man to man to God
Jeremiah 17:7-8 CEB
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some”
USA LACKS NOTABLE CHRISTIAN LEADERS
A new Barna Group study illustrates that no single Christian leader captures the attention of the nation’s population. When asked to identify the single most influential Christian leader in the U.S. today, two out of every five Americans (41%) are unable to think of anyone who would meet that description.
Billy Graham is the name mentioned most often in response to the unaided survey question (a measure often described as “top-of-mind” awareness). One out of five Americans names the octogenarian evangelist, with 19% of adult residents identifying Mr. Graham as the nation’s most influential Christian leader.
Half as many adults (9%) believe “the Pope” or Pope Benedict to be the most significant Christian leader in the nation. Nearly the same proportion (8%) considers President Barack Obama to hold this prominent role.... Read this in full at
5 MYTHS ON WHY YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVE THE CHURCH
A revealing look at five myths and realities about young people that walk away from the church is in a study by a research company that provides resources for churches and non-profits.
The Barna Group recently concluded a five-year study comprised of eight national studies, which was done on teenagers and young adults between the ages of 18 to 29.
It found that nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect from church life, either permanently or for a long period of time after the age of 15. Those polled were active in a Christian church during their teen years.
The first myth researchers looked at through the study was the idea that “most people lose their faith when they leave high school.” David Kinnaman, who directed the research, concluded on the website: "The reality of the dropout problem is not about a huge exodus of young people from the Christian faith. In fact, it is about the various ways that young people become disconnected in their spiritual journey.” .... Read this in full at
“Where, then, does happiness lie? In forgetfulness, not indulgence, of the self. In escape from sensual appetites, not in their satisfaction. We live in a dark, self-enclosed prison, which is all we see or know if our glance is fixed ever downward. To lift it upward, becoming aware of the wide, luminous universe outside--this alone is happiness. At its highest level, such happiness is the ecstasy that mystics have inadequately described. At more humdrum levels, it is human love; the delights and beauties of our dear earth, its colors and shapes and sounds; the enchantment of understanding and laughing, and all other exercise of such faculties as we possess; the marvel of the meaning of everything, fitfully glimpsed, inadequately expounded, but ever present.”
Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), Jesus Rediscovered, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969, p. 159
TIM KELLER REFLECTS ON JOHN STOTT
“I re-examined my life as a result of John Stott....”
Here are five outcomes of John Stott’s life that should change our lives:
1. We need to be convicted by his kingdom vision.... See this video in full at
Also see John Stott Memorial Site
by Clare De Graaf
Why do you have the friends you do?
Have you ever analyzed that question? Most of us don’t plan our friends or friendships – they just happen. For me, a number of my friends I’ve had since high school or college. When Susan and I got married we looked for married friends with whom we had something in common. Then kids came along and we drifted toward friends with children. And, of course, we met some of our friends at our church and so we ended up with a mix of friends that reflected our spiritual values, our interests, our stage in life – people like us with whom we felt comfortable. And that was part of the problem.... Read this in full at
TIM TEBOW RESPONDS TO JAKE PLUMMER'S COMMENTS ON TEBOW’S FAITH
A day after former Broncos QB Jake Plummer said in a radio interview that he wished the man currently taking the snaps in Denver, Tim Tebow, would curb his references to Jesus Christ and his faith, Tebow responded.
Asked about Plummer's remarks in an interview on ESPN's First Take, Tebow said: "If you're married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife 'I love her' the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity?” .... Read this in full at
ARK. STATE COACH GARNERS WINS ON THE FIELD & POINTS PLAYERS TO CHRIST
At Andy's Frozen Custard in Jonesboro, Ark., an addition to the menu has been selling like hotcakes since it was introduced at an Arkansas State University power breakfast this summer.
Similar to a strawberry milkshake but with a lighter taste, the vanilla custard drink blends strawberry syrup and soda water. It has been named "Andy's Coach Freeze" in tribute to Hugh Freeze, who was introduced as Arkansas State University's 27th head football coach in December 2010.
Freeze also has his own shake at Arkansas State. As music sounds in the locker room after wins, Freeze shows players his moves with a spirited victory dance that has been caught on tape.
There has been a whole lot of shaking going on in Jonesboro this fall.
The Red Wolves, who started the season 1-2, have won eight straight and clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt Championship. They can win it outright with a win over Troy Dec. 3. At 9-2, they have clinched their first winning season since 1995 and will go to the GoDaddy.com Bowl -- their first bowl since 2005.... Read this in full at
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
PRISM magazine asked a handful of Jesus disciples to share their thoughts on the unique challenges men face and the high calling on men’s hearts.
