For week of October 16, 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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“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
“True freedom from fear consists of totally resigning one’s life into the hands of the Lord.”
WORLD SERIES 2011
The World Series will begin Oct. 19
Christian athlete news: http://www.bpsports.net/
Sports Spectrum: http://www.sportsspectrum.com/
CHRISTIANITY EXPERIENCING MAJOR DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFT, SAY SCHOLARS
Scholars claim the biggest change in the history of Christianity is underway amid the religion’s move to Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
“The story of Christianity as a worldwide faith is being written before our eyes,” declared Dana Robert of Boston University School of Theology, as she addressed a group of world church leaders at the Global Christian Forum (GCF) in Manado, Indonesia.
The gathering has brought together leaders from major church traditions, theological perspectives, and world communions, including the Anglican Communion, the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance, the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
According to Peter Crossing of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, in 1910 about 66% of the world’s Christians lived in Europe; a century later it was only 26%…. Read this in full at
AROUND THE WORLD, AN ‘EXPLOSION OF EVANGELISM’
Christian apologist and commentator Dr. Jim Denison (http://www.denisonforum.org/) says statistics point to what some are calling a “Fifth Great Awakening,” because Christianity is on the rise just about everywhere in the world — with the exception of the United States and Britain. The global growth of Christianity has caused the largest “explosion of evangelism” in 20 centuries, he said, citing Korea, Nigeria, and Cuba as just a few of the nations riding the wave of growth.
In the last 10 years in Cuba, more than 1 million people have come to Christ. In contrast, in England, four times more Muslims go to mosque every week than Christians go to church; in the US, the number of atheists and agnostics has quadrupled in the past 20 years and only 1% of college students attend church any given Sunday. Denison said: “When [people] are making God their hobby, we’re missing what God is doing in the nations. Where people are making God their king, they’re joining the Fifth Great Awakening.” …. Read this in full at
TEENS LEAVE CHURCHES SEEN AS JUDGMENTAL, UNFRIENDLY ACCORDING TO NEW BOOK ‘YOU LOST ME’
Why do young Christians leave the church? New research by the Barna Group finds they view churches as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly towards doubters. They also consider congregations antagonistic to science and say their Christian experience has been shallow.
The findings, the result of a five-year study, are featured in “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith,” a new book by Barna president David Kinnaman. The project included a study of 1,296 young adults who were current or former churchgoers.
Researchers found that almost three out of five young Christians (59%) leave church life either permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15…. Read this in full at
HOW TO READ THE BIBLE
by J. Todd Billings
A wide range of voices claims that a crisis of biblical interpretation is taking place. But contrary to many pundits, the crisis does not simply involve a decline in the Bible’s authority. Even when the Bible is turned to as the authority, it’s not necessarily interpreted Christianly.
Consider, for example, a recent Christian bestseller that offers a “Bible diet.” The book claims to enable better concentration, improve appearance, increase energy, and reverse the process of “accelerated aging.” To want to improve your appearance and energy level, do you have to be interested in knowing God or Jesus? Of course not. There is nothing intrinsically Christian about the advice.
It’s not just well-meaning writers but also many biblical scholars who fail to approach the Bible as Christian Scripture. Some approach it only as ancient history, using it as a piece of evidence in answering archeological or sociological questions about the ancient world. Other scholars try to reconstruct the thought of a book or author. A scholar can write an in-depth essay about Paul’s theology without ever considering that God could be addressing the scholar’s own time through Paul’s ancient texts…. Read this in full at
BIBLE APP HITS 30 MILLION INSTALL MARK
Marking a worldwide wave of Bible reading, YouVersion’s Bible App reached a milestone of 30 million unique installs this week. Offering 150 different versions in 45 languages, the Bible App is literally transforming the way people read and engage with the best-selling book of all time.
“It is very exciting to see what God is doing through YouVersion in a short period of time,” said Bobby Gruenewald, Pastor, Creator of YouVersion and Innovation Leader at LifeChurch.tv. “And this is only the beginning. We’re committed to continuing to use the best of today’s and tomorrow’s technology to help the world fall in love with God’s Word.”
YouVersion, which began exclusively as an online Bible, recently celebrated its fourth birthday. What was created by a team at LifeChurch.tv in September of 2007 has grown into an incredible world-wide community. In April of 2008, YouVersion launched the Bible App, a free application for mobile phones and tablets, which further increased access and interaction with the Bible…. Read this in full at
THY WORD IS A STREAM
There is a stream, whose gentle flow
Supplies the city of our God;
Life, love, and joy still gliding through,
And watering our divine abode:
That sacred stream, thine holy word,
That all our raging fear controls;
Sweet peace thy promises afford,
And give new strength to fainting souls.
