For week of July 3, 2011
The weekly 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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“I pray that your partnership in the faith might become effective by an understanding of all that is good among us in Christ.”
Philemon 1:6 (CEB)
“It is easier to produce ten volumes of philosophical writings than to put one principle into practice.”
CHURCHES’ DILEMMA: 80% OF FLOCK IS INACTIVE
A recent survey shows that 80/20 principle is a fact of church life in most congregations — only 20% are heavily involved, while 80% are minimally involved and attend infrequently at best. For example, a National Congregation Survey shows the Southern Baptist Convention had a membership of 16,160,088 people in 2008, but a yearly attendance rate of 38%. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had a membership of 4,542,868 in 2009, but the yearly attendance rated rested at 28%.
Researcher Scott Thumma says, “So many pastors that I’ve talked to recognize the problem, don’t know what to do about it and then instead of trying to tackle it, they kind of put it aside.” Thumma and fellow researcher Warren Bird recorded their findings in the book “The Other 80 Percent.”…. Read this in full at
EVANGELICALS LAUNCH HISTORIC EVANGELISM DOCUMENT WITH ECUMENICALS, CATHOLICS
“Historic” was the word of the day June 28 as the World Evangelical Alliance, World Council of Churches and Vatican launched a landmark document on the ethics of mission.
“Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” is the first joint document of its kind in church history and seeks to identify not only the biblical call to evangelism but also the ethical mandates of Christian witness.
It offers recommendations for Christian conduct in the mission field and is a joined up response to criticisms leveled at Christians by some religious communities against what they perceive to be “unethical methods.”
Its launch in Geneva, Switzerland, follows five years of discussions between the WCC, WEA, and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council on Inter-religious Dialogue.
WEA Secretary General Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe says it’s a “historic document” and a “historic moment” for the three bodies, who together represent more than 90% of the world’s total Christian population…. Read this in full at
Also see “Top Evangelical, Catholic, and Mainline Bodies Issue Evangelism Rules”
ISRAELI SCHOLARS SAY 2,000-YEAR-OLD BURIAL BOX LINKED TO BIBLE’S HIGH PRIEST IS GENUINE
Israeli scholars have confirmed the authenticity of a 2,000-year-old burial box that appears to bear the name of a relative of the high priest Caiaphas mentioned in the New Testament, the Israel Antiquities Authority said June 29.
The find offers support for the existence of the biblical Caiaphas, who appears in the New Testament as a temple priest and an adversary of Jesus who played a key role in his crucifixion…. Read this in full at
SUCCESS OUT OF FAILURE
In this video, Greg Surratt, lead pastor of multisite pioneer Seacoast Church, with locations across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, talks about seeing the success that God can bring out of what we might otherwise see as failure…. Read this in full at
UNDERSTANDING THE STORY AND STRUCTURE OF THE BIBLE
by Patrick Morley, PhD
Bill, a member of our Board of Directors, said, “When I first became a Christian I would feel so confident at work because I knew what I was doing — like a doctor with a scalpel.
“But when I would walk into church I would feel like putty. I didn’t know where things were, or how the Bible was put together. I didn’t know the major events and periods of the Bible, so I felt queasy and didn’t really like going to church on Sunday.”
One way to increase your Bible confidence is to have a good overview of the story and structure of God’s Word. There’s no “one right way” to organize the Bible. Well, there probably is — the way it’s already organized! If we take the Bible at face value, it already says exactly what God wanted to say exactly the way He wanted to say it.
Still, the Scriptures leave the average human mind nagging for a way to “organize” and “structure” the book for greater comprehension.
The Bible is structured mostly as stories, and written mostly in chronological order. However, besides the obvious division into two Testaments, something else is going on. Not unlike personal transitions from, say, single to married, or from childless to children, there are monumental transitions, or shifts, that take place in the Bible.
As a result, God’s message of love has been communicated differently in different seasons (or periods, ages, epochs). Most Bible scholars are comfortable with some kind of “scheme,” “structure,” or “list” that organizes the major periods, so I’ve put together one for you — 11 ages in three stages…. Read this in full at
YouVersion’s VOLUNTEER ARMY
With more than 22 million users on mobile platforms, and millions more on its website, it has unusual success in creating a massive participatory system like Wikipedia or YouTube…. Read this in full at (pdf)
COMPLETE COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE ARRIVES FROM PRINTER
The print format of the new complete Common English Bible (http://CommonEnglishBible.com), four years in the making, has arrived early at its central distribution center in Nashville, TN.
While the New Testament was released last August, and the digital version of the entire Bible just debuted on 20 platforms, this is the first time the complete Common English Bible is available in print. Originally expected this fall, the paperback edition is shipping to stores now. Six other editions, including one with the Apocrypha, will be available in August…. Read this in full at
WHAT FAILURE MEANS
Failure doesn’t mean you’re a failure; it *does* mean you haven’t yet succeeded.
