Connecting man to man to God
For week of December 26, 2010
Issue 336


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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And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom [the Lord] favors.'"
Luke 2:13-14



     CONSIDER
The way to Christ is first through humility, second through humility, third through humility.”
Augustine of Hippo



     THE CHRISTMAS SEASON OF THE CHURCH CALENDAR IS DEC 25, 2010 - JAN 5, 2011
by Dennis Bratcher
Among all the festivals and holidays of the Christian Church year, Christmas remains the most observed and most popular. Of course, much of that popularity, especially in the West, is due to the commercial promotion of the holiday. In many Protestant churches through the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Christmas was noted but not really celebrated. While observed in some church liturgies, there was very little in the way of gift giving and family celebration that marks the season today. In fact, until relatively recently, in the middle to latter nineteenth century, Christmas was a regular work day. In many areas of the world today, it remains a comparatively insignificant holiday even among Christians. Still, the Christmas story captures the heart in a way that transcends all the commercial hype.... Read this in full at
http://www.crivoice.org/cyxmas.html


     WHY A VIRGIN BIRTH?
What is the theological significance of the virginal conception? Some have argued it was necessary to protect Jesus’ sinless nature, but the narratives themselves do not indicate this purpose. The Messiah could have entered human life free from sin with or without a virginal conception...

In the final analysis, the details remain a mystery. What is certain from the text is that the conception of Jesus was a supernatural act of God, confirming that God himself was about to accomplish the salvation which no human being could achieve.” from Four Portraits, One Jesus by Mark L. Strauss
http://www.koinoniablog.net/2010/12/why-a-virgin-birth.html


     BETHLEHEM A 'CENTER OF CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY' DESPITE OCCUPATION
Despite political conflict involving Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Bethlehem remains the centre of Christian spirituality, especially at Christmas, says the Palestinian minister of tourism, Khouloud Deibes. "Christmas is a source of joy and pride for us Palestinians because here it happened," Dr Deibes, a Christian resident of Bethlehem, said during a press briefing Dec. 14. She noted that Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem include those of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Christians. "Here we have the time also to celebrate our churches; they are living monuments, not museums.".... Read this in full at
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13820


     A COSMIC CULMINATION
by Charles Colson with Catherine Larson
Sometime this Christmas season, you are sure to hear those rousing words of Handel's Messiah, taken from Revelation 11:15: "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" (ESV). Tradition has it that the music so moved King George II that he stood to his feet out of respect for an even greater King. The rest of the audience followed, as have audiences for generations since. The Hallelujah Chorus is the culmination of our Messiah's story, a story that Handel rightly showed was foretold by the Prophets, heralded in the Annunciation, and has at its heart a message about a king and a kingdom.

Sadly, that kingdom message is often missed in our saccharine retelling of the Christmas story. Somehow we glaze over the angel's words to Mary, that she will give birth to a son whose "kingdom will never end" (Luke 1:33). The myopia continues as we read the Gospels. We skim over pages of kingdom references. We miss Christ's inaugural address when he opens the scroll of Isaiah and proclaims that Scripture has been fulfilled in the people's hearing (Luke 4:21). We muddle through the parables that tell us repeatedly, "The kingdom of God is like …." And we glance over the very reason our Savior was crucified, a sign crudely scrawled beneath the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (John 19:19).... Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/december/28.62.html


     GOD SO LOVED, HE GAVE: ENTERING THE MOVEMENT OF DIVINE GENEROSITY
by Kelly Kapic
Our passion to possess jeopardizes the joy of belonging to God. Especially in the affluent West, our sense of self can become so wrapped up with the idea of self-ownership that the thought of belonging to somebody else -- including God -- looks like a threat and not a hope. Fearing to give, we grasp ever more tightly. We constantly clamor for our ‘rights’ and clink to the impression that we own our bodies, our money, our ideas, our time, our property, and everything else we can manage to slap our name tag on. But more than anything else, we feel sure that we own *ourselves*.... Read this in full at
http://www.scribd.com/doc/45045489/God-So-Loved-He-Gave-by-Kelly-M-Kapic-Excerpt


     GOD IS GOOD
Good when He gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies:
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise.”
Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), attributed, The Practice of the Presence of God, New York, Revell, 1895, p. 4


     HEAVEN BREAKING THROUGH
“‘
[The] gospel ... sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.’ 1 Peter 1:12 (NIV)

The good news of Jesus coming to rescue us is something even angels never tire of, can't stop looking at, long to look into...But do I? Do I tire of it? Stop wondering at it? At this story of the God who stepped out of heaven and came down into this world to be with us? At this gift he gave us? The best gift he could ever have given us, the gift he gave only us -- the precious treasure that not even angels have?

