man to man to God
1 Peter 2:15-16
“Arm yourself like a man against the devil's assaults. Curb your appetite and you will more easily curb every inclination of the flesh. Never be completely unoccupied, but read or write or pray or meditate or do something for the common good.”
Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ , Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, I.xix.5, p. 57-58
BETHLEHEM'S NATIVITY CHURCH TO GET OVERDUE REPAIRS
The ancient Church of the Nativity, built over the cave that is traditionally seen as the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem will finally get the long overdue repairs that have thus far been hindered by a longtime denominational rivalry over the structure’s ownership.
Even as the three denominations – Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox, having the joint control over the 1,500-year-old church – have not been able to move forward with renovations, the government has taken the lead, Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes said.
“Our president has issued a decree to restore the roof and to prepare for the restoration of the church on behalf of the three churches and in coordination with the three churches, which obviously cannot do it on their own,” the minister said.... Read this in full at
BETHLEHEM GETS INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
by Beata M. Andonia of www.Travelujah.com
Each year, as we approach the joyful atmosphere of the Christmas season, hearing and singing the Christmas carols being played on the radio, in the malls and throughout the stores, we can't help but think of Bethlehem - the place of Jesus' birth. But ... this year, don't just think of Bethlehem - BE in Bethlehem! Is there anything better than spending the Christmas season where Christ was born? .... Read this in full at
GOD IS STARTING TO SHOW
by Donna Schaper
God is starting to show.
Usually an upcoming birth doesn't start to show till the end of the first trimester. Before that, the life in us is so small that it creates no bulges. Many women can wear their regular clothes and get their regular sleep, give or take a few gastrointestinal disturbances.
Then comes the bulge, the ballooning, the sense of no longer being one's own person, the sense that something important is happening within us. We find people staring at our bellies. The bulge has locked into place; it is attaching itself firmly to us.... Read this in full at
THOSE CLOSE TO TIM TEBOW SAY HE'S THE REAL DEAL
By now, everybody knows Tim Tebow, the quirky quarterback. Hardworking work in progress, imperfect passer getting by on more will than skill, bigger on moxie than mechanics.
Then there's Tim Tebow, the person. Popular and polarizing, more like a politician than NFL player. Galvanizes backers and backbiters alike. People love him or loathe him.
There he is on TV, professing his faith and talking about how he was more excited to build a children's hospital in the Philippines than he was in leading the Denver Broncos to an improbable last-minute win over the New York Jets.... Read this in full at
KURT WARNER TO TIM TEBOW: LET YOUR ACTIONS BE YOUR WORDS
Take a knee in victory, and the masses cheer. Take a knee in prayer - as Tim Tebow often does on a football field - and it's another story.
If the Broncos quarterback could see into the future, he'd be wise to tone down the religious rhetoric just a notch.
"You can't help but cheer for a guy like that," former NFL star Kurt Warner said. "But I'd tell him, 'Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you're living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.'
"I know what he's going through, and I know what he wants to accomplish, but I don't want anybody to become calloused toward Tim because they don't understand him, or are not fully aware of who he is. And you're starting to see that a little bit." .... Read this in full at
EVANGELICALS LEADING THE WAY TO ABOLISH HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Churches across Canada are hearing the echoes of Scripture as they respond to human trafficking.
"Awareness of human trafficking is increasing across the board," says Julia Beazley, policy analyst for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). "This is an issue the Christian community is really taking up. Increasingly, I'm hearing of denominational initiatives, local church networks and individual involvement."
Winnipeg MP Joy Smith introduced her bill to combat human trafficking in the House of Commons in October.
"Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for sexual exploitation or forced labour or other forms of slavery," she told fellow MPs. "Human trafficking is nothing short of modern day slavery." .... Read this in full at
THE ONE ESSENTIAL HABIT OF EVERY EFFECTIVE LEADER
by Jeff Goins
I once heard Dave Ramsey share the secret to his effective leadership and decision-making strategy: ”I make a decision, and if it’s the wrong one, I make another one.”
