Connecting man to man to God
For week of February 26, 2012
Issue 397

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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“My God will meet your every need out of his riches in the glory that is found in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 (CEB)

“No storm is so great, no wave is so high, no sea is so deep, no wind is so strong, that Jesus cannot either calm it or carry us through it.”
Anne Graham Lotz

Ed Dobson is not afraid of dying. It’s the getting there that really scares him.

A former pastor, onetime Christian Right operative and an icon among religious leaders, Dobson has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he was diagnosed, doctors gave him 3 to 5 years to live. That was 11 years ago.

“I am a tad happy to be talking to you right now,” joked Dobson, whose voice has deteriorated since his preaching days, in a phone interview. Speaking with him feels like being exposed to a brief moment of clarity. He speaks slowly, but with an understated confidence and authority.

As pastor at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a position he held for 18 years, Dobson would regularly preach to 5,000 people or more on Sundays. Back then, Dobson said he looked at himself as a man filled with lessons, proverbs and, most of all, answers.

After retirement six years ago, the massive crowds went away. “I went from 100 miles an hour to zero miles an hour overnight,” Dobson said. “That was a shock to my system.” Dobson says the answers vanished with the crowds.... Read this and view the video in full at

An international network of bloggers is now contributing to a 90-day blog tour for the new bestselling Common English Bible ( translation. The “Common English Bible Change Your Heart and Life” tour extends from February through May, honoring the Christian observances of Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, the Ascension of Jesus, and Pentecost. Complete schedule and joining information is available at You can also sign up using this form (

In addition to the blog tour (Twitter #CEBtour), the Common English Bible National Public Reading Marathon is being synchronized for Holy Week (April 1-7) and Easter Sunday (April 8), conducted by churches, seminaries and colleges, and other organizations and streamed online. Readings will be scripture verses for the season selected from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Information about groups hosting the reading marathon is available at or by contacting Read this in full at

by Mark Galli
As I begin to pen this little essay, I grab another three Werther's Original Hard Candies, when I've already consumed two over my daily allotment. Such is the state of my personal discipline when it comes to food — I have no discipline.

So maybe this would be a perfect thing to focus on during Lent. I'm really sick and tired of being a person who has no food discipline, and I'm sick and tired of carrying around extra weight. And to be honest, when I think about this part of my life, I'm sick and tired of me. Maybe a little abstinence will do me some good. Maybe I should give up candy for Lent. Or maybe fast one day a week. Or do something hard. Then I might learn a little food discipline. I might even start losing weight. I might even start feeling good about myself again.

This train of despair is no doubt very common this time of year. By mid-February, our New Year's resolutions are ancient history. Along comes Ash Wednesday and, well, it's like a reprieve. We get a second chance to discipline some weakness or form a new habit. Another opportunity to improve our flagging self-respect! .... Read this in full at

by Brian McLaren
I sometimes envy people who follow tradition without asking questions. They gain benefits from their tradition that the rest of us will never know. (There are costs, of course, to their lack of questioning, as there are to everything, but that's another story.)

We questioners can't help but smell some problems with Lent. We note how back in the Middle Ages, for example, Thomas Aquinas recommended abstaining from meat because it produced more semen (in 50% of the population), which (of course) produces more lust. We recall how for many centuries of Christian history, the popular assumption seemed to be if something made you happy, God was against it, so the best way to make God happy was by keeping yourself less so. A few people may still feel this way, but thanks to modern marketing and the religious-industrial complex, most of us have bowed to the orthodoxy that God is as obsessed with us and our constant personal happiness as we are.... Read this in full at

Ash Wednesday, long associated with Catholicism, is increasingly observed in Protestant churches. The Rev. Joe DeRoulhac became senior minister of Redlands’ First Baptist Church in 1989 but didn’t preside over Ash Wednesday services there until 2003. The idea came from an interfaith Ash Wednesday event he participated in a year or two before.

DeRoulhac said there’s an increasing desire among Protestants to look anew at ancient Christian practices that previously were identified with Catholics.

“Part of this is retrieving from the past rituals that might help us today to fully experience the significance of our faith,” he said. “It’s our common heritage.”

As in the Roman Catholic Church, ashes are typically seen as signs of repentance and mortality, and Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days — except Sundays — leading up to Easter.

