man to man to God
week of February 21, 2010
Men’s Ministry newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
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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love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
“A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.”
Ruth Bell Graham, poet, philanthropist, and wife of evangelist
SPOTLIGHT SAFE WATER DURING LENT
Several church bodies are tying a worldwide campaign for safe
water to this year’s Lenten season. The National Council of
Churches, with partners Church World Service and Lifewater
International, has created a website
(http://washforlent.wordpress.com/) dedicated to encouraging
Christians to remember the millions around the world who do not
have access to clean water.
The organizations are
reminding Christians that some women in Africa and Asia walk 3.7
miles a day to obtain water, and unclean water is the root cause
of around 80% of the sicknesses in developing countries. Unclean
water is behind the deaths of 5,000 children each day.... Read
this in full at
LEADERS ENCOURAGE CARBON FAST FOR LENT
The Bishop of London is encouraging Christians to give up
something more significant than chocolate or Facebook this Lenten
season. He's encouraging them to give up carbon instead. The Rt.
Rev. Richard Chartres, along with the head of anti-poverty
movement Micah Challenge International, Joel Edwards, encouraged
Londoners to look at their carbon footprint. "It's the
poorest people in developing countries, who have done the least to
cause climate change, being hit hardest by its devastating
consequences. It is all of our responsibility to help reverse this
injustice," he said. "Climate change is everybody's
problem and everybody's solution. For millions of the poorest
people in the world climate change is not a matter of debate, it's
a matter of livelihood, life and death." .... Read this in
'LESS RELIGIOUS,' NOT NECESSARILY 'MORE SECULAR'
Today's young adults are less "churchy" than their
parents and grandparents, but not necessarily less spiritual. The
demographic age group 18-29, called "Millennials" in the
study, is significantly less likely to identify with a particular
faith, but pray as much as preceding generations did at the same
age. Meanwhile, church attendance as steadily declined over the
past two generations. "They may be less religious, but
they're not necessarily more secular" than the Generation
Xers or Baby Boomers who preceded them, says Alan Cooperman of Pew
Forum on Religion & Public Life, which collected the 2008
data. A solid 40% of Millennials said religion is very important
in their lives, compared to 39% of Boomers at the same ages.
Forty-one percent said they pray daily, compared to 42% of Gen
Xers as young adults.... Read this in full at
CHAPLAIN TO US
Derek Spain serves as the official chaplain for the US Winter
Olympic team. Spain, a Georgia native who now ministers in Lake
Placid, N.Y., also is the spiritual mentor and pastor to U.S.
bobsled driver John Napier, himself a believer who Spain led to a
closer walk with Christ over the last year as Napier trained to
compete in the Vancouver Olympics.
Since his teen years,
Spain has worked himself up from parking lot attendant, ticket
taker and track sweeper at the winter Olympic Training Center at
Lake Placid, the site of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games and a mecca
for aspiring winter Olympians.... Read this in full at
SPEEDSKATER SAYS 'EVEN THE WILD GUY CAN FIND THE LIGHT'
Olympic gold medalist Chad Hedrick certainly thinks he has the
ability to contend for more hardware at this year's Winter
Olympics in Vancouver.
But more important than medals to
Hedrick is the opportunity this year's Olympics will give him to
talk about his newfound faith in Jesus Christ, and to show the
world the way in which the Lord has changed him.
want people to see God in my life," Hedrick said.... Read
this in full at
“Hedrick's skate blade carries reminder”
WITH CHUCK SWINDOLL
Have you made amends to anyone lately? In this Video Insight,
Chuck Swindoll explains what can weigh us down and keep us from
being right with God. See and hear his message at
CHURCHES IN CANADA FADING OUT: USA NEXT?
Olympics fans heading to Vancouver might want to visit a
vanishing cultural treasure while they're in Canada -- local
churches. Canada has become a "post-Christian society"
where once-dominant Anglicanism has "moved to the margins of
public life," according to a bleak study reported by Michael
Valpy at the Globe and Mail.
