Connecting man to man to God
For week of January 8, 2012
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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“So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)
“Forgiveness is not an elective in the curriculum of servanthood. It is a required course, and the exams are always tough to pass.”
ISLAMIC-MAJORITY COUNTRIES TOP OPEN DOORS 2012 WORLD WATCH LIST
The Open Doors 2012 World Watch List has a familiar look to it. North Korea tops the list for the 10th straight time as the country where Christians face the most severe persecution, while Islamic-majority countries represent nine of the top 10 and 38 of the 50 countries on the annual ranking.
Afghanistan (2), Saudi Arabia (3), Somalia (4), Iran (5), and the Maldives (6) form a bloc where indigenous Christians have almost no freedom to openly worship. For the first time Pakistan (10) entered the top 10, after a tumultuous year during which the nation’s highest-ranking Christian politician, Cabinet Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated for his attempts to change the blasphemy law.
The rest of the top 10 is composed of Uzbekistan (7), Yemen (8) and Iraq (9). Laos was the lone country to drop from the top 10 list, falling to No. 12 from No. 10…. Read this in full at
COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE BROADENS ITS APPEAL
As 2012 dawns, the new Bible translation Common English Bible (http://www.CommonEnglishBible.com) is establishing itself on multiple websites, celebrating its second consecutive month as a best seller, creating a growing buzz among bloggers, and is twice considered by journalists as being one of the top religion stories of 2011.
BibleGateway.com, the highest ranked (according to Alexa) website in the world for Bible search activity, is now featuring the Common English Bible (Twitter @CommonEngBible — twitter.com/CommonEngBible) in its Verse of the Day free email subscription (www.biblegateway.com/newsletters). And Patheos.com, the international online hub for faith communities, is now featuring the Common English Bible as its Daily Verse, appearing on its Library Bible Resources page (www.patheos.com/Library/Bible-Resources.html), Evangelical Portal (www.patheos.com/Religion-Portals/Evangelical.html), and Progressive Christian Portal (www.patheos.com/Religion-Portals/Progressive-Christian.html)…. Read this in full at
Also see “Common English Bible Expands Reach, Continues to Be a ‘Best Seller’”
‘THREETHROWING’ CREATED AS CHRISTIAN GESTURE
It’s a simple idea: associating a three-finger hand gesture with the Trinity. Mark Mitchum, creator of “threethrowing,” believes it can be a clearly defined, unmistakable hand gesture for Christians when verbal fellowship can’t occur.
“I came up with the idea while driving around,” said Mitchum, a registered nurse in a cardiac cath lab in Panama City, Fla., and member of First Baptist Church. “I would see lots of Christian symbols, like the cross, fish or dove, or even a clever bumper sticker or two, and would think, ‘Hey that’s cool. They’re Christians, but what do they know about me?’
“I figured a simple Christian hand gesture could connect us for a few seconds and allow fellowship and encouragement.”
In researching Christian gestures, however, Mitchum said he found nothing in mainstream pop culture seen as “Christian.” Until now. Mitchum is on a mission to spread the three-finger Trinity sign to the Christian community…. Read this in full at
JIMMY CARTER INTERVIEW: HIS DAILY DEVOTIONAL PRACTICE
Jimmy Carter is the 39th president of the United States, founder of the Carter Center and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He has authored many books, the most recent being “Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President.” In this wide-ranging interview, HuffPost’s Senior Religion Editor spoke to President Carter by phone about the role faith played in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, the time of his greatest alienation from God, faith in the White House and his personal daily devotional practice…. Read this in full at
THE NEXT BILLY GRAHAM MIGHT BE DRUNK RIGHT NOW
by Russell D. Moore
Whenever I start to get discouraged about the future of the church, I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry on what would turn out to be his last visit to Southern Seminary before his death.
Several of us were lamenting the miserable shape of the church, about so much doctrinal vacuity, vapid preaching, non-existent discipleship. We asked Dr. Henry if he saw any hope in the coming generation of evangelicals. And I will never forget his reply.