Even a small number of evangelical churches have begun holding Ash Wednesday services, said the Rev. Kurt Fredrickson, an associate dean at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical institution in Pasadena.... Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
“Mr. De Graaf, do you think Jesus hates religion?”

I’d just spoken at a local Christian high school chapel and was now meeting at Panera with 16 kids who had questions about my talk, when this question was asked. In case you’ve been in a coma for the last month or so, there’s a YouTube video by a young rapper Jefferson Bethke titled “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”, that has been viewed by over 19,000,000 people!

If you have kids or grandchildren the chances are they’ve watched it too, and if not I’d suggest watching it with them and then discussing it. This is what is called a “teachable moment” – an amazing opportunity to help shape their Christian worldview.

So, here’s what I told them.... Read this in full at

A new survey shows that almost half of churchgoing Americans say their time spent at church has not caused any changes in their lives.

Barna Group, an evangelical company based in California, found that 46% reported no change from attending church. About 25% said their lives were greatly affected by church attendance and another 25% said it was somewhat influential. Two-thirds of respondents said they had felt "a real and personal connection" with God while at church.

Among weekly church attendees, 44% said they felt God's presence every week and 18% said they had that experience once a month. Additionally, three out of five church attendees said they did not walk away from their last church visit with any significant new understandings or insights.... Read this in full at

Months after Campus Crusade for Christ stirred controversy over its decision to formally change its name to "Cru," the ministry's co-founder says the new name is actually helping bring more people to Christ.

Vonette Bright told The Christian Post that they have already tested and adopted the new name and said so far, "it's working."

The name change began early this year and already, Bright said, "We're finding that our meetings are larger on campus, we have found more decisions for Christ as a result, and already it's proving itself to be a very good decision."

Bright started CCC in 1951 with her late husband Bill. It was Bill's idea before he died in 2003 to change the ministry's name because the word "crusade" has a negative connotation.

The Orlando, Fla.-based ministry announced last July that it would be dropping its 60-year-old name and adopting "Cru" instead, starting in early 2012. The name Cru is a nickname that originated from the organization's younger members in the mid-90s.... Read this in full at

“By giving humans freedom of will, the Creator has chosen to limit His own power. He risked the daring experiment of giving us the freedom to make good or bad decisions, to live decent or evil lives, because God does not want the forced obedience of slaves. Instead, He covets the voluntary love and obedience of sons who love Him for Himself.” Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), Beyond Our Selves, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961, p. 26

“It’s hard to understand what success is if you’ve never seen it,” said New York Giants defensive tackle (No. 99) Chris Canty. “It’s hard to understand what accountability is if you’ve never seen it. It’s hard to understand what responsibility is if you’ve never seen it.”

His mom, the Rev. Shirley L. Canty, a United Methodist pastor in North Carolina, has more reason to be proud of her son than his big win.

Chris Canty grew up United Methodist. His mother remembers leaving for a clergy convocation when her son was about 6. Chris was thrilled the bishop would be there. “Could you ask the bishop if I could be your junior pastor?” he asked. That commitment to the church stuck.... Read this in full at

A lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, Daniel Chan faced a dilemma on Feb. 10 with his team playing the hated New York Knicks and their sudden star Jeremy Lin.

"Some people had asked me before the game who I'd be cheering for -- Jeremy or the Lakers," said Chan, pastor of student ministries at Redeemer Bible Fellowship in Mountain View, Calif. "I've never cheered against the Lakers. But Jeremy is a member of our church and a friend, part of our flock --– I had to root for him. It was hard, but...."

Lin has gone from unemployed NBA wannabe to household name and worldwide superstar in only a matter of days. His unexpected emergence as the starting point guard for the Knicks has sparked the struggling team and launched the "Linsanity" that has gripped both the city of New York and the broader sports world.... Read this in full at

By Ebenezer Samuel
The conversation was simple and innocent - and somehow dangerous - all at once.

Just moments after his Knicks had beaten the Nets at the Garden on Feb. 4, Jeremy Lin excitedly called Stephen Chen, his pastor of 10 years. The Knicks’ new point guard had just seen his first extended playing time in New York, pouring in 25 points in a win, and he could barely contain himself.