… Isaac Watts (1674-1748), Psalms of David Imitated , from Psalm 46
WYCLIFFE, SIL ISSUE GUIDELINES ON TRANSLATING ‘SON OF GOD’ AMONG MUSLIMS
Following criticism from many quarters and official rebuke from the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Wycliffe Bible Translators and its primary implementing partner, SIL International, issued new guidelines in August saying familial language for God should normally be maintained in the text of Bible translations.
SIL convened an August meeting in Istanbul for translators and consultants to set standards. They then released a best practices statement that reaffirms belief in the eternal deity of Jesus Christ and says, “Scripture translations should promote understanding of the term ‘Son of God’ in all its richness, including his filial relationship with the Father, while avoiding any possible implication of sexual activity by God.” Many Muslims balk at the Bible’s familial language, because the Qur’an teaches that God could not have a son. Yet critics have pushed back against some translations promoted by scholars connected to SIL that substituted “Christ” for “Son of God” in order to avoid turning off Muslim readers…. Read this in full at
FAITH AT THE CENTER OF THE CIRCUS OF SPORTS
Late in the 2001 professional football season, when Nathan Whitaker was the staff lawyer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he went for a workout one afternoon in the team’s fitness center. On the way, he bumped into the head coach, Tony Dungy, and the encounter was fraught with awkwardness.
With the Bucs headed for a third-place finish at 9-7, rumors swirled that Mr. Dungy would be fired. Mr. Whitaker, in fact, had been assigned confidentially to prepare biographical sketches of the leading candidates to take over.
Yet he had noticed and admired the way Mr. Dungy held fast to his routines. He still drove his children to school many mornings and had them do their homework in his office in the afternoons. He still did regular Bible study with the other coaches. He still left work at 8 p.m. in a profession that expected 24/7 obsession, especially from a coach in trouble.
“I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your witness in the middle of this circus,” Mr. Whitaker recalled saying to the coach that day in 2001, using the Christian term for an example of faith. Mr. Dungy replied, “Sometimes I think God wants there to be a circus so we can show there’s another way to respond.”
In that brief exchange, at a time of adversity rather than triumph, Mr. Whitaker unknowingly embarked upon a writing career that has become a phenomenon in Christian publishing and in the theology known as “muscular Christianity.” …. Read this in full at
TAKING THE REINS OF BILLY GRAHAM’S LEGACY
Billy Graham has been dubbed the “Pope of Protestant America.” He’s prayed with every US president since Harry Truman and has had tremendous influence on American life. But now in his 90s, Graham is living a quieter, less-active life. One preacher emerging to carry on his legacy is his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz. She talks to NPR’s Guy Raz about the resistance she witnessed from many corners, including from her famous father, to a woman stepping out of the traditional role to preach the gospel…. Read and hear this in full at
THE LAUSANNE MOVEMENT: CELEBRATING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
by Lindsay Brown
On the first anniversary of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, which was held in Cape Town in October 2010, it seems appropriate to look back, celebrate, reflect, and pray regarding the fruit of the congress globally.
The goal of the congress was “to bring a fresh challenge to the global Church to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching in every area of the world geographically, as well as in every sphere of society and in the realm of ideas.” But what actually happened? …. Read this in full at
WOULD JESUS LOVE FOOTBALL?
by Rodney Clapp
The only good thing about the end of summer is that it’s the beginning of the college football season. Once more college football is delivering thrills and surprises, with the rankings changing dramatically on a weekly basis, teams appearing out of nowhere to vie for the no. 1 ranking, and underdogs ceremoniously (college football is nothing if not ceremonious) knocking off highly favored teams. I love just about everything about the game, from the on-field heroics to the off-field pageantry.
But I make the qualification: just about everything about the game. I don’t love everything. There’s plenty to be cynical about when ostensibly amateur players get recruited as if they were professionals. Even a straight arrow like Ohio State coach Jim Tressel turns out to have run a fairly smarmy program. Yet it’s not primarily the financially shady elements that make me ambivalent about my favorite sport. It’s the sometimes dangerous levels of violence…. Read this in full at
YOUNG EVANGELICALS RESIST A “POLITICIZED” FAITH
by Kristin Rudolph
Evangelicalism is changing, said Russell Moore , Dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, as the younger generation of evangelicals search for something deeper than the politicized “movement” based evangelicalism of their parents. Moore discussed “evangelicals in the public square” at Princeton University, on October 3rd, with Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University in New Jersey. (George is also an IRD emeritus board member.)