At the time, Dave knew something about leadership that I was just beginning to learn: Great leaders are effective, not because they know all the answers, but because they have the tenacity to act. Leadership, as it turns out, is really the act of making intentional decisions and accepting responsibility for them.... Read this in full at
GEORGE GALLUP JR: THE POLLSTER SAINT
by Timothy Jones
George Gallup Jr.’s family name was to opinion polls what iPod is to mp3 players. Gallup died recently at age 81, and merited obituaries in both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. George Jr., as he was known professionally, was noted not only for his careful work in polling, but also for expanding and applying that methodology to the study of American religion.
For readers of newspapers and political blogs, he owned one of the most recognizable names in America. But there was more to him than the research firm that so captured the attention of pundits and politicians.
Through my years as a Christianity Today editor, I got to know the person behind the public opinion polling. I saw not only his fascination with cultural currents, but also his even deeper running love of the historic Christian faith.... Read this in full at
by Clare De Graaf
Have you ever had, or wanted a spiritual mentor?
When I came to faith at age 31 I knew I needed a spiritual mentor – someone to disciple me. I had attended a good church all my life, went to Christian schools, and had great parents, so I knew a lot about God and the Bible. But up to that point, I’d managed to compartmentalize my life. There was the biblical information I learned in church on Sunday, and the other life I actually lived Monday through Saturday.
I was clueless about how people who were serious about following Jesus went about doing that in real life. What did they talk about on the golf course, when they went to lunch, or on the job? How did they share the good news of Jesus with others in a way that was natural and winsome? How did they treat their wives, make business and personal decisions? How did they pray, when did they pray, and for how long? I had a million questions.
I was going to a Bible study weekly and it was incredibly helpful, but I knew I needed something more – a coach, a teacher – a mentor. It’s like this; when I decided to take up golf, I got a golf pro to teach me. He not only demonstrated how to properly hold a club, hit a ball out of the sand, but how to keep from getting into the sand in the first place – and a hundred other things I needed to enjoy the game. I learned because he played along with me. I watched him and he watched me and gave me the confidence I needed to play the game better. I knew I needed similar lessons about living out the Christian life.
But how do you even go about finding a spiritual mentor?.... Read this in full at
RELIGIOUS BOOKS: COMING IN FROM THE FRINGE
The religious book industry — 98% of which is made of Christian titles...has seen a transformation over the past decade from large obscurity to mainstream prevalence.
Christian books once available only at independent-niche Christian bookshops...are now sold online and in mainstream stores everywhere. As recognition of the popularity of Christian books has grown, with some titles holding a steady spot on the nation's best-seller lists, Christian publishing companies and their audience have grown, too, expanding globally and into the electronic marketplace. Now the formerly fringe products have a home in mainstream popularity.
A 2005 Baylor University study shows 11% of Americans spend $50 or more a month on religious products, including non-book items.
Nielsen BookScan, which provides information for The Wall Street Journal’s best-seller list, tracks 75% of book sales in America from traditional retailers, independent bookstores, and Amazon.com — but the company only tracks 50% of sales from Christian bookstores, specifically. That should change with the addition of key Christian retailers and Walmart in 2012, says Jonathan Stolper, vice president and general manager of Nielsen BookScan.
“It’s certainly conceivable that those Wall Street Journal charts will change dramatically,” Stolper says. “I think the Wall Street Journal will see some Christian books pop up on there when we complete the panel.” .... Read this in full at
EVANGELICALS TAKE STAND ON TRINITY
A group of 73 evangelicals and counting have joined together in a shared declaration stating that when it comes to the three persons of God, it's one-for-all and all-for one.
Titled "An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity," the document was posted in early November on http://www.TrinityStatement.com and affirms that God is one being comprised of three aspects that are co-equal and co-eternal. It was a necessary move, signees say, given the lingering debate over Trinity doctrine in the Christian community.
"This is the central tradition of Christianity," said William David Spencer, the declaration's writer. "Historically, Christianity is monotheistic. Because of this, we have to deal with the fact God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit all appear in the Bible. The question then is how we understand it." .... Read this in full at
5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR AS YOU SHOP FOR A BIBLE
by David Smith
When I say “a Bible,” I mean your go-to Bible. With that in view, let me suggest five factors you need to consider as you choose a new bread-and-butter English Bible.
