Connecting man to man to God
For week of December 25, 2011
Issue 388

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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“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Psalm 103:1-2

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weakness, the loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you? Then you can keep Christmas. And if you can keep it for a day, why not always? But you can never keep it alone.”
Henry Van Dyke

Christians are by far the largest religious group on the planet, and the religion has gone truly global over the past century, according to a new report (, which finds some of the world's biggest Christian communities in surprising places.

Europe was the clear center of world Christianity one hundred years ago, but today the Americas are home to more than a third of all Christians. In fact, the United States has the world's largest Christian population, of more than 247 million, followed by Brazil, and Mexico.

China also appears on the list of top 10 largest Christian populations - with an estimated 67 million Christians, it has more followers of the faith than any western European country.... Read this in full at

See the interactive maps

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), in a letter, November 21, 1943, A Testament to Freedom: the essential writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly, F. Burton Nelson, eds., HarperCollins, 1995, p. 490

The National Association of Evangelicals released a document Dec. 14 about changes to the environment and how they affect the poor.

The 56-page discussion paper, “Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment,” explores why evangelicals should consider environmental change, what science says about climate change and how changes in the environment worsen the effects of poverty. Finally, lead author Dorothy Boorse of Gordon College discusses “what our role as evangelicals should be and what, if anything, we can do to turn the tide for the sake of the poor.”

“While others debate the science and politics of climate change, my thoughts go to the poor people who are neither scientists nor politicians,” NAE President Leith Anderson said in the preface. “They will never study carbon dioxide in the air or acidification of the ocean. But they will suffer from dry wells in the Sahel of Africa and floods along the coasts of Bangladesh. Their crops will fail while our supermarkets are full. They will suffer while we study.” .... Read this in full at

“Christmas, the great feast of the incarnation, is about a baby [see Luke 2:8-18]. And it's not about a baby. It's about the great story of God's love as it stretched across the centuries toward its climax in the life of the child Jesus [who is ‘Savior ... Messiah, the Lord’]. No wonder Simeon held the boy in his arms when his parents brought him to the temple, speaking these words to Mary: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed’ (Luke 2:34-35).

“Even as a child, Jesus created turbulence in the world. His mere existence demanded a response. Either love him or hate him, accept his message or try to quash it. Why then should we be surprised when we encounter opposition because of our faith? If we bear the image of Christ within us, we will certainly cause offense to some. But many others will welcome the Jesus they see in us. Pray today that Christ will shine more brightly in your heart and in every heart that belongs to him because God wants to reveal his Son to a world that is dying to know him.”
Ann Spangler in Immanuel: A Daily Guide to Reclaiming the True Meaning of Christmas

by Charles and Charlene Van den Akker
The Christmas season has also been called the "Season of Love." But this nickname for the celebration of Christ's birth demonstrates a misunderstanding of love.

"What is love?" is probably the most-asked question of poetry, song, books and movies. Some conclude that there's no answer. Others only express frustration with loveless lives.

Google the question, and you'll find a catchy song by popular musician Haddaway whose lyrics follow "What is love?" with "Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me no more!" And like this song, most of the world's answers to "What is love?" equate love with romance.... Read this in full at

“Little things come daily, hourly, within our reach, and they are not less calculated to set forward our growth in holiness, than are the greater occasions which occur but rarely;--in some ways we may turn them to more profit, inasmuch as they do not war against humility, or tend to feed self-conceit. Moreover, fidelity in trifles, and an earnest seeking to please God in little matters, is a test of real devotion and love... Let your aim be to please our dear Lord perfectly in little things, and to attain a spirit of childlike simplicity and dependence.”
Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803), The Hidden Life of the Soul, London: Rivingtons, 1870, p. 2-3

by Clare De Graaf
Last week I tried to make the case for the importance of choosing the right men or women to be your accountability partners. This week let’s talk about how these groups actually work in real life. Here’s where I’d suggest you begin.