He didn’t care much about his performance, Chen says, but he desperately wanted to talk to his pastor about being “truly blessed.”
“He was ecstatic,” Chen recalls. “He just said, ‘I’m just . . . so thankful.’ To even have a shot in the NBA, that’s a blessing from God. To even be sitting on the bench to play garbage minutes, that’s a blessing. To be playing that much? That’s truly a blessing.”

It is a sentiment that Lin has echoed many times ? both to himself and in front of television cameras ? in the whirlwind that has followed. Over the past two weeks, Lin’s legend has grown exponentially, begetting Linsanity and Super Lin-Tendo and rumors of New York being renamed Lin City. And as the 23-year-old floor general has experienced all of this, he has increasingly (or is that Lin-creasingly?) clung to the same devout Christian faith that helped him climb from D-League fodder to NBA starter.... Read this in full at

     ON SIN
“How much we ought to hate sin! Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it, we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred. Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world. Let us make no peace with it. Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it. It is ‘the abominable thing which God hateth.’ Happy is he who is of one mind with God, and can say, I ‘abhor that which is evil.’”
J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), Expository thoughts on the Gospels, with the text complete, St. Luke, v. I, Ipswitch: William Hunt, 1858, p. 209

by Mike Smith
A church member will sometimes ask how I go about interpreting the scriptures. I am tempted to answer, “On the run,” since I preach and teach several times each week. Thinking more about the question, here are some guidelines.

First, read the scriptures. Take your time. Expect to become confused along the way. Listen for the larger story in which all the particular tales find their place: God at work to rescue all creation by all the means at God’s disposal.

Second, be aware of the interpretive grid you bring to the task. We all bring presuppositions to the work of interpreting the scriptures, assumptions drawn both from secular and religious culture. History is filled with discarded presuppositions: slavery as normative and acceptable in God’s sight, sickness and poverty as signs of God’s disfavor and women as the property of men. As a rule, it’s best to assume the scriptures confront rather than reinforce our presuppositions.... Read this in full at

“To be chosen by God so often means at one and the same time a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. The piercing truth is that God does not choose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task that will take all that head and heart and hand can bring to it. God chooses us in order to use us.”
William Barclay (1907-1978), The Gospel of Luke, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956, p. 8

Bible League International and the Digital Bible Society are partnering to create thumbnail-sized chips containing an entire seminary library and distribute them to Christians in countries where possessing unapproved religious materials can result in punishment or death, such as Saudi Arabia and China.

"It's like a miniature Christian bookstore," said Robert Frank, global CEO of Bible League International. Each chip includes a library's worth of multiple versions of the Bible, Bible commentaries, Bible studies, Christian books, movies and worship music, and leaves no traces on the computer of its use, unlike the trails left by accessing websites. They are available in Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin and other languages in areas where Christians are persecuted. "Pastors in these countries want to be trained, but they have no seminaries," said Melany Ethridge of the Bible League.... Read this in full at

by Karen Swallow Prior
Why rest is paramount to a "successful" spiritual life.... Read this in full at

No family is perfect, including the family of God. But when God’s family is functioning the way Chuck Swindoll describes in this video, others will want to join it. See this brief video at

A panel for the Southern Baptist Convention recommended Feb. 20 that its leadership endorse a new, add-on description for the denomination — “Great Commission Baptists” — stopping short of a complete name change.

Officials described the new term as a way to give an official, sanctioned identity to affiliated churches and believers who don’t want to use the term “Southern.”

Convention President Bryant Wright and other church leaders are concerned that the Southern Baptist name is too regional and impedes the evangelistic faith’s efforts to spread the Gospel worldwide.

The “Great Commission” refers to Matthew 28:16-20, in which Jesus instructs his disciples at Galilee to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” .... Read this in full at

Jerry Pattengale's cell phone won't stop ringing as he leads a secretive group of four wide-eyed college administrators around a majestic campus built in 1879 by legendary evangelist D.L. Moody.

Calls and visitors are pouring in for one reason: the billionaire Oklahoma family that owns the 217-acre site and its 43 buildings aims to give it away to a Christian institution. Free. No charge. Just take it.

