For week of April 18, 2010
The Men’s Ministry newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
Our mission is to lead men to Jesus Christ and provide opportunity for Christian men to grow in their faith and minister to others.
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“At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
~ Romans 5:6-8
“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion — it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”
~ Billy Graham
JUDGE RULES NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER UNCONSTITUTIONAL
A federal judge has ruled that the National Day of Prayer, observed the first Thursday of May, is unconstitutional. In Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists and agnostics that brought a lawsuit against former President George W. Bush’s administration. According to a 2008 Associated Press article, Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force at the time, was named in the lawsuit.
“It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the the American Center for Law and Justice, said in a statement…. Read this in full at
also see “ACLJ: Court Decision Declaring National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional ‘Flawed’ — Case Could End up before the Supreme Court”
EXCITED ABOUT LIVING
“The first Christians, men and women who had seen Jesus live and die, were not stupefied by the knowledge, content to sit in a corner somewhere and pine for heaven. They were galvanized into action. Fear of death and fear of life vanished. They crossed continents and oceans with strong news — declaring that not only was Jesus’ message unique, Jesus himself was unique. His words about who he was and who we were had been corroborated by his return from the dead. Not only was life after death possible; life before death was possible too. Human existence was revitalized by the Christ in the garden.
“The first Christians still looked forward to being with Jesus in heaven. But they also looked forward to being with him on earth. They were excited about dying and being with Christ. But they were also excited about living and being with Christ. Christ’s resurrection was meant not to deflate human life but to expand it. Not to restrict it to a distant date when death would return our souls to God but to throw it wide open so that every living day would return our souls to God. The resurrection of Jesus fleshed out human life. It did not spiritualize it. He came back body and soul and redeemed both, made both equally significant. Not just for later. For now. Beginning with the present. ‘I have come that they may have life,’ Jesus says, ‘and have it to the full’ (John 10:10).”
~ Murray Andrew Pura, Rooted
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICANS DEEPLY COMMITTED TO CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM
The vast majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations are deeply committed to one or the other of the world’s two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, and yet many continue to practice elements of traditional African religions. Most people support democracy and say it is a good thing that people from other religions are able to practice their faith freely. At the same time, many also favor making the Bible or sharia law the official law of the land. And while many Muslims and Christians describe members of the other faith as tolerant and honest, there are clear signs of tensions and divisions between the faiths.
These are some of the key findings of a new survey released by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. “Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa” is based on a major public opinion poll exploring religion and society in the region. It is funded by a generous grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation as part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, which aims to increase people’s knowledge of religion around the world…. Read this in full at
Also see “Africa goes to church, the mosque and the witch doctor”
“Africans among world’s most religious people, study finds”
“Islam, Christianity and Africa: A beacon of faiths”
STANLEY CUP 2010 PLAYOFFS
INTERVIEW WITH JOEL HUNTER
by Amy Green
On April 21, the Rev. Joel Hunter’s Florida megachurch will hold what organizers bill as the largest ever faith-based gathering to celebrate Earth Day.
Organizers say the simulcast from Hunter’s Northland Church will draw thousands of churches of all faiths in partnership with Blessed Earth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading environmentalism among churches.
Hunter, 61, is part of a new vanguard of influential leaders pushing evangelicalism beyond traditional hot-button social issues. He prayed with President Obama on Inauguration Day and served on the White House’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He is on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals and has lobbied Congress on climate change.
His congregation draws more than 10,000 on Sundays to its four locations around Orlando and online. Hunter talked about Earth Day, climate change and “Avatar.” Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Tell me about the Earth Day event. How did Northland get involved?
A: Through my involvement in what we call creation care, I met Matthew and Nancy Sleeth (of Blessed Earth). We formed a friendship, and when this brainchild of his came up, he knew we were a church of remarkable technology. He came to us, and I said we’d be glad to do it because this is what we do.
Q: Are we seeing a new religious environmental movement — people who see environmental protection as not only a scientific issue, but a moral one as well?
