Connecting man to man to God
For week of March 4, 2012
Issue 398

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)



Do I have anyone else in heaven? There’s nothing on earth I desire except you. My body and my heart fail, but God is my heart’s rock and my share forever.” Psalm 73:25-26 (CEB)


CONSIDER
We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.” A. W. Tozer


LENT AND THE SCIENCE OF SELF-DENIAL
by Jeffrey Kluger
When it comes to good-time holidays, Lent does not rank very high. Nor do Ramadan or Yom Kippur, of course, and no wonder. They are all about saying no to something (or many things) you love. Where’s the egg nog and holiday joy in all that? But we observe these less-than-festive celebrations all the same — and we have good reason to do so. There are hidden benefits to so much ritualized self-denial.

One of the open secrets of all religions is that even if you don’t care for the priestly raiment in which their traditions come draped, some of them can be very healthy all the same. And those, like Lent, whose secular message is nothing more complicated than practicing self-control, can be among the most salutary of all — something science is beginning to prove.... Read this in full at
http://ideas.time.com/2012/02/23/lent-and-the-science-of-self-denial/


CELEBRATING HOLY LENT IN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY
The Easter holiday season has officially begun with the onset of the forty day period of Lent.

The great lent in holy Orthodox Church is called ‘Tesseradocaste' derived from the word forty, depicting the forty days of holy fasting prior to Pascal celebrations. Some of the oriental orthodox churches observe fifty days of fasting, especially the Syrian and Indian Orthodox Churches where as Coptic Orthodox Church have forty days of fasting. The Ethiopian Orthodox Lenten days extend up to 56 days. There are three major parts of the holy Paschal cycle namely: the pre-lenten period, the holy lenten days and the holy week. This cycle ends with the celebration of Pasha or Easter.

The great lent prepares the orthodox faithful to feel and enter into the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The totality of orthodox Christian life is centered on resurrection. It is the preparatory workshop for the true believers by spending more time with prayers, confession, forgiveness, kindness, humility, chastity along with holy traditions and scriptures of the church to help feel the ultimate grace of God.... Read this in full at
http://www.travelujah.com/blogs/entry/Celebrating-Holy-Lent-in-Orthodox-Christianity


EMERGENT CHURCH MEMBERS GET TATTOOS OF JESUS' DEATH FOR LENT
While many churches do different things to observe the season of Lent, one pastor at a Texas church is encouraging something very different: permanent tattoos.

Chris Seay, a pastor at the Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas, called on members to get permanent tattoos that would depict designs symbolizing the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The tattoos by church members will collective be part of an art exhibit for Lent, Stations on Skin.

"This art show is something we do every year to share the story of Jesus with our city," said Seay in an interview with The Christian Post.

"This year we wanted to engage an art form that has not been embraced by the church but it is common among people in our part of the city. Next year it will be a different art form, maybe crochet."

Seay, whose church has an average weekly attendance of around 1,500 people over five weekend services, said that initially he and Ecclesia's artist-in-residence Scott Erickson were looking for ten volunteers to depict ten scenes as tattoos.

"I have seen about 50 [volunteers] so far. I spend most of my time discouraging people from getting these," said Seay.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/emergent-church-members-get-tattoos-of-jesus-death-for-lent-70258/


PORN IS NOT THE PROBLEM
by Justin Davis
Last night, I was doing some reading and writing our weekly MentorUs resource, and I came across this verse. It isn’t new, but it hit my heart in a brand new way: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

That word submit gets a bad rap sometimes. We say it in our wedding and then resent it in our marriage. But the word submit simply means “to put someone else ahead of yourself.” Your preference is more important than my preference. Your desires more important than my desires. Your wishes more important than my wishes. You being right more important than me being right. You are more important than me. That is submission. God’s desire is that both people in a marriage make the other person more important than themselves.

Over the last week, we’ve had several people email us or talk to us personally about pornography. How did I stop watching it? Do I have a desire to watch it? Am I still addicted to it? How did we overcome it?

