man to man to God
Lamentations 3:22-24 Common English Bible (CEB)
“True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us mindful of the nobility God meant us to have. Yet it makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.”
Ralph W. Sockman
10 STEPS FOR MAINTAINING MORAL BOUNDARIES
by Marv Penner
Here are some practical steps you can take to guard your heart:
1. Acknowledge your vulnerability.
2. Maintain your fundamental spiritual disciplines.
3. Intentionally cultivate solid same-gender friendships.
4. Invest consistently in your own marriage and family.
5. Develop strong accountability around pornography, online activity and media consumption.... Read this in full at
by Clare De Graaf
I used to get caught flat-footed all the time whenever I saw men standing on street corners, or by the highway with “need work” signs. I’d instantly go through all kinds of emotions ranging from guilt, to asking the, “What am I supposed to do?” questions, and oddly enough, even getting angry at them for making me feel guilty! So, I’d stop for some and others I’d just avoid direct eye contact. Obviously, I couldn’t stop for all of them, but I was sure there had to be a better way than my hit-or-miss method.
I love the word intentional. It helps me draw a clearer distinction between a theoretical openness to follow Jesus and a carefully thought-out decision to obey. A family therapist once gave me this wise advice when I was reluctant to change something I was doing: “If nothing changes – nothing changes.” Meaning that, unless I have thoughtfully and prayerfully considered how I ought to live and act differently, I’m likely to make the very same mistakes again.
One of the best ways I know to overcome indecision and prepare myself to obey Jesus more biblically, spontaneously and intentionally, in addition to Scripture and prayer, is to make what a friend of mine calls a pre-decision. Simply put a pre-decision is a choice to formulate a specific plan of action for next time I’m faced with a temptation or an opportunity to do good, especially if I’ve failed in the past.
So, here are some pre-decisions I’ve made for, “men by the side of the road”, kinds of situations.... Read this in full at
LIFE IN CHRIST IS ALL ABOUT BREATHING
“Receiving and giving away is the basic motion of life. A constant in-and-out exchange animates both plant and animal life. Obviously, a failure to inhale is fatal, but so is a refusal to exhale. If the air we draw in is not released, carbon dioxide will build in our blood, the body's internal oxygen level will drop, and if we continue to hold our breath, brain damage and death will soon follow. Those who fill their lungs without releasing the air perish in the same way as those whose lungs are empty.
“Life in Christ is all about breathing. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Love as I have loved you. Do to others what you would have them do to you. Be humbled and you will be exalted. Give and you will receive. And in the Beatitudes, Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.’ The merciful alone see and receive God's mercy.”
Jeff Cook in Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes
ON MEXICO BORDER, CHURCHES COUNTER VIOLENCE WITH PRAYER
Testimonies from churches along the Mexican border highlight the need for ongoing prayer that God would curb Mexico's drug violence.
A 40-day, multi-denominational prayer effort in El Paso, Texas, for the neighboring Mexican city of Juarez was followed by a reduction in murders. But increased violence in July reminded participants to persist in their intercession.
"We continue to pray for Juarez," said Larry Wilkins, missions pastor at Cielo Vista Church, a Southern Baptist congregation that participated in the effort. "When we were going through the 40 days, there was much discussion from the pulpit and encouragement. We still have a prayer time in our services and will often lift up Juarez in our prayers." .... Read this in full at
A JOINT EFFORT
“Remember, the pursuit of holiness is a continuing struggle. Humanity still has the inclination to choose sin. The most saintly among us still want to do what's wrong and often do. This is why Paul, long after his conversion, writes, ‘For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?’ (Romans 7:22–24).
“To fight this spiritual battle, the first thing is to remember that we depend utterly on God; the Christian life is not about asserting our wills — our wills are corrupt even after we come to Christ. Our very love for God comes from God, and we only offer God's love back to Him. As Augustine writes, ‘Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us." So the struggle for holiness is a joint effort.’”
Charles W. Colson in The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters
TIM TEBOW TEAMS WITH CHILDREN'S HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Christian football star Tim Tebow is taking his ministry off the field and helping disabled children overseas.
Tebow made headlines Oct. 23 by leading the Denver Broncos in an 18-15 overtime upset over the Miami Dolphins in Florida. After thanking Jesus following the narrow victory, he announced Oct. 25 his Tim Tebow Foundation will partner with CURE International. The two children's health organizations will announce the specifics of an overseas hospital construction project next month.
"I am truly excited about this partnership with CURE International," Tebow said in a statement. "When I learned about what CURE does and how intentional the organization is about sharing the Gospel and healing children, I knew it would be a great partnership." .... Read this in full at
When Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world, he says clearly what he intends to say. He does not validate any worldly kingdom (even if the ruler be Christian). He puts us on guard against seeking any authority other than that of the Holy Spirit.”
Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), The Subversion of Christianity, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1986, p. 21
DOES JESUS KNOW WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT?
“Does Jesus know what he is talking about? Really? I mean, we are in the twenty-first century. Dallas Willard observes that ‘“Jesus is Lord” can mean little in practice for anyone who has to hesitate before saying, “Jesus is smart.” He is not just nice, he is brilliant. He is the smartest man who ever lived.’ In other words, Jesus has a PhD in everything — he is master of reality. He always has the best information about everything. He is the embodiment of the knowledge of God. Paul would later write that in Jesus Christ ‘are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3). Jesus possesses knowledge of reality, and his life, teaching, and example revealed in the Scriptures are a primary source for gaining spiritual and moral knowledge about the world in which we live. If anyone successfully navigated reality — lived according to knowledge — then Jesus of Nazareth certainly did.
“We are invited to be apprentices of Jesus — the God of the universe in human form! Jesus makes this invitation to everyone who will accept it: ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’ (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT). A yoke is a way of life. Jesus is offering his way of life to us. He passionately desires to teach us how to live this new life in the reality of the kingdom of God.
“So what is an apprentice? An apprentice, or Christ-follower, is someone in the process of learning how Jesus would live our lives if he were in our place. As apprentices, we are learning to live and respond as Jesus would if he were to face my unique circumstances, talents, gifts, job, relationships, opportunities, and challenges. This will undoubtedly be a rocky experience at first, but as we pursue this new kind of life, real change is possible.”
Jonathan Morrow in Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture
PLAIN-TALK BIBLE DEBUTS
The Common English Bible, the newest Bible on the block, is what the name suggests — a translation into commonly spoken English. It is not the first edition to move in that direction. But it's probably the first to use contractions so extensively — whether it's King David, Jesus, or Paul speaking. Except when announcing the Ten Commandments, even God says “don't” in giving Moses added prohibitions for the Israelites.
This new Bible is not as wordy as others — about 30,000 fewer words — apparently because of its use of contractions and its attention to sentence length, among other factors.
The Common English Bible was endorsed in April for use at the eight-campus Fuller Theological Seminary along with the New Revised Standard Version and TNIV (expected to be replaced by a new NIV edition). .... Read this in full at
THE ALTERNATIVE REALITY OF GOD'S KINGDOM
“Jesus' adult followers suffered from a chronic lack of imagination. Their minds were shackled by conventionality. When a storm threatened their safety on the sea they panicked. After calming the wind and waves with just a word, Jesus rebuked their lack of faith. Shortly after seeing Jesus feed four thousand people with just a few loaves and fish, the disciples started whining about not having any food for their journey. ‘Do you not yet perceive or understand?’ Jesus chided [in Mark 8:17-18]. ‘Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?’ And when they bickered about who would be greatest in God's kingdom, Jesus put a little boy before them and said, ‘Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest’ (Matthew 18:4).
“A child is precious in God's kingdom because her imagination has not yet fallen asleep. The culture's conventionality has not yet hijacked her ability to believe. To a child the world is still full of mystery and possibility. A word can calm a storm; a few fish and loaves can feed thousands; a touch can heal the blind. A child can readily imagine the alternative reality of God's kingdom that adults struggle to see.”
Skye Jethani in The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity
WOODY ALLEN AND EVANGELICALS: A SURPRISINGLY ROMANTIC PAIR
by Michelle Boorstein
Earlier this year I was sitting at a cafeteria lunch table with evangelical icon Chuck Colson and some of his close faith advisors when the conversation took a turn I hadn’t predicted: Colson started talking about Woody Allen. In detail.
It turned out Colson and some others at the table, who help him craft theological writings and classes, are hard-core fans of Allen, and were easily able to recite bits of dialogue. A debate launched about the religious subtexts of various Allen films and what were the moviemaker’s own theological conclusions.
It was only when my regular chats with Southern Baptist leader Richard Land began turning to Allen that I got curious — what’s the deal with evangelicals and Woody Allen?.... Read this in full at
WAS JESUS AN OBJECT OF CHILDHOOD BULLYING?
by Steven Harmon
Reflecting on Scripture, the fourth-century church father Gregory of Nyssa insists that in the Incarnation the Son of God embraced fully the human condition, including “the advance from infancy to adulthood,” and experienced from others the alienation and violence that mark humanity’s sinful condition.