Set some dates for the first few meetings and make it clear that at this stage no one is agreeing to be an accountability partner yet, but you want to meet for a few weeks to get to know each other better and discuss everyone’s expectations.... Read this in full at

The completion of the new Common English Bible translation is among the top 10 religion stories of 2011 as decided by leading religion journalists in the 30th annual Religion Newswriters Association survey.

The Common English Bible (Twitter @CommonEngBible) is newsworthy for several reasons:

* Its objective: the Common English Bible uses a natural English vocabulary to clearly and freshly communicate the ancient sacred text in a world where 9,000 new words & meaning revisions are added yearly to the English lexicon.

* Its speed: the Common English Bible took only four years to accomplish -- a phenomenal feat when compared with other recent modern English Bible translations that took 10-17 years to complete.... Read this in full at

Here are the Huffington Post Religion Top Stories of 2011:

The Muslim Spring
It started with a simple vegetable seller in Tunisia who, humiliated by the police and autocracy, set himself on fire at the end of 2010. One year later, the seemingly eternal regimes of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have fallen to popular uprisings and several others, including Syria, appear to be teetering. Once called the Arab Spring, Islam is increasingly being recognized as the fuel that fed the fire of these revolutions -- a fire that that may both warm and burn in 2012.... Read this in full at

by Kevin Eckstrom
(RNS) 2011 was supposed to be the year the world ended. Twice.

But after evangelist Harold Camping’s doomsday predictions failed to materialize, all eyes are now on 2012 when, according to an ancient Mayan calendar, we need to once again prepare for the end of the world as we know it.

Jesus was pretty clear: the wars and rumors of wars, the earthquakes and uprisings, are just the beginning of the end. Indeed, 2011 had enough tumult, anxiety and unrest to make people think maybe the end is nigh after all.

For the Arab world, the Arab Spring upended longstanding regimes in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and could do the same in Syria and Yemen. A magnitude 9.0 earthquake left more than 21,000 dead or injured in Japan and literally tipped the earth off its axis, while a smaller Aug. 23 quake along the East Coast sent finials and angels tumbling from atop Washington National Cathedral.

Frustrated demonstrators occupied Wall Street, and a damning sexual abuse scandal ricocheted through the Roman Catholic Church and Penn State’s football program. To top it all off, the Crystal Cathedral went belly-up.... Read this in full at


The world may still have gold and myrrh, but it's quite possible that frankincense could become a thing of the past, given ecological pressures on the arid lands where it grows in Ethiopia.

The storied resin, known to millions as one of the three gifts of the Magi, the wise men who visited Jesus after his birth, is made from gum produced by the boswellia papyrifera tree. Its "bitter perfume" is used as incense in religious rituals in many cultures, as well as an ingredient in perfume and Chinese traditional medicine.... Read this in full at

by George Weigel
The title of Father Edward Oakes’ new book, Infinity Dwindled to Infancy, nicely captures the imaginative challenge posed at Christmas: the mystery of the infinite God become finite man. In truth, however, the challenge to our imaginations has less to do with the how of what the Divine Office calls this admirabile commercium [marvelous exchange] than with the why.

Posit an all-powerful and infinite God, and most of us wouldn’t have too much trouble with the idea that such a God could do anything, including coming into the finite world he created. The real question is why such a God would want to do such a thing: to submit his divinity to the limits of our humanity, to dwindle into infancy and then to go farther—to die as a tortured criminal at the hands of his own creatures. Here is the “scandal” of Christianity. For the answer faith gives to the question of why is salvific love: a love so great that it required, not an argument, but a demonstration.... Read this in full at

by Douglas Wilson
Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62. A statement from Vanity Fair said that he died Dec. 15 at cancer center in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer. Christianity Today magazine asked Douglas Wilson to weigh in on the life and death of the prominent atheist:

Christopher Hitchens was a celebrity intellectual, and, as such, the basic outlines of his life are generally well known. But for those just joining us, Christopher Hitchens was the older of two sons, born to Eric and Yvonne in April 1949. He discovered as a schoolboy that probing questions about the veracity of the Christian faith were part of a discussion that he "liked having." His younger brother, Peter, followed him in unbelief. But unlike Christopher, Peter publicly returned to the Church of England, the communion where they had both been baptized.