What I’ve realized is what kept me in bondage to a sexual addiction wasn’t porn; it was pride. It was a lack of submission. My pride wouldn’t allow me to admit my problem. My pride wouldn’t allow me to seek help. My pride was more important than submitting to Christ or to my wife. My pride was bigger than my porn problem. My pride kept my porn problem big.... Read this in full at
http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/159107-porn-is-not-the-problem.html


TRY HARDER
by Ann Spangler
Imagine that you are at the starting line of a race. You have been training for months. You’ve competed on this track before, but today you are determined to win. As soon as the starting gun goes off, you break out in a burst of speed. Amazingly, you keep it up, rounding the track twice and then heading across the finish line. But guess what! Despite your heroic efforts, and the fact that this was your best time yet, you lose again. It isn’t for lack of trying. Your problem is that you aren’t properly equipped to win a race against a Porsche!

That’s only a rough analogy to highlight the fact that merely trying hard won’t win the race when it comes to living our lives as Christians. Even though many of us are working very hard at it, we rarely if ever experience the joy and peace that is promised in the Bible. So what’s the problem? .... Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/blogs/aspangler/11665541/


TUTU’S GOD OF SURPRISES
Desmond Tutu says that despite all the evil and suffering in the world, human beings are "remarkable things" who are "made for goodness." The radio program On Being explored how his understanding of God and humanity has unfolded through the history he's shape.... Listen to this conversation in full at
http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2012/tutu-god-of-surprises/


BUILD A FIRE: ON MANHOOD THAT'S HONEST, STRONG AND ... WEAK?
In the end, if you are a man at all, you will be an honest man. Or you will be dishonest, something less than a complete man, with a dead or dying heart. Not even you can fully convince yourself you are a real man as long as your heart is dead.

But the choices are yours. You will be false, or you will be true. You will be hard, brittle, and acerbic, or you will be strong, gentle, and true. You will be authentic and present in the circumstances and relationships of your life, or you will be a counterfeit, irrelevant, and emotionally absent man when it really matters. You will display courage in the face of danger, or you will fold in fear. You will demonstrate dignity and honor, or not.

As you continually mature, you will find you are strong and courageous in one setting and a fearful shell of a guy in another. Don't be afraid to think and to ask yourself what part of your manhood is completely formed and what part must yet grow into the person you really are, into the person God says you are... Build a fire with your brothers; identify your masks — your false self — and then throw them into the roaring flames. You'll walk away together with a renewed fire in your hearts for the adventure ahead.

Try asking your friends a few questions about what being a man is all about, and watch where the conversation goes.” Wes Yoder in Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather, and Sports


CHRISTIAN SCHOLAR: SABBATH NOT ABOUT KILLING TIME
Author, scholar and pastor Eugene H. Peterson, best known for The Message Bible translation, asserts that Christians must make the Sabbath a meaningful part of their lives, as it provides an opportunity for change. Peterson's comments came during a Q Ideas discussion with organization founder Gabe Lyons.

In today's society, the idea of the Sabbath often gets muddled and lost in nonstop activity, but Peterson insists, it can and has to be celebrated.

Sharing how Christians can celebrate the Sabbath, presented as a day of rest in the Bible, Peterson said bluntly that people need only to "show up, and shut up." The Bible scholar further explained that in the celebration of the Sabbath, one should not be afraid of silence or boredom because that period of inactivity provides time to notice God's activity.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/eugene-peterson-celebration-of-the-sabbath-provides-opportunity-for-god-to-act-70465/

For a limited time, Peterson’s comments on video can be seen at
http://www.qideas.org/blog/live-stream-of-eugene-peterson-today.aspx


WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM JEREMY LIN'S SUDDEN RISE TO LEADERSHIP
by Robb Ryerse
This February has been more exciting than ever, dominated by Linsanity, the phenomenon surrounding the improbable rise of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.