"That was a national organization in Colorado that just called," said Pattengale, a college administrator who's been hired to help find a new owner for the property. "They want to come and see."

The extraordinary offer went out to 15 hand-picked institutions in January after plans fell apart to locate a new C.S. Lewis College on the site that once housed the Northfield campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School. Moody founded a predecessor school, the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies, here in 1879.

Now the Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, is soliciting new proposals. The winner will need to demonstrate both an orthodox Christian vision and the financial wherewithal to pull it off.... Read this in full at

“Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good.”
Romans 12:9 (CEB)

“Set me free from evil passions, and heal my heart of all inordinate affections; that being inwardly cured and thoroughly cleansed, I may be made fit to love, courageous to suffer, steady to persevere.”
Thomas Kempis

"When we're living close to God, then this kind of prayer life is spontaneous." In this brief video, Dr. Joel Beeke discusses the habit of praying through each day.

“The greatest miracle that Christianity has to proclaim is that the love that suffered agonies on that hill outside the city walls was the love of God himself, the love of God for his creation, which is a love that has no limit, not even the limit of death.”
Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), The Magnificent Defeat, Seabury Press, 1966, p. 89

by Dr. Michael A. Milton, chancellor/CEO elect, Reformed Theological Seminary
Another state legislature approves same-sex "marriage."

The trials that we face in this nation, and in the West, are not about healthcare or even a constitutional crisis, but a crisis of ethics and morality.

Legislatures concoct bills to allow for violations of the Law of God because they either do not know the Law of God or they oppose it or they are simply apathetic toward it. Governors sign these laws for the same reason. And the yoke of moral bondage is then placed back on the children and grandchildren of our citizens. But the process of passing bills into law, in this case codifying what the Bible and thousands of years of human civilization clearly abhors, reveals the fatal flaw that our founders saw could happen: to uninformed or unconcerned citizens placing people into office who do not meet necessary conditions to serve. The first condition being moral.... Read this in full at

by Mark Moring
Johnnie Moore was only 14 when he first stayed in the dorms at Liberty University, and since then, he's pretty much remained at the school that Jerry Falwell founded 41 years ago in Lynchburg, Virginia. Moore and his single-mom family briefly lived in the dorms after his parents' divorce and a temporary stretch of homelessness; now 28, the Liberty grad spends much of his time at the school as a campus pastor, shepherding students in the faith and in missions.

When Moore's parents split—and when the pastor who urged them to stay together was later found guilty of adultery with another pastor's wife—Moore's faith was rocked. But today he says his doubts helped him work through some hard questions and ultimately claim his parents' beliefs as his own. He chronicles that story in Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe (Harvest House), which National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson calls "first-century Christianity in 21st-century narrative."

In the book, Moore tackles issues of pharisaism — in the church, in politics, in everyday life. He's acutely aware of the irony of a hypocrite opining on the topic: "One reason I wrote it is because I was disappointed with my own hypocrisy. I'm the first to admit it. I'll probably be a hypocrite five times again before next week, or by the end of the day." .... Read this in full at

by Robert Dilday
The movie Tree of Life lends itself to a variety of interpretations, but its Christian themes of grace and redemption appear explicitly from the first frame - a quote from the Book of Job asking, "Where were you when I (God) laid the foundations of the earth?"

It's not the first time directors have discovered powerful religious themes make good films - think Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments and The King of Kings - and it won't be the last. Director Steven Spielberg announced last month he will direct a biopic about the life of Moses in a style Britain's Guardian newspaper described as a mix of Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan.

But observers note an increase in independent and Hollywood-produced films inspired by clear religious - even Christian - worldviews. The Book of Eli, The Blind Side, and film versions of C.S. Lewis' beloved Chronicles of Narnia books are only a few.... Read this in full at

At a church on the New England coast 200 years ago, five young men became ordained as Congregational missionaries and set off on cargo ships to India as the first organized group of American missionaries to travel overseas.

Their departure signaled the start of the US missionary movement, and today the United States sends more Christian missionaries abroad than any other country, experts say.

The United State sent out 127,000 of the world's estimated 400,000 missionaries abroad in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.... Read this in full at

by Diana Butler Bass
Something startling is happening in American religion: We are witnessing the end of church or, at the very least, the end of conventional church. The United States is fast-becoming a society where Christianity is being reorganized after religion.