A new assessment of the state of
the church in Canada looks at the Anglican Diocese of British
Columbia and then across the country and concludes that,... at the
present rate of decline -- a loss of 13,000 members per year --
only one Anglican would be left in Canada by 2061.... Nationally,
between 1961 and 2001, the church lost 53% of its membership,
declining to 642,000 from 1.36 million. Between 1991 and 2001
alone, it declined by 20%.... Read this in full at
OUT TO HUNTERS WITH MINISTRIES GEARED TOWARD SPORTSMEN
Avid sportsmen tend not to blend in as well at church as they
do in the woods, the Rev. Maury De Young said. Many hunters prefer
being in a tree stand on the weekends, scanning for big bucks or
other game, rather than sitting in church, said De Young,
executive director of Walker, MI-based Sportspersons Ministries
And too often they get a bad rap from more
ardent churchgoers, who criticize their lack of participation and
“beer-drinking image,” he said.
Still, many of
these outdoor people are believers. They simply have different
priorities.... Read this in full at
MORMONS, ASSEMBLIES OF GOD GROWING; MAINLINE CHURCHES REPORT A
The National Council of Churches' 2010 Yearbook of American &
Canadian Churches reports membership gains in the Catholic Church,
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the
Assemblies of God, among others.
The 78th annual edition
of the Yearbook also reports a continuing decline in membership of
virtually all mainline denominations. And the Southern Baptist
Convention, the nation's second largest denomination and long a
reliable generator of church growth, reported a decline in
membership for the second year in a row, down 0.24% to 16,266,920.
The Catholic Church, the nation's largest at more than 68
million members, also reported a slight membership loss in 2009
but rebounded this year with a robust growth of 1.49%.... Read
this in full at
BLESSINGS: AN INTERVIEW WITH RICK STEVES
Rick Steves got into the travel business by teaching travel
classes at the University of Washington in Seattle and working as
a tour leader in the summers. His 1979 book Europe Through the
Back Door emphasized how to cut costs and encouraged travelers to
avoid prepackaged tours and encounter local cultures in a more
authentic way. His TV shows about European destinations have aired
frequently on public television. Steves, a Lutheran, whose
business is based in Edmonds, Washington, just published Travel as
a Political Act, a series of "field reports" from
Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East.
motivates you to teach people about traveling?
A: To me,
travel is a spiritual thing, and I try to create an environment in
which people will feel free to consider the effects that travel
has on their spirituality. It is a challenge to do that while
working in a secular environment.
My desire has always
been to inflict on comfortable Americans situations that they have
never encountered before in the hope that they will gain an
appreciation of their place in the world. I decided on forming a
secular tour company, however, because I like to act as a Trojan
horse in that regard.
Q: What effect does travel have on
A: People have a lot of fear. The flip
side of fear is understanding. When you travel to places new to
you, you understand more, so you fear less. And then you can love
people, as a Christian should. The less you travel, the more
likely that media with a particular agenda can shape your
viewpoint. Those of us who travel are a little more resilient when
it comes to weathering the propaganda storms that blow constantly
across the US media.... Read this in full at
BECOMING MATURE IN CHRIST
by John Ortberg
I have been thinking a lot lately about
Colossians 1, where Paul writes: "We proclaim Christ,
admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may
present everyone mature in Christ. For this reason I labor,
struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."
It strikes me that this comes close to a creedal text for those of
us involved in church ministry. Sometimes we get so immersed in
the X's and O's of church work that we forget to step back and ask
what's the real reason we're doing all this. Paul has great
clarity on it, and is more concise than usual: "so that we
may present everyone mature in Christ."
church is looking for a big hairy audacious goal, this will do for
The scale: everyone.
The outcome: mature
That's not common language in our day. So
recently I have asked church leaders in a number of settings to
take a few moments to describe what someone who is "mature in
Christ" looks like. Certain words always make the list:
loving, joyful, peaceful, forgiving, serving, courageous, loyal,
humble, generous.... Read this in full at
PRAY WHAT IS IN
I pray, I end up praying about things I think I should be
concerned about: missionaries, world peace, and global warming.
But my mind keeps wandering toward stuff I am genuinely concerned
about. The way to let my talking flow into praying is this: I must
pray what is in me, not what I wish were in me.
Silverstein once wrote the "Prayer of the Selfish Child":
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my toys to break, So
none of the other kids can use 'em. Amen." Children come to
their parents with all kinds of requests: wonderful, foolish,
generous, and selfish. What matters to parents, however, is that
their child comes to them. They know that they can guide the
child's growth - as long as their child speaks openly with them.