Given recent media attention to the problem of childhood bullying and engaging in a little speculative theology, can we imagine that during his “advance from infancy to adulthood” Jesus may have encountered a bully?
The canonical gospels tell us precious little about those years of Jesus’ life, leaving imaginations ancient and modern to fill in the missing details. The portraits of the young Jesus yielded by such speculation often serve the theological and political agenda of those who paint them, but the room for imagination left by the biblical story of Jesus also invites us to locate our own experiences within his story.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“But I have sure faith that I will experience the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living! Hope in the LORD! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the LORD!”
Psalm 27:13-14 Common English Bible (CEB)
“Holiness does not consist in doing uncommon things, but in doing everything with purity of heart.”
Henry E. Manning
WATCH YOUR TONGUE
Have you spoken words in anger you'd give anything to take back? Do you clearly remember harsh words spoken to you years ago? Chuck Swindoll talks about the tongue. Watch the video at
LAY DOWN YOUR WEAPONS
“Our sinful condition requires regeneration, which in turn requires a knowledge of the gospel. We need to know the truth about Jesus because we need to be saved, and we need to be saved because we are sinners. People do possess large amounts of natural goodness, but none of it offsets the brokenness of original sin. We are born with a burning need to play God, and we remain his enemy until we lay down our weapons and proclaim with the church, ‘Jesus is Lord.’”
Michael E. Wittmer in Don't Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough
ACCLAIMED PASTOR AND WORSHIP LEADER JOIN FORCES TO BRING POPULAR SPEAKING TOPIC TO PRINT
by Michael Ireland
Unlike typical astronomy books, ‘Indescribable’ compels the reader not only to learn more about the universe, but also to marvel at its vastness, and as a result, worship its Creator.
Intertwined with scientific facts and inspirational insight, ‘Indescribable’ is a devotional book unlike any other.
You placed the stars in the sky
And you know them by name
You are amazing God!”
The words of this favorite song serve as a backdrop for the new book, ‘Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe,’ written by internationally acclaimed pastor Louie Giglio, and award-winning songwriter and author Matt Redman.
According to a media release, written with chapters alternating between the authors, Indescribable provides reflections and personal stories that oblige the reader to examine their own relationship with the Creator and acknowledge God’s miraculous handiwork.
The release says: “Full of facts and scientific knowledge, Indescribable focuses on the vastness of the universe. But, surprisingly, the recurring theme is that God not only created something of such grand size and scope, but that He knows each star -- and each reader -- by name. Indescribable leads the reader on a unique personal journey of understanding their place in God’s universe.” .... Read this in full at
OUR EDUCATIONAL STRENGTH
This is a list of comments from test papers, essays, etc., submitted to science and health teachers by elementary, junior high, high school, and college students. It is truly astonishing what weird science our young scholars can create under the pressures of time and grades. The spellings are the original ones.
1. H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water.
2. To collect fumes of sulphur, hold a deacon over a flame in a test tube.
3. When you smell an oderless gas, it is probably carbon monoxide.
4. Water is composed of two gins, Oxygin and Hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is water and gin.
5. A super saturated solution is one that holds more than it can hold.
6. Liter: A nest of young puppies.
7. Magnet: Something you find crawling all over a dead cat.
8. Momentum: What you give a person when they are going away.
9. Vacuum: A large, empty space where the pope lives.
10. The pistol of the flower is its only protection against insects.
11. A fossil is an extinct animal. The older it is, the more extinct it is.
12. To remove dust from the eye, pull the eye down over the nose.
13. For a nosebleed: Put the nose much lower that the heart until the heart stops.
14. For head colds: use an agonizer to spray the nose until it drops in your throat.
15. Germinate: To become a naturalized German.
16. The tides are a fight between the Earth and moon. All water tends towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.
17. Blood flows down one leg and up the other.
BONUS HUMOR :)
During a recent company password audit, it was found that a certain employee was using the password: MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofy. When asked why such a long password, the employee said he was told it had to be at least 8 characters long.
IN PROPORTION TO YOUR FAITH
“‘So, Do You Believe in the Devil?’ Faced with this question I feel the need to make a qualified ‘yes and no’ answer. Yes, I believe in the existence of the devil as an objective, intelligent and ‘quasi-personal’ power, utterly opposed to God, creation, ourselves, and life itself. But no, I do not ‘believe in the devil’ in any way that would concede to him power and authority beyond the limits God has set. The Bible calls us not so much to believe in the devil as to believe against the devil. We are to put all our faith in God through Christ and to exercise that faith against all that the devil is and does — whatever he may be.