Failure doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished nothing; it *does* mean you’ve had the opportunity to learn something.
Failure doesn’t mean you’ve have been a fool; it *does* mean you have a lot of faith.
Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been disgraced; it *does* mean you were willing to try.
Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it; it *does* mean you have to do something in a different way.
Failure doesn’t mean you’re inferior; it *does* mean you’re not perfect.
Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your life; it *does* mean you have a reason to start afresh.
Failure doesn’t mean you should give up; it *does* mean you must try harder.
Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it; it *does* mean it’ll take a little longer.
Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you; it *does* mean God has a better way.
THE QUALIFICATIONS GOD LOOKS FOR
“Our guy Moses stammers and can’t talk well. Has no leadership experience or communication skills. And he is wanted for murder charges in the very place he’ll have to go deliver God’s message! I don’t know about you, but these seem like three pretty good reasons Moses is not a good candidate to be the new secretary of state for the nation of Israel. It’s something like the United States president choosing a migrant worker who picks berries to [secure] a peaceful release for millions of Americans enslaved by a foreign dictator. Not something we’re likely to see, right? God sees it differently.
“God sees Moses’ weaknesses as providing the best conduit for God’s strength. There is no way for Moses to take any of the credit or for those around him to think his dynamic personality and speaking skills could get the job done. No, the only possible way is through God’s divine power and miraculous provision.
“As with our lives, the best thing we can do, even when we don’t feel equipped or adequate, is to say yes to God. [After all,] our perspective is limited. We seldom see things the way God sees them [read Isaiah
“The only qualification [God] looks for in order to accomplish great things through his people is a willing and obedient heart. No matter how many or what kind of obstacles loom in your way, if your heart is humble, open, and willing, God promises you exactly what he promised Moses: ‘I will be with you’ [Exodus 3:12]. A powerful promise, especially when you are facing the showdown of a lifetime.”
Randy Frazee in The Heart of the Story: God’s Masterful Design to Restore His People
PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS FLOCK TO WILD GOOSE FESTIVAL
From Ontario, Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta and dozens of towns and cities between people pulled into the dusty pasture in rural central North Carolina to see if four days chasing the wild goose in community with others could crack barriers and deepen their spiritual lives.
The Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit. It is also the adopted name of a young organization and of the first event it sponsored June 23-26 that drew some 1,500 to Shakori Hills near Pittsboro, NC. The Wild Goose Festival is fashioned after the Green Belt festivals in England that have drawn crowds for 37 years.
Far from being a Woodstock with Christian music, the Wild Goose Festival drew an eclectic crowd of various faiths, primarily Christian, who ranged in age from toddlers to totterers. While they were diverse, their common accouterments were sandals, water bottles, hats, and personal collapsible chairs.
“We wanted to create a gathering to promote justice, spirituality and art, with the hope to nurture a community of people who want to live out a more just and creative life,” said Mike Morrell, publicity director for Wild Goose…. Read this in full at
PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS NOT IMMUNE TO BULLIES
Middle school is no picnic for a lot of students, but for Alec McGuire, it was intolerable. He transferred from one Catholic school to another in eighth grade to get away from another student whom he said harassed and ridiculed him. Whether making fun of his parents’ divorce or throwing a basketball at him, the student and his friends made Alec’s daily life miserable.
“I could not take it,” said McGuire, now 18, who recently graduated from West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.
He said he continued to withstand the teasing as an underclassman. But helped by administrators, he did well in school, serving as band president and on the Mayor’s Youth Council…. Read this in full at
SIZING UP THE UNIVERSE
Astronomers have used all sorts of tricks over the years to try to convey the mind-boggling scale of the universe to us ordinary folks. If you could drive your car from here to the nearest star at 60 m.p.h., they’ve told us, it would take 11 million years. If the Sun were a beach ball sitting on a football field’s goal line, the Earth would be a pea on the 50-yard line. And so on.
Things got a little more sophisticated with the extraordinary 1968 film Powers of Ten, which zooms out from a bucolic scene in a Chicago park to encompass ever-wider panoramas until it captures an artist’s rendering of the entire visible universe, then zooms back down into the hand of a sun-bather lying on the grass, probing the ever-tinier world of the microscopic, atomic and subatomic. (See “The Universe, to Scale: New Images of Outer Space.”)
But now comes the latest attempt to put the cosmos in perspective, and it may be the most effective yet — even though it takes the retro form of a physical book. Most coffee-table astronomy books are simply collections of gorgeous images, and Sizing Up the Universe (National Geographic; 248 pages, $35.00) is certainly that. But it’s more too: it also conveys the relative sizes and distances of cosmic objects in so many different and ingenious ways that becomes a little dizzying — in the best possible sense…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near.”
