. Lucy would hold the ball for Charlie’s placekicking and then Charlie would kick the ball. But every time Lucy had ever held the ball for Charlie, he would approach the ball and kick with all his might. At the precise moment of the point of no return, Lucy would pick up the ball and Charlie would kick and his momentum unchecked by the ball, which was not there to kick, would cause him to fall flat on his back. This strip opened with Lucy holding the ball, but Charlie Brown would not kick the ball. Lucy begged him to kick the ball. But Charlie Brown said, "Every time I try to kick the ball you remove it and I fall on my back." They went back and forth for the longest time and finally Lucy broke down in tears and admitted, "Charlie Brown I have been so terrible to you over the years, picking up the football like I have. I have played so many cruel tricks on you, but I’ve seen the error of my ways! I’ve seen the hurt look in your eyes when I’ve deceived you. I’ve been wrong, so wrong. Won’t you give a poor penitent girl another chance?" Charlie Brown was moved by her display of grief and responded to her, "Of course, I’ll give you another chance." He stepped back as she held the ball, and he ran. At the last moment, Lucy picked up the ball and Charlie Brown fell flat on his back. Lucy’s last words were, "Recognizing your faults and actually changing your ways are two different things, Charlie Brown!"
Are you going to change your ways as of today?

 
Contributed By:
Michael McCartney
 
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** IS THE CHURCH ON THE ENDANGERED LIST?

Many Americans are on a spiritual quest. This should be good news
for the church. But, according to researchers, many of them are
choosing noninstitutional forms of religion. A recent poll by Gallup
shows that weekly church attendance is holding steady at about 40
percent of the population - the same rate as in the 1950s. But other
researchers - like Dave T. Olson, director of TheAmericanChurch.org
- claim only 17.7 percent of the population attends a church service
any given weekend.

Olson, who bases his numbers on annual church attendance reported by
individual U.S. congregations, says, "People who only go to church
now and again exaggerate how often they go."

Albert Winseman, religion and social trends editor for the Gallup
Organization, says people are shopping for alternatives to church
and that is one reason 3,000 local churches close their doors
annually.

"Most denominations are either declining or stagnant," says
Winseman.

The Assemblies of God is one of the few Christian groups to show
steady growth in recent years. The Yearbook of American and Canadian
Churches reports the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists are the
only Protestant faith groups of the largest 25 to report an increase
in membership for 2004.

An April Gallup poll indicated 65 percent of Pentecostals attend
church weekly, second only to Church of Christ (at 68 percent) among
Protestant groups.

VANISHING PROTESTANT MAJORITY

Half a century ago, two-thirds of the population considered
themselves Protestants. Officially, for the first time last year,
self-identified Protestants dipped below half of all Americans,
according to Gallup research.

Evangelical and Pentecostal church attendance looks stable, but
membership isn’t keeping pace with population growth. Olson says
although the same number of people are attending church as 15 years
ago, there are an additional 48 million people living in the
country.

But people are not necessarily flocking to other faiths. J. Gordon
Melton, author of the Encyclopedia of American Religions, says
tabulating all the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and New Agers
accounts for only 7 percent of Americans. Self-professing atheists
comprise another 10 percent of the population.

"In the culture today we don’t have the churchgoing momentum we did
in the 1950s, when ’respectable people’ attended church every week,"
says Earl Creps, director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.
"There’s no guarantee anymore that people are going to come to
church."

Although only 17 to 40 percent of Americans attend church regularly,
about 80 percent of the population professes Christianity.

Pollster George Barna, who last year wrote the book "Revolution:
Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary," believes a
transformational shift is occurring in how Christians view church.
He claims more than 20 million committed yet disaffected
"revolutionaries" have struck out on their own to form house
churches, family faith communities and cyberchurches.

WHAT CHURCH OFFERS

Creps, author of "Off-Road Disciples," believes these
"revolutionaries" are forfeiting a great deal by not being involved
in a local church. "A great church offers relational connections,
people modeling how to live faith, accountability, the enormous
power of a group worship experience and the operation of the gifts
of the Spirit," he says.