A: Yes. There is a growth from simply an anthropocentric theology to a Christocentric theology. That means the story of evangelical theology is not so much getting someone saved and getting them to heaven, but it is Christ redeeming not only the individual person but all creation as well. You’re seeing a transformation of, or a maturity of, interpreting Scripture to do with God’s broader agenda of redemption to things, beyond just the personal, individual salvation…. Read this in full at
TURNING A CULTURE OF DEBT INTO A CULTURE OF THRIFT
A growing number of American Christians and even some secular groups are beginning to believe John Wesley had the right idea: “Make all you can; save all you can; give all you can.”
Hard work, thrift and philanthropy seem counter-cultural in a time and place where debt is pervasive, with individuals, families, companies and even the government borrowing increasing amounts of money.
Churches can offer American culture the gift of stewardship, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission Director Suzii Paynter said. Church leaders preach about wise stewardship of time, energy and resources. Through church-sponsored financial seminars, people learn how to get out of debt and stay that way. And some congregations take seriously the responsibility to model wise stewardship to the world.
A group of primarily African-American congregations in three Central Texas counties have formed Texas Congregations United for Empowerment, an effort that brings together 6,000 church members to create better access to financial services, including loans from banks, for lower-income individuals and families…. Read this in full at
Churches can help poor avoid predatory-lending trap
Reading the Bible through the lens of poverty affects interpretation
Christians in developing world interpret Bible differently
SHINE THROUGH US
“Sometimes in life we face difficult situations and experience times of suffering. Jesus experienced difficult times in life and he suffered greatly as he died on the cross.
“Just as Jesus continued to demonstrate love to others throughout his trials he calls us to do the same. When a difficult situation comes along, think and pray before reacting. Ask, ‘How can God be glorified in this situation? How would Jesus react to this situation?’
“Jesus left us an example of unconditional love; even in extremely distressing circumstances. If he is living in us, we have the same power to love and overcome any situation that he has. We should strive to live in such a manner that Jesus will shine through us every day.”
~ André K. Dugger, Dear God
LIVE AND LEARN
by Leonard Sweet
In the first Men in Black movie, Will Smith (“J”) at first refuses to believe Tommy Lee Jones (“K”) that the earth is playing host to thousands of creatures from other planets. K dismisses J’s “knowledge”:
“Fifteen hundred years ago, everyone KNEW the world was the center of the universe, 500 years ago everyone KNEW the earth was flat, and 15 minutes ago you KNEW we were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll KNOW tomorrow!”
What do you really know?
If you’ve ever been involved in teaching, whether it is teaching history to a room full of bored eighth graders, teaching dog obedience to a bunch of frisky pups and their masters or teaching a Lenten Bible study, you quickly come to one conclusion: The more you endeavor to become learned, the more you define yourself a learner.
The more we “know,” the more embarrassingly obvious it becomes how much we have to learn.
EVANGELICAL PROF RESIGNS AFTER PRO-EVOLUTION VIDEO ROW
What started as an interview about science and faith, grew to become an increasingly popular web video, and was eventually pulled down at the request of a conservative seminary has now led to the resignation of the professor behind it.
Reformed Theological Seminary has announced that Dr. Bruce Waltke from the RTS Orlando campus was one of three professors who would not be returning to RTS out of the more than 50 on staff.
While the other professors reportedly chose not to commit to another year in order to return to the pastorate and in response to health issues, Waltke was reported as having simply resigned from his position as Professor of Old Testament.
Though not stated, those who watched how events unfolded over the past two weeks believe that the resignation is related to the controversy that ensued following the posting of a video in which the evangelical professor discusses the danger the Church will face if it does not engage with the world around it – in particular with the issue of evolution, which many evangelicals reject.
“[I]f the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … some odd group that is not really interacting with the world,” said Waltke in the video that went up on YouTube and the website of the BioLogos Foundation as part of its “Conversations” collection.
“And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness,” the distinguished Old Testament scholar added.