1. Your primary Bible should be the product of a committee. There are some fine one-person translations and paraphrases on the market. I enjoy N.T. Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament and Eugene Peterson’s The Message. Such renderings have their place. However, no one person can begin to equal the knowledge and skills of a team of linguists, translators, etc. “Two heads are better than one.” And for an everyday Bible that will be the one from which you do most of your study, you’ll want to be surrounded by all the wise counsel possible.... Read this in full at
THANKFULNESS, A.K.A. SAYING YES TO GOD'S GRACE
“I think I know this [story]. Jesus restores ten lepers to wholeness. And only one returns to offer any thanks. I remember the moral too, Mrs. Morrison and her glossy red lipstick: "How often do you remember to say thanks?" Yes, I think I know this one. I skim.
“‘One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan’ (Luke 17:15–16 NIV). Yes, thankfulness, I know. Next verse.
“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’ (Luke 17:17–19 NIV)
“Wait. I trace back. Hadn't Jesus already completely healed him? Exactly like the other nine who were cured who hadn’t bothered to return and thank Him. So what does Jesus mean, ‘Your faith has made you well’? Had I under-interpreted this passage, missed some hidden mystery? I slow down and dig. I read Jesus' words in Young's Literal Translation, ‘And [ Jesus] said to him, “Having risen, be going on, thy faith has saved thee.”’ Saved thee? I dig deeper. It's sozo in the Greek. Many translations render sozo as being made ‘well’ or ‘whole,’ but its literal meaning, I read it — ‘to save.’ Sozo means salvation. It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. Jesus came that we might live life to the full; He came to give us sozo. And when did the leper receive sozo — the saving to the full, whole life? When he returned and gave thanks. I lay down my pen. Our very saving is associated with our gratitude.
“I look back to the text. That is what it says: ‘Thy faith has saved thee.’ And the leper's faith was a faith that said thank you. Is that it? Jesus counts thanksgiving as integral in a faith that saves. We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace. Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.”
Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
CHRISTIAN GROUPS FINDING HOSTILITY AT COLLEGES
Four Christian groups at Vanderbilt University soon could be kicked off campus as school administrators quietly adopt a policy that prohibits student organizations from holding members or leaders to any standard of belief or behavior.
Representatives from Christian Legal Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Graduate Christian Fellowship, and Beta Upsilon Chi are negotiating with school officials in hopes of persuading them to reverse their decision. But Jim Lundgren, director of collegiate ministries for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said they are preparing for the likelihood of becoming "third-class citizens" at Vanderbilt: "We all see the handwriting on the wall."
What's happening at Vanderbilt is part of a national trend. Last year, only two InterVarsity chapters faced challenges from university administrators over the groups' right to pick leaders, or remove them, based on their beliefs. This year, 15 chapters have run afoul of school nondiscrimination policies.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
“Everything that happens to me can help me along in my Christian life.”
E. Stanley Jones
MAKERS OF YOUVERSION PLAN TO ENGAGE BIBLE-READING COMMUNITY
With more than 25,000 users per minute of every day opening up their YouVersion Bible app on their mobile devices, it’s hard to imagine an online community more engaged.
However, a more socially connected group of online Scripture-reading fans is exactly what the app’s co-founders said they want, during a live webcast (http://blog.youversion.com/2011/12/recap-nov-30-youversion-webcast/) at YouVersion.com Nov. 30.
As “#YouVersion” trended worldwide on Twitter during the webcast, LifeChurch.tv pastors and YouVersion co-founders Bobby Gruenewald and Terry Storch released some astounding statistics.
YouVersion, which began exclusively as an online Bible in September of 2007, is installed as a new application on 52 mobile devices per minute. The number of installations translates to nearly one a second and more than 2 million per month.... Read this in full at
CHRISTIAN COLLEGES HURTING FOR STUDENTS
Economic troubles and a decline in the number of Christian youth have led some Christian colleges to close and others to drop "Bible" from their Bible College name or lower tuition rates to try to broaden their appeal.