Theologian J.I. Packer says the reality of corporate church life
pervaded first-century Christianity and should today as well.

"Individuality is not correct, according to biblical standards,"
says Packer, author of "Knowing God." "The church is central in
God’s plan. God uses the church to set up His kingdom - the
corporate relational reality where people respond to Christ as King.
We can’t dismiss the structure God has established."

Many observers believe house churches and cyberchurch movements are
short-lived trends that will never amount to more than 5 percent of
Christians.

Melton says such methods don’t represent a new phenomenon. "For
decades people have been saying they can be a good Christian and
never go to church," he says.

Gallup sees a strong link between individual spiritual commitment
and church attendance by measuring factors such as prayer, Bible
study and small group involvement.

"People can say they are a spiritually committed person without
attending church, but it happens only 5 percent of the time,"
Winseman says.

Creps says merely getting people into the sanctuary isn’t the goal.
"The issue really is the need for every person to come to God
through His Son Jesus Christ. That involves a connection with a
community of Christians - which we call church."

"The church is God’s primary vehicle for the proclamation of the
gospel," Winseman says. "The abundant life is found most abundantly
in the community of the local church."

--John W. Kennedy, Today’s Pentecostal Evangel

This article reveals the current condition of the church and some new trends in Christianity but for the church to be the Acts New Testament church we need to continue to explore and discover from acts what it looks like and what it does.

 
Contributed By:
Ricki Lee Brooks
 
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WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE BLOOPERS

Leon Lett. Nice name. It has a bit of a ring to it. However, unless you are a true NFL football fan, it’s probably not a name that rings a bell for you. So let me fill you in on Leon.

Leon played in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys from 1991 to 2000 and the Denver Broncos in 2001. Leon was a great defensive tackle and the anchor of an even greater defensive line that helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls during Leon’s career (1993, 1994, 1996). He even made All Pro (league all-star for his position). The first time in 1994 and the second time during the 1996 season.

Unfortunately, for most NFL fans, these are not the memories of Leon left over from his great career. Instead, two memories of spectacular failure stand out. In fact, ESPN television rated two of his plays in the top three of their "25 Biggest Sports Blunders." NFL fans ranked his two blunders as numbers one and three, while a panel of sports experts rated them number two and three.

The first blunder occurred during Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills. The fans rated it number one. The experts rated it number two. Leon recovered a Bills fumble late in the game. As he scooped up the ball and started his rumble to the end-zone, there were no Buffalo Bills even near him. He was on his way to a sure touchdown. Any touchdown for a defensive lineman is a career highlight...let alone a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Leon must have had great visions of seeing his running form all over the evening sports reports. He approached the end-zone with such ease that he slowed down and stretched out his arms. That’s when everything went wrong. The fumble rumble turned into failure because the Buffalo Bills’ Don Beebe came racing from behind to slap the ball out of Leon’s right hand absolutely micro-seconds before Leon crossed the goal line. The ball bounced through the end-zone resulting in a touchback that cost Leon his touchdown, his glory, and his moment of fame. Instead, he ran into the end-zone and NFL history with a moment of infamy. Failure.

So, okay, what did it matter. The Cowboys had an overwhelming 52—17 lead and they went on the win the game easily. Well, beyond the personal embarrassment for Leon, the blunder prevented the Cowboys from gaining the record for most points scored in a Super Bowl.

Perhaps sadder yet is how that one instant of bravado overshadowed the rest of Leon’s game. Like the All Pro everyone knew him to be, Leon sacked the Bills quarterback and forced two fumbles — one of which led to a Dallas touchdown. Yet, all we remember is his moment of failure. Too sad. Too bad. And not over.