“Why, you speak as though Christianity were genetic,” he said. “Of course, there is hope for the next generation of evangelicals. But the leaders of the next generation might not be coming from the current evangelical establishment. They are probably still pagans.” …. Read this in full at
CANADA TO CREATE OFFICE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Canada’s government is preparing to install an Office of Religious Freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs, according to The Globe and Mail. The new office, a campaign promise by Canada’s Conservative Party, is expected to be fleshed out in early 2012.
Conservative Party leaders say they are committed to making the defense of the right to worship a central objective of Canada’s foreign policy, noting that religious persecution has increased around the world in recent years. Their decision to create the office was solidified by the assassination of Pakistani religious freedom activist Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s first minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in the Islamic state’s cabinet. Bhatti was killed by militant Islamists just weeks after meeting with Canada’s prime minister, and Conservatives said they were impressed by his persistence in fighting religious intolerance amid death threats as well as deeply affected by the reality of such persecution…. Read this in full at
MENTORING YOUR GRANDCHILDREN
by Clare De Graaf
Mentoring grandchildren? Do grandparents even do that?
If spiritual mentoring is intentionally passing on to another person your love for God; the wisdom, knowledge and life skills you’ve learned to help another person be spiritually, relationally and emotionally healthy, then the answer is, yes!
In my experience there are three types of grandparents:
* Passive – very little involvement in the lives of their grandchildren.
* Active – fairly involved and interested in their grandchildren’s lives – what we’d generally call good, traditional grandparents.
* Intentional – grandparents who, in coordination with their grandchildren’s parents, are working purposefully and intentionally to pass on biblical knowledge, wisdom and model Christian character to their grandchildren.
If you want to be a more intentional grandparent, or would like to help your own parents be more intentional in the lives of your children, then please read on…. Read this in full at
RECIPE FOR A PROSPEROUS, PEACEFUL YEAR
Take twelve, fine, full-grown months, see that these are free from all old memories of bitterness, rancor, hate and jealousy; cleanse them completely from every clinging spite: pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed as much as possible from the past.
Cut these months into 29, 30 or 31 equal parts. This batch will keep for just one year. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot in this way), but prepare one day at a time, as follows:
Into each day put
twelve parts of faith,
eleven of patience,
ten of courage,
nine of work,
eight of hope,
seven of fidelity,
six of liberality,
five of kindness,
four of rest,
three of prayer,
two of meditation,
and one well selected resolution.
If you have no conscientious scruples, put in about a teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.
Pour into the whole love ad libitum and mix with a vim. Cook thoroughly in a fervent heat; garnish with a few smiles and a sprig of joy; then serve with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness, and a Happy New Year is certain.
12 MONTHS TO BECOMING A WORLD CHRISTIAN IN 2012
by Bill Smith
You probably won’t become a world renowned scientist in 12 months. It’s unlikely that you will become a world-class athlete in 365 days, New Year’s resolutions notwithstanding. In one short year, however, you can become a World Christian, doing more than most believers will in their lifetimes to help fulfill the great commission. Maybe even become like a super-hero (see below). What is a World Christian? Someone who takes prayerful, thoughtful action for Christ that has impact across the globe.
Many calendars come out this time of year. Word a Day Calendar. Far Side Calendar. Reading the Bible in a Year Calendar. Cut this one out for 2012, and consider incorporating the actions into your busy life.