In C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle there is a stable whose inside is bigger than its outside. Lucy says, ‘In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.’ The Christmas story has all the expanse of the universe inside it.

How do we wake up to the story we are so familiar with we no longer see? The story we know so well we no longer long for? The story we know by heart and no longer wonder at?

One thing I quickly realized writing The Jesus Storybook Bible (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v__QaCsdvQk) is that the Christmas story doesn't begin with Mary and the angel Gabriel, of course, it begins long, long ago, all the way back in the very beginning of the world, before even time began, in the very heart of God.

It begins with Genesis and with a Promise made -- every single Old Testament story whispers Jesus’ name, points to his coming. He is the Promise kept. He is the answer to all our longings, to all our fears. He is the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. And at last he is here!

The Jesus Storybook Bible has 21 stories from the Old Testament -- every one whispering his name, pointing to the promised child. And three stories from the story of his birth. This (my math skills being such) makes 24 stories altogether telling the story of Christmas from the very beginning. A story a day for Advent.

Reading the stories is one way to trace the Great Story and join God's people through all those long centuries on a journey of longing and wonder and excitement, waiting for the Rescuer to come. Waiting for Heaven to break through on Christmas morning.

So I pray this Christmas, that Heaven will break through in our hearts and in our lives. That it will break through as it did 2,000 years ago in that stable that was bigger on the inside than the outside. As it did for a brief moment for these unsuspecting shoppers at Macy's -- and that we, like them, will be caught up in a chorus of Hallelujahs.”
Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible



     SHOULD WE CANCEL CHRISTMAS?’ IS ONLINE RADIO PROGRAM
Christian Television Australia’s Christmas Day TV special, which asks the question, “Should We Cancel Christmas?,” is now available in a radio version. It’s available for anyone to hear at http://www.christiantelevision.org.au/radio.... Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2010/s10120116.htm


     POPULAR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
Check out some New Year's resolutions that are popular year after year.
* Drink Less Alcohol
* Get a Better Education
* Get a Better Job
* Get Fit
* Lose Weight
* Manage Debt
* Manage Stress
* Quit Smoking Now
* Save Money
* Take a Trip
* Volunteer to Help Others
.... Read this in full at
http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New_Years_Resolutions.shtml


     BIBLE READING PLANS FOR 2011
http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/all
http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/Bible/Plans.htm
http://www.biblica.com/bibles/daily-reading/
http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/readingplans/
http://www.navpress.com/dj/content.aspx?id=138
http://www.bibleplan.org/
http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/dept.asp?dept_id=1117841&TopLevel_id=190000


     9 WAYS TO KNOW THAT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS TRUE
by John Piper
1. Jesus Christ, as he is presented to us in the New Testament, and as he stands forth from all its writings, is too single and too great to have been invented so uniformly by all these writers. The force of Jesus Christ unleashed these writings; the writings did not create the force. Jesus is far bigger and more compelling than any of his witnesses. His reality stands behind these writings as a great, global event stands behind a thousand newscasters. Something stupendous unleashed these diverse witnesses to tell these stunning and varied, yet unified, stories of Jesus Christ.

2. Nobody has ever explained the empty tomb of Jesus in the hostile environment of Jerusalem where the enemies of Jesus would have given anything to produce the corpse, but could not. The earliest attempts to cover the scandal of resurrection were manifestly contradictory to all human experience -- disciples do not steal a body (Matthew 28:13) and then sacrifice their lives to preach a glorious gospel of grace on the basis of the deception. Modern theories that Jesus didn't die but swooned, and then awoke in the tomb and moved the stone and tricked his skeptical disciples into believing he was risen as the Lord of the universe don't persuade.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/Home/Christian%20Living%20Features/11552884/


     BILLY GRAHAM, IN TV INTERVIEW, REFLECTS: 'MY TIME IS LIMITED'
Billy Graham granted his first interview in several years Dec. 20, telling Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that if he could do it over again, he would spend less time traveling and more time in meditation and prayer.

The renowned evangelist, now 92, spoke to Van Susteren just before meeting President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, along with Franklin and Jane Graham, for lunch in Charlotte, N.C. The Bushes were at the Billy Graham Library to sign copies of their autobiographies.

Van Susteren asked Graham if he has hope, and Graham said he has a tremendous amount of hope because he is a believer in Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead and "is alive right now".... Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34303


     WHY DO WE SEEK POWER?
In his book Basic Christian Leadership (InterVarsity Press), John Stott discusses the focus on power in 1 Corinthians 1:17--2:5: “This concentration on power makes an immediate appeal to us today, for we live in a society that worships power. Not that this is new. The lust for power has always been a characteristic of the human story, at least since Adam and Eve were offered power in exchange for disobedience...

We see the same power-hunger in the church: in top-level ecclesiastical power struggles, in denominational disputes, in some local churches driven by market forces and others in which the clergy hold all the reins of power and refuse to share it with the lay people (especially the young people), in parachurch organizations that dream of expanding into world empires and even in the pulpit, which is an exceedingly dangerous place for any child of Adam to occupy...

I confess to being frightened by the contemporary evangelical hunger for power, even the quest for the power of the Holy Spirit. Why do we want to receive power? Is it honestly power for witness (as in Acts 1:8) or holiness or humble service? Or is it in reality a mask for personal ambition, a craving to boost our own egos, to minister to our self-importance, to impress, to dominate or to manipulate?”
http://www.preaching.com/resources/articles/11643003/


     INTERVIEW: CONDOLEEZZA RICE'S FAITH CONTEXT FOR FOREIGN POLICY
Condoleezza Rice was attending her father's church when a bomb exploded just a few blocks away at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963. Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family (Crown), recounts the segregation the former secretary of state experienced, and her life as the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. She spoke with Christianity Today about faith and foreign policy during her book tour in New York City.

Q: How does your understanding of religion help you deal with the interplay between religion and foreign policy?
A: It helps to have both a historical and theological understanding of the children of Abraham and the relationships between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. I personally think that Israel is remarkable. It would not exist but for the toughness of the people and the grace of God. Yet Jerusalem is a place where the great religions don't so much come together; they clash there. You suddenly realize the extent to which man will go to use God for his own purposes rather than the other way around. That for me is the most terrifying thing about the combination of religion and politics, because that is really when man is trying to use God for his own purposes. That's why I don't see any conflict with being Christian and wanting to see a Jewish state, being Christian and believing there can be a Palestinian state, because the state is the state. When you start to try to infuse it with God's purpose you almost always get in trouble.

Q: What do you want to say about evangelicals or the interaction of faith and policy?
A: Let me be clear. I'm evangelical and I'm proud of it. I consider an evangelical to be someone who professes faith in a way that draws others to it. It's interesting because here we have separation of powers and separation of church and state, but we are the most religious people in the world. It serves us well, because when you're religious you at least know that you have to answer to some higher calling than your own whims or desires. When that's the case, you're also more cognizant of your responsibilities to care about those who have less. The United States has been served well by its religiosity, and I'm very, very unabashedly proud of how religious a people we are.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/january/1.71.html


     LOVE TAKES THE DANCE FLOOR
[What] I call the Jesus Creed: ‘The most important [commandment],’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12:29-31

...The first word that should come to mind when we hear Jesus say "kingdom" is the word love.

In the Kingdom.Life, the King, the King’s land, and the citizens of the King are those who love God and who love others (as they love themselves). When Jesus stands up tall and announces that the kingdom has drawn near, he is saying that a society shaped by love is about to take the dance floor and show us how to dance.

Without love, society becomes a chaos of individuals.
Without love, society becomes a free-for-all.
Without love, society ceases being society.
With love, society becomes community.
With love, society becomes one for all and all for one.
With love, society becomes kingdom.

The kingdom is a kingdom of love. For this reason I have been teaching for almost a decade that we should begin each day and end each day by reciting the Jesus Creed. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep; whether we are searching for or have found our soul mate; whether we are working or playing or traveling; whether we are wondering what God designed for us to accomplish in this world; whether we are serving in a homeless shelter or whether we are pouring coffee into espresso cups, our various dreams have their meaning only when they are enveloped by loving God and loving others. When we live in love, we live in the kingdom society Jesus came to create.”
Scot McKnight, in his book One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, by Scot McKnight



     FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
"While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now, I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do, I'll fight; while there is one drunkard left, while there is a poor girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight -- I'll fight to the very end!"
William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army



     CHRISTIAN RENAISSANCE
I would call Christians to think -- instead of culture warring -- of a Christian renaissance, of faithfully living out the way of Jesus in every sphere of our life, of putting an emphasis on the creative, constructive things we do -- in the civil issues in public life, but also in areas like the arts, putting the emphasis on the creative, constructive, positive things we do. We need to be for things more than we’re against things.”
Os Guinness



     EVANGELICAL CHURCHES UNITE IN RARE MERGER
Two Madison, Wisconsin evangelical churches — both among the city's largest in their heydays — have merged in what church leaders say is an unusual case of congregations uniting instead of splintering. Lake City Church and Mad City Church now will be known as City Church.

"Churches are used to blowing apart," said the Rev. John Ruck, who was the senior pastor at Lake City Church. "Putting two of them together is pretty rare." The union, which church leaders attribute to God's will, joins a longtime city fixture with a relative newcomer.

Lake City Church began as a Bible study group in 1927. Its sanctuary, 4909 E. Buckeye Road, can seat more than 800 people and will be the new congregation's home. Lake City Church also runs Abundant Life Christian School.

Mad City Church started 14 years ago as an alternative to traditional churches. Known for its contemporary worship services, it rented office space at a shopping center and met Sundays at Madison La Follette High School.

Both churches are nondenominational and were roughly the same size before the union — about 450 adults and children each, down from more than 1,000 each several years ago.... Read this in full at
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_65b78794-04b8-11e0-aff5-001cc4c002e0.html


     HOW THE CHURCH IS YOUR MOTHER
In [the Christian] spiritual family, God is our Father and other Christians are our brothers and sisters; but who is our mother? ...

Centuries ago, [a church leader named] Cyprian ... provided an answer for this question, famously saying, ‘No one can have God as his Father who does not have the church as his mother’ ...

The idea that the church is the mother of Christians was not only widely affirmed in the first few centuries of Christianity, it also found great traction among the Protestant Reformers ... But where did these church fathers and Reformers get the idea that the church is our mother? They found it in the Bible [for example, see Galatians 4:19, 21-31; also 1 Cor. 3:1-2] ...

To ask how the church is our mother is really to ask, ‘How does the church provide the nurture, care, and maturation for spiritual growth?’ ...

I hope you as a Christian are beginning to embrace the idea that the church is your spiritual mother. God gives us the church to help us form our identity as Christians. The church helps us to endure suffering, bringing comfort and encouragement in difficult times. The church nourishes us with the Word and the Lord's Supper, provides godly examples for us to imitate, and disciplines us when we go astray. In addition, we grow and are transformed as Jesus is uniquely manifested in our worship assemblies. The church provides maternal care for us in all of these ways, helping us to grow to become more like Jesus.”
Jim Samra in his book The Gift of Church: How God Designed the Local Church to Meet Our Needs as Christians



     THE BEST CHRISTIAN BOOKS OF 2010
by Brian Nixon
Since I do this each year, I must put forth my bias and criteria. First, I’ve only read a particular number of books, so my list is unique and partial to me. Second, the books -- by and large -- are from the orthodox viewpoint, adhering to a theologically conservative perspective (at least in principle). Third, the books are not from any particular field, but cross the spectrum in both scope and genre. And fourth, all books were published in 2010 or late 2009. So here I go:.... Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2010/s10120107.htm


     HOW TO RESPOND TO DOUBT
by Nancy Pearcey
Critical thinking?” the radio host burst out. “Most people on the conservative Christian Right would say that’s one of the biggest dangers we have -- this 'nonsensical' idea of critical thinking.”

I was talking with the arch-liberal Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. He had invited me on his radio program “Culture Shocks” to talk about my newly published Saving Leonardo. Yet when I explained that the book dissects secular worldviews to help people develop critical thinking, Lynn seemed incredulous. Conservative Christians discourage any questioning of their faith, he asserted.