Moore hopes to “see less and less of evangelical pastors who are foreign policy experts” or purport a Christian way “to deal with the debt ceiling issue.” He explained that “the more that evangelicals speak to everything with the same level of authority,” the more important issues are debased. “If you have a Christian position on gun control, your Christian position on the dignity of human life now is simply reduced down” to the “chaos” of other policy debates. A better approach, Moore said, is for evangelical pastors to maintain positions on “clearly revealed Christian truths” such as the “definition of marriage, or dignity of human life.” …. Read this in full at
BALANCE NEEDED TO MAKE CHURCHES WELCOME AND SAFE PLACES
By definition, a “sanctuary” should be a place of refuge and protection where people feel welcome and feel safe. In practice, churches struggle with what it means to open their doors to everyone while providing a sense of security for people inside their walls. And if that holds true when groups gather for worship, the tension mounts for personnel who work alone on weekdays in a church office…. Read this in full at
AMERICAN CHURCHES ARE OLDER, SMALLER, POORER
More mixed news about American churches: Over the last decade, they’ve gotten grayer, smaller, and poorer. On the other hand, they’re more tech-savvy, innovative in worship and run more people-oriented ministries.
This good news-bad news comes courtesy of a 10-year study by Hartford Seminary. Called “A Decade of Change in American Congregations,” (http://faithcommunitiestoday.org/sites/faithcommunitiestoday.org/files/Decade%20of%20Change%20Final_0.pdf) the program studied 11,077 churches, a fair chunk of the 350,000-plus churches in the US…. Read this in full at
Also see “Trends For US Churches Mostly Pointing Down, Says Report”
VERSE TO PONDER
“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
“You were rubbed with oil like an athlete, Christ’s athlete, as though in preparation for an earthly wrestling-match, and you agreed to take on your opponent.”
CHURCH CANCELS SERVICES, PACKS MEALS FOR HUNGRY CHILDREN
On an overcast Sunday morning in Richmond, Va., 500 volunteers gathered at Gayton Baptist Church to make a difference a half a world away by preparing healthy meals to feed 277 malnourished children a meal one day for an entire year.
Through a partnership with Minneapolis-based Feed My Starving Children, Gayton set aside its regular worship service schedule for one day and used the time and space, along with volunteers from throughout the community, to prepare 100,000 meals through FMSC’s MobilePack program.
People from the community joined church members at eight stations in the sanctuary to scoop ingredients, fill bags and seal them.
“Our mission is to meet the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of people not only in Richmond but around the world,” said Pastor Phillip Faig. “And we’re just really thrilled to partner with an organization like Feed My Starving Children.” …. Read this in full at
WHAT DO YOU WORK FOR?
“The balance of work and pleasure is delicate and tricky, and both the slackers and the workaholics get it wrong. Pleasure is pleasurable because God created pleasure to be pleasurable. Work is fulfilling. Pleasure is enjoyable. Both are legitimate aspects of God’s creative artistry and legitimate pursuits of humanity. Imbalance happens when we look to either for that deep and abiding peace and rest that every human being seeks.
“In our work, we point to the beauty of God’s design and to the wisdom of his plan. In this way, our work becomes one of the chief ways that we live for and point to God’s glory. And the reality of eternity reminds us that work is not just something we do in this fallen world. No, work is part of who we are, human beings made in God’s image, and God’s plan is that we would work to his glory forever.
“People often think that this life of work belongs to them… However, the existence of eternity, with its creation-fall-redemption-destiny plotline, puts God smack-dab in the center of the universe he created and sustains. Since the universe moves according to God’s command and for his glory, we will never be the center… Living in light of eternity means living with a constant and practical God focus. It means asking what God’s purpose and will are for every area of our lives. It means caring about a greater glory than our own and living for a bigger pleasure than our own. It means recognizing that nothing in our lives really belongs to us. All of the physical, emotional, volitional, and conceptual faculties we exercise at work belong to the Lord and are meant to be used in a way that pleases him. Eternity reminds us that we have been born into a world that by its nature is a celebration of another.”
Paul David Tripp in Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It
THANKFUL FOR LOSS
by Gina Kell Spehn
Whenever an actor, athlete or musician glorifies God in the wake of their victory cynicism rears its ugly head with the collective eye roll of skeptics everywhere. They love to point out that Christians never seem to give thanks to God when we lose. Or do we?
My husband, Michael and I have learned that being thankful in our losses is not only possible but also necessary. The deaths of our first spouses to cancer taught us what it truly means to be thankful for the blessings found not only in the victories this life offers but also the losses.
When my first husband Matt was diagnosed with cancer he wasn’t triumphantly praising God for his diagnosis. He was, however, quietly reflecting gratitude for everything in his life that wasn’t cancer. I watched Matt, a dying man, celebrate life and serve others in the midst of his suffering. There is perhaps nothing more humbling. He also gave cynics something new to consider when he called his cancer battle a “win-win” situation. He believed that a cure is a win and heaven is a win…. Read this in full at
2011 NOBEL LAUREATE LEYMAH GBOWEE TALKS TO ODYSSEY NETWORKS ABOUT FAITH & ACTIVISM
On the morning of Friday, October 7, Liberian Lutheran peace activist Leymah Gbowee was on her way to the Interfaith Center of New York, the last stop on an 8-city tour for her newly-released memoir, “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War”. But one early, unexpected phone call changed everything. The small book-signing quickly became a standing-room only press conference when Gbowee was informed she had been awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia — the first woman to be elected president in modern Africa — and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, a pro-democracy campaigner.