There are around a thousand small, private faith-based institutions in the US, which have an average enrollment of 1,900 students, and while the economy is affecting most schools of this size, religious schools are finding themselves in the toughest spot. By keeping tuition as low as possible, often by reducing financial aid, these schools are taking potential hits to profit as they try to keep enrollment up, said John Nelson of credit rating agency Moody's.
The most pressing issue, though, seems to be the fact that religious membership has been on the decline in recent years, especially among young people. The percentage of Americans who identified as Christians fell from 86% in 1990 to 76% in 2008.... Read this in full at
'ARAB SPRING' MEANS 'CHRISTIAN WINTER' FOR MILLIONS OF PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS
Millions of Christians in the Middle East and Africa are enduring what some are calling a "Christian Winter" in the midst of the "Arab Spring," a movement of political unrest that has given way to Muslim domination and rising hostility against Christians, according to Christian Freedom International (CFI).
Secular regimes are being replaced with Islamic states that have instituted sharia (Islamic) law, which is enforced on citizens of all religions. For the small Christian minorities, it has resulted in increased persecution, discrimination, violence and even death.
"The Arab Spring is truly a Christian winter for these persecuted people," said Robert Sweet of CFI, adding that there was a concerning lack of action on the part of Western Christians to assist and speak out for their Middle Eastern counterparts.... Read this in full at
HUGE OPPORTUNITY TO ADVOCATE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
The 2012 presidential elections provide an incredible opportunity to advocate for persecuted Christians and people of all faiths worldwide.
Open Doors USA has partnered with professor Tom Farr of Georgetown University, an International Religious Freedom (IRF) expert, to produce and promote the Presidential Pledge for Religious Freedom.
Open Doors USA is presenting the pledge to presidential candidates –including Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and independent – asking each of them to sign it. Former Senator Rick Santorum is the first candidate to sign the pledge.
A candidate’s signature indicates that he or she commits to upholding religious freedom for people of all faiths in America, nominating US federal judges who are committed to upholding religious freedom as defined in the pledge and prioritizing religious freedom concerns in U.S. foreign policy. The complete pledge can be accessed at http://www.pledgeforreligiousfreedom.com.... Read this in full at
“No clocks keep time tomorrow. Springs push and hands point now. Now is the appointed time for clocks as well as people. God never helped anyone tomorrow. He is a very present help. What is eternity, but God's now? Let us then live the eternal life with God now.”
Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901), Thoughts for Every-day Living, New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1901, p. 44-45
THE PRAYER EXPERIMENT
“On January 30, 1930, Frank Laubach began a prayer experiment he called "the game with minutes." He was dissatisfied with his intimacy with God. [He wondered,] ‘Can we have contact with God all the time?’ He chose to make the rest of his life an experiment in answering this question.
“[Laubach] rebuilt his prayer life from the ground up. We must do the same. Prayer isn't something we do with our eyes closed; we pray with our eyes wide-open. Prayer isn't a sentence that begins with ‘Dear Jesus’ and ends with ‘Amen.’ In fact, the best prayer doesn't even involve words at all; the best prayer is a life well lived. All of life is meant to be a prayer, just as all of life is meant to be an act of worship.
“Laubach described [his prayer experiment,] ‘the game with minutes’ in these terms: We try to call Him to mind at least one second of each minute. We do not need to forget other things nor stop our work, but we invite Him to share everything we do or say or think. Hundreds of us have experimented until we have found ways to let Him share every minute of our waking hours.
“A prayer experiment like this can turn a commute or walk or workout or meeting into a meaningful spiritual discipline. It's a great way to pull the trigger on 1 Timothy 2:1: ‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.’
“What if we converted every problem, every opportunity, into a prayer?”
Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
ONCE UPON A TIME: A QUIZ (PART 1)
by David Buckna
Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever calls the new fairy tale drama"Once Upon a Time"--which premiered October 23, 2011 on ABC and CTV--"the fall TV season's most charming and elegant surprise."
