Connecting man to man to God
For week of December 19, 2010
Issue 335


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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"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21



     CONSIDER
"This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, it's the most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good. For nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for [their] neighbors."
John Chrysostom



     WHEN THE 'BEGINNER YEARS' HAVE PASSED, WHAT DOES SPIRITUAL MATURITY LOOK LIKE?
by Dave L. Goetz
Age does not necessarily correlate with heroism or stoicism at the breaking news of the end of your story. I'd like to think that the older I get, though, the deeper I am becoming spiritually -- i.e., that I am growing more like Christ. The middle-aged patient seemed to possess a reality of faith beyond intellectual assent to its truths and a couple decades of church and Bible study. I wonder what my level of anxiety -- and faith in the goodness of God -- would be on the drive home after a visit with my oncologist. It's sobering enough to remember that every year, as poet W. S. Merwin once observed, I pass unaware the anniversary of my death.

Have I made any real spiritual progress over the past 30 years of faith?....

One of the more arcane theological concepts -- the kenosis of Christ -- has taken on new meaning for me as I walk through the valley of the shadow of midlife. Kenosis ("emptying") is the theological attempt to explain what happened at Christmas, when God became a human in the person of Jesus. The word comes from the Greek for self-emptying, which Paul uses in a crucial passage in his letter to the Philippians: "Though [Christ] was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave …." (2:6-7, NLT)....

In The Interior Castle, Teresa of Avila, the 16th-century spiritual writer, hitches the word self-knowledge with humility. She describes self-knowledge as the first mansion (out of seven) in the progression to knowing God fully: "However high a state the soul may have attained, self-knowledge is incumbent upon it … Humility must always be doing its work like a bee making its honey in the hive: without humility all will be lost." Self-knowledge and its visible corollary, humility, seem not to be a one-time acquisition like conversion or an urgent sense of call that often marks the beginner years of faith. It's a slow, agonizing progression as the soul makes its way toward God.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/december/22.50.html


     FOR THE ANNIVERSARY OF MY DEATH
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
W.S. Merwin
http://judithpordon.tripod.com/poetry/w_s_merwin_anniversary_death.html


     6 'MEGATHEMES' EMERGE FROM BARNA RESEARCH IN 2010
The Barna Group's research in 2010 pointed to several major trends in American faith, none of them particularly encouraging. Overall, the survey and research found that Christians in America are increasingly looking like the culture at large. That doesn't mean, however, that they are going into all the world and making disciples. The six "megathemes" are as follows:
1. The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.
2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
3. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
4. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.... Read this in full at
http://www.barna.org/culture-articles/462-six-megathemes-emerge-from-2010


     NEW YORK MOSQUE RNA NO. 1 RELIGION STORY OF THE YEAR
Public debate and controversy over a planned Islamic community center and mosque to be built near New York's Ground Zero ignited a national debate about religious freedom that kept the story in the news for months.

The story was voted the No. 1 religion story of 2010 in the annual Top 10 Religion News Stories of the Year poll of Religion Newswriters Association members. The center's leading proponent, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, was voted the 2010 Religion Newsmaker of the Year.

Public opinion and outcry over the mosque reached a peak when a pastor of a small Florida church threatened to burn a Qu'ran in protest, a bravado that fueled fears of international backlash against the United States until the pastor backed down.

As newsmaker of the year, Rauf beat out Pope Benedict XVI, the many faith-based workers helping victims of the Haitian government, and Sarah Palin, who devoted significant portions of her second bestselling book arguing that candidates for office take a public Christian stand.

The complete Top 10 Religion Stories of 2010, in order from first to tenth are: .... Read this in full at
http://www.rna.org/news/54861/2010-Religion-Stories-of-the-Year.htm


     RELIGIOUS LIBERTY TRENDS IN 2010
by Elizabeth Kendal
Religious liberty is in decline globally. Consequently persecution of Christians and repression of Christian humanitarianism and proclamation are on the increase globally.