Just 10 months later in the next season, Leon gave us another. This one directly cost the Cowboys a game. The blooper (ranked number three on both the fans and experts list) occurred while the Cowboys were leading the Miami Dolphins 14-13 with just seconds left on the clock. The Dolphins attempted a 41-yard field-goal. If they made it the game would be theirs. Miss it, Dallas would retain the lead and gain the victory. The Dolphins center snapped the ball. The holder lined it up. The place-kicker took his two steps and swept his foot. The contact was solid, however a Cowboy player slipped through the line to block the kick. The ball should have fell silent and dead effectively ending the play and the Dolphins chances for victory. Leon’s teammates jumped and shouted in celebration, but not Leon. Leon committed yet another bonehead football no-no. He attempted to recover the football as though it had been fumbled. In his attempt, he knocked it away from himself and, since he had touched it, put the ball back into play. The Dolphins recovered the ball on the one yard line. They kicked again. This time the ball sailed through the goal-posts. Miami 16. Dallas 14. Miami, winners. Dallas, losers. Everyone else—safe. Leon—the scapegoat, the failure...King of the Bloopers.

And, like before, this third greatest sports blooper overshadowed his greatness. The rest of the season was fantastic. Leon anchored the defensive line once again. The Cowboys went on to another victory in Super Bowl XXVIII. During this second of Leon’s three Super Bowl victories, Leon forced a fumble from the Buffalo Bill’s running back, Thurman Thomas, while the Cowboys trailed 13-6. James Washington, the Cowboys safety, recovered the ball and took it 46 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown brought the Cowboys even with the Bills and turned the momentum to their advantage. The Cowboys went on to win 30-13.

For Leon, the late-night and Saturday afternoon highlights never recall those great moments... only the bloopers...two of the top three greatest sports failures of all time according to both fans and experts. Not the victories. Not the success. Not the high-fives. Not the cheers. Just the jeers. Just the agony of personal defeat. Just the lonely specter of personal failure.

One can only wonder how bad Leon must have felt. How he might still feel.

I’ve been there. You probably have too.

Like death and taxes, failure is one of those things in life we all have in common. We may not have our failures splashed on TV screens, but we sure do know how Leon feels. Failure hurts. Failure brings misery. And, its brother, sorrow, is sure to arrive as well.

The question to follow is this: whatcha gonna do about it?

Ricki Lee Brooks

 
Contributed By:
Mark Brunner
 
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“Like A Bird in the Hand!” Matthew 8:14-17 Key verse(s): 16-17:“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’.”

The little thing struggled and writhed to escape! The little finch, barely a couple of ounces of fluff and feather, struggled mightily against my grasp. It had flown into what it thought was a forest canopy which turned out to be something a bit less inviting, a reflection of the forest behind it in our great room window. It had been fortunate having struck the window obliquely and not head on. Head on crashes usually invoke a broken neck and instant death. But this little finch had been fortunate. It was stunned and pretty bruised. I had found it spread eagle on the deck, beak wide open and eyes glazed. It was in shock and in a matter of minutes it would succumb to the cold if not for the warmth of my hand. As I picked up the bird I could see that it must have hit the window with its breast having been distracted at the last moment by something that moved either within the house or without. It had turned its head with a wish to head in another direction. Its momentum, nonetheless, had prevented it from changing course in time. The breast had taken the full impact and now little fluffs of breast down billowed into the air as I lifted the bird within focus of my bifocals to inspect for damage.

It was only a matter of moments before the little bird began to regain its senses. First the eyelids began to function again; followed by the neck. Focusing in on the hulking figure peering down at it, despite the pain I knew it felt from the bruising and strained muscles, it began to push with all of its little might against my grip. I could feel those tiny claws first gripping and then relaxing. Its natural instinct, to escape and find shelter, had taken over. He tried to spread his wings within my hand but could do nothing more than push and squirm. Thinking perhaps that it could now fend for itself, I gently placed it in the bough of a nearby spruce tree. Although one foot grasped the bough with all its might, the other would not close and the little bird fell in a ball to the snow beneath the tree. I picked him up again and thought better of trying to perch him again. It was obvious that his neurological system was still feeling a good deal of the impact that was affecting his motor skills. Despite the safe haven of my hand he would have none of it. His struggles renewed, he now began attacking with his beak. If he couldn’t push my grip apart he would try to hammer it into submission. But, the bird could know only fear, not relief in my grasp. Despite the level of its pain, its fears far outweighed the pain it was feeling.