Christopher spent some time in the 1960s as a radical leftist, but of course that was what everybody was doing back then. Somehow Christopher managed to do this and march to a different drummer, doing his radical stint as part of a post–Trotskyite Luxemburgist sect. He graduated from Balliol at Oxford, and soon became established as a writer, the vocation of his life, one in which he excelled. As a writer and thinker, he was greatly influenced by (and wrote about) men like George Orwell and Thomas Jefferson, while as the same time reserving the right to attack any sacred cow of his choosing—and the more sacred, the better. He is widely known for his scathing attack on Mother Teresa, and when Jerry Falwell passed away, he spent a good deal of time on television chortling about it.... Read this in full at

by Mark Ellis
As Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Bebow led his team to another improbable come-from-behind win against Chicago, not many realized he wore a microphone throughout the game that recorded a rare glimpse of his unusual faith.

Before the start of the game, he knelt on the sidelines in his trademark pose and uttered this prayer: "Lord, put a wall of protection around me and my teammates today. When we go out there let us honor you with everything we do and say. I love you. In Jesus name, amen."

As he warmed up on the sidelines, Tebow sang: "Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, with wisdom."

Throughout the game, Tebow was heard encouraging his teammates to "keep believing" even as they fell behind for the first three quarters with less than stellar play. Tebow was even heard encouraging players on the opposing team. He told Chicago outside linebacker Lance Briggs, "I've been looking forward to playing you for a long time.I love watching you brother." .... Read this in full at

A married couple had been out shopping at the mall for most of the afternoon, suddenly, the wife realized that her husband had disappeared.

The somewhat irate spouse called her mate's cell phone and demanded: "Where did you go???"

The husband calmly replied, "Darling, you remember that jewelry shop where you saw the diamond necklace and totally fell in love with it and I didn't have money that time and I said, 'Baby, it'll be yours one day'?"

Wife, with a smile blushing, said, "Yes, I remember that, my love."

"Well, I'm at the Home Depot next to that shop."

by Mark Vernon
UK Prime Minister David Cameron would not have had to assert that Britain is a Christian country if the matter were beyond dispute. The worry is that we have embarked on a journey of moral drift in this particular sense: it is not that Christian morality makes all things good – far from it – but it has the capacity to bring all things to account. To put it in more philosophical terms, theistic ethics can sustain an objective quality – something recognised by ethical thinkers as diverse as Friedrich Nietzsche and Pope Benedict.

Again, it's worth reflecting on what is meant by objectivity. It is not that rights and wrongs become self-evidently clear. Even so-called divine command theory – right is right because God decrees it is right – urges believers to engage in the arduous task of discerning just what God decrees as right. This is because God's moral law cannot be read off the page, in spite of what some might tell you, but can only be comprehended by those who have undergone a lengthy process of training and transformation. As Saint Augustine prayed: "Lengthen my days for the study of your law's inner meanings. Open the door to them when I knock on it. You had a purpose in causing the Scripture to contain so many pages dark with obscure meaning." Light comes when the individual's will is aligned to God's will, a lifelong task for which even the saint had to ask more time.... Read this in full at

David Cameron has declared that "Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so," in a speech to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Cameron told Church of England clergy gathered in Oxford that a return to Christian values could counter the country's "moral collapse" and blamed a "passive tolerance" of immoral behaviour for this summer's riots, Islamic extremism, City excess and Westminster scandals.... Read this in full at

by Eugene Curry
We've begun the holiday marathon. With Halloween behind us, Thanksgiving in the past, and New Year's just days away, this time of year can seem like a never-ending cavalcade of festivity: jack-o-lanterns give way to turkeys which give way to decorated evergreens which give way to fireworks and confetti. It can be a bit overwhelming.