Glenn Miles, director of Asia Prevention for Love146: “We need men who are appalled by the increasing amount of injustice in the world.” .... Read this in full at
A KEY INSIGHT INTO CHALLENGES AND MATURITY
“The apostle John celebrates the fact that we're all in differing stages of development [see 1 John 2:12-14]. The point isn't to dwell on how weak or immature we are currently; it's that we're all in process, and our goal is to become fully grown and mature persons.
“The apostle Peter said, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good" (1 Peter 2:2-3). The pure spiritual milk Peter refers to can only be attained through Scripture. Our heavenly Father loves us as we love our own children, and he longs for us to mature just as we desire growth and maturity for our own sons and daughters. He doesn't want us to stagnate; in fact, if we've entrusted our lives to his care, he won't allow it. It's not healthy for us. It would be profoundly unloving to allow us to remain weak and feeble.
“James provides a key insight about how God brings us to maturity. He writes, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’ (James 1:2-4). James's point is this: rather than allowing our troubles to overwhelm us, we can embrace whatever we're facing, knowing that we've not been abandoned, the challenge will not last forever, and it will inevitably bring about maturity in our lives.
“‘God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). Chaos loses its power to derail life when we can see it as more than just a problem or hardship to be overcome. When we have the clarity that God redeems everything for our good, circumstance fades into the background, and God takes his rightful place at the center of our lives. Everything we face in life can be (and is being) used to increase our strength, endurance, and trust in God. And everything is in the process of being redeemed and converted for our ultimate benefit.”
Brian Hardin in Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You
THE URGENT NEED FOR BIBLICAL LITERACY
by Ed Stetzer
I am a student and teacher of God's Word. I went to school -- a lot of school -- committed to studying things rooted in the Scriptures. I write books and articles; I lecture, preach and speak at conferences all around the world on the centrality of God's mission expressed in Bible.
For me, reading the Bible is essential to my spiritual growth. I make a habit of consistent and regular study in the Word of God -- not just for messages I preach on Sunday but to be changed by the Word of God. Every time I open the Word of God and teach at church I ask the Lord to speak through it. As believers, it is essential that we read, memorize, study, and meditate on the Word of God.... Read this in full at
POLLSTER PLUMBED STATE OF AMERICAN RELIGION
George Gallup Jr. helped run his father's public-opinion polling organization for half a century, and developed his own specialty in studying religion by the numbers.
Mr. Gallup, who died Nov. 21 at age 81, served for many years as corporate spokesman and with his brother Alec was co-chairman of the Gallup Poll.
"George had this unusual combination of training at his father's knee in polling, the scientific ascertainment of public opinions, and also a passion for religion," said Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief.... Read this in full at
OUR SECRET AFRICAN HERITAGE
by David Neff
This summer I read Thomas C. Oden's new book, The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition. Oden's tale centers on Alexandria, where the church produced both the early church's greatest defender of orthodoxy (Bishop Athanasius) and its most infamous heretic (Presbyter Arius).
Oden argues that we ought to take the Alexandrian church's tales of its own origins seriously, as seriously as I take my father's yellow scroll.
From various African sources, Oden reconstructs a church's memory of an African apostle, born in what is today Libya. Young John Mark's family migrated to Jerusalem, where he became one of Jesus' earliest followers and, significantly, the writer of the earliest Gospel. Mark's father was likely a cousin to Simon and Andrew, and their family home in Jerusalem became a focus of Christian activity. It was the place where the church prayed when Herod imprisoned Simon Peter. It was also likely the place where Jesus' core followers gathered to await Pentecost. John Mark became a key evangelist. His disappointing missions with Paul and Barnabas (another relative) are well known, but African Christians also remember his successful missions to his Libyan birthplace and then to Alexandria, the ancient seat of culture and learning in the region.... Read this in full at
IN 30 YEARS, THERE WILL BE NO CHRISTIANS LEFT IN THE MIDDLE EAST
by Anthony Shadid
Fear is a sentiment voiced often these days by Arab Christians, a sad refrain for an ancient community that was so long a force in politics and culture in the Arab world. These days, a community that still numbers in the millions — with the largest populations in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories — finds itself little more than a spectator to events reshaping a place it once helped create, and sometimes a victim of the violence that those events have unleashed. In all the narratives that the Arab revolts represent — dignity, democracy, rights, and social justice — many Christians hew to a far bleaker version of events: that their time may be running out.... Read this in full at
ETHNIC CLEANSING IN BURMA BEHIND TOKEN REFORMS
Whilst the West is lauding Burma for its reforms, these reforms are not about democracy but regime survival and advancing the regime's interests as anti-China sentiment inside Burma is soaring. Burma's duplicity is evident in that its war against the Christian Kachin people continues unabated. The regime appears intent on ethnically cleansing Kachin State where China wants to build a massive dam and hydro-power scheme. Some 30,000 Kachin are displaced, most without food, shelter or medical aid. The regime is imposing severe restrictions on Christianity in some Kachin towns. War and repression are escalating behind a smokescreen of token reforms from a Burman-Buddhist-supremacist regime operating from a position of increasing geo-strategic significance. The Christian Kachin need our prayers for God's intervention now more than ever.... Read this in full at
WHAT WILL TODAY BE?