As I watched that little bird climb higher and higher into that tree I was suddenly struck by his misplaced fears. If it had not been for my hand and my attentiveness to its well-being, perhaps that little bird would be lying in a frozen heap right now in the middle of our deck. As much as my hand had provided security, even a life-giving warmth that it probably could not have found anywhere else, the finch would have nothing to do with it. He wanted out no matter how irrational or painful the consequences might have been. His fear of me entitled him to nothing more than a great risk of death not the comfort of freedom and long life it was certainly seeking.

I walked back to the house feeling a bit miffed by the whole thing. The harder I had tried to help the finch the more ornery it had become. You would have thought that it would have nestled in f...

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Sermon Central Staff
 
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LEON LETT: A LEGACY OF FAILURE

Leon Lett. Nice name. It has a bit of a ring to it. However, unless you are a true NFL football fan, it’s probably not a name that rings a bell for you. So let me fill you in on Leon.

Leon played in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys from 1991 to 2000 and the Denver Broncos in 2001. Leon was a great defensive tackle and the anchor of an even greater defensive line that helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls during Leon’s career (1993, 1994, 1996). He even made All Pro (league all-star for his position). The first time in 1994 and the second time during the 1996 season.

Unfortunately, for most NFL fans, these are not the memories of Leon left over from his great career. Instead, two memories of spectacular failure stand out. In fact, ESPN television rated two of his plays in the top three of their “25 Biggest Sports Blunders.” NFL fans ranked his two blunders as numbers one and three, while a panel of sports experts rated them number two and three.

The first blunder occurred during Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills. The fans rated it number one. The experts rated it number two. Leon recovered a Bills fumble late in the game. As he scooped up the ball and started his rumble to the end-zone, there were no Buffalo Bills even near him. He was on his way to a sure touchdown. Any touchdown for a defensive lineman is a career highlight...let alone a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Leon must have had great visions of seeing his running form all over the evening sports reports. He approached the end-zone with such ease that he slowed down and stretched out his arms. That’s when everything went wrong. The fumble rumble turned into failure because the Buffalo Bills’ Don Beebe came racing from behind to slap the ball out of Leon’s right hand absolutely micro-seconds before Leon crossed the goal line. The ball bounced through the end-zone resulting in a touchback that cost Leon his touchdown, his glory, and his moment of fame. Instead, he ran into the end-zone and NFL history with a moment of infamy. Failure.

So, okay, what did it matter. The Cowboys had an overwhelming 52—17 lead and they went on the win the game easily. Well, beyond the personal embarrassment for Leon, the blunder prevented the Cowboys from gaining the record for most points scored in a Super Bowl.

Perhaps sadder yet is how that one instant of bravado overshadowed the rest of Leon’s game. Like the All Pro everyone knew him to be, Leon sacked the Bills quarterback and forced two fumbles — one of which led to a Dallas touchdown. Yet, all we remember is his moment of failure. Too sad. Too bad. And not over.

Just 10 months later in the next season, Leon gave us another. This one directly cost the Cowboys a game. The blooper (ranked number three on both the fans and experts list) occurred while the Cowboys were leading the Miami Dolphins 14-13 with just seconds left on the clock. The Dolphins attempted a 41 yard field-goal. If they made it the game would be theirs. Miss it, Dallas would retain the lead and gain the victory. The Dolphins center snapped the ball. The holder lined it up. The place-kicker took his two steps and swept his foot. The contact was solid, however a Cowboy player slipped through the line to block the kick. The ball should have fell silent and dead effectively ending the play and the Dolphins chances for victory. Leon’s teammates jumped and shouted in celebration, but not Leon. Leon committed yet another bonehead football no-no. He attempted to recover the football as though it had been fumbled. In his attempt, he knocked it away from himself and, since he had touched it, put the ball back into play. The Dolphins recovered the ball on the one yard line. They kicked again. This time the ball sailed through the goal-posts. Miami 16. Dallas 14. Miami, winners. Dallas, losers. Everyone else—safe. Leon—the scapegoat, the failure...King of the Bloopers.