In the non-West, persecution of Christians continued to escalate through 2010. The draining wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined with the 'global financial collapse' of August 2008, have left America without the economic leverage to convince leaders of non-free states to rein in persecution. This comes at a time when intolerant, fundamentalist Islam is in revival and intolerant, religious nationalism is emerging as a dominant political force in the world. Meanwhile, Iran is ascendant in the Middle East and exerting influence across the Muslim world. Likewise, China is ascendant in Asia and exerting influence in Africa and other places where it has established a presence. To counter domestic tensions, both Iran and China are escalating persecution against anything that could threaten 'harmony', i.e. the political status quo. As persecution escalates, neither the US nor the EU (European Union) nor the UN nor any NGO (non-government organisation) can do anything about it.... Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2010/s10120088.htm


     JOHN PIPER TO RETURN TO PULPIT IN JANUARY
After an 8-month leave of absence, leading theologian and pastor John Piper is returning to the pulpit of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, according to The Christian Post. Piper, who has written more than 30 books, temporarily stepped down in May in his first-ever hiatus from ministry. At the time, he cited "several species of pride" and other character flaws that needed attention in private. "I'll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I'm sorry. Since I don't have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins," he said in a letter to the congregation in March. As planned, Piper will return to the church and his ministry, Desiring God, in January. He is scheduled to speak at Passion 2011 in Atlanta, which takes place Jan. 1-4, and to preach at Bethlehem that weekend.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101213/john-piper-to-return-to-pulpit-in-january/


     STEP 1: PICK UP THE RIGHT TOOL
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 NLT
My husband is a tool man through and through. If something around the house is broken and needs repairing, he feels giddy, rather than inconvenienced. He immediately drops what he's doing, bolts to the man cave, and digs through his arsenal of contraptions, gadgets, and thingamajigs in search of just the right tool for the job.

He relishes the process of restoration, making whatever has been damaged whole again. Focused on the task at hand, he refuses to give up if problems occur along the way. However, there are moments when he emerges from the toolshed feeling frustrated and incompetent because he can't find what he needs to finish the work. Progress is halted until the proper tool is located.

How do you respond when something in your life breaks and needs to be repaired? Do problems prompt anger, or are you able to receive them with a sense of anticipation? James 1:2 - 4 shows us how trials can benefit us: ‘When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing’” (NLT).

When struggles come our way, we don't ever lack the right tool for the job ... the Word of God ... is capable of guiding us through every repair job we encounter. The Bible is both a lamp and a light, which means that it shines brightly into our circumstances as well as illuminates the steps we should take. If we embrace this powerful tool God has given us, we will experience peace and hope, even during the most difficult challenges of life. Because, in the words of my handyman husband, ‘Having the right tool makes all the difference.’”
Kristen Feola in her book The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast: 100+ Recipes plus 21 Daily Devotions



     FOOTBALL AND THE LIMITS OF CONSCIENCE
by Owen Strachan
A recent slew of football deaths have shaken many who follow the game. Research is increasingly suggesting that there may well be definable links between the blunt trauma of football and the early deaths of players. This body of evidence raises weighty questions on a seemingly quotidian matter. Should we support football? Evidence increasingly suggests that the violence of the modern game tests the limits of the biblically informed conscience.

Cases like that of Nathan Stiles (reported by ESPN’s Outside the Lines series) drive such discussion. An A student, beloved by his church congregation, Nathan eluded tacklers like an avatar in a video game. In his final football game in September 2010, he covered the last thirty yards alone, leaving his would-be tacklers behind, a hero to his team and Kansas town. That night, he lay in a hospital bed, lost to the world. By the next morning, he had passed away, the homecoming king dead from a bleeding brain.

Should we play football? This question should not be as weighty as it may sound. Football is a game. Yet the sport, as sports will do, has cast a spell on many. Over 1 million secondary students and 3 million youth play football. At the university level, schools pour money into football programs, with some coaches earning salaries topping four million dollars. The 2010 Super Bowl was watched by 106 million people, the highest viewing audience recorded in this country.... Read this in full at
http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/12/football-and-the-limits-of-conscience


     SUPER BOWL XLV (45)
The game, to be played on Feb. 6, 2011, will pit the champions of the AFC and the NFC and will be held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_XLV


     CHRISTIAN BILLIONAIRE PLEDGES TO GIVE AWAY WEALTH
Hobby Lobby CEO David Green and his wife are among the latest billionaires to pledge to give a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The Christian couple joins Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and at least 50 others in making the bold pledge.