In the Pilot episode, 10-year-old Henry travels to Boston and tracks down his birth mother, bail bondsperson Emma Swan, and tells her he's the son she gave up for adoption. If this news wasn't shocking enough, he also tells Emma that fairy tale characters actually exist, and an Evil Queen's curse has trapped them all in the town of Storybrooke, but they don't remember who they are. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCDDwx1Njn0)
"Once upon a time"--those words take us back to an enchanted past, not so much to escape reality but rather to enter a world of perils and possibilities. Fairy tale figures are always seeking redemption, often in worldly terms, but this time there is far more at stake, not just for the inhabitants of Storybrooke. Untainted by evil, Henry, the innocent yet knowing child, joins forces with his mother Emma whose wicked rival runs the town and has deprived it of its soul. Emma herself was once an innocent child, the victim of the worst curse imaginable in a fairy tale world, and she becomes a savior who must find a collective pathway to "happily ever after." --Maria Tatar, Chair of the Program in Folklore and Mythology, Harvard University
"Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened..." --C.S. Lewis (letter to Arthur Greeves, 1931)
As Season One runs for 22 episodes, test your knowledge of some of the biblical connections to the show with this 22 question quiz. (Episodes 1 and 2).... Read this in full at
CHARITABLE GIVING UP SLIGHTLY BUT STILL AILING
Charitable giving is trickling back up as the economy heals, but it could take years to return to pre-recession levels, nonprofit leaders say.
Giving totaled $291 billion in 2010, according to the 2011 annual report by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. That’s up 3.8% from 2009 and follows two consecutive years of declines.... Read this in full at
SHOULD PHILANTHROPIES OPERATE LIKE BUSINESSES?
It's your money, and you're willing to give some of it away to a worthy cause. But you want to see results. Measurable progress toward agreed-upon goals. Regular proof that your investment is achieving maximum impact. That's the way businesses operate, and charities should be no different. That's one way to look at it, anyway.
Others argue that things work differently in the world of nonprofits and social change. Tackling some of society's biggest problems is unlikely to produce anything like the steady, chartable path of progress that investors require. And that's simply something donors have to live with if they want to help those most in need.
So what should you expect of your charities? Businesslike efficiency? Or something more intangible, less-easily defined? .... Read this in full at
CHURCHES NOT CANCELING WORSHIP ON CHRISTMAS SUNDAY; WILL PEOPLE SHOW UP?
There could be plenty of space in church pews on Christmas Day which falls on a Sunday this year, while many Americans will be putting top priority on opening gifts and family time.
Even though nine out of 10 pastors plan to host Christmas Day services this year, that doesn’t mean their church members will be filling up the scheduled times of worship, leaders of the faith-based LifeWay Research organization said.
A recent LifeWay Research study of 1,000 Protestant pastors shows that 91% of Protestant pastors plan to have services on Christmas Day while 69% said they plan to host Christmas Eve services.
However, pastors may be fighting an uphill battle in filling seats this year though churches usually see one of their highest attendances during Christmas.... Read this in full at
“We cannot resist the conviction that this world is for us only the porch of another and more magnificent temple of the Creator's majesty.”
Frederick William Faber
VERSE TO PONDER
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:1-2, 14
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: ADVENT GLORY
Words & Music: J. Harker (1880-?)
The day is fast approaching when the Savior shall appear,
And every eye His glory shall behold;
The tokens of His coming fill the loyal heart with cheer
Though strife abounds and love is waxing cold.
We’ll see Him as He is,
And the brightness of His glory we shall share;
We’ll see Him as He is,
And the likeness of His image we shall bear.
In all His Father’s glory, clothed in majesty unveiled,
With myriads of the shining angel band,
The King descends triumphant in Whose might we have prevailed,
And all the ransomed rise at His command.
Oh, may we all as sons of light be watching unto prayer,
For surely our redemption draweth nigh;
With holy zeal and patient faith, let every soul prepare
To join the advent chorus in the sky.
>from NetHymnal at
“Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we are aware of.”
Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, New York, Revell, 1895, 7th letter, p. 34
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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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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