Connecting man to man to God
For week of January 15, 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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“Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21 (CEB)
“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”
Jim Elliot (1927-1956), The Journals of Jim Elliot, ed. Elisabeth Elliot, Revell, 1990, p. 98
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM SUNDAY JAN. 15
While the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church falls on the second Sunday of November every year, another important Sunday is approaching for both persecuted and free Christians.
Religious Freedom Sunday (http://www.religiousfreedomsunday.com/) is a day for churches to talk to their congregations about their freedom of religious expression. Religious Freedom Sunday is Jan. 15. It will precede Religious Freedom Day (http://www.religiousfreedomday.com/) on Monday, Jan. 16.
Religious Freedom Day marks the anniversary of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. It stopped the practice of taxing people to pay for the support of the local clergy, and it protected the civil rights of people to express their religious beliefs without suffering discrimination. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison authored this important legislation, which later played a major role in the development of the First Amendment.
During Religious Freedom Sunday churches have the opportunity to inform their congregations about the religious liberties of public school students. It also serves as a way for Christians to prepare for Religious Freedom Day…. Read this in full at
by Clare De Graaf
“If all my friends were blind I’d probably drive a Taurus.” Have you ever thought about how much pride and envy shapes so many of our decisions every day? I have. Because, I’m smack dab in the middle of looking for a new car and talking to my closest friend Ted about it, and he makes the “Taurus” comment. Ted knows two things about me for sure: My friends aren’t blind and I haven’t been talking about Taurus’s with him. (I’ve driven German cars for decades.)
So, what’s going on in my head and my heart that I’d not given some perfectly good cars any real consideration?
I have no idea how early in life that we begin to envy what others have, or become proud of what we own or have accomplished. Did it start with wanting a nicer toy, bike, an A on a test, first in a foot race, or the prettiest dress? Perhaps it was a parent that always compared us to other kids, or to themselves. I don’t know.
But, this feeling we all had in common. When we got we wanted, it made us feel good – superior. We sensed the envy of others and we enjoyed our moment in the sun, sometimes even lying in bed at night re-living the memory over and over. As we did and without even realizing it, we were developing an addiction for the affirmation of others and some of us are still full blown junkies desperately trying to feed the habit…. Read this in full at
THE 10 SECOND RULE
The book of James says faith without deeds is dead. How alive is yours?
Clare De Graaf, author of The 10 Second Rule (http://www.claredegraaf.com/10-second-rule/ and http://www.facebook.com/The10secondrule), offers an uncomplicated, straight-forward antidote for breaking habits of inaction and re-energizing your faith. He calls it The 10 Second Rule: just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do. (And do it quickly before you change your mind.)
The 10 Second Rule will empower you to take simple “baby steps” of obedience, as God directs you. This is not only a “rule” you can do – it’s one you’ll want to do!
See for yourself! Watch this video of nationally known comedian Michael Jr. spontaneously putting The 10 Second Rule to the test in front of an auditorium full of people
THE GRASS REALLY ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE
“If envy was not such a tearing thing to feel it would be the most comic of sins. It is usually, if not always, based on a complete misunderstanding of another person’s situation.”
MY BROTHER’S VALUABLE LIFE
by Cal Thomas
How does one measure whether a life was a success, or a failure?
Some would measure it by recognition, that is, how many knew the person’s name. For others, the measure of a successful life would be the amount of wealth accumulated, or possessions held. Still others would say a life was successful if the person made a major contribution to society — in medicine, sports, politics, or the arts.
By that standard my brother, Marshall Stephen Thomas, who died January 5, was a failure. If, however, your standard for a successful life is how that life positively touched others, then my brother’s life was a resounding success.
Shortly after he was born in 1950, Marshall was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Some in the medical community referred to the intellectually disabled as “retarded” back then, long before the word became a common schoolyard epithet. His doctors told our parents he would never amount to anything and advised them to place him in an institution. Back then, this was advice too often taken by parents who were so embarrassed about having a disabled child that they often refused to take them out in public…. Read this in full at
EXPLAIN IT TO ME: JOHN 3:16
by Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
When quarterback Tim Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass Jan. 8 to secure an overtime victory for his Denver Broncos over the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers, some saw a biblical connection.