January: Enroll in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. This premier missions training course is led by a team of entertaining, experienced teachers. Classes start this month somewhere near you. Warning: It may change your life. If you’ve already graduated, then give back by volunteering to help with a class by registering or grading papers. www.perspectives.org
February: Remember your persecuted brothers and sisters. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Cor. 12:26 (Even Batman is doing it. Just this month, actor Christian Bale was roughed up in China when he attempted to see Chen Guangcheng, Chen and his wife have been beaten nearly to death and placed under house arrest for opposing the practice of forced abortion.) Sign up for Voice of the Martyrs newsletter and send a free copy of Tortured for Christ to a friend. www.persecution.com…. Read this in full at
ALAN JACOBS ON THE PLEASURES OF READING
“The fact is that people don’t read anymore.” Or so Steve Jobs said, in 2008, two years before the introduction of the iPad. Such pronouncements abound nowadays — often appearing in…books. But the most thoughtful reflection on the subject comes without any apocalyptic huffing and puffing. In The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (Oxford University Press), Alan Jacobs, professor of English at Wheaton College, is sanguine about the future of reading and the book, and positively seductive when he urges us to read “for the plain old delight and interest of it, not because we can justify its place on the mental spreadsheet or accounting ledger.” Christianity Today’s
Books & Culture editor John Wilson talked with Jacobs about the distractions that beckon us, the virtues of the Kindle (and, by extension, similar devices), and the rewards of reading with concentrated attention. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s a technology that we call the book, and many of us tend to assume that, well, everybody knows how to use books. Books are easy. It’s the modern technologies that students need to be trained to use effectively. And I think, No, not really. A book is actually not that easy to know how to use well, especially for young people who haven’t formed the habit of attending carefully to how they work.
So I tell my students, “Look, I want you to have the book in your hand. Take notes if you want to. I would prefer you to take notes in the book. Or if you don’t want to write in books, get sticky notes, or do something. But I want you to be engaged with this technology.” I want to be able to say, “Okay, put your finger there on page 36 and now let’s go over to page 130.” And I want to be able to go back and forth between the two. For many of them this is very unfamiliar. They’re used to dealing with books in different ways. One of the really interesting things about getting them to work with a book is that it’s a lot harder for them to get distracted, because I’m actually pushing them to make fuller use of this technology…. Read this in full at
NORTH CAROLINA MAN HAS A ‘GENTLE MADNESS’ FOR CHURCH FANS COLLECTION
William McNeill remembers two things about sitting in the pew at Singletary United Methodist Church in Dublin, NC as a boy.
He can still hear the choir singing the old gospel hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves,” which the young McNeill thought was actually “Bringing in the Sheeps.” The other is closely tied in his memory: his mother’s hand-held fan, painted with a Sunday school primer painting of Jesus the good shepherd, surrounded by air-brushed children and lambs.
The paper fans with wooden handles that were in every church, tire store and tobacco warehouse of his 1950s youth “resurrect sweet memories of a vanished world, a warmer world before air conditioning,” McNeill said.
Those early church experiences ignited a passion — McNeill calls it a “gentle madness” — for collecting paper fans, many of which are on display at the Cameron Art Museum in the show “William McNeill: My Life as a Handheld Church Fan, a Rhapsody on Sweat, Sweet Tea, and Salvation” through Jan. 15.
His collection now includes about 400 secular, religious, woven, pop culture and instructional fans that date from the 19th century to the 1970s…. Read this in full at
See the fans in this video report
‘NARNIA 4’ MOVIE IN LIMBO; LIKELY SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE PRODUCTION BEGINS
Fans of popular book series The Chronicles of Narnia have been left in limbo over when, or even if, they will see a new movie from the franchise on the big screen.
Walden Media, which produced the first three Narnia films – “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005), “Prince Caspian” (2008) and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010), apparently no longer hold the rights to the movies. What is more, the C.S. Lewis Estate must wait a number of years before they can resell them to Walden or another studio, NarniaWeb.com revealed.
Douglas Gresham, the stepson of C. S. Lewis, confirmed the news in a radio interview to Middle-Earth radio back in October. ChristianCinema posted an excerpt from the conversation:
“If you’re aware Walden’s contract with the [C S Lewis] Company has expired, that’s true. And that leaves us in a situation that, for a variety of reasons, we cannot immediately produce another Narnian Chronicle movie. But it is my hope that the Lord will spare me and keep me fit and healthy enough so that in three or four years time we can start production on the next one,” Gresham said…. Read this in full at
LESSONS FROM AN USHER
by Carolyn Arends
Richard Foster defines humility not as a “less-than” type of self-abasement, but as an ability to “live as close to the truth as possible: the truth about ourselves, the truth about others, the truth about the world in which we live.” When we are humble, we are un-fussily realistic about our strengths and weaknesses—about what we are capable of, and what we are not. We are also clear on the fact that we are not God, and that we cannot heal or transform ourselves on our own. Thus, when growth or change happens, it is only in humility that we can identify God’s care and provision for us.
When we are proud, we don’t have an accurate picture of the way things really are, and we end up believing we are engineering our own progress. And then we wonder why we don’t see God moving in our lives. This phenomenon might be another layer of what the apostle Paul meant when he told us we would best know God’s strength in our own weakness…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart.”
Psalm 90:12 (CEB)
“The life of faith does not earn eternal life; it *is* eternal life; and Christ is its vehicle.”
SOME FEAR MEGACHURCH BUBBLE MAY SOON BURST
The past 30 years have seen a boom in the number of megachurches in the US, from just a handful in the 1970s to thousands today — but some fear the “megachurch bubble” may soon burst, The Tennessean reports. Most megachurches, which earn the label around the 2,000-attendance mark, are led by pastors nearing retirement age. Churches often shrink when a longtime pastor leaves, and many megachurches have operating expenses too big to sustain if they lose members. Skye Jethani of Leadership magazine compared megachurches to the housing market crisis — one example of which is the recent collapse of the Crystal Cathedral near Los Angeles, which is being sold to pay off more than $40 million in debt. However, some researchers who study megachurches are skeptical that a bubble exists. Sociologist Scott Thumma said all churches were vulnerable during pastoral or demographic changes, but that “good megachurches” would have no problem adapting. People have predicted the end of megachurches for years, he said, but he believes they are here to stay…. Read this in full at
FOR CHILD ART PRODIGY AKIANE, JESUS IS FOR REAL
by Mark Ellis
Her atheist parents were surprised when their three-year-old began to describe dreams and visions from God. This inexplicable direction in their daughter’s life, combined with a remarkable talent in art and poetry, inspired her family to re-examine their own lives.
“My life began in an unusual way,” says Akiane Krimarik, 17, who spent her early years in rural Illinois. By unusual, she refers to her underwater birth in “a shack” on the edge of a cornfield. “Our family had no money, no friends, no relatives, no television or radio. Our life was quite simple — long walks in nature, open conversations, and hands on explorations of knowledge,” she says.
Her mother, Forelli, is a Lithuanian immigrant educator. Akiane’s father, Mark, is a chef from Chicago with a Catholic background. In her early family life, there was no prayer, no discussions of God, and no visits to church. Yet in the insular atheistic environment her parents created – free from media influences or even outside babysitters – Akiane suddenly began to talk about God…. Read this in full at
EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY, MISSIONS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows the largest growth in Christianity during the past 100 years has occurred in sub-Saharan African countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria. In 1910, just 1.4% of the world’s Christians lived in sub-Saharan Africa, but in 2010 that number had grown to 24%. And now, instead of Christianity being spread into African nations by missionaries, African converts are now the ones taking the message to the rest of the world. Many large churches in Europe are also now filled with African Christians who escaped persecution, said Larry Henderson of Abilene Christian University (ACU). “Europeans and North Americans are no longer in the driver’s seat [of world missions],” he said. “African Christian leaders have taken the ball and run with it,” said Wimon Walker of ACU…. Read this in full at
A BABY TO BE BORN EVERY EIGHT SECONDS IN JAN. 2012
According to the US Census Bureau, the US population hit 312.8 million on New Year’s Day, and one person is expected to be born every eight seconds in the United States in Jan. 2012. As immigration is additionally expected to add one person every 46 seconds, is the US headed for overpopulation?
When the world’s population reached 7 billion on Oct. 31, many expressed concern about poverty and hunger in third-world countries and spoke of the need for family planning and contraception. However, many Christians believe talk of the world becoming overpopulated is overblown. S. Michael Craven of the Center for Christ & Culture said: “The myth of overpopulation … has been instrumental in legitimizing abortion, forced sterilization, government-subsidized contraception, and, in the most extreme cases, eugenics. In every case these false notions undermine God’s commandment to ‘multiply’ and further serve to undermine the intrinsic value of every human as being made in the image of God.” …. Read this in full at
BCWI ANNOUNCES 2012 BEST CHRISTIAN WORKPLACES
Making a difference, using their gifts, authentic leaders, fun colleagues, and changing the world are all reasons employees like working with these dream workplaces. Meet the organizations that have most recently qualified as Best Christian Workplaces (http://www.bcwinstitute.org/) by obtaining a high score in the anonymous BCW employee engagement survey.
The BCW survey has been conducted in the US and Canada for the past 10 years and made its debut in Australia last year — surveying over 100,000 employees to date. Each participating organization has a stated Christian mission and/or values.
The 2012 Best Christian Workplaces in the US include:
American Bible Society — New York, NY
Apartment Life — Hurst, TX
Ben Lippen — Columbia, SC
Briarcrest Christian School — Nashville, TN
CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) — Pittsburgh, PA
Church Web Works — Renton, WA
English Language Institute/China — Ft. Collins, CO
Free Will Baptist Bible College — Nashville, TN
Heritage Christian Academy — Overland Park, KS
Joni & Friends — Agoura Hills, CA
KSBJ — Humble, TX…. Read this in full at
BIOLA UNIVERSITY GETS $3-MILLION GRANT FOR THINK TANK
Biola University, an evangelical Christian school in La Mirada, has received a $3-million grant to run a think tank on contemporary Christian perspectives on such topics as neuroscience, psychology, and politics.
The grant comes from the Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation, which was founded by its namesake, the late Wall Street mutual funds pioneer, to help explore spirituality and links to other areas of scholarship.
The award, the largest academic grant in Biola’s history, will help its new Center for Christian Thought bring together eight scholars each semester — four from its faculty and four from elsewhere — over three years to research and debate “important questions facing our culture,” said center Director Gregg Ten Elshof. Starting next fall, yearlong themes will include the implications of neuroscience for the soul and how to foster civil discourse in the rough and tumble world of American politics, said Ten Elshof, an associate professor of philosophy…. Read this in full at
HOW CAN YOU TELL HOW HUMBLE SOMEONE IS?
Measuring humility is one of the most difficult aspects of its study. Several approaches have been suggested, such as well-validated self-report measures like the Values in Action Inventory. But several researchers have agreed with June Tangney and argued that humility may be uniquely difficult to measure through self-report….
Outside of the laboratory, you might observe their behavior for yourself; humble people are relatively down-to-earth, intellectually open-minded, less focused on themselves, and have a relatively accurate view of their own abilities. Then, given recent research on humility, you might look at some of their outcomes to verify your hunch. Humble people have been found to be more helpful, more successful in the workplace, and more forgiving and thankful…. Read this in full at
“Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel
VERSE TO PONDER
“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world.”
Titus 2:11-12 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: AM I A SOLDIER OF THE CROSS
Author: Isaac Watts (1724)
Am I a soldier of the cross?
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own his cause?
Or blush to speak his name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease?
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure, I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy word.
Thy saints, in all this glorious war
Shall conquer though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise
And all thine armies shine,
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be thine.
>from Hymnary.org at
Dear Master for this coming year
Just one request I bring:
I do not pray for happiness,
Or any earthly thing—
I do not ask to understand
The way Thou leadest me,
But this I ask: Teach me to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.
I want to know Thy guiding voice,
To walk with Thee each day.
Dear Master make me swift to hear
And ready to obey.
And thus the year I now begin
A happy year will be—
If I am seeking just to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.
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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SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.
The January Series (lively lectures)
Hymnary.org: A comprehensive index of hymns and hymnals
Christian Classics Ehtereal Library
LightBox 365: A Year in Photographs
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.)
Flexible people never get bent out of shape.
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!
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, frank if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program.
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