"God has blessed me with a wonderful family, a successful business and outstanding employees. I do not take these blessings lightly," Green says in his pledge letter. "I am honored to join this remarkable idea called The Giving Pledge."

The Giving Pledge is the brainchild of Buffet and the Gates. The idea of the pledge came out of discussions among philanthropists, all of whom shared how giving made their lives richer.

The project was launched in June and invites the wealthiest American families and individuals to help address society's most pressing problems by giving away at least half of their wealth.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101210/christian-billionaire-pledges-to-give-away-wealth/


     MISSING
The shepherd had one hundred sheep but saw that one was lost;
He’d search for it, all night perhaps, no matter what the cost.
He left his other sheep secure and called his faithful hound;
They’d struggle through those rocky hills until the sheep was found.

The paths were long, the climbs were steep, the wind was cool and hissing;
And in that cold, the shepherd knew, a little lamb was missing;
And therefore he would battle on, whatever he’d be meeting,
Until he’d lift the shaking lamb and snuggle to its bleating.

He’d miss the fire his friends would share, the stories they’d be telling;
Were wind to howl the wilder he would miss their rough stone dwelling.
He’d miss the warmth of friendship, he would miss the nightly chatter;
But when a lamb is lost, he thought, do these things really matter?

In fact his love for that one lamb would mean he was not able
To join his friends, that Advent day, within the Holy stable.
© Gordon Bailey December 2010, gordonbailey@gmx.com
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2010/s10120082.htm


     CHRISTMAS STATISTICS
* $27.4 billion: Retail sales by the nation's department stores in December 2009.
* 14%: The percentage of total 2009 sales for department stores in December.
* 21%: The growth in inventories by our nation's department stores from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2009.
* $30 billion: Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2009 — the highest total for any month last year.
* 21,895: The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2008.
* $488.5 million: The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2010.... Read this in full at
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb10-ff23.html


     USA SPLIT ON `HAPPY HOLIDAYS’ VS. `MERRY CHRISTMAS’
While more than nine out of 10 Americans say they plan to celebrate Christmas this year, they are divided on whether businesses should use messages like “Season’s Greetings” rather than “Merry Christmas,” according to a new poll.

The latest PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll, released Dec. 16, found Americans are split, 44% in favor and 49% opposed, on whether retailers should use generic holiday greetings out of respect for people of different faiths.

The so-called “War on Christmas” has been a rallying cry for conservatives in recent years as they resist attempts to remove nativity scenes from town squares, Christmas carols from public schools and the words “Merry Christmas” from sales flyers.... Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/polls/us_split_on_happy_holidays_vs_merry_christmas1/


     CHRISTIANS AND ATHEISTS SQUARE OFF IN ONLINE BATTLE TO RAISE MONEY FOR CHARITY
Christians and atheists are fighting again -- this time over who can raise more money for charity. The Christian and atheist communities on the online forum Reddit are in a battle to raise the most money for their causes. In the spirit of Christmas (or in atheists' case, human generosity), community members are even donating money to each other's groups.

The Reddit.com social networking site allows users to rate the popularity of various websites, as well as join like-minded communities, including groups like reddit.com/r/christianity and reddit.com/r/Atheism.... Read this in full at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/16/christian-and-atheist-gro_n_797910.html


     FILM DEPICTS STRUGGLE FOR PEACE IN MODERN BETHLEHEM
Judson University professor Robert Wallace says the documentary "Little Town of Bethlehem" -- about Jesus' birthplace and how peace on Earth seems very far away from it today -- should be seen by all Christians.... Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/5966/9/


     DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
“‘
Do You Hear What I Hear?’ was born because of a nightmare. Noel had believed that the horrors and destruction [he had seen] during the Second World War would wake folks up to the futility of war. Then the Korean War began. When the peace accords dividing North and South Korea were signed, the Frenchman hoped that humankind had finally wised up and that peace would reign on earth. By 1962, Vietnam was in the headlines, and men were dying in a war again.