The completion gave Tebow, an outspoken evangelical Christian whose penchant for last-minute heroics have given him a reputation as a miracle worker, 316 passing yards for the game. His ten completions averaged 31.6 yards a piece.
Those figures inspired plenty of conversation and debate about a connection some saw to one of the most famous verses in the Bible, John 3:16…. Watch this explanation in full at
Also see “Tim Tebow’s 316 Passing Yards Evokes Biblical Number
CAN SUNDAY SCHOOL BE SAVED?
Sunday school, a staple of Protestant church life in the United States in the 20th century, is in decline, prompting some scholars to question whether the institution has a future.
Experts interested in reversing the trend cite factors ranging from the proliferation of youth activities that leave today’s young people too busy for Sunday school to an increasingly secular society that puts less value on church activities.
One effect is what used to be common knowledge about Christianity is unknown to a large and growing share of Americans, especially young adults. Barna Group studies in 2010, for example, showed that while most people regard Easter as a religious holiday, only a minority of adults associate Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ…. Read this in full at
ARE YOUNG, RELIGIOUS STARS LIKE JUSTIN BIEBER AND TIM TEBOW MAKING CHRISTIANITY COOL?
What do young superstars Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, and Tim Tebow have in common? They believe in God, and they don’t mind sharing.
Recently Justin Bieber made news with his a new tattoo — a large portrait of the face of Jesus Christ inked on his calf. Bieber’s ink happened to dovetail with the Denver Broncos unlikely win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the latest in a string un unlikely victories that their 24-year old quarterback, Tim Tebow, regularly and publicly thanks Jesus Christ for helping him achieve.
And off in the Twitterverse, the troubled former Disney star and singer Demi Lovato, 19 years old, took to the social network to talk to her fans how she has put her faith in God to get her life back on track after a stint in rehab.
So are these young, hip and very public Christians in the worlds of music, television and sports are making it cool for the highly connected Generation Z to embrace Christianity? …. Read this in full at
PLASTERING THE BIBLE ACROSS MANHATTAN AND PHILADELPHIA
Over the past few years, New York artist Gene Schmidt has embarked on a series of projects that have taken his work to the streets. Combining elements of performance, pilgrimage, and sculpture, his projects are often inspired by, or are explorations of, biblical texts in the context of an urban environment. While these projects are done in public for anyone to see and respond to, for Schmidt they are spiritual journeys and lengthy prayers with physical weight and dimension.
In Manhattan Measure, the first of these journeys, Schmidt measured the width and length of Manhattan—literally, with yardsticks. Inspired by the prophet Zechariah’s vision of a man going out to measure the width and length of Jerusalem, and ending with a cross-shaped sculpture made with the nearly 30,000 red, numbered yardsticks used, the project took over a year to complete…. Read this in full at
CANADIAN MUSEUM OF CIVILIZATION EXPLORES RELIGION
A new exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC), “God(s): A User’s Guide,” takes a look at how important religion is in the lives of every day Canadians.
“Religion is a topic people hear a lot about in media, from fellow workers and students and neighbours,” says exhibit curator Stephen Inglis. “But we don’t know much about [their religions]. This is a chance to present information in interesting and comparative mode.” …. Read this in full at
PASTOR INTENT ON PICKING A ‘FOOD FIGHT’
The pastor who became nationally known on the ABC TV show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” found a passion for physical stewardship from real-life experiences.
Five years ago, Steve Willis lost a good friend during heart surgery. For years, his friend’s doctor had told him to eat healthier and lose weight. However, even the pastor joked about overeating — until his friend died.
About the same time, Willis’ youngest son was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. The youth got in trouble at school, didn’t follow directions and did poorly on assignments.
After placing the youth on medication, the cure proved worse than the disease, said Willis, pastor of the Huntington-area First Baptist Church in Kenova, W.Va.
One day as they looked at their “zoned out” boy, Willis said he and his wife Deanna decided they had to do something else. Although their son was quiet, he was no longer his true self, Willis said.
As a result, Deanna started reading about natural, God-given solutions and eliminated sugar, soda pop, trans-fats and hydrogenated oils from their son’s diet.