In his first six games in the starting lineup, Lin has been unstoppable. He scored more points than any other NBA player ever had in his first five starts. In his fifth game, Lin hit a game-winning three pointer with less than a second left on the clock. In his sixth start, he had a career-high thirteen assists. Six starts, six wins. It has been Linsane.

The Lin story is so compelling, not just because of the endless puns based on his name or what he has accomplished on the court, but also because of who he is as a person and the road he has traveled to get to this point.

Lin is Taiwanese-American, the very rare American born Asian player to make an NBA roster. He went to Harvard University, which is not exactly known as a basketball powerhouse. In fact, he is the first Harvard graduate to play in the NBA since 1954. When people imagine great basketball players, they don't normally picture an Asian-American from Harvard.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/february-online-only/linstantleader.html


DOES JESUS HATE RELIGION? (PART 2)
by Clare De Graaf
We’re continuing the conversation about Jesus and religion. I said last week I don’t think Jesus hated it, but to be sure he was wary of some aspects of it and we should be also. I’m also hoping that you will use the YouTube I featured last week as a springboard for teaching your own children and grandchildren to think biblically and speak honestly about these issues.

I was sitting with a group of Christian high school students in Panera a few weeks ago and I asked this question, “What bothers you most about religion?”

Young adults will often describe a church where the congregation sang with gusto, “I surrender all…”, but obviously didn’t. “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold”, but they did. From the looks of the cars in the parking lot, they withheld millions of mites. Their parents would greet people with a hug, or handshake, but gossip about them behind their back. Their parents would be screaming at each other in the car on the way to church, but all smiles and love when they walked through the doors of the church.... Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2012/02/27/does-jesus-hate-religion-part-ii/


WHAT IF?
This link is to a video on YouTube that’s an ad for Nike. It promotes the idea that “every day is an opportunity to reach your goal.” That goal in the ad is to be physically active. But I wonder what kind of video could be produced that demonstrates the daily goal of being spiritually active? How many candy pieces would you accrue with that goal in mind? See the Nike vide at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C28vPth3Xio


ROLE REVERSAL: THE PROBLEM OF THE INCREASING MARGINALIZATION OF MEN
by Marlena Graves
Welcome to the matriarchal society of Meghalaya, India, where, in a vast reversal of traditions the world over, property names and wealth are passed along from mother to daughter instead of father to son. Women have the luxuries, opportunities, and advantages typically enjoyed by men. Even the preference for baby boys is gone; as one Khasi man told the BBC, at the hospital, “If it’s a girl, there will be great cheers from the family outside. If it’s a boy, you will hear them mutter politely that ‘whatever God gives us is quite all right.’”

And the Khasi men are experiencing the crippling prejudice, discrimination, and oppression that women throughout history have known all too well. Keith Pariat, a leader in Meghalaya’s men’s rights movement, told BBC reporter Timothy Allen that they "do not want to bring women down….We just want to bring the men up to where the women are." According to Allen, Pariat was “adamant that matriliny is breeding generations of Khasi men who fall short of their inherent potential, citing alcoholism and drug abuse among its negative side-effects.”

The story is depressing and frustrating.... Read this in full at
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/02/role_reversal_the_problem_of_t_1.html


FRIENDSHIPS FOSTER DEEPER RELIGIOUS LIFE, RESEARCH SHOWS
by Ken Camp
Research proves what most ministers long have suspected: Friendships developed at church positively influence religious behavior and -- to a lesser degree -- beliefs.

Sam Stroope, a doctoral student in sociology at Baylor University, analyzed data from the Baylor Religion Survey, a random survey of more than 1,600 adults nationwide conducted by the Gallup organization. His wrote about his findings in an article that will be published in the summer issue of the journal Sociology of Religion.

The greater the proportion of friends a person has at church, the greater the likelihood of that person’s involvement in religious activities, he discovered.

Friends matter more than any other factor -- income, age, gender, geography, denominational background or how long a person has been going to church,” Stroope noted in an interview.

Religious activities include publicly observable behaviors such as singing in the choