Connecting man to man to God
For week of March 20, 2011
Issue 348


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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"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26-28


    
CONSIDER
To become Christian is in a real sense to become human because nothing dehumanizes more than rebellion against God or humanizes more than reconciliation to God and fellowship with God.”
John R. W. Stott (b. 1921), Christian Mission in the Modern World, London: Falcon; Downers Grove: IVP, 1975, p. 105



    
THE PARABLES: UNDERSTANDING JESUS' STRANGE GOOD NEWS
by Matthew L. Skinner
Jesus said lots of wacky stuff, it seems.

I made a point like this once to a man I had just met, and it didn't go well. As part of a group-building exercise, a speaker asked each of us in the audience to discuss a passage from the Bible with our neighbor. Early in the course of my conversation with this stranger, I offhandedly noted how Jesus appeals to absurdities to make a point when he warns about salt losing its taste or someone sticking a burning lamp underneath a basket -- which are comments from his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-17).

"There's nothing absurd about it," my conversation partner snapped. "Jesus didn't deal in absurdities."

Clearly we were no longer discussing specific details of the biblical passage. He thought I was being flippant or not taking Jesus as a serious authority. I had offended his piety and he felt a need to defend either Jesus or the Bible. It's kind of an occupational hazard for people in my line of work.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder, "Does this guy really think Jesus is all about giving it to us straight? Has he even read the Gospels?" If you can't appreciate absurdity, and the positive effects it can have, then how will you understand all the parables?

Jesus has his moments when he speaks plainly, but much of what the Gospels convey is a lot more elusive. That's what makes his teachings so evocative, and sometimes offensive, and sometimes restorative. This is particularly true with his parables.... Read this in full at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-l-skinner/good-but-really-strange-n_b_826226.html


    
HOW SHOULD WE MEASURE SPIRITUAL GROWTH?
by Sarah Cunningham
In the field of education, measurements are crucial. Not measuring baking ingredients or 2x4s, of course, but measuring a student’s progress. Tracking growth.

This is especially important for me as I’m hunkered down at the alternative high school — the last stop for the teens of Prison City.

Measuring learning in my context, like the spiritual one, is a tricky business. When it comes to internal processes — growth of the mind or the spirit, for example — there are no fancy growth charts to tack up against the wall.

To keep students progressing, then, good teachers ask themselves a guiding question: “How will we know when a student is officially ‘educated’?” Or, in other words, “What does a well-rounded graduate look like?” .... Read this in full at
http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/147040-christ-or-bust-no-growth-left-behind.html


    
ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS ON THE MOON LEFT ASTRONAUT CHANGED
by Mark Ellis
In the rounded gray Apennine mountains of the moon, Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin had an encounter with God he would never forget.

Irwin was the eighth man to walk on the moon and the first to ride in the Lunar Rover.  Apollo 15 was a ‘J-Mission,’ which meant he and fellow astronaut David Scott spent an extended period on the lunar surface – almost three days, where they collected 170 pounds of geologic material including the famous “Genesis Rock.”

Scientists believe the rock dates back to the time the original lunar crust was formed, which they estimate at 4.5 billion years. “It was remarkable,” Irwin commented later. “It was sitting on a pedestal rock almost free from dust. It seemed to be saying, ‘Here I am, take me.’”

Irwin and Scott worked for an extended period with little rest prior to their liftoff. “Apparently, when Jim was suiting up his water tube kinked so he wasn’t able to get any water,” recalls Mary Irwin, his wife.

Outside their spacesuits, the temperature on the lunar surface was 150 degrees. “He perspired like crazy,” Mary says. “He was losing his electrolyte balance. An imbalance of sodium and potassium can trigger a heart attack," she notes.... Read this in full at
http://www.godreports.com/testimony-view/1249


    
SHAKING BEGINS, WINDS ARE BLOWING IN JAPAN
As one looks across the face of the earth today, it doesn't take much spiritual discernment to see that things are shaking as has been prophesied over the past few years.

Many voices, including myself, have spoke over what is known as the "Rim of Fire" nations, or the Pacific Rim. These are the approximately 40-odd nations that ring the Pacific with some sort of volcanic activity.

The tragedy in Japan brings this prophetic shaking starkly to the forefront of the news. Many are asking the question, "What is taking place?".... Read this is full at
http://www.strangmail.com/sendstudio/link.php?M=1166747&N=12697&L=20189&F=H


     WHY IS SIN BECOMING SO HARD TO FIND AND DEFINE?
by Bill Ellis
Years ago, a small college in the American Midwest, advertised in its college catalog: “We are located 25 miles from any known form of sin.” College campuses have certainly changed!

Dr. Karl Menninger, M.D., wrote his popular eye-opening best-seller, “Whatever Became of Sin?,” published by Hawthorn Books, 1973. It was the talk of the town -- discussed on television and radio and in newspapers and magazines. Some preachers even dared to preach about it. In recent years, the very idea of such a thing as sin has been pretty well dismissed in polite society.

Looking for the latest evening news recently, I went by a program just in time to hear a woman loudly blurt out, “That is certainly no sin.” I do not know where she became an authority on such a far-reaching matter. She talked as if she knew all about it. Maybe she did.... Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2011/s11010131.htm


    
HOW TO ENJOY YOUR SANDWICH
One of the first Christians, a man named Paul, wrote about his ‘troubles, hardships, distress, beatings, imprisonment, riots, sleepless nights, hunger’ [see 2 Cor. 6:4-5].

This is a man who suffered, yet he doesn't end his list with despair.

Paul claims that he and his friends are ‘genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet they live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything’ [see 2 Cor 6:9-10].

David Letterman had the musician Warren Zevon on his show soon after Zevon found out he had cancer. Letterman asked him, ‘From your perspective, do you know something about life ... that maybe I don’t know?’

Warren Zevon answered, ‘I know how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.’

Sometimes what happens to us when we suffer is that we become open to the mercy and grace and gratitude and gifts and appreciation and joy that are always around us all the time, even in a sandwich.”
Rob Bell in Drops Like Stars Tour Film



    
'WHAT I VALUE MOST': WEBSITE WITH TESTIMONIES & THE GOSPEL
"I'm surrendering my life to Jesus, finding my value in Him, praying the prayer above," Jodi of Emporia, Kan., checked on the "What I Value Most" website.

The simple website – http://www.whativaluemost.com -- encompasses an ever-increasing number of personal testimonies and a clear gospel presentation. In the two years it has been available to the public, more than 30,000 people -- in all 50 states and nearly 100 nations -– have visited it.

"Our anticipation was that it would greatly impact Louisiana," said Keith Manuel, evangelism associate with the Louisiana Baptist Convention. "We had no idea it would impact the world." .... Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34720


    
WHY THIS 'SECRET MILLIONAIRE' WENT PUBLIC
When ABC approached Dani Johnson about starring on a new show called Secret Millionaire, she said no. When they tried a second time, she said no. Ditto the third time and the fourth.

Not until ABC asked for a fifth time did Johnson, a self-made millionaire, finally say yes, and the results were seen on TV. The premise is simple: Take a millionaire to "the other side of the tracks" and let them live in poverty for a whole week. Arrange for said millionaire to volunteer in local outreach organizations, places that are usually operating on a limited budget. At the end of the week, reveal the secret identity of the millionaire as he/she writes big checks to these organizations. Cue the violins, and let the tears roll.

It's that last part — writing the checks—that bothered Johnson the most. Not that she can't afford it, and not that she's stingy. Johnson—who earned her millions as a motivational speaker, author, and founder of a financial advising firm that helps people get out of debt and build their portfolios—is a devout Christian and quite generous. She and husband Hans run King's Ransom, a non-profit foundation dedicated to giving and serving people in need around the globe.

But Johnson prefers to write her checks in private, based on Matthew 6:1-4, where Jesus says not to do our "acts of righteousness before men," but to do our giving "in secret." So why'd she ultimately say yes? Because Scripture (Matthew 5:14-16) also calls us to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

For her episode of Secret Millionaire, Johnson 42, traveled to Knoxville, Tenn., and lived in a scuzzy apartment for a week while doing volunteer work with several charities. Christianity Today spoke with Johnson about her experience.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/movies/interviews/2011/secretmillionpublic.html


    
WHEN DREAMS WON'T LET GO
When you stop dreaming, you begin dying.
When you chase your dreams, you begin to live your dreams.
When you find the dream of all dreams, you flourish.
Chasing your dreams is the way you find them.
But ...
You have only One.Life to chase, find, and live your dream.
Let your One.Life be consumed by the dream.

I believe God speaks to us through our dreams. Yes, of course, some crackpots have dreams that caution us about chasing crazy dreams. But I think you'll agree our dreams give us direction and hope. Our dreams give us life itself and make our One.Life matter. We summon courage to try something different, move to unknown places, start new jobs, and take on more education.

Where do you get your dreams? I wonder if you think about God giving you the dream you have. People who have accomplished great things were driven by their dreams. Like Wangari Maathai, a woman who wants to reforest the mountains of Kenya. Or Bono, who wants to end poverty. Or Paul Farmer, who as a college student saw the needs of Haiti and became a medical doctor. But the one who made this so clear is Martin Luther King Jr., whose dream became a speech: ‘I Have a Dream.’ I remember listening to his dream when I was a kid, and I wonder who you might be listening to right now who will become the next dreamer to make a difference. Maybe the dreamer is you!

The best dreams you have call for every bit of you. And they won't let go. Why won't they let go?”
Scot McKnight in One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow



    
LIFE BY THE CLOCK OR LIFE BY THE COMPASS?
by Bill Wilson
Which do you live by: Clock or compass? If the clock dictates, your life is consumed with the immediate and pressing issues of the moment. Clock-life is focused on short-term results. If the clock rules, you find yourself racing from event to event in a mad scramble to meet expectations and deadlines. When the day ends, you are exhausted and dismayed to find that tomorrow has another long to-do list awaiting you. Life that is dictated by the clock is high-speed intensity. It produces, but at a high price tag. Clock-life is the American way. Clock-life accurately describes much of modern congregational and clergy life.... Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/6181/9/


    
AN EXCERPT FROM “SPEAKING CHRISTIAN”
by Marcus J. Borg
Christian language has become a stumbling block in our time. Much of its basic vocabulary is seriously misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians alike. Big words like salvation, saved, sacrifice, redeemer, redemption, righteousness, repentance, mercy, sin, forgiveness, born again, second coming, God, Jesus, and Bible and collections of words like the creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, and liturgies have acquired meanings that are serious distortions of their biblical and traditional meanings.

The misunderstandings flow from two major causes shaping the way Christian language is heard. The first is the literalization of language in the modern period, affecting Christians and non-Christians alike. The second is the interpretation of Christian language within a common framework that I call “heaven and hell” Christianity, which I describe more fully in Chapter 1. When this is the primary framework for understanding Christianity, as it often is, it diminishes and distorts the meaning of Christian language.

Christians in this country (and elsewhere) are deeply divided by different understandings of a shared language. About half (maybe more) of American Christians believe that biblical language is to be understood literally within a heaven-and-hell framework that emphasizes the afterlife, sin and forgiveness, Jesus dying for our sins, and believing. The other half (maybe less) puzzle over and have problems with this. Some have moved on to another understanding of Christian language. The differences are so sharp that they virtually produce two different religions, both using the same Bible and the same language.... Read this in full at
http://www.newsandpews.com/2011/03/an-excerpt-from-marcus-j-borgs-speaking-christian/


    
VERSE TO PONDER
"When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"
Psalm 118:5-6



    
CONSIDER
If God took time to create beauty, how can we be too busy to appreciate it?”
Randall B. Corbin



    
WHEN DOES A RELIGION BECOME A CULT?
by Mitch Horowitz
America has probably supplied the world with more new religions than any other nation. Since the first half of the 19th century, the country's atmosphere of religious experimentation has produced dozens of movements, from Mormonism to a wide range of nature-based practices grouped under the name Wicca.

By 1970 the religious scholar Jacob Needleman popularized the term "New Religious Movements" (NRM) to classify the new faiths, or variants of old ones, that were being embraced by the Woodstock generation. But how do we tell when a religious movement ceases to be novel or unusual and becomes a cult?

It's a question with a long history in this country. The controversy involving Hollywood writer-director Paul Haggis is only its most recent occurrence. Mr. Haggis left the Church of Scientology and has accused it of abusive practices, including demands that members disconnect from their families, which the church vigorously denies.... Read this in full at
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703529004576160363526909654.html?mod=wsj_share_twitter


    
WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN CHURCH
[We] should all be reminded that Jesus himself was consumed with zeal for God's house (John 2:17). Jesus was not apathetic, negligent, or complacent about the church of his day. And when he ascended to heaven, that same zeal continued to inform his love for his church, even to the point of discipline (see Rev. 2 - 3). Being fully engaged in the life of the church, furious about her shortcomings, and graciously working for her survival ... well, that's what it means to be like Christ. That's what it means to be zealous for the church -- to love her as Christ does.

But how does Jesus know that the local church won't become irrelevant ... overwhelmed by its own sin and failures? ... [Jesus] has promised that not even hell itself can overcome the church (Matt. 16:18). Despite the grand failures of the church over the centuries, the church represents God's future plans for his people.

Let's not forget that Jesus knows our needs better than we know ourselves ... We know, without a doubt, that we want a community of people who look like us, where we can be comfortable. We want a place where we see immediate, visible results, a group that the world thinks is cool and inoffensive, and a community where everyone follows our rules and agrees with our understanding of God. We want a place where we can avoid the ugliness of sin, a place where we are in charge and always get our way, a community that demands little of our precious time, money, and energy.