He was painting with a broad brush, but admittedly there is some basis for such a negative stereotype. In fact, it has become one of the main reasons young people are leaving the church.... Read this in full at
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2010/12/nancy_pearcey_embrace_your_dou.html


     2011 NIV BIBLE UPDATE RELEASED IN DIGITAL FORMAT
Bible publisher Zondervan has launched the first product featuring the updated New International Version of the Bible (NIV) -- a digital ebook of the bestselling NIV Bible (www.TheNIVBible.com). Print products featuring the updated NIV -- the world's most read modern English Bible with more than 400 million copies in print -- are scheduled for release in March 2011.

As part of the NIV ebook release, Zondervan launched a BUY ONE, GIVE ONE campaign. For every digital copy of the updated NIV Bible sold through Jan. 4, 2011, Zondervan will donate a New Testament of a new NIV-like Hindi translation through Biblica, the worldwide publisher and translation sponsor of the NIV Bible and a global Bible and publishing ministry. Zondervan and Biblica hope to donate 30,000 copies of the all-new Hindi translation of the New Testament.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2562515767.html


     C. S. LEWIS' THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS ANNOUNCES 2011 NATIONAL TOUR
THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, the provocative and wickedly funny theatrical adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel about spiritual warfare from a demon's point of view, has announced a multi-city tour in 2011. Starring Max McLean, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS will run Jan. 15 at the Alex Theater in Glendale, California (Los Angeles); Jan. 29 at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego, California; Feb. 12 at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall in Portland, Oregon; Feb. 26 at the Moore Theatre in Seattle, Washington; March 19 at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado; March 26-27 at the Knight Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina. More dates will be added for 2011. Please visit www.screwtapeonstage.com.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/1965315758.html


     TEXAS MEGACHURCH PREMIERES 3-D CHRISTMAS SERVICES
Some might call it wholesome innovation, others shameless gimmickry, but Fellowship Church is offering Christmas in 3-D this year.

It's a little cheesy, but cheese works,” said Ed Young, pastor of the Grapevine-based megachurch with campuses in Dallas, Plano, Fort Worth and Miami.

On Dec. 18 in Grapevine, Texas, about 4,000 people – nearly a full house – came for the first of the church's well-advertised 3-D Christmas services. Adults and children alike each got a pair of paper-frame glasses with red and blue plastic lenses. They donned them for three brief videos shot in 3-D. The third re-created a real-life episode from last Christmas, in which Young's dogs got into the living room and tore up gift packages.... Read this in full at
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/tarrant/stories/DN-3Dchurch_20met.ART0.State.Edition1.435f17e.html


     VERSE TO PONDER
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51:11



     CONSIDER
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), What's Wrong with the World, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1912, p. 48



     SACRED SPACES: WASHINGTON'S BASILICA
Sister Miriam MacLean is buzzing around Washington, DC’s Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. A steady stream of tourists trails closely behind her. As director of visitor services, she leads the tours of the massive mosaic domed church in Washington. It may be one of Washington’s lesser known tourist attractions, but the shrine gets nearly 1 million visitors a year and keeps its doors open 365 days of the year.

Many people who traveled in Europe or traveled in other places are surprised when they come to our own country and see such a church of beauty and awe,” MacLean says. She is part of the Religious Sisters of Mercy.

Rising nearly as high as the Washington Monument, the shrine also shares the city’s low-rise skyline with the US Capitol.... Read this in full and view the video report at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/21/sacred-spaces-washingtons-basilica/


     TRON'S LEGACY -- PERFECTION IS UNKNOWABLE
by Ben Witherington
Jeff Bridges stars in two movies this Christmas, and they could not be more different. One is the Coen Brothers remake of John Wayne's film 'True Grit', the other is the long awaited sequel to Tron, a truly groundbreaking film. We will deal with 'True Grit' later. One needs to keep in mind this is a Disney film. The visuals are very alluring, though they remind one of that recent Budweiser commercial with girls from outer space offering Budlight and 'shraplication'. Tron Legacy is sexless, but not quite bloodless, despite a plot that is plodding, and some bad reviews as a result.

Though the visuals are alluring, the digital world conjured up is frankly not appealing. I wouldn't even want to visit it. This world is dark, dangerous, and merciless.  And talk about stilted dialogue. It's almost as bad as the dialogue in Avatar.  But of course the computer generation doesn't much go to movies for dazzling dialogue -- just give me the visual 3D effects. Jeff Bridges is ok in this film as the zen master creator of the world of Tron. Garrett Hedlund is the real star of the film and he is a little better, reminding one of the young man who played Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. The sound track sounds rebooted as well -- can you say Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene. Maybe we were meant to think that this digital world is rather like the ‘80s when the original was made.... Read this in full at
http://blog.beliefnet.com/bibleandculture/2010/12/trons-legacy---perfection-is-unknowable.html


     AT 50, ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW STILL PROVIDING WISDOM
Say a group of immigrants want to build a mosque in Mayberry, right next to All Saints Church. WWAD: What Would Andy Do? The question, of course, never surfaced in the beloved Andy Griffith Show that chronicled life in the bucolic town of Mayberry, untouched by the battles of civil rights and war that festered in the 1960s.

Tucked somewhere into the cool green hills of North Carolina, Sheriff Andy Taylor mediated minor feuds in the largely homogeneous hamlet, guided his son, reined in the excitable Deputy Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), and set an example for commonsense leadership that still inspires today.

Joey Fann, a software engineer from Huntsville, Alabama, and author of The Way Back to Mayberry, a popular study guide for small groups in churches, wonders what the calm lawman of Mayberry would make of America's current collective agitation.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2010-09/50-andy-griffith-show-still-providing-wisdom


     FAITH LEADERS: STOP RELIGICIDE OF IRAQI CHRISTIANS
Religious leaders across different faiths joined together with Open Doors, a ministry that serves persecuted Christians around the world, on Dec. 20 to call attention to the systematic "extermination" of Iraqi Christians.

Christians have been in Iraq for over two millennia but now they are on the verge of extinction as extremists continue to target them for their faith. In 2003, the Iraqi Christian population was 1.3 million but that number has dwindled below 350,000 as many flee to neighboring countries to escape the persecution, according to the faith leaders' estimates.

Dr. Carl Moeller, CEO and president of Open Doors USA, said the crisis of embattled Christians in Iraq and the Middle East is nothing short of "religicide." "We must stand with the historic Christian community in these countries, not to give permission for them to be exterminated by our ignorance but to be stood up for," Moeller told reporters at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101221/faith-leaders-stop-religicide-of-iraqi-christians/


     THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP
Children go through ups and downs like everyone else. But even in elementary school, some children  are shy and awkward, and they can easily become social outcasts, anxious about social interactions and maybe a tad depressed. Normal adolescent angst can spiral out of control for these young people, taking them on a trajectory that can lead to major depression by adolescence -- unless, research suggests, they have a simple but valuable asset: a friend.... Read this in full at
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/20/reading-writing-rithmetic-and-relationships/


     AN ORDINARY MAN'S INSPIRING JOURNEY TOWARD A SIMPLER, MORE MEANINGFUL LIFE
In 2008, a young father of three decided to winnow down everything he owned to merely 100 things. In THE 100 THING CHALLENGE (Harper Paperbacks; December 28, 2010; 9780061787744) Dave Bruno describes how he strove to loosen the grip that consumerism had on his life -- and how his challenge gave rise to a grass-roots viral movement that has inspired thousands of people to follow Dave's example.

In the book, Dave reveals the "aha" moment that caused him to instantly re-think his life and do a complete life makeover starting one day in the middle of his normal routine. The book illuminates his journey to get rid of nearly all of his stuff and then takes us through how his life changed for the better when he stopped filling his emotional vacuum with meaningless things. Among the lessons you will learn from Dave when reading live in more spiritually and socially meaningful ways. Among the lessons learned in the THE 100 THING CHALLENGE:.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/652715763.html


     MONEY, MEDIA, MARRIAGE AND MILLENNIALS... WHAT IS THE NEXT GENERATION OF INFLUENCERS THINKING
At more than 78 million strong, the Millennials -- those born between 1980 and 2000 -- have surpassed the Boomers as the larger and more influential generation in America. Millennials are shaping the first half of the 21st Century of American culture, and their attitudes and preferences influence businesses, the workplace, schools, churches, and more.

Now, as its members begin to reach adulthood where the traits of a generation really take shape, best-selling research author Dr. Thom Rainer (Simple Church) and his son Jess (a Millennial born in 1985), present the most comprehensive research project on Millennials from a Christian worldview perspective in their book, The Millennials: Connecting to America's Largest Generation (January 1, 2010 - B&H Publishing Group).