“I started realizing that how we choose to eat is a moral issue,” said the pastor and author of the new book “Winning the Food Fight.”…. Read this in full at
PASTOR ASKS MARRIED COUPLES TO HAVE 7 DAYS OF SEX
Several years ago Texas preacher Ed Young called on married couples in his congregation to have sex everyday for a week. He documents this “sexperiment” in a new book he coauthored with his wife Lisa Young. See this interview at
MANY CHURCHGOERS FIND THEIR EXPERIENCE LACKING
What is church life like these days for Americans, the religious research division of Barna Group asked. “Millions of active participants find their church experiences to be lacking,” Barna Group President David Kinnaman said in a report released Jan. 9.
Young adults and Catholics are among those experiencing a striking disaffection with church, researchers found.
Faith leaders can’t take their flocks for granted, Kinnaman said, even though many churchgoers report that attending provides them with a rich and diverse set of connections to God and others.
Most people surveyed, 66%, feel they’ve had a “real and personal connection with God” at church, researchers said. Yet, when asked about frequency, they report the encounters as “rare.” And about a third of those polled who attend said they have never felt God’s presence in the congregational setting…. Read this in full at
15 EXERCISES WE’D BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT IN 2012…
~ Jumping on the bandwagon
~ Wading through paperwork
~ Running around in circles
~ Pushing your luck
~ Spinning your wheels
~ Adding fuel to the fire
~ Beating your head against the wall
~ Climbing the walls
~ Beating your own drum
~ Dragging your heels
~ Jumping to conclusions
~ Grasping at straws
~ Fishing for compliments
~ Throwing your weight around
~ Passing the buck
VERSE TO PONDER
“In tight circumstances, I cried out to the LORD. The LORD answered me with wide-open spaces. The LORD is for me — I won’t be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”
Psalm 118:5-6 (CEB)
“What He was, He laid aside; what He was not, He assumed.”
St. Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389/390), Oration 37.2, quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, v. IVa, John 1-10, Joel C. Elowsky & Thomas C. Oden, InterVarsity Press, 2006, p. 14
HOW TO RUN AWAY FROM MERCY
“I think I got the joy of gift giving from my mom. I also picked up a little idiosyncrasy. Typically, children beg their parents to open gifts before the designated date, whether it is a birthday or Christmas. Not in my family. My mom used to beg me to open my gifts before the designated day because she could hardly wait to give them. And now I do with our kids what she did with me. Parents begging their children to open their gifts early may seem a little dysfunctional, but this is the heart of our heavenly Father. He can hardly wait to keep His promises. He can hardly wait to perform His word. He can hardly wait to answer our prayers. And when we simply take Him at His word, He can hardly contain His joy.
“My favorite sentence in the twenty-third psalm is this: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” The word follow isn’t a strong enough translation. It’s a hunting term in Hebrew. It’s like God is hunting you down — but not to harm you; God is hunting you down to bless you. He wants to show you His goodness and His mercy, but too often we run away from it. Why? Because we doubt His good intentions… This is why God reminds us so many different times in many different ways and with many different words.”
Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
POLL OF RANDOM PROTESTANT PASTORS: OPPOSE EVOLUTION, SPLIT ON EARTH’S AGE
Pastors overwhelmingly believe that God did not use evolution to create humans and think Adam and Eve were literal people, according to a recent survey by LifeWay Research.
The survey of 1,000 American Protestant pastors also found that ministers are almost evenly split on whether the earth is thousands of years old.
When asked to respond to the statement, “I believe God used evolution to create people,” 73% of pastors disagree, with 64% strongly disagreeing and 8% somewhat disagreeing. Twelve percent each somewhat agree and strongly agree. Four percent are not sure…. Read this in full at
WHY THE BIBLE IS NOT A BOOK OF MORAL LAWS
by Mark Galli
It has often been said that our culture has lost its moorings. Like many times and places in history, ours is an era when everyone does what is right in his own eyes (cf. Judges 17:6). So this is just the sort of time God loves best, when he can demonstrate once more that he came in Christ to call not the righteous, but those who have lost their moorings.