But what we really need is ... a place where we can be changed and transformed into the likeness of Christ, even if it is a painfully slow process ... We need a team of people committed to the whole mission of God ... even if it means we sometimes experience dysfunctional team dynamics. And we need a community where the greatness of our sin and failure only serves to magnify the wonder of God's mercy and his grace, where God's work in salvation is powerfully evident to the world, and where Christ is made visible to all.”
Jim Samra in The Gift of Church: How God Designed the Local Church to Meet Our Needs as Christians



    
SPIRIT-LED REVIVAL MOVEMENT SWEEPS BRAZIL
New figures released recently show Christianity is increasing in Brazil. If the trend continues, it is predicted that more than half of all Brazilians (109 million Christians out of 209 million citizens) will be evangelical Christians by 2020. So many Brazilians have already been born-again that they've influenced all areas of life, even helped lower the divorce and alcoholism rates.... Read this in full at
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2011/March/Spirit-Led-Revival-Movement-Sweeps-Brazil/


    
DO CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS WORSHIP THE SAME GOD?
by Miroslav Volf
Muslims and Christians can work together to depose dictators and assert the power of the people. We've seen it happen on the Tahrir Square in Cairo during the 2011 revolution in Egypt, with devout Muslims and Coptic Christians protesting side by side. But can Muslims and Christians work together to build a democratic society in which rights of all are respected, the rights of minority Coptic Christians no less than the rights of majority Muslims? They can, if they have a common set of fundamental values. But do they? They do, if they, both monotheists, have a common God.

Ever since 9/11, the most common question I am asked when I speak about these two religions is whether or not Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Muslims don't push the question. But Christians do, vigorously -- in Europe, Asia and Africa no less than in North America. Maybe that's not surprising. In the manual of the terrorists who flew the planes on a suicidal mission it read: "Remember, this is a battle for the sake of God." In the name of God and with expectations of glory in this world and rewards in the next, they killed themselves and thousands of innocent civilians. To many Christians it seems obvious that the God who spills the blood of the innocent and rewards suicidal missions with paradisiacal pleasures can't be the God they worship.... Read this in full at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miroslav-volf/god-versus-allah_b_829955.html


    
KINGDOM RACING ANNOUNCES MINISTRY OUTREACH PLANS FOR 2011
Kingdom Racing has announced its Fan Outreach lineup for 2011. Events in the planning stage include Indianapolis, Texas, New Hampshire, and Las Vegas. This will mark Kingdom Racing's fourth year and will combine several races and ministry outreach events.

These Outreach Festivals will take place during the IndyCar race weekends that will feature Kingdom Racing's race entrant. The team is once again partnering with national Christian Ministries and local Churches at each track. "Through these efforts, Kingdom Racing intends to reach thousands of people in 2011 with the good news of Jesus Christ" said spokesperson Richard Jackson. Kingdom Racing will also sponsor the Centennial 500 Breakfast to be held on Saturday May 28, 2011 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

About Kingdom Racing:
Kingdom Racing is an IndyCar race team with a unique mission: To Deliver God's Word through Motorsports. In May of 2008, Kingdom Racing made history as the first faith-vision team to ever compete in the 100 year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For more information visit http://www.kingdomracing.net.


    
CONSIDER
Faith is not a hothouse plant that must be shielded from wind and rain, so delicate that it has to be protected, but is like the sturdy oak which becomes stronger with every wind that blows upon it. An easy time weakens faith, while strong trials strengthen it.”
Katherine Workman



    
VERSE TO PONDER
Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy."
1 Peter 1:15-16



    
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: O COME AND MOURN WITH ME
Words: Frederick W. Faber, 1849
Music: John B. Dykes, 1861

O come and mourn with me awhile;
And tarry here the cross beside;
O come, together let us mourn;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

Have we no tears to shed for Him,
While soldiers scoff and foes deride?
Ah! look how patiently He hangs;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

How fast His hands and feet are nailed;
His blessed tongue with thirst is tied,
His failing eyes are blind with blood:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

His mother cannot reach His face;
She stands in helplessness beside;
Her heart is martyred with her Son’s:
Jesus, our Lord, is Crucified.

Seven times He spoke, seven words of love;
And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

Come, let us stand beneath the cross;
So may the blood from out His side
Fall gently on us drop by drop;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart love’s cradle is:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act Your strength is tried;
And victory remains with love;
For Thou our Lord, art crucified!

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/o/c/ocomamwm.htm


     ON PRAYER
"Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched."
Henri J.M. Nouwen



     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.

Amazing Fact Generator
http://www.mentalfloss.com/amazingfactgenerator/?p=1652

360-degrees of Paris
http://www.gillesvidal.com/blogpano/paris.htm

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.)


Growing old is mandatory, growing wise is optional.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
Rev.frank@gmail.com


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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!


The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, frank@frankcoleman.com if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
Path Of Life Ministries is located in Chicago, IL.
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