I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight. I have responsibilities to fulfill today. I am important. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.
Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.
Today I can feel sad that I don't have more money or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.
Today I can grumble about my health or I can rejoice that I am alive.
Today I can lament over all that my parents didn't give me when I was growing up or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.
Today I can cry because roses have thorns or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.
Today I can mourn my lack of friends or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.
Today I can whine because I have to go to work or I can shout for joy because I have a job.
Today I can complain because I have to go to school or eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.
Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or I can feel honored because I've been provided shelter for my mind and body.
Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.
What today will be like is up to me.
I get to choose what kind of day I will have!
Have a GREAT DAY! (unless you have other plans...)
VERSE TO PONDER
“The LORD of heavenly forces proclaims: Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to each other!”
Zech 7:9 CEB
“We can thank God for everything good, and all the rest we don't comprehend yet.”
THE FALL TO FORGIVENESS: A ONCE-TAINTED WHITE HOUSE AIDE RESTORED BY CHRIST
In 2008, Tim Goeglein was at the pinnacle of success for a then 44-year-old politico. A journalism major who used his communications skills to fine tune the messages of members of Congress and eventually the president of the United States, he had indeed arrived until he began committing one of the biggest sins in public life – secretly using the work of other writers without attribution.
It is called plagiarism and in the world journalism and politics, it seems an unpardonable sin.
The fall was swift and painful. That’s because Goeglein not only was in the White House inner circle, he was the face of President George W. Bush when it came to dealing with evangelical leaders nationally. The event attracted the sharpest of criticism from gleeful enemies and the White House could not defend itself.... Read this in full at
CONGRESS GIVES USCIRF 'STAY OF EXECUTION'
The work of the congressionally approved watchdog for global religious liberty will continue for at least until mid-December.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives approved a spending bill Nov. 17 that includes funding for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the entire federal government through Dec. 16. Had Congress not acted in time, the federal government -- and USCIRF -- would have shut down at the end of the day Nov. 18.
It is the third time this fall Congress has approved a measure that keeps USCIRF operating temporarily. Legislators beat a Sept. 30 deadline by extending federal spending through Oct. 4. Then, the Senate and House passed a resolution to maintain funding through Nov. 18.... Read this in full at
EX-WRESTLER LEX LUGER TALKS OF NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
Lex Luger -- also known as "The Total Package" and "The Narcissist" -- gained worldwide fame as a pro wrestling champion. He stood at 6-feet 4-inches tall, weighed 265 pounds and had a 32-inch waist. His muscles were like polished steel and his perfectly sculptured body added to the wrestling mania that had gripped the nation. He frequently highlighted his muscular physique by posing in front of full-length mirrors before many of his matches. His wrestling persona was designed to thrill his fans. His accomplishments in the ring are legendary.
For the last five and a half years, he's also been a Christian, learning and growing more each day. God, he says, has helped him "get rid of the last remnant of that vanity and pride" that was the emblem of his ring persona.
Born in 1958, Luger played professional football in the Canadian Football League and the now-defunct United States Football League before beginning his wrestling career. He did not have the privilege of growing up in a Christian home. He never went to church, but grew up chasing fame in the WCW and WWE on a track that included drugs, alcohol and women.... Read this in full at
ONLY 46% OF CHILDREN GROW UP IN AN INTACT HOME, STUDY SAYS
Only 46% of children in the United States will reach age 17 having grown up in a home with biological parents who are married -- a figure that has a significant impact on the nation's graduation, poverty and teenage birth rates, according to a new report.
"We have never faced anything like this in human history," said the Family Research Council's Pat Fagan, one of the co-authors of the study.
Compiled by Fagan and psychologist Nicholas Zill and released by the Family Research Council's Marriage & Religion Research Institute, the data shows that:
-- The intact family rate is highest in the Northeast (49.6 percent) and lowest in the South (41.8)
-- Minnesota (57) and Utah (56.5) have the highest intact family rate among all 50 states, with Mississippi (34 percent) the lowest.
-- Asians (65.8) have the highest rate among ethnic and racial classes, blacks (16.7) the lowest.... Read this in full at
WHEN PRAYER IS PLUGGED INTO ITS POWER SUPPLY
“The greatest moments in life are the miraculous moments when human [powerlessness] and divine [power] intersect — and they intersect when we draw a circle around the impossible situations in our lives and invite God to intervene.
“One way or another, your small timid prayers or big audacious prayers will change the trajectory of your life and turn you into two totally different people. Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.