But that is not our instinct at such times. When morals go awry, when people behave badly, our first thought is to hammer them with law: “Stop doing that. Start doing this.” In the home and in church, that is certainly my instinct. And I’m often tempted to bring God in as an ally: “The Bible teaches … so you should …”
Thus I perfectly understand the drive of those Christians who call this morally unmoored culture to return to “biblical values.” But too often, the call to return to biblical values is tethered to an attempt to manipulate people into correct behavior. Note the recent kerfuffle raised by the Florida Family Association—whose goal is to “defend, protect, and promote traditional biblical values”—when they pressured Lowe’s to pull ads from the TV show All American Muslim…. Read this in full at
DR. ERWIN LUTZER NAMED BIBLE TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Bott Radio Network named Dr. Erwin Lutzer the Bott Radio Network Bible Teacher of the Year for 2011. The award was presented at the annual Bott Radio Network Christmas Luncheon in the grand ballroom of the Overland Park Marriott Hotel in Overland Park, Kansas, Dec. 15.
Dr. Lutzer is the Senior Pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago and host of the Running to Win radio program heard daily on Bott Radio Network. In addition to pastoring the Moody Church since 1980, Dr. Lutzer has authored more than 20 books and is a highly sought after international conference speaker.
In presenting the award, Rich Bott, President and CEO of Bott Radio Network, noted that, “We are delighted to present this well-deserved award to Dr. Erwin Lutzer from ‘Running to Win.’ Bott Radio Network is blessed with wonderful ministry partners who share our vision to get the Word of God into the people of God in this generation. It is our privilege to broadcast ‘Running to Win’ with Dr. Erwin Lutzer daily on BRN.” …. Read this in full at
BIBLE TRANSLATORS GIVING HIGH PRIORITY TO NEWLY INDEPENDENT SOUTH SUDAN
Bible translation organization Wycliffe Associates is working to assist Bible translators in newly independent South Sudan with logistical, financial and personnel support, according to Donn Hallman of Wycliffe. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July, which has opened new doors for religious freedom. “There are more people without the Bible in the Sudan region than in any other area of Africa,” said Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe. Twenty-nine languages in South Sudan have no Scripture — approximately 20 percent of the population — and six projects are currently underway. “Our partners on the ground say that without our immediate action, no new translation projects can begin,” Smith said. He added that translation needs in all of Sudan are great, with 21 million Sudanese waiting for the Bible in a language they can understand; Wycliffe is making translation in this region one of its top priorities for the coming years…. Read this in full at
BIBLE BECOMES 2011 BESTSELLER IN NORWAY
The UK’s 2011 bestseller lists might have been dominated by cookery, courtesy of Jamie Oliver, and romance, courtesy of David Nicholls, but Norwegian readers were plumping for another sort of book last year: the Bible.
The first Norwegian translation of the Bible for 30 years topped the country’s book charts almost every week between its publication in October and the end of the year, selling almost 80,000 copies so far and hugely exceeding expectations. Its launch in the autumn saw Harry Potter-style overnight queues, with bookshops selling out on the first day as Norwegians rushed to get their hands on the new edition.
“We only printed 25,000 to start with and thought it would last six to nine months, but it was launched mid-October and by the end of the year it had sold 79,000 copies – it’s just incredible,” said Stine Smemo Strachan, who worked on the project for the Norwegian Bible Society. “It has only been knocked off the number one spot once, by [literary author] Karl Ove Knausgård … There were people sleeping outside the day before the launch because it was embargoed – it’s a bit ironic seeing that the content has been available for quite some time now.” …. Read this in full at
THE ALTERNATIVE TO STRESS
“Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stiffness. The way I curl my toes up, tight retreat. How I angle my jaw, braced, chisel the brow with the lines of distrust. How I don’t fold my hands in prayer … weld them into tight fists of control. Always control — pseudopower from the pit. How I refuse to relinquish worry, babe a mother won’t forsake, an identity. Do I hold worry close as this ruse of control, this pretense that I’m the one who will determine the course of events as I stir and churn and ruminate? Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is. And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, is it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am? Or is it more? Maybe disguising my deep fears as stress seems braver somehow.
“Fear is like this piano wire cutting round the wrists, life shackled, cutting deep, and the hands spasm, fists of control. Fear keeps a life small. The music dies and the joy drains. I’ve lived the strangle.
“What if I opened the clenched hands wide to receive all that is? A life that receives all of God in this moment? How do you do that when the terror tears up your throat.