War scenes depicted on the nightly news caused Noel to spiral into periods of depression. Since the end of World War II, he had been haunted by flashbacks of his time on the battlefield ... Again and again he saw battles, heard bombs explode, and watched friends die.

Unable to sleep, Noel got up one night and tried to focus on something other than the awfulness of war. Picking up a pen, he tried to write a poem about love. Thoughts of lovers being divided by battles brought the nightmares back to life. He found he couldn't pen anything humorous either. He turned his thoughts to the first Christmas. An idyllic peace flooded his heart as he considered the nativity. Through a story of a child's birth, he was able to escape the nightmares that had been ruling his life for more than twenty years ... He focused on the birth of Christ as a moment in time when humans experienced a night filled with hope and wonder...

With the Cold War, the constant threat of nuclear attack, and the escalating violence in Vietnam, ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ struck a chord. The message was so powerful that newspaper stories told of drivers hearing the song on the radio for the first time and pulling their cars off the road to listen.”
Ace Collins in his book Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas



     THE WONDER OF CHRISTMAS
Ah, we poor people, to be so cold and sluggish in the face of the great joy that has clearly been prepared for us! This great benefaction exceeds by far all the other works of creation; and yet our faith in it is found to be so weak, although it is preached and sung to us by angels, who are heavenly theologians and who were so glad for our sake! Their song is very, very beautiful and describes the entire Christian religion. For giving glory to God in the highest heaven is the supreme worship. This they wish and bring to us in the Christ.”
Martin Luther



     THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house,
Every creature was hurting -- even the mouse.

The toys were all broken, their batteries dead;
Santa passed out, with some ice on his head.

Wrapping and ribbons just covered the floor,
While upstairs the family continued to snore.

And I in my T-shirt, new Reeboks and jeans,
Went into the kitchen and started to clean.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sink to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the curtains, and threw up the sash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a little white truck, with an oversized mirror.

The driver was smiling, so lively and grand;
The patch on his jacket said "U.S. POSTMAN."

With a handful of bills, he grinned like a fox.
Then quickly he stuffed them into our mailbox.

Bill after bill, after bill, they still came.
Whistling and shouting he called them by name:

"Now Dillard's, now Broadway's, now Penney's and Sears,
Here's Levitz's and Target's and Mervyn's--all here!!

To the tip of your limit, every store, every mall,
Now chargeaway, chargeaway, chargeaway all!"

He whooped and he whistled as he finished his work.
He filled up the box, and then turned with a jerk.

He sprang to his truck and he drove down the road,
Driving much faster with just half a load.

Then I heard him exclaim with great holiday cheer,
"Enjoy what you got; you'll be paying all year!"
(Author Unknown)
http://www.preaching.com/sermon-illustrations/11642684/


     GLOBE THEATRE TO STAGE HOLY WEEK READING OF ENTIRE BIBLE
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre has announced plans to read the Bible on stage in its entirety for the first time. Up to 20 actors will take turns to recite the Old and New Testaments from start to finish next year. With a total of 788,280 spoken words, the reading will take an estimated 69 hours.

As far as we can tell, we are the first theatre ever to have presented a full reading of the Bible,” said a spokesman for the theatre.

We're starting on Palm Sunday and finishing on Easter Monday... simple, unstaged, and a rare opportunity to experience one of the most significant pieces of world literature in its entirety.”

The performance will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the English translation published in 1611. Some 50 scholars chosen by the king created a unified Bible for England and a masterpiece of English literature.

Although it was “appointed to be read in churches”, religious services include only passages, the Globe spokesman said, adding that the marathon reading is an attempt to focus the ear on the words of one of the great achievements of English in a different setting.... Read this in full at
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23904135-globe-spreads-the-word-of-god-all-788280-of-them-read-out-over-5-days.do


     AUTHOR: MOST EVANGELICALS BELIEVE GOOD PEOPLE ARE HEAVEN-BOUND
The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell. Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

Among the faiths, 83% of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven. When prodded further, more than half – 54% – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101217/author-most-evangelicals-believe-good-people-are-heaven-bound/


     BUSH OPENS UP ON BILLY GRAHAM, PRAYER
Former President George W. Bush has given plenty of interviews around the release of his new book "Decision Points," but the one aired on the radio show Focus on the Family (http://listen.family.org/daily/A000003033.cfm) is different. In it, Bush -- one of the most openly religious presidents in recent history -- speaks freely about such faith-related issues as how his mother’s miscarriage shaped his opposition to abortion and how the Rev. Billy Graham helped him to quit drinking and led him to Jesus.