While Waltke believes that creation by the process of evolution is a tenable biblical position and the best Christian apologetic to defend Genesis 1-3 against its critics, many evangelicals cannot reconcile the belief in evolution with the authority of the Bible…. Read this in full at
Also see “Bruce Waltke headed to Knox Theological Seminary”
PENTECOSTALS FIND FERTILE GROUND IN LATIN AMERICA
In a deeply divided society, Pentecostal churches offer a level of equality difficult to find elsewhere…. Read this in full at
STUDY: US CHURCH ATTENDANCE STEADY, BUT MAKEUP OF CHURCHGOERS CHANGES
US church attendance rates have held relatively steady over the past three and a half decades, a new study shows. But the makeup of the nation’s congregations has undergone significant changes during that same time.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel applied a new multi-level estimation method to uncover several original findings about how often Americans — and certain groups of Americans — worship.
His findings challenge some popular notions: First, aside from a moderate decline in the 1990s, the study shows that Americans’ churchgoing routines have been fairly constant over the decades, at around 23 to 28 services a year.
“There is a small decline in church attendance over time, but not nearly as large as suggested in popular culture, or even by some social scientists,” Schwadel said.
Second, sizeable shifts have occurred within traditionally reliable churchgoing groups — women, southerners and Catholics — that suggest those groups’ overall impact on church attendance rates in the United States has begun to wane…. Read this in full at
MILLIONS OF UNCHURCHED ADULTS ARE CHRISTIANS HURT BY CHURCHES BUT CAN BE HEALED OF THE PAIN
One of the objectives of many churches is to attract people who do not participate in the life of a church. New research from The Barna Group, however, points out that most of the unchurched in America may be different than expected.
The Barna data indicate that 28% of the adult population has not attended any church activities, including services, in the past six months. That translates to nearly 65 million adults. When their children under the age of 18 who live with them are added to the picture, the number swells to more than 100 million people.
While the aggregate proportion of unchurched adults is down from its high point of the past quarter century (32%), it remains within sight of that high water mark. Consequently, due to the continued expansion of the nation’s population, the total numbers of unchurched people has remained relatively steady in recent years despite the minor proportional fluctuations.
One of the biggest surprises to some people, however, is that a large majority of the nation’s unchurched population is drawn from the sector comprised of people who consider themselves to be Christian. In the United States, 83% of all adults label themselves “Christian.” The percentage is lower among the unchurched, but such self-identified Christians still outnumber those who do not embrace Christianity by a three-to-two margin (61% vs. 39%)…. Read this in full at
CANADIAN ARCHEOLOGISTS DISCOVER OLD TESTAMENT-ERA TABLET
Canadian archeologists in Turkey have unearthed an ancient treaty written in cuneiform that could have served as a model for the biblical description of God’s covenant with the Israelites.
The tablet, dating from about 670 BC, is a treaty between the powerful Assyrian king and his weaker vassal states, written in a highly formulaic language very similar in form and style to the story of Abraham’s covenant with God in the Hebrew Bible, says University of Toronto archeologist Timothy Harrison.
Although biblical scholarship differs, it is widely accepted that the Hebrew Bible was being assembled around the same time as this treaty, the seventh century BC…. Read this in full at
HARPERCOLLINS TO RELEASE C. S. LEWIS BIBLE
Coming in October. Thought-provoking meditations from beloved author C. S. Lewis’s own spiritual writings are paired with corresponding Bible passages in The C. S. Lewis Bible. This NRSV Bible provides readings comprised of over 600 selections from Lewis’s celebrated spiritual classics, a collection that includes Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed, The Four Loves, and The Weight of Glory, as well as letters, poetry, and Lewis’s lesser-known works. Each reading, paired alongside relevant passages in the Bible, offers C. S. Lewis as a companion to a reader’s daily meditation of Scripture…. Read this in full at
WHY BELIEF IN GOD IS INNATE
According to Oxford University Press’s “World Christian Encyclopedia,” 84% of the world’s population belongs to some form of organized religion. That equals 5.7 billion people who belong to about 10,000 distinct religions, each of which may be further subdivided and classified. Christians, for example, may be apportioned among over 33,000 different denominations. Among the many binomial designations granted our species (Homo sapiens, Homo ludens, Homo economicus), a strong case could be made for Homo religiosus. And Americans are among the most religious members of the species. A 2007 Pew Forum survey of over 35,000 Americans found the following percentages of belief:
* God or a universal spirit 92%
* Heaven 74%
* Hell 59%
* Scripture is word of God 63%
* Miracles 79%
So powerful is the belief that there must be something else out there that even 21% of those who identified themselves as atheists and 55% of those who identified themselves as agnostics expressed a belief in God or a universal spirit…. Read this in full at
WALLIS VS. BECK: THE POLITICS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE
Fox News commentator Glenn Beck claims that faith-based calls for “social justice” are really ideological calls for “forced redistribution of wealth … under the guise of charity and/or justice,” and that Christians should leave their churches if they preach or practice “social justice.”