And, like before, this third greatest sports blooper overshadowed his greatness. The rest of the season was fantastic. Leon anchored the defensive line once again. The Cowboys went on to another victory in Super Bowl XXVIII. During this second of Leon’s three Super Bowl victories, Leon forced a fumble from the Buffalo Bill’s running back, Thurman Thomas, while the Cowboys trailed 13-6. James Washington, the Cowboys safety, recovered the ball and took it 46 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown brought the Cowboys even with the Bills and turned the momentum to their advantage. The Cowboys went on to win 30-13.

For Leon, the late-night and Saturday afternoon highlights never recall those great moments... only the bloopers...two of the top three greatest sports failures of all time according to both fans and experts. Not the victories. Not the success. Not the high-fives. Not the cheers. Just the jeers. Just the agony of personal defeat. Just the lonely specter of personal failure.

(From a sermon by Ricki Lee Brooks, Recovering from Failure: A Lesson From A Man Called John Mark, 6/28/2010)

 
Contributed By:
Paul Fritz
 
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Vital Statistics From Operation World (6th Edition, 2001, Patrick Johnstone, and Jason Mandryk) Paternoster, Waynesboro, GA

1. 15-25% of the population of the world is yet to hear a clear presentation of the gospel so that they can personally place saving faith in Christ for salvation.
2. Only 6.3% of the world’s population lives in a culture without a witnessing church – though in large populations many would have little chance to visit one.
3. 93.7% of the population lives where they have a witnessing church, but most Christians are not sharing their faith, usually about 2% do on a regular basis.
4. 98% of the world’s population has a resident national or expatriate witness in their midst. This is to emphasize the importance of working through church planters and missionaries in the developing world and especially in the 10/40 window. (ChristianAid.org; BibleLeague.org; GFA.org)
5. 60.3% of the world’s population or 3.6 billion compromising 6000 people groups out of the 12,000 people groups on the earth with a population of over 10,000 people are more than 2% evangelical or more than 5% adherents to Christianity.
6. 39.2% of the world population or 2.3 billion with a population over 10,000 people with 1600 people groups have less than 2% evangelicals and less than 5% adherents to Christianity.
7. .5% of the world’s population (many being migrant over or cross-border minorities) with 30 million people and 4400 people groups have more than 2% evangelicals or more than 5% adherents to Christianity.
8. A church for every people group. The challenge to adopt a people group for payer and ministry gained momentum in 1990’s. Progress was logged for the 1,583 peoples listed in the October 2000 Joshua Project List with the following results:
A. By the end of 2000 there was a church planting team in 1084 of the people groups and evidence of a congregation of 100 members in 487 people groups. This does not include the possible 2000 people groups of under 10,000 population that remain inadequately researched and may need pioneer church planting. The biggest need is the inadequate mechanism for holding those committed to their promises for adoption, insufficient verification and over-simplification of the task but thank God for what was achieved. This means that there are only about 500 people groups of over 10,000 that are yet to have a church planting team. We need to train the church planters and equip them to help complete Matthew 24:14 and the whole of the five aspects of the great commission.
B. DAWN – Jim Montgomery’s strategy to reach out to the edge and then draw a matrix of the whole community and church plant the whole.
9. World A – 28.% of these countries have had exposure to the gospel – (2% with no witness; 4.3% with resident witness; 21.9% with indigenous church) (West Africa to Sudan; Horn of Africa – Somalia; North Africa and West Asia; E. turkey, Iran Afghan. NE Pakistan, Turkey, Central Asia. Siberia, China, Mongolia; Western China, Himalayas, Myanmar, India (caste distinctions) Indo-China, Thailand, South and Southwest China, North Korea, Malaysia, Israel, Central and East Africa, East Asia,
10. 90% of the all the least reached peoples on the earth live within the areas shown on the map in p. 17 of Operation world. In the all the rest of the world are about 350 people groups with 82 million individuals which are in the least reached category.
11. There are 20 million Christians among the World A people groups and probably some on going church planting ministry among the 2,500 of the 3,500 people groups represented in this group. Within these Affinity groups on p. 16 is the best key to reaching these people groups.
12. Relatively few of these 3500 people groups have no known Christians but in most cases they constitute a small minority on average 1.2% of the population. They face many pressures and even persecution.
13. Churches and individuals need to have a vision for the lost and unreached people groups of the world to complete all five aspects of the great commission.
A. Mark 16:15 – The evangelistic challenge
B. Matt 28:18-20 – The discipling/church planting challenge
C. Luke 24:44-49 – Repentance and the teaching challenge
D. John 20:21 – The missions challenge and the suffering challenge
E. Acts 1:8 – The global challenge (To the uttermost parts of the earth)
14. There must be great commission disciple-makers made of each ethnic group. (Matt 28:18-20) This gives western Christian great opportunities to equip, facilitate, train and support disciple-makers and church planters in the developing world as teachers, givers and catalysts. Leadership training programs and seminaries are greatly needed around the world. Leadership is the key.
15. Christian radio has a potential coverage of 99% of the earth population with the gospel as well as training locals for church planting and church leadership.
16. The Jesus Film has been shown to nearly 5 billion people and has recorded around 150 million decisions for Christ. It has a potential coverage of 99% of the world’s population
17. New Testaments are available to 94% of the world’s population
18. 93.7% of the world’s population has a local witness available to them.