The Graham story was a mainstay of Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, when Bush strenuously courted evangelical leaders and voters. These days, Bush is dishing out details of his experience with Graham, like how the future president was actually drunk when the two met at George H.W. Bush’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. The story is also in the book and in an interview with Focus on the Family he provides further details.... Read this in full at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/14/bush-opens-up-on-billy-graham-prayer/


     OBAMA EMBRACES 'CHRISTIAN' LABEL
When President Obama lit the National Christmas Tree behind the White House last year, he spoke of a "child born far from home" and said "while this story may be a Christian one, its lesson is universal."

This year, Obama referenced that same "child born far from home," but added a more personal twist: "It's a story that's dear to Michelle and me as Christians."

Three days later, at a Christmas benefit concert, the president again talked about how the story of Christmas "guides my Christian faith."

What changed? For one, three separate polls in the past year have found that one in four Americans think the president is a Muslim, 43% don't know what faith he follows, and four in 10 Protestant pastors don't consider Obama a Christian.... Read this in full at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/14/obama-in-shadow-of-polls-_n_796739.html


     VERSE TO PONDER
Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”
Job 5:17-18



     CONSIDER
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched but are felt with the heart.”
Unknown Author



     IN DEFENSE OF DISGUST
by Joe Carter
Relating an incident that occurred on an expedition to South America, Charles Darwin wrote: “In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his fingers some cold preserved meat which I was eating at our bivouac, and plainly showed utter disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty.”

As Darwin discovered, while we may differ about what evokes the response, disgust is one of the few universally shared human emotions. The native was expressing what psychologists call "core disgust." Unlike animals, which instinctively seek out certain foods, humans have to learn what to eat and are justifiably cautious about sampling new foods. Since Darwin’s cold, soft piece of preserved meat had a tactile resemblance to animal feces, the native was understandably disgusted by the thought of eating it. The revulsion was triggered by the idea that "like produces like"; since the preserved meat had many similarities to feces, the native assumed it might be similarly contaminated....

Whereas core-disgusts guard against contamination of the body, socio-moral disgusts guard against contamination of the soul. Where one protects the health of the human body, the other protects human dignity. Prior to the germ theory of disease, scientific knowledge was inadequate to explain why certain forms of "contamination" should disgust us. This pre-rational wisdom, though, allowed us to survive as a species until our knowledge caught up with our intuitions.

If socio-moral disgust is an offshoot of core disgust, then shouldn't we be careful before we dismiss it as a relic of an outmoded cultural bias? What if the wisdom of repugnance protects us from harm in the same way core disgust do? Should this form of cognition be dismissed simply because it may hinder progressivism?

The wisdom of core-disgust preceded the knowledge of science by thousands of years and served to protect our bodies from harm. What if a similar wisdom is protecting human dignity? On what grounds do we have for rejecting thousands of years of socio-moral wisdom? .... Read this in full at
http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/12/in-defense-of-disgust


     MORE PROTESTANT CHURCHES FEEL ECONOMIC PAIN
The recession is dipping into church collection plates. A growing number of Protestant congregations have seen their Sunday collections drop this year, according to a survey by LifeWay Research on the economic health of churches. Pastors blame high unemployment and a drop-off in giving by members.

To make ends meet, churches have laid off staff and frozen salaries, put off major capital projects and cut back on programs. At the same time, more of their congregation members and neighbors are asking for help with basic needs like paying the rent and buying groceries, the study found.