Gbowee, 39, was hailed by the Nobel committee for uniting Christian and Muslim women to peacefully and effectively protest the oppression, violence, rape, and child mortality propagated by her country’s warlords. As founder and head of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, Gbowee mobilized women “across ethic and religious dividing lines” to end the war in 2003, topple Liberia’s dictator, and make way for the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Because of the tireless work of Gbowee and the women’s movement, Liberia became the first African nation with a female president.
Just hours after Gbowee learned she was a 2011 Nobel Laureate, Odyssey Networks sat down with her in their studios for an exclusive talk about the role her faith played in her struggle to establish peace in Liberia and her feelings on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Watch the interview, and full coverage of the October 7 press conference, at
PAUL CROUCH JR. LEAVING TBN TO PURSUE NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Paul Crouch Jr. is leaving Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest Christian television network in the world, which his parents f pioneered 38 years ago. Sources familiar with the matter told Charisma News that a memo was circulated to employees Oct. 10 announcing the decision. TBN legal counsel and national spokesman Colby May confirmed Crouch’s departure.
“Paul Jr. has resigned from the organization to pursue other ministry work,” May told Charisma News. “A memo was circulated yesterday at the network advising people that he’s leaving. I don’t know the specifics of his ministry plans.”
The eldest son of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch, Crouch served as vice president and chief of staff at TBN. Along with his brother, Matt Crouch, Crouch is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the network. May says Paul Crouch Sr. will take over the chief of staff duties until a permanent replacement is found…. Read this in full at
OBAMA HOSTS FIRST EVANGELICAL SUMMIT AT WHITE HOUSE
President Obama formally extended his ear to evangelicals ahead of the 2012 election, meeting with top leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals in the White House for about 30 minutes Oct. 12.
International religious freedom was a top priority for the group as they thanked Obama for condemning the charges against Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor facing execution for his conversion to Christianity.
George Wood, the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, cited other cases of people who been persecuted in cases around the world…. Read this in full at
The observance of Halloween, which dates back to Celtic rituals thousands
of years ago, has long been associated with images of witches, ghosts and
vampires. Over the years, Halloween customs and rituals have changed
dramatically. Today, Halloween is celebrated many different ways, including
wearing costumes, children trick or treating, carving pumpkins, and going
to haunted houses and parties…. Read this in full at
IS HALLOWEEN A WITCHES’ BREW?
by Harold L. Myra
The contemporary Christian often finds Halloween an uncomfortable topic. It’s a bit like walking past a graveyard and detecting among the tombstones a thoroughly raucous party in progress—a bizarre mixture of horrible screams and merriment—and wondering who might have called it. What is this mishmash of innocent fun, ugly pranks, and witches’ taunts? And what indeed, might be “holy” about All Hallow’s Eve?
Most of us know the holiday’s name was Christianized centuries back. But we also realize the event must have a decidedly unsavory past, what with the ghouls, goblins, and ghosts decorating everything from K-Mart windows to school bulletin boards. The blending of seasonal, Christian, and pagan is remarkable…. Read this in full at
More articles about Halloween
“Old age is a blessed time. It gives us leisure to put off our earthly garments one by one and dress ourselves for heaven.”
VERSE TO PONDER
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: LORD OF THE HARVEST, ONCE AGAIN
Words: Joseph Anstice, 1836
Music: Henry L. Jenner, 1861
Lord of the harvest, once again,
We thank Thee for the ripened grain;
For crops safe carried, sent to cheer
Thy servants through another year;
For all sweet holy thoughts supplied
By seed time, and by harvest tide.
The bare dead grain, in autumn sown,
Its robe of vernal green it puts on;
Glad from its wintry grave it springs,
Fresh garnished by the King of kings;
So, Lord, to those who sleep in Thee
Shall new and glorious bodies be.
Nor vainly of Thy Word we ask
A lesson from the reaper’s task:
So shall Thine angels issue forth:
The tares be burnt; the just of earth,
To wind and storm exposed no more,
Be gathered to their Father’s store.
Daily, O Lord, our prayers be said,
As Thou hast taught, for daily bread;
But not alone our bodies feed,
Supply our fainting spirits’ need:
O Bread of life, from day to day
Be Thou their Comfort, Food, and Stay.
>from NetHymnal at
“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
– Karl Barth
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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Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
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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!
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