“Drawing prayer circles starts with discerning what God wants, what God wills. And until His sovereign will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from its power supply... Getting what you want isn't the goal; the goal is glorifying God by drawing circles around the promises, miracles, and dreams He wants for you.
“Now here's the good news: If you do pray, all bets are off. You can live with holy anticipation because you never know how or when or where God is going to answer, but I promise you this: He will answer. And His answers are not limited by your requests. We pray out of our ignorance, but God answers out of His omniscience. We pray out of our impotence, but God answers out of His omnipotence. God has the ability to answer the prayers we should have prayed but lacked the knowledge or ability to even ask.”
Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
FOR THE BURPO FAMILY, ‘HEAVEN IS FOR REAL’
by Mark Ellis
When doctors inexplicably missed four-year-old Colton Burpo’s burst appendix, and the resulting infection nearly took his life, his father railed at God as Colton’s life seemed to be slip away.
Pastor Todd Burpo found a small room in the hospital after Colton was taken into surgery, and he unloaded some raw emotions toward heaven. “Where are you God? Is this how you treat your pastors? Is it worth it to even serve you?” he shouted, as recounted in the New York Times bestseller “Heaven is for Real.”
After Colton’s surgery and a time in ICU, the fair-haired boy made a remarkable recovery. It wasn’t until four months later on a family car ride to South Dakota that Colton’s parents realized something very unusual happened to Colton as doctors fought to save his life.... Read this in full at
NEW PEW FORUM REPORT ANALYZES WASHINGTON'S RELIGIOUS ADVOCACY COMMUNITY
The number of organizations engaged in religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy in Washington, DC, has increased roughly fivefold in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today, according to a new study on religious advocacy groups released by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.
These groups collectively employ at least 1,000 people in the greater Washington area and spend at least $390 million a year on efforts to influence national public policy. As a whole, religious advocacy organizations work on about 300 policy issues. For most of the past century, religious advocacy groups in Washington focused mainly on domestic affairs. Today, however, roughly as many groups work only on international issues as work only on domestic issues, and nearly two-thirds of the groups work on both.
These are among the key findings of Lobbying for the Faithful: Religious Advocacy Groups in Washington, DC, which examines a total of 212 religion-related advocacy groups operating in the nation's capital.... Read this in full at
Full report at
HOW THE “BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC” CHANGED AMERICA — AND THE LIFE OF THE WOMAN WHO WROTE IT 150 YEARS AGO
On Nov. 18, 1861, Julia Ward Howe, a prominent Boston poet, attended a review of Union troops outside Washington, D.C. As her carriage made its way back to the city, inching along roads clogged with marching soldiers, Howe and her companions began singing some of the popular songs of the day, among them “John Brown’s Body,” an earthy Union marching tune. Together, the troops and the civilian spectators belted out the song’s rousing chorus: “Glory, glory hallelujah, his soul is marching on!” One of Howe’s traveling companions suggested that she write some more elevated lyrics for the tune. She replied that she had often thought of doing so, but that the words had not yet come to her.
That night, as she slept at the Willard Hotel, the city’s most distinguished accommodation, the words finally came. As Howe later recalled, “I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, ‘I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.’ ” She jumped out of bed, found an old stump of a pen nearby, and scrawled the verses on the back of a piece of stationery. Falling back to sleep with a drowsy sense of satisfaction, she thought to herself, “I like this better than most things that I have written.” .... Read this in full at
“Suddenly I heard the words of Christ and understood them, and life and death ceased to seem to me evil, and instead of despair I experienced happiness and the joy of life undisturbed by death.”
VERSE TO PONDER
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: THE ADVENT OF OUR GOD
Words: Charles Coffin, 1736; translated from Latin to English by John Chandler, 1837
Music: Samuel Wesley, 1837
The advent of our God
Our prayers must now employ,
And we must meet Him on His road
With hymns of holy joy.
The everlasting Son
Incarnate deigns to be;
Himself a servant’s form puts on
To set His people free.
Daughter of Zion, rise
To meet thy lowly King,
Nor let thy faithless heart despise
The peace He comes to bring.
As Judge, on clouds of light,
He soon will come again,
And all His scattered saints unite
With Him in Heaven to reign.
Before the dawning day
Let sin’s dark deeds be gone;
The old man all be put away,
The new man all put on.
All glory to the Son
Who comes to set us free,
With Father, Spirit, ever One,
Through all eternity.
>from NetHymnal at
“If the spiritual life be healthy, under the full power of the Holy Spirit, praying without ceasing will be natural.”
Andrew Murray (1828-1917), The Ministry of Intercession: a plea for more prayer, New York: Revell, 1898, p. 192
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).
[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.]
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(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.)
Stop telling God how big your storm is. Instead, tell your storm how big your God is.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
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, firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
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