Rev. Jim Wallis disagrees, saying social justice is a faith-based commitment “to serve the poor and to attack the conditions that lead to poverty,” central tents of the teachings of Jesus and at the heart of biblical faith.
Who’s right? How does the pursuit of justice fit into your faith? Is ’social justice’ an ideology or a theology? …. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
~ 1 Peter 2:24
“In darkness there is no choice. It is light that enables us to see the differences between things; and it is Christ who gives us light.”
~ Augustus Hare
ASSEMBLIES OF GOD LEADER BOWS OUT OF CIVILITY STATEMENT
The top leader of the Assemblies of God wants his name removed from a civility statement signed by religious leaders after learning that its signatories included non-
George O. Wood, general superintendent of the prominent Pentecostal denomination, decided earlier this month that he no longer wanted his name on the statement issued in March, his denomination’s spokeswoman said.
“The problem is the tent that has grown so large on the signatures of this that are including people who are supportive of gay marriage and abortion rights,” spokeswoman Juleen Turnage said in an interview April 13.
“He just felt that he could not become a part of a large tent.”
Wood, an executive committee member of the National Association of Evangelicals, signed the document during an NAE board meeting in March that he hosted at Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Mo…. Read this in full at
EVANGELICAL LEADERS SEND ATOMIC FIREBALLS TO CONGRESS
With the slogan “Atomic Fireballs are great candy, but terrible foreign policy,” evangelical college presidents, denominational executives, pastors, veterans, professors, and missionaries are showing strong support for US moves to reduce nuclear arsenals. Citing Jesus, Scripture, and foreign policy experts such as George Shultz, they claim “overcoming the nuclear threat requires international cooperation” and “nuclear weapons are a moral threat” that must eventually be eliminated.
Their historic Matthew 5 Project (http://www.matthew5project.org) statement, which “calls on our nation to be willing to talk with and listen to antagonists,” applauds the “new START” treaty and the Nuclear Summit. The statement was sent to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all 535 members of Congress…. Read this in full at
CURRENCY INSCRIPTION SETS TONE FOR NEW MINISTRY EFFORT
A simple inscription found on all US currency was the inspiration behind a new effort of hope for people struggling with financial challenges. The Pocket Testament League and Kingdom Advisors have partnered together in a new initiative to encourage Christians to read, carry and share the Word of God, while solving financial problems at the same time.
Working in partnership with Kingdom Advisors, The Pocket Testament League has produced a Gospel of John cover design that cuts directly to the issue of trust. Featuring a close up of the distinctive phrase “In God We Trust” found on US currency, and the headline “Where do you place your trust?,” this new Gospel cover is ideal for helping people think about what they look to as their source of security.
Americans see the words “In God We Trust” each and every day, yet few understand the amazing wisdom or power behind them. This phrase, inscribed on all US currency, has a remarkable history…. Read this in full at
LAYING THE DEAD TO REST
With Argentinean scientist Mercedes Doretti, the radio program Speaking of Faith explores the human landscape of forensic sciences and its emergence as a tool for human rights. Doretti has unearthed bones and stories of the dead and “the disappeared” in more than 30 countries, including victims of Argentina’s Dirty War, over two decades. She shares her perspective on reparation, the need to bury our dead, and the many facets of justice…. Read this in full at
THE CASE FOR COLD WATER SHAVING
Have you notice how soldiers in the HBO series Band of Brothers, ill-supplied and freezing, still made time to shave? The clean shaven face was and is military policy. Even today, US soldiers, although they must do without hot water and baths for months at a time, still try to get in a daily shave. It might seem like a strange policy to civilians, but requiring the men to be well-groomed is believed to be important in preserving the men’s sense of discipline and the esprit de corps.