But, at the same time, it's wonderful; it's a way for us to invest the passage of time with both grandeur and significance. After all, who in his right mind would really prefer a calendar stripped of all the holidays, a calendar in which the variegated seasons of our lives were flattened out into a bland and changeless uniformity? No one, that's who.

Still, as enjoyable and meaningful as holidays can be, we have let many a holiday season slip by -- sometimes without even knowing it.

Consider that for centuries, Christians observed something called "the Christian year" or "the Christian calendar." Followers of Jesus would structure their entire year around the various episodes of Christ's life, reflecting the themes implicit within them in different seasons of devotion with all sorts of special days meant to emphasize important biblical truths about God, man and the relationship between the two. Now, this isn't merely some historical relic, it's an on-going practice in many parts of Christendom to this day, including my church.... Read this in full at

[Jesus said,] "'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.'"
John 14:1-3

“It is as impossible for us to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle.”
Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, revised, HarperCollins, 1993, p. 36

by Chuck Colson
When most Americans hear the word “eugenics” what probably comes to mind is a doctor wearing an SS uniform.

Sadly, as I have said before however, the Third Reich learned much of what it knew about eugenics from Americans. It was Americans who showed the Nazis it was legally possible to prevent the “wrong kind of people” from reproducing.” And it was Americans who launched what journalist Edwin Black called the “war against the weak,” a war that was supposed to have ended with the fall of the Third Reich. Except that it didn’t.... Read this in full at

Men engaged in fantasy football leagues may be a rather benign activity, but when it comes to males creating imaginary sexual relationships, the results can be devastating, said the founder and president of Every Man Ministries.

Author and pastor Kenny Luck, who has written more than 20 books about issues that men need to deal with while using biblical principles, told The Christian Post that the severity of the fantasy problem for men is on the same scale as the epidemic of immaturity seen among men today.

The seemingly growing acceptance of men that refuse to mature past adolescent behavior has been well chronicled in the media during the last few years and amplified by a “cultural uncertainty about the social role of men.” .... Read this in full at

The United States' watchdog for worldwide religious freedom gained reauthorization from Congress Dec. 16 on what could have been its final day of existence.

The House of Representatives approved by voice vote a bill to reauthorize the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for three more years. The House action came three days after the Senate approved the same legislation Dec. 13 by unanimous consent.

The good news for religious liberty advocates did not come without some disappointments for many of their number. The bill limits commissioners to two, two-year terms. That restriction will require seven of the nine current commissioners to leave the panel in 90 days. In addition, USCIRF's yearly budget will drop from more than $4 million to $3 million.... Read this in full at

On Wednesday, Jan. 4, Open Doors will release its annual 2012 World Watch List of 50 countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians around the globe.

For the past 10 years, North Korea has topped the list. Last year Iran was No. 2 followed by Afghanistan. Several countries might climb on the list, including Nigeria (No. 23 last year), Sudan (No. 35 last year) and Egypt (No. 19 last year) due to increased persecution during the last few months of 2010 and most of 2011.

According to preliminary statistics released by Open Doors researchers this week, Nigeria had a total of 300 confirmed martyrs in 2011, Egypt at least 60 and Iraq 38. Open Doors defines a martyr as one who loses her or his life as a result of identification with Jesus Christ. The highest number of martyrs was probably in North Korea, but due to its isolation and secrecy no numbers are available.... Read this in full at

Coptic Christians participated in the 'Arab Spring' protests that brought down the government of Egypt, but the ascendance of Islamist parties and some calls for a strict Islamic state are making them uncertain about their future in their homeland.... Read this in full at

Church leaders in Nigeria are sharply divided over how to react to a surge in violent attacks against Christians and churches in the country's Muslim-majority north.

Hundreds of Christians have been killed and churches burnt in regular attacks launched in 2011 by Fulani herdsmen in Jos and members of the Boko Haram terrorist sect in Kaduna, Borno, and Niger states.

Such attacks increased this past spring following the controversial April election of Christian president Goodluck Jonathan. More than 800 people were killed in the violence, mostly in northern states. The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a major northern denomination headquartered in Jos, said it lost more than 32 members, three ministers, and 48 churches. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said 84 of its churches were destroyed as well.