Philippians 4:5 (CEB)
“God appoints our graces to be nurses to other men’s weaknesses.”
Henry Ward Beecher
TIM TEBOW ON JESUS, FOOTBALL AND DATING
by Sally Quinn
Tim Tebow is the real deal. In case you have been living on another planet, he is the 23-year-old superstar Heisman trophy winning football player for the Denver Broncos. He‘s also a deeply committed Christian and not afraid to say so, which he does in his new book, “Through My Eyes.”
Tebow has been written about a lot and is now on a wild book tour, doing TV, radio, and print interviews all over the country. During a recent phone interview, he talked about “God’s plan” for his life, his upbringing, hardships, winning and losing, football and, not least of all, women and sex…. Read this in full at
BILLY GRAHAM’S RAPID RESPONSE TEAM CHAPLAINS ARE ’THERE IN TIME OF NEED’
by Michael Ireland
Jack Munday is Director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team of volunteer chaplains which, since 9/11, has responded to more than 110 disasters around the world. He has seen more than his fair share of distress and despair.
With a background in sales and marketing in the airline and communications industries, Munday was on staff with Promise Keepers as a regional director for them until 2000. Then for two years Munday had his own ministry helping churches to disciple men. He started working with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 2002.
In an interview earlier this year, Munday said he received a telephone call after September 11, 2001, telling him the BGEA was going to start a new department to evaluate areas around the world to help with evangelism and discipleship.
“So we evaluated 52 different areas around the world in the next few months,” he said. “The Rapid Response Team was one of those new ministries,” Munday said…. Read this in full at
BLIND ARTIST KEN MEDEMA ARTICULATES HIS ART FORM
Ken Medema — singer, composer, pianist, artist and for four decades a softly prodding social conscience of the church — worked his art through the two days of the 2011 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly June 21-25 in Tampa, Fla.
His unique and fascinating gift is to listen to a sermon or a session, to a speech or a spiel, and immediately after to unreel a song that reflects what he’s heard; created as he sings it.
During a break between sessions he spoke briefly of his background and answered questions in an exclusive ABP interview.
As a young person Medema, 67, ran away from the Dutch Calvinist faith of his family in Michigan. While studying music at Michigan State University, Medema met the daughter of a man who directed the Baptist Student Union and was pastor of a tiny Baptist church in Lansing.
Jane’s family members were “very progressive thinkers” who dared to ask questions and were unthreatened by the doubts of others. When Medema presented his own questions about faith they told him they have the same questions…. Read this in full at
CHRISTIAN THEME PARKS
The Creation Museum in northern Kentucky is a big place with lots of exhibits depicting the creation of the earth in six days, just as it occurred in the Book of Genesis. Ken Ham, a former high school science teacher from Australia, is the CEO of the Christian ministry that created the museum…. Read and watch this in full at
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY PRAYER BULLETIN
by Elizabeth Kendal, international religious liberty analyst and advocate. Read her report in full at
LEITH ANDERSON, PAWLENTY’S PASTOR, TO RETIRE FROM PULPIT
Evangelical minister Leith Anderson announced on June 29 that he will retire from the pulpit of Wooddale Church, where GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty attends.
After nearly 35 years, Anderson – who also heads the National Association of Evangelicals – feels it is the right time to step aside and pass the baton to a younger generation.
“My decision to retire at this time is the culmination of lots of prayers, thinking, and planning,” the 66-year-old said in his note to the church. “Wooddale Church is thriving. God is blessing. These are good days. I prefer to conclude my pastorate when all is well and turn leadership over to a new generation.”
While he will no longer play the active role of senior pastor at the Eden Prairie, Minn., church which draws some 5,000 people, Anderson will continue to serve as president of the NAE and in President Obama’s faith advisory council…. Read and watch this in full at
A GIANT ‘CHRIST OF THE PACIFIC’ STATUE IS ERECTED IN PERU
The outgoing president of Peru, Alan Garcia, is bringing a gargantuan statue of Jesus to a hill overlooking the capital, Lima.
The “Christ of the Pacific” monument, inaugurated on the Morro Solar hill in southern Lima, is a 120-foot structure featuring a white statue of Jesus that is 72 feet tall. The statue, made of resin, has its arms outstretched, resembling the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro.
According to reports, Garcia described the project as a personal dream and a “gift” to Peru before he leaves office in late July. “I want it to be a figure that blesses Peru and protects Lima,” the president said…. Read this in full at
EXPERTS UNCOVER STUNNING 1,400 YEAR OLD FRESCO OF ST PAUL IN ROMAN CATACOMB
Vatican officials June 29 described the discovery of a 1,400 year old fresco of St Paul in an ancient Roman catacomb as ‘sensational.’ The painting was found during restoration work at the Catacombs of San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) in the port city of Naples.