 
Contributed By:
Philip  Harrelson
 
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I can remember in my very early Bible college days, how that a love for the Word of God begin to develop within my own life. I had one particular instructor, Kelsey Griffin, who really turned me on to the power of the Word of God.

I can remember sitting up night and night and poring over Scripture and cross-referencing different areas in Scripture with a Dugan Bible that I had purchased from Bro. Griffin for $20. Over the years, it has been marked up and has become a very valuable treasure to me.

But there is one instance that I can remember quite well in my junior year that happened to me. I do not classify it as a vision or a dream but I certainly do feel as if the Lord has used this over the years to help me. Generally, I would always try to go to bed around 1 A.M. and when I finished studying for the night, I would leave that Bible open on my desk. Late one night, went back into the kitchen, and I just looked over in the direction of my desk.

It appeared to me as if a light flicker, just a little spark of fire, begin to dance on the open pages of that Dugan Bible. The fire grew until, as it gained momentum, the whole room began to be filled with a powerful light. It grew and grew until darkness was absolutely overcome.

I still hold that thought in my life. I still understand the incredible power of God’s Word. I still believe that there are things in His Word that will come to pass in the course of time if we can pursue them with an intensity that is unparalleled to any other pursuit in our lives.

 
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A friend of chewing gum magnate, Wrigley, was sitting by him on a plane. He asked Wrigley why he continued to advertise so extensively when his business was already so successful. The astute businessman responded, “For the same reason the pilot of this airplane keeps the engines running when we are already in the air.” Paul refused to ...

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Male Bashing Ads Are today’s men incompetent, bumbling idiots? Judging by portrayals in some advertising, the answer seems to be yes. The “man as a dope” imagery has gathered momentum over the last decade, and critics say that it has spiraled out of control. It is nearly impossible, they say, to watch commercials or read ads without seeing helpless, hapless men. Most marketers presenting incompetent, silly male characters say their campaigns provide a harmless comedic insight into the male mentality while also appealing to women. But men who describe themselves as rights activists are increasingly speaking out against the ads as a form of male-bashing, especially when the ads disparage the roles that fathers play in their children’s lives. (NY Times 1/28/05)


 
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Serious Video Games are gaining momentum against the shoot-em up variety. Eventually, “serious games will take over the world” of gaming, predicts Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Assn. People will use video games for learning so easily and so often that they won’t think twice about it, he says. People using video games will no more be labeled “gamers” than people today who listen to music are labeled “listeners,” he says. As the video-game market matures, these “serious games” are beginning to win advocates, who see them as great teaching tools, and grab the attention of large numbers of players. (USA Today 12/21/05)



 
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