Research began for this project in June 2009, and is based on 1,200 interviews with its namesakes that aim to better understand them personally, professionally, and spiritually. Chapters report intriguing how-and-why findings on family matters (they are closer knit than previous generations), their desire for diversity (consider the wave of mixed race and ethnic adoptions), their attitude toward money, the media, and perhaps most tellingly, religion.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/4547115766.html


     DESPITE ABYSMAL TRACK RECORD, CALIF. ATHEIST KEEPS SUING IN LONELY CRUSADE
He is the most famous -- and the loneliest—atheist in the country. For 14 years, Michael Newdow, an emergency room doctor and attorney, has challenged what he sees as violations of the First Amendment’s protection against established religion. He works alone from his Sacramento home, his only tools a computer, a printer and a razor-sharp sense of injustice.

He has sued to have “In God We Trust” removed from US currency, to prohibit prayer at presidential inaugurations and most famously -- or infamously -- to strike the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. To date, he has never won a single case.

Yet Newdow remains undeterred. In January, Newdow plans to ask the US Supreme Court to hear his “In God We Trust” case, which he lost last March at the California-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. After that, he said, he may revive his pledge case, this time on behalf of other families who feel harmed by the pledge’s religious reference.... Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/despite_abysmal_track_record_calif_atheist_keeps_suing/


     US CENSUS BUREAU ANNOUNCES 2010 CENSUS POPULATION COUNTS
The US Census Bureau announced Dec. 21 that the 2010 Census showed the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2010, was 308,745,538. This represents an increase of 9.7% over the 2000 US resident population of 281,421,906.... Read this in full at
http://2010.census.gov/news/releases/operations/cb10-cn93.html


     CONSIDER
Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His Presence.”
Paul Claudel



     VERSE TO PONDER
"If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15



     THIS WEEK'S HYMN: RING OUT THE BELLS FOR CHRISTMAS
Words & Music: William A. Ogden, 1870

Ring out the bells for Christmas,
The happy, happy day;
In winter wild, the holy Child
Within the cradle lay.
O wonderful! the Savior
Is in the manger lone;
His palace is a stable,
And Mary’s arms His throne.

Refrain
Ring out the bells for Christmas,
The merry, merry Christmas,
Ring out the bells for Christmas,
The happy, happy day.

On Beth’lem’s quiet hillside,
In ages long gone by,
In angel notes the glory floats,
Glory to God on high.”
Yet wakes the sun as joyous
As when the Lord was born,
And still He comes to greet you
On ev’ry Christmas morn.
Refrain

Where’er His sweet lambs gather,
Within this gentle fold
The Savior dear is waiting near,
As in the days of old.
In each young heart you see Him,
In ev’ry guileless face,
You see the holy Jesus,
Who grew in truth and grace.
Refrain

In many a darksome cottage,
In many a crowded street,
In winter bleak, with shiv’ring cheek,
The homeless child you meet.
Gaze upon the pale, wan features,
The feet with wand’ring sore.
You see the souls He loveth,
The Christ Child at the door.
Refrain

Then sing your gladsome carols,
And hail the newborn Sun;
For Christmas light is passing bright,
It smiles on everyone;
And feast Christ’s little children,
His poor, his orphans call,
For He Who chose the manger,
He loveth one and all.
Refrain

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/r/o/rotbxmas.htm


     ON PRAYER
Don't count sheep if you can't sleep. Talk to the Shepherd.”
Paul Frost



     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.

50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2011
http://politics.usnews.com/news/features/50-ways-to-improve-your-life-in-2011

The Year 2010 in Photos
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/12/2010_in_photos_part_2_of_3.html

Yahoo! News Year in Review
http://yearinreview.yahoo.com/

BusinessWeek Year in Review
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_52/b4209009504184.htm

Reuters Year in Review
http://www.reuters.com/subjects/2010-year-in-review

The Cosmic Log
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/20/5685569-the-year-in-space-sunrise-sunset

The Year in Travel News
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40754755/ns/travel-news

Notable Deaths of 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/obituaries/20100329_NOTABLEDEATHS.html

Top Ten Monks
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/movies/commentaries/2010/tenmonks.html

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.)


Aspire to inspire before you expire.
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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