A photograph released by the Vatican shows the apostle, famous for his conversion to Christianity from Judaism, with a long neck, a slightly pink complexion, thinning hair, a beard and big eyes that give his face a ‘spiritual air.’ …. Read this in full at
CREEDS AND DEEDS
by Mike Horton
The first Reformation was about doctrine; the second one needs to be about behavior,” best-selling author Rick Warren told a congress of the Baptist World Alliance not long ago. “We need a reformation not of creeds but deeds.” Throughout the speech, as reported on the group’s website, Pastor Warren announced that a new movement is underway in the church, shifting the emphasis from doctrinal issues to service in the world. “It’s time to stop debating the Bible and start doing it…This is the new reformation I’m praying for.”
I begin with this account not to suggest that we either jump on the bandwagon or burn it, but as a way to frame the challenging topic before us. As has been frequently pointed out, Paul often moves from doctrine to exhortation in his epistles. In fact, he is pretty obvious about it. In 1 Corinthians, he moves back and forth between diagnosis (division, strife, sexual immorality, lawsuits, mistreatment of the poor) and cure (God’s faithfulness, justification, sanctification, and the unity of the saints in union with Christ, especially as engendered by the Lord’s Supper). Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Romans exhibit an even clearer pattern. In each case, the first half or more of the letter expounds the riches of our inheritance in Christ by grace alone through faith alone, and then specific exhortations are given to realize the impact of these truths in the concrete relationships of believers between each other, in their homes, in their relationships with non-Christians in their vocations as neighbors, workers, and citizens, and so forth…. Read this in full at
CAN A CREEDLESS RELIGION MAKE IT ANOTHER 50 YEARS?
A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology. Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program. But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might still upset the humanists in the pews.
“I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by reciting something that might be considered a profession of faith,” said Mendes, 52, after the service. “We did say ‘God,’ which you don’t often hear in our most politically correct hymns.” …. Read and watch this in full at
One iconic image of the Paris that tourists come to see is Notre Dame Cathedral, a centuries-old symbol of Roman Catholicism in France. But inside this Catholic church in Paris, the sparse congregation reflects a wider truth: Christianity is on the wane across Western Europe, and nowhere is its decline more visible than in France…. Read and watch this in full at
INSIDE A HINDU TEMPLE
CNN Senior Photojournalist Anthony Umrani takes his video camera inside Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, a Hindu worship space near Washington, DC.
DOCS TURN BABY GIRLS INTO BOYS
Girls are being ‘converted’ into boys in Indore, Indore, Madhya Pradesh
India – by the hundreds every year – at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.
This shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son, is unfolding at conservative Indore’s well-known clinics and hospitals on children who are 1-5 years old. The process being used to ‘produce’ a male child from a female is known as genitoplasty. The children are pumped with hormonal treatment as part of the sex change procedure that may be irreversible.
The low cost of surgery and the relatively easy and unobtrusive way of getting it done in this city attracts parents from Delhi and Mumbai to get their child surgically ‘corrected’…. Read this in full at
“Too many of us have a Christian vocabulary rather than a Christian experience.”
Charles F. Banning
VERSE TO PONDER
“Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: GRACIOUS SPIRIT, HOLY GHOST
Words: Christopher Wordsworth, 1862
Music: Friedrich Filitz, 1847
Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost,
Taught by Thee we covet most
Of Thy gifts of Pentecost
Holy, heavenly Love.
Faith, that mountains could remove,
Tongues of earth or heaven above,
Knowledge—all things—empty prove,
Without heavenly Love.
Though I as a martyr bleed,
Give my goods the poor to feed,
All is vain—if Love I need;
Therefore, give us Love.
Love is kind, and suffers long
Love is meek, and thinks no wrong,
Love than death itself more strong;
Therefore, give us Love.
Prophecy will fade away,
Melting in the light of day,
Love will ever with us stay;
Therefore, give us Love.
Faith will vanish into sight;
Hope be emptied in delight;
Love in heaven will shine more bright;
Therefore, give us Love.
Faith and Hope and Love we see
Joining hand in hand agree;
But the greatest of the three,
And the best, is Love.
From the overshadowing
Of Thy gold and silver wing
Shed on us, who to Thee sing,
Holy, heavenly Love.
>from NetHymnal at
“God, we pray that you bless our president with wisdom and right judgment. May he always seek the common good and be willing to listen to the voices of all, especially those whose voices are often silenced. Amen.”
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).
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Pedigree Dogs ad shot 1000 frames per second
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Shepherds in the Land of Israel before 1925
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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.
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