It is the hidden heart, not the selfish heart, that is hardest to
“This is ‘in everything’ kind of
prayer. I don't wait to clean up my motives first. I don't try to
sound more spiritual than I am. I don't pray what ought to be in
me. I pray what's really in me. The "in everything"
prayer is the most common kind in the Bible. I just try to attach
one sincere rider: ‘Nevertheless, not my will but yours be
“As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith, we have all we need
for a vibrant prayer life.”
John Ortberg, The Me I Want
PROBE DIRECT LINK BETWEEN BRAIN ACTIVITY, SPIRITUALITY
Brain surgery patients who have had tumors removed from the
back part of their brain were more likely demonstrate greater
spirituality after the operation than those who had tumors removed
from the frontal area of their brain, according to researchers
behind a new study.
Though past neuroimaging studies have
linked activity within a large network in the brain that connects
the outer areas of the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes with
spiritual experiences, information on the causative link between
such a network and spirituality is lacking, says lead study author
Dr. Cosimo Urgesi from the University of Udine in Italy.
with the aim of making a direct link between brain activity and
spirituality, Urgesi and his colleagues interviewed 88 people with
brain tumors of various severities before and after their
surgeries, and later mapped the exact area of the brain that was
What the researchers found was that those
patients who had operations performed on the left and right
posterior parietal regions of the brain were significantly more
likely to be rated as being more spiritual after their surgery
than those patients whose operations were performed on other areas
of the brain.... Read this in full at
UNCOVERS EVIDENCE SUPPORTING MOSAIC JERUSALEM MAP
For the first time the main road of Jerusalem, dated 1,500
years ago, has been discovered. An Israel Antiquities Authority
archeological excavation in the heart of Jerusalem’s old
city confirms a description of the road on the Madaba Map –
an ancient mosaic map from the sixth century CE, measuring eight
by 16 meters, and located in a church in Madaba, Jordan.
map, from the Byzantine period, is the oldest surviving original
cartographic depiction of the Land of Israel. What is notable on
the map is the illustration of the entrance to Jerusalem from the
west via a very large gate that led to a single, central
thoroughfare on that side of the city.
Various evidence of
the important buildings in Jerusalem that appear on the map has
been uncovered over the years, but the large bustling street from
the period when Jerusalem became a Christian city has not been
discovered until now. The reason is that no archeological
excavations have taken place in the region due to its centrality
and the general busyness of the area.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what
is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words
may give grace to those who hear.”
“When we think about laying down a life for another we
usually think in terms of a singular event. But it is possible for
us to lay down our lives over the course of a lifetime, minute by
minute and day by day. And it is the work of the Spirit to empower
us as we seek to lose ourselves in acts of loving kindness and
Elaine Puckett, professor at
Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia
Jesus was quoting from Psalm 37 when he said
the meek will inherit the earth, and it turns out that the whole
psalm is a primer on meekness. I have always been a little
over-meek (reticent, shy, too deferential). So when I read the
Bible and find the meek congratulated, I'm delighted.
there's a catch. It turns out that only two people in Scripture
are described as "meek": Moses and Jesus. So meekness
likely has little to do with timidity.
If meekness isn't
weakness, what is it? The word has an association with
domesticated animals, specifically beasts of burden. At first
blush, this etymology doesn't thrill me; I don't particularly
aspire to be ox-like. But when I think about it, an ox at the plow
is not weak but extraordinarily strong. The key, though, is that
his power is harnessed and directed. Perhaps meekness is strength
that is submitted to an appropriate authority.
after I began writing this column, I found myself in rare conflict
with a friend. At first I thought my anger was giving me strength,
bolstering my courage so I could deal with the issues. But the
anger soon betrayed me, sapping my energy and compromising my
ability to act according to wisdom and divine direction. It's only
as I have turned my hurt—and the overwhelming urge to prove
that I'm right—over to God that I've begun to be able to
respond (and sometimes resist responding) from a place of holy,
rather than human, strength.
Psalm 37 is all about
strength in meekness. It deals with trusting God to be God, and
with not trying to do his job. The meek, for example, don't repay
evil for evil; they rely on God for justice (vv. 1-3). Several
verses mention that the meek don't fret. And the meek let God
provide their hearts' desires rather than trying to manipulate
people and circumstances to get what they want (v. 4).
much energy do I expend trying to secure provisions, control
outcomes, and manage people's perceptions of me? Psalm 37 tells us
that the meek give that labor up. They trust God's claims that he
will provide, protect, and defend, and in so doing free up
resources for putting their hands to God's plow. It's a good
plan.... Read this in full at
WERE THE FOUNDERS?