About half of Americans identify themselves as Protestant, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

More than a third of churches surveyed said donations dropped in 2010, and overall donations were down 3%, according to LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based religion research organization.... Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-12-14-1Achurchbucks14_ST_N.htm


     TRADITIONAL FAMILIES IN TROUBLE, INDEX SHOWS
A family index just released shows that more than half of American youth are growing up in families torn apart by divorce, separation, and single parenthood. The study by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute reveals that 55% of America teenagers are living in non-traditional family structures marred by divorce, separation, or unmarried parents. By comparison, 45% of young adults live in intact families where the biological parents are married to one another since before or around the time of their child's birth. The "Index of Belonging and Rejection" also reports that African-American and Native American teens are more likely than teens of other races and ethnicities to come up in a broken family.... Read this in full at
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2010/December/Family-Report-Shows-Brokenness-in-US-Homes/


     MICHAEL W. SMITH RECALLS DRUG ADDICTION, BOASTS OF IDENTITY IN CHRIST
Singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith hasn't been the same since God came to him more than 30 years ago during his darkest days. Though he has become one of the most recognized and respected Christian music artists – with 44 Dove Awards, three Grammys and more than 15 million in sales – it wasn't always smooth sailing for Smith.

In a personal testimony shared on the website IAmSecond.com, the West Virginia native recalled three years of his life when he was "sucked into" the drug scene.

"I began to be enticed that you can play with the fire [and] you won't get burned," he said in a raw video testimony. "Little did I know that I would be in the biggest pit of my life and feeling like there was no way of escape."

"Smoking that first joint and feeling so guilty about it ...," he said, recalling his use of cocaine and LSD. "I got sucked into this thing [and] for some reason I justified it."

Smith had just moved out to Nashville after dropping out of college to pursue a career in music. He had a passion for worshipping God through music and had felt God's calling on his life at age 15.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101212/michael-wsmith-recalls-drug-addictionboasts-of-identity-in-christ/


     CHANGE IS AFOOT FOR 800-YEAR-OLD WHIRLING DANCE
The dance of the Whirling Dervishes is not only a sight to behold for spectators, it is a sacred ritual for followers of this mystical and philosophical strand of Islam. The Order of Mevlevi, as the Whirling Dervishes are officially known, is a Sufi movement founded in the 13th century after the death of poet and philosopher Mevlana Rumi. Their spiritual home is Konya, in the central Anatolian region of Turkey, where the Mevlana Museum contains the tomb of Rumi and his son.... Watch this video report in full at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/16/change-is-afoot-for-800-year-old-whirling-dance/


     CONSIDER
The smallest things become great when God requires them of us; they are small only in themselves; they are always great when they are done for God, and when they serve to unite us with Him eternally.”
Francois Fenelon



     VERSE TO PONDER
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.”
2 Peter 3:10-11



     THIS WEEK'S HYMN: HILLS OF THE NORTH, REJOICE
Words: Charles E. Oakley (1832-1865); first published in 1870
Music: John Darwall, 1770

Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.

Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.

Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and gray,
Has dawned the everlasting day.

Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.

Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/h/i/hillsnor.htm


     ON PRAYER
Prayer if it is real is an acknowledgment of our finitude, our need, our openness to be changed, our readiness to be surprised, yes astonished by the ‘beams of love.’”
Douglas Steere



     PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
http://christiansincrisis.net/


    
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!

PERSONAL
Marital harmony
Family unity
Children saved
Faithful pastor
Spirit-filled church
Real friendships
Relatives redeemed
Educational benefits
Recreational time
Fulfilling career
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will

FINANCIAL
Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Benefits
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
Settlements
Estates & inheritances
Investment increase
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.]


    
CLASSIFIEDS
Are you looking for something or do you have something to sell? Let me know and I'll put it in this newsletter.

Book your next vacation with us!
http://www.ChristianConnectionTravel.com

Books, Music & More!
http://www.ChristianConnectionBooks.com

Get your domain name here!
http://www.GoGlobalDomains.com

Let me show you how to earn money as you travel!
http://www.earnGlobalVacations.com/
It's as easy as 1-2-3!


    
SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.

National Organization for Marriage
http://www.nationformarriage.org

15 Tacky Christmas Lighting Displays (PHOTOS)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/16/12-tacky-christmas-lighti_n_797272.html#s209840

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.)


All that glitters has a high refractive index.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
Rev.frank@gmail.com


Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!



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@frankcoleman.com if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
Path Of Life Ministries is located in Chicago, IL.
Visit our website at: http://www.pathoflifeministries.net/  


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