“Nigel Wright makes this point very well: ‘To believe in somebody or something implies that we believe in their existence. But it also carries overtones of an investment of faith or trust. To believe in Jesus means, or should mean, more than believing in his existence. It involves personal trust and faith by virtue of which the power of Christ is magnified in the life of the believer. The access of Christ to an individual's life, his power or influence within them, is in proportion to their faith.’”
Christopher J. H. Wright in The God I Don't Understand
THE NEW YORK TIMES TAKES ON EVANGELICALS
by Albert Mohler
Evangelical Christians are not surprised to find themselves analyzed and criticized within the pages of the secular press. After all, the truth claims that characterize authentic evangelicalism are increasingly seen as unusual (and perhaps even dangerous) by the secular mind. Nevertheless, evangelical readers of The New York Times recently found themselves taken to task by writers presenting themselves as fellow evangelicals. Their essay reveals the central question that evangelicals must now answer: Do we really believe that the Bible is the Word of God?
In their opinion essay, Karl W. Giberson and Randall J. Stephens accuse evangelicals of “simplistic theology, cultural isolationism, and stubborn anti-intellectualism,” among other things. They point specifically to the rejection of evolution, which they call “the rejection of science,” and then refer to this as “textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious.”
At times, the writers use the words fundamentalist and evangelical almost interchangeably. Following a line of argument popular among secular observers of conservative Protestantism, they explain that fundamentalism “appeals to evangelicals who have become convinced that their country has been overrun by a vast secular conspiracy.” In other words, they explain evangelical conviction in terms of psychology, not theology. Evangelicals, they argue, “have been scarred by the elimination of prayer in schools; the removal of nativity scenes from public places; the increasing legitimacy of abortion and homosexuality; the persistence of pornography and drug abuse; and acceptance of other religions and of atheism.” .... Read this in full at
THE MESSY BUSINESS OF CLEAN WATER IN AFRICA
by Jeremy Weber in Bangui, Central African Republic
The men planned to meet in the desolate rainforest of Central Africa, amid towering 150-foot trees and swarms of small butterflies clustered like shark teeth on the seemingly endless red clay road. Their discussion would lead to clean drinking water for hundreds of destitute villages—and the fracturing of a tight-knit missionary community.
Driving east from Berberati, a town of 80,000 where diamonds can be found in nearby streambeds, was Roland Mararv. The former Iron Curtain Bible smuggler had traded the life of a Swedish Baptist missionary for that of a commercial well-driller—a better way, he believed, to help the Central African Republic (CAR) escape the ranks of the world's 10 poorest nations. After 20 years in business, Mararv was seeking a suitable buyer for his drilling company, Sangha Forage.
Having traveled originally west from Bangui, the landlocked nation's capital of 700,000 along the wide Ubangi River, was Jim Hocking. The longtime Grace Brethren missionary had been raised in the CAR and was looking for a way to pursue his empowerment dreams for Central Africans that his mission's emphasis on souls had been constraining.
Their 2003 meeting was a fateful one. What transpired over the next few years provides a window into how complicated it is to build clean wells in remote villages and let donors know exactly where and how wisely their money was spent.... Read this in full at
“Too often we forget that the great men of faith reached the heights they did only by going through the depths.”
VERSE TO PONDER
“I want to do your will, my God. Your Instruction is deep within me.”
Psalm 40:8 CEB
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: MORNING PRAYER
Words & Music: James Reed 1920
Thankful for the morning light,
Shining over earth and sea;
Thankful for the gift of sight
O Father, Lord, to Thee.
To Thee with all the heart I pray,
Now at the dawning of the day;
I know Thou hast me in Thy care,
And Thou wilt hear my prayer.
Thankful for the power to hear;
Thankful for the power to speak;
Lord, to Thee I bend my ear,
Thy holy face I seek,
To Thee my earliest thoughts are giv’n,
Like incense, may they rise to Heav’n;
And from Thee thence a blessing bear,
In answer to my prayer.
Thanks I give for strength and health,
Making all my pulses leap;
Greater boon than boundless wealth
Is waking out of sleep.
content and glad for each new day,
O father, Lord, to Thee I pray;
I pray to Heav’n for Thou art there;
And Thou art everywhere.
Greatest boon is heart of love;
May at length this heart be mine;
Lord, Thou sendest from above
Thy love and truth divine.
And they shall purge the willing soul
Of earthly ills, and make it whole;
For Thou didst come those ills to bear,
And canst not spurn my prayer.
>from NetHymnal at
“The greatest good and the most profitable gain come when we are up against a blank wall. Then we learn to pray in plain language.”
PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
DAILY BLESSING PACT
Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.
I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Estates & inheritances
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase
"And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deut. 28:2).
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A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
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