This year’s Texas State Board of Education textbook
social-studies review has drawn the most attention for the battles
over what names should be included in the roll call of history.
But while ignoring Edward Kennedy and upgrading Newt Gingrich are
significant moves, something more fundamental is on the agenda.
The one thing that underlies the entire program of the nation’s
Christian conservative activists is, naturally, religion. But it
isn’t merely the case that their Christian orientation
shapes their opinions on gay marriage, abortion and government
spending. More elementally, they hold that the United States was
founded by devout Christians and according to biblical precepts.
This belief provides what they consider not only a theological but
also, ultimately, a judicial grounding to their positions on
social questions. When they proclaim that the United States is a
“Christian nation,” they are not referring to the
percentage of the population that ticks a certain box in a survey
or census but to the country’s roots and the intent of the
founders.... Read this in full at
RESPONSE TO ISLAM: A STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF CHRISTIANITY
One of the crucial issues facing Christians around
the world today is finding the right balance in our response to
the various challenges posed by Islam and engagement with Muslims.
The quest for an appropriate Christian response to Islam and
engagement with Muslims has sadly polarized Christians along
evangelical vs. liberal, truth vs. grace, or confrontational vs.
As an African, my own struggle is the
way these positions are presented as absolutes in either/or
categories. In the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the
World Trade Center in New York City (9/11), the Iraq war, the
Madrid bombings, etc., the division among Christians has deepened.
Reflecting on the situation, Joseph Cummings talks of a titanic
struggle going on in the heavenly realms -- a struggle not between
Muslims and Christians or between Islam and the West, but “a
struggle within Christianity itself, a struggle for the soul of
the Christian faith.”
What Cummings is suggesting,
and I couldn’t agree more, is that Islam per se is not
necessarily the greatest challenge facing Christians today, but
rather how Christians choose to respond to Islam. There seems to
be a general consensus that we should be talking about Christian
responses rather than “response” to Islam.... Read
this in full at
CALVIN COLLEGE TO
HOST JUNE MERGER BETWEEN REFORMED ECUMENICAL COUNCIL AND WORLD
ALLIANCE OF REFORMED CHURCHES
Calvin College this summer will host a merger of two
organizations that represent 230 denominations and nearly 80
million people worldwide -- about 80% of all those in the Reformed
One thousand delegates from 107 countries are
expected June 18-28, when the Grand Rapids, MI-based Reformed
Ecumenical Council unifies with the Switzerland-based World
Alliance of Reformed Churches.
“It’s truly the
world coming to West Michigan,” said Peter Borgdorff,
president of the REC. “This is probably one of the most
significant ecumenical events this decade anywhere in the world.”
The event will include perhaps the largest American Indian
powwow in a generation, said Richard van Houten, REC general
secretary.... Read this in full at
STUDENTS SHOULD STUDY MORE RELIGION
by Lisa Miller
It doesn't take a degree from Harvard to
see that in today's world, a person needs to know something about
religion. The conflicts between the Israelis and the Palestinians;
between Christians, Muslims, and animists in Africa; between
religious conservatives and progressives at home over abortion and
gay marriage—all these relate, if indirectly, to what rival
groups believe about God and scripture. Any resolution of these
conflicts will have to come from people who understand how
religious belief and practice influence our world: why, in
particular, believers see some things as worth fighting and dying
for. On the Harvard campus -- where the next generation of
aspiring leaders is currently beginning the spring term -- the
importance of religion goes without saying. "Kids need to
know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia," is something
you hear a lot.
But in practice, the Harvard faculty
cannot cope with religion. It cannot agree on who should teach it,
how it should be taught, and how much value to give it compared
with economics, biology, literature, and all the other subjects
considered vital to an undergraduate education. This question of
how much religion to teach led to a bitter fight when the faculty
last discussed curriculum reform, in 2006. Louis Menand, the
Pulitzer Prize–winning literary critic and English
professor, together with a small group of colleagues tasked with
revising Harvard's core curriculum, made the case that
undergraduate students should be required to take at least one
course in a category called Reason and Faith. These would explore
big issues in religion: intelligent design, debates within and
around Islam, and a history of American faith, for example. Steven
Pinker, the evolutionary psychologist, led the case against a
religion requirement. He argued that the primary goal of a Harvard
education is the pursuit of truth through rational inquiry, and
that religion has no place in that.... Read this in full at
BATTLES FOR STATE RECOGNITION
A volunteer Wiccan chaplain is headed to a federal appeals
court in an attempt to get California to hire prison clergy
outside five religious categories.