Shaving with cold water seems like a hardship, a practice that must be endured in Spartan living conditions. After all, it’s wet shaving doctrine that a man must always shave with hot water. It not only feels nice, it softens the beard and supposedly gives you a more comfortable shave.
But what if that advice is wrong? What if it’s actually better to shave with cold water, even when you’re not fighting the Battle of the Bulge?
Well, according to a bunch of authors in the 19th century, cold water shaving is indeed superior to shaving with hot water…. Read this in full at
“You have become a mature person when keeping a secret gives you more satisfaction than passing it along.”
~ Unknown Author
VERSE TO PONDER
“You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.”
~ Hebrews 11:6 (The Living Bible)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD
Words: Henry A. Becker, 1880
Music: Walter B. Gilbert, 1865
Christ is risen from the dead!
Darkness now no more shall reign;
Thorns no more shall crown the head
That was bowed with grief and pain:
Christ the Lord, the mighty King,
From our sin hath made us free.
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Where, O grave, thy victory?
Scoffers now no more will say:
If Thou be the Christ, come down
From the cross, and prove today
That to Thee belongs the crown!
For our risen Lord and King
From our sin hath made us free,
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Where, O grave, thy victory?
Faith now knows He is the Lord,
Gives assent to His decree,
Trusts the promise in His Word,
And is crowned with victory,
Shouting praises to the King,
Who from sin hath made us free.
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Where, O grave, thy victory?
>from NetHymnal at
“Pray Without Ceasing”
“I heard about a guy whose fifteen-year-old daughter ran away from home, and, of course, it just devastated him. This guy was a fired-up Christian so he did what every Christian is taught to do when tragedy strikes: he prayed that God would send his daughter back to him. I don’t mean he just said a little prayer and went about his business. He really prayed. Every morning when he woke up, it was the first thing he did. He prayed on the way to work and on the drive back home, and he ended every day praying until he fell asleep. If anyone ever followed the biblical instruction to ‘pray without ceasing,’ this guy came pretty close. The last I heard, he had kept praying like that for more than a year — and still no sign of his daughter. You know what he said when a friend told him he should start to accept the fact that she was never coming back?
“’Oh, I already have, but I don’t know if God has, and until I know for a fact that she won’t come back, I’m going to keep praying.’
“I don’t know this man, but he’s my kind of guy! Or more accurately, he’s God’s kind of guy. He understands an important truth that allows him to have hope, no matter what. He knows that God never makes a mistake and that whatever God chooses to do regarding his daughter is what’s best. We so often make the mistake of thinking that if we don’t get what we ask for, God must not care about us. Nothing in the Bible supports that. To the contrary, God loves us so much that he gives us what we need, even if it’s not what we want. And he does it at exactly the perfect time.”
~ Ken Hutcherson, Hope is Contagious
PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
DAILY BLESSING PACT
Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.
I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Estates & inheritances
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase
“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deut. 28:2).
[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you’d like the church guys to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness. I’ll add your name to the list for the time you’ll be away.]
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SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.
Felix Baumgartner will free fall skydive from 23 miles up
iPad vs. Blu-Tack: each is missing equal number of features
29 Semi-Productive Things I Do Online When I’m Trying to Avoid Real Work
Click the floating spheres and create music
Photos of 15 amazing castles from around the world
The 10 most common travel booking mistakes
All links to websites are provided as a service, and do not imply endorsement by this ministry.
(BTW: whenever the URLs in this newsletter are too long to turn into links on your e-mail program, just copy the entire URL (two lines or more) and paste it into a temporary email message. Then delete the return in the middle of it and copy it again. Then paste it into your web browser and hit enter.)
If money doesn’t grow on trees, how come banks have branches?
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483,email@example.com if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program.
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