The steady attacks have thrown the Christian community into opposing camps. While some continue to advocate for calm and prayer, others are now urging Christians to defend themselves.... Read this in full at

The Barna Group annually compiles a list of top trends it’s observed over the previous 12 months. For 2011 it’s identifies the following:
Changing Role of Christianity: Christian leaders are relatively unknown by the majority of Americans; half of Americans believe all people are eventually saved by God.

Downsized American Dreams: Americans’ are increasingly willing to accept limitations in life, including changing their spending and savings habits as well as distinguishing needs from wants. Many are also reducing their financial donations.

Millennials Rethink Christianity: The Christian community is struggling to remain connected with the next generation of teens and young adults. In particular, the church is “losing” many young creatives (like designers, artists, writers, musicians, and actors) as well as young science-minded students (such as medical students, engineers, biologists and mathematicians).

The Digital Family: Technology has become a part of modern life and is deeply embedded in today’s families. Yet, the challenges brought on by technology in the home are not all created by teens. Parents are becoming just as dependent on digital tools.

Maximizing Spiritual Change: Most Americans call themselves spiritual people and Christians. Yet, spiritual transformation is rare and fleeting.

Women Making it Alone: Teenage and young adult women are learning to prepare themselves for a changing social structure. For teens, this means focusing on career now. For young women, this means not expecting to be married until the late twenties, at least.... Read this in full at

by Elizabeth Drescher @edrescherphd
Over the past couple years, religionistas of all sorts have attempted to navigate a new media landscape in which old constructions of religious authority, identity, and practice are changing almost by the minute. This surely marks the beginning something of a Second Coming of religion in digitally-integrated form.

It seems worthwhile to take a look at some trends in social media (ordered pretty much as they came into my head) that are reshaping religion and spirituality:
1. Social Prayer
2. Ministers-On-The-Go
3. O Holy App
4. Curate as Curator
5. A Few New Commandments .... Read this in full at

My secretary was driving to work this past week. She had her four-year-old daughter in the car with her for an event at church. Since it’s the season, they were listening to Christmas music. As they approached the church, the song "Sleigh Ride" was playing. When her mom parked the car and turned off the radio, her daughter continued to sing; "idiot, idiot, idiot, let's go."

Her mother said, "Honey, that’s not the word they’re singing. It’s 'giddy-up.' Besides idiot is not a very nice word."

Her daughter replied, "Why? That's what you always say about people when we’re driving and they aren't going fast enough."

Copyright 2011 Jerry McNeill. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

“True faith, real and pure faith, cannot be practiced in moderation.”
Stephen Arterburn

[Jesus said,] "'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'"
John 16:33

Words & Music: William A. Ogden, 1870

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

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

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

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

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

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

>from NetHymnal at

Lord, I have shut the door, speak now the word
Which in the din and throng could not be heard;
Hushed now my inner heart, whisper Thy will,
While I have come apart, while all is still.

In this blest quietness clamorings cease;
Here in Thy presence dwells infinite peace;
Yonder, the strife and cry, yonder, the sin:
Lord, I have shut the door, Thou art within!

Lord, I have shut the door, strengthen my heart;
Yonder awaits the task--I share a part.
Only through grace bestowed may I be true;
Here, while alone with Thee, my strength renew.
William M. Runyan, [1923]The Complete Book of Hymns, William J. Petersen, ed., Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2006, p. 574


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!

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

Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
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.]

Are you looking for something or do you have something to sell? Let me know and I'll put it in this newsletter.

Books, Music & More!

Get your domain name here!

Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why. 

Talking Animals (hilarious)

YouTube Year in Review

Google Zeitgeist

Year in Review - Yahoo!

Year in Review - Twitter

Year in Review – Reuters

Year in Review – CBSNews

Year in Review – Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

Year in Review – The Christian Post

Year by Year – Infoplease

Year in Review

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.) 

Children are God's little "spies" and our little mirrors.
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. 
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program. 
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