Supported by interfaith
scholars and church-state separationists, the Rev. Patrick
McCollum argues that the state policy has the "pernicious
effect" of depriving inmates of other religious backgrounds
from getting the services they need and deserve.
challenge began when McCollum, 59, a prominent leader in Wiccan
and correctional circles, applied and was rejected for a full-time
position as a chaplain in the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation.... Read this in full at
1965, the Canadian psychologist Elliott Jaques coined the term
midlife crisis to describe the trauma many individuals in the
developed world feel around the age of 35, when they face the
imminence of old age and, eventually, death. In the traditional
narrative of the crisis, individuals -- mostly men -- panic and
make extreme compensations for this reality: an extra-marital
affair, perhaps, or the rash purchase of a Corvette or Harley. But
has the concept of the midlife crisis itself grown old and tired?
Professor Carlo Strenger, 51, of Tel Aviv University's Department
of Psychology thinks so. In a series of articles and studies, he
has argued that increasing life expectancy makes the midlife years
a time to grow and flourish. He explained his optimism in an
interview with TIME.... Read this in full at
ANNOUNCES MINISTRY OUTREACH PLANS FOR 2010
Kingdom Racing has announced its IndyCar race-related Ministry
event lineup for 2010. The team intends to build on the footprint
established over the past two years with various events, the most
important to be a fan outreach program scheduled for the
Indianapolis 500 race weekend, May 28-30. The centerpiece of the
program will be 12 infield missionaries that will operate from
Kingdom Racing's display booth. The display will also feature show
cars, race driver and celebrity appearances and worship music.
Similar ministry events for the Texas, Kentucky, Chicago, and
Miami IndyCar races are also under design, but are subject to
available resources. Kingdom Racing will also again compete in
IndyCar and Indy Lights races in 2010 with drivers Davey Hamilton
and Brandon Wagner.
The team is partnering with national
Christian Ministries and local churches for the events conducted
at each track. Through these efforts, Kingdom Racing intends to
reach thousands of people in 2010 with the good news of Jesus
Christ. Team founder George Del Canto said "Kingdom Racing
cannot do this alone and needs support. We challenge the Christian
community to partner with us to change lives through a message of
hope delivered to the infields and grandstands we touch in 2010."
“The only real life is one lived close to God. This does
not happen by itself; you must make an effort to make this happen,
and this effort will bring you joy.”
VERSE TO PONDER
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face
shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face
toward you and give you peace.”
THIS WEEK'S HYMN:
ADVENT TELLS US, CHRIST IS NEAR
Words: A. Katherine Hankey (1834-1911)
Advent tells us, Christ is near:
Christmas tells us Christ is here!
In Epiphany we trace
All the glory of His grace.
Those three Sundays before
Will prepare us to repent;
That in Lent we may begin
Earnestly to mourn for sin.
Holy Week and Easter,
Tell who died and rose again;
O that happy Easter
“Christ is risen indeed,” we say.
and Christ ascended, too,
To prepare a place for you;
we give Him special praise,
After those great forty days.
Then, He sent the Holy Ghost,
On the day of Pentecost,
With us ever to abide:
Well may we keep Whitsuntide!
Last of all, we humbly sing
Glory to our God and King,
Glory to the One in three,
On the Feast of Trinity.
>from NetHymnal at
me, O Lord, in all the changes and varieties of the world, that in
all things that shall happen I may have an evenness and
tranquillity of spirit; that my soul may be wholly resigned to thy
divinest will and pleasure, never murmuring at thy gentle
chastisements and fatherly correction, never waxing proud and
insolent though I feel a torrent of comforts and prosperous
Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), Holy Living
, in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D.,
v. III, London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1847, p. 34
FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother
or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.
agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake
God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Bills decrease while blessings increase
all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou
shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deut.
[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know
if you'd like the church guys to pray for your safety and
spiritual effectiveness. I'll add your name to the list for the
time you'll be away.]
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past is unchangeable. The future is unknown. Now is a gift; that's
why it's called the present.
Frank Coleman, Editor
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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of
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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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