In recent decades, untold numbers of people have left the Roman Catholic Church. In a 2008 survey, Pew research found that one in 10 Americans now considers themselves an ex-Catholic. The situation is so dire that the church launched a PR campaign inviting Catholics to "come home," to woo back disgruntled members. There was a slight uptick in Catholic membership last year, mostly due to immigrant Catholics. There is no data indicating that Catholics are returning en masse and much anecdotal evidence suggesting that leaving-taking continues. Catholic leaders worry that once the new immigrants become fully part of American society they might leave, too.... Read this in full at

A new review by the University of Arizona of more than 30 studies found divorced adults are 23% more likely to die early than married couples. Researchers found the risks associated with divorce were similar to other public health risks such as smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, getting limited exercise, being overweight and drinking heavily, said the study's lead author, UA psychology professor David Sbarra. He said he was surprised by the results: "We thought there was some risk. But we didn't think the risk elevation would be as substantial as some other very serious public-health risks." .... Read this in full at

Iran's Ministry of Intelligence has ordered the last two officially registered churches holding Friday Farsi-language services in Tehran to discontinue them.

Friday services in Tehran attracted the city's converts to Christianity as well as Muslims interested in Christianity, because Friday is most Iranians' day off during the week. Officials told Emmanuel Protestant Church and St. Peter's Evangelical Church Feb. 10 that they could no longer hold Friday services, but could hold services on Sunday - a working day when most Iranians are not able to attend.

"This decision means there are now no Farsi-language services on Fridays in any officially registered church in Tehran," a report from Middle East Concern said. The restrictions have cut the two churches' memberships by half, sources said.... Read this in full at

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports ongoing and continuous grave human rights violations being committed by the Burma Army against Christian civilians in Kachin State and other ethnic states.

The Burma Army has been waging an offensive against ethnic civilians since breaking a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independent Organization/Army in June. In a recent 3-week fact-finding visit to the area, CSW heard first-hand testimonies from internally displaced people from Kachin and Shan states of killings, torture, rape, and the destruction of churches, homes, and villages by the Burma Army.

"These were unarmed civilians, in their paddy fields or homes, who were not engaged in armed combat in any form," said Benedict Rogers, CSW's East Asia team leader. "The accounts of torture and other abuses are a cause for very grave concern and ... require an urgent and sustained response from the international community." .... Read this in full at

by Russell Moore
Gambling isn’t merely a “values” issue. Neither is it primarily a “moral” issue, at least not in terms of what we typically classify as “moral values” issues. Gambling isn’t primarily a question of personal vice. If it were, we could simply ask our people to avoid the lottery tickets and horse-tracks, but leave it legal. Gambling is a social justice issue that defines how it is that we love our neighbors and uphold the common good.

Gambling is a form of economic predation. Gambling grinds the faces of the poor into the ground. It benefits multinational corporations while oppressing the lower classes with illusory promises of wealth, and with (typically) low-wage, transitory jobs that simultaneously destroy every other economic engine of a local community.... Read this in full at

Fasting for regular periods could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses, according to US scientists.

Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other ailments.... Read this in full at

“We are apt to mistake our vocation by looking out of the way for occasions to exercise great and rare virtues, and by stepping over the ordinary ones that lie directly in the road before us.”
Hannah More

“The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is what fulfills the Law.”
Romans 13:9-10 (CEB)

Words: Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1868
Music: Frederick C. Maker, 1881

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

>from NetHymnal at

“If you make a habit of sincere prayer, your life will be very noticeably and profoundly altered. Prayer stamps with its indelible mark our actions and demeanor. A tranquility of bearing, a facial and bodily repose, are observed in those whose inner lives are thus enriched. Within the depths of consciousness a flame kindles. And man sees himself. He discovers his selfishness, his silly pride, his fears, his greeds, his blunders. He develops a sense of moral obligation, intellectual humility. Thus begins a journey of the soul toward the realm of grace.”
Alexis Carrel (1873-1944), "Prayer is Power", from The Reader's Digest, March, 1941, included in The Questing Spirit, Halford E. Luccock & Frances Brentano, New York: Coward-McCann, 1947, p. 645


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.]

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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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