“I stand in the laundry room looking out at the barn, knowing that stress stands in direct opposition to what He directly, tenderly commands: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me’ [John 14:1]. I know an untroubled heart relaxes, trusts, leans assured into His ever-dependable arms. Trust, it’s the antithesis of stress. ‘Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord’ (Psalm 40:4). But how to learn trust like that? Can trust be conjured up simply by sheer will, on command? I’ve got to get this thing, what it means to trust, to gut-believe in the good touch of God toward me, because it’s true: I can’t fill with joy until I learn how to trust: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow’ (Romans 15:13 NIV). The full life, the one spilling joy and peace, happens only as I come to trust the caress of the Lover, Lover who never burdens His children with shame or self-condemnation but keeps stroking the fears with gentle grace.”
Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
‘TOP SHOT’ WINNER AIMS FOR HIGHER GOALS
A “nobody from Nowhere, Texas” is what the History Channel’s “Top Shot” winner for season three, Dustin Ellermann, called himself in an interview given to the National Rifle Association. Although he had watched the show and was a big fan, the thought of actually being a contestant hadn’t occurred to this Christian kids’ camp director.
Sixteen contestants are chosen out of thousands to “shoot it out” for the title of “Top Shot.” Each season’s top honor is given to a marksman — or markswoman — who can meet physically demanding, almost impossible, challenges with accuracy and endurance.
The prize: $100,000 and the title of “Top Shot.”
The contestants included a national revolver champion, two Homeland Security agents, a former Navy SEAL, two cops, a nurse and several firearms instructors. Two of the competitors were self-taught, including Ellermann…. Read this in full at
NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS YOU CAN KEEP
Are you sick of making the same resolutions year after year that you never keep? Why not promise to do something you can ACTUALLY accomplish? Here are some resolutions that you can use as a starting point:
~ Gain weight. At least 30 pounds.
~ Stop exercising. Waste of time.
~ Read less. Makes you think.
~ Watch more TV. I’ve been missing some good stuff.
~ Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.
~ Spend more time at work, surfing the web.
~ Take a vacation to someplace important, like to see the world’s largest ball of twine.
~ Don’t jump off a cliff just because everyone else did.
~ Stop bringing lunch from home–eat out more.
~ Don’t have eight children at once.
~ Get in a whole NEW rut!
~ Start being superstitious.
~ Personal goal: Don’t bring back disco.
~ Speak in a monotone voice and only use monosyllabic words.
~ Only wear jeans that are 2 sizes too small and use a chain or rope for a belt.
~ Spend my summer vacation in cyberspace.
~ Create loose ends.
~ Get more toys.
~ Get further in debt.
~ Don’t believe politicians.
~ Break at least one traffic law.
~ Don’t drive a motorized vehicle across thin ice.
~ Don’t swim with piranhas or sharks.
~ Spread out priorities beyond the ability to keep track of them.
~ Wait for opportunity to knock.
~ Focus on the faults of others.
~ Mope about faults.
~ Never make New Year’s resolutions again.
“If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.”
VERSE TO PONDER
“You must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: STANDING AT THE PORTAL
Words: Frances R. Havergal, January 4, 1873
Music: Franz J. Haydn, 1775
Standing at the portal
Of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us,
Hushing every fear;
Spoken thru the silence
By our Savior’s voice,
Tender, strong and faithful,
Making us rejoice.
Onward, then, and fear not,
Children of the day;
For His Word shall never,
Never pass away.
“I, the Lord, am with thee,
Be thou not afraid;
I will help and strengthen
Be thou not dismayed.
Yea, I will uphold thee
With My own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen
In My sight to stand.”
For the year before us,
O what rich supplies!
For the poor and needy
Living streams shall rise;
For the sad and sinful
Shall His grace abound;
For the faint and feeble
Perfect strength be found.
He will never fail us,
He will not forsake;
For His eternal covenant
He will never break.
Resting on the promise,
What have we to fear?
God is all sufficient
For the coming year.
>from NetHymnal at
“If we do not pray, we fail to realize that we are in the presence of God.”
Karl Barth (1886-1968), Prayer, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, p. 15
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 us to add you to our prayer chain 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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A friend is someone who reaches for your hand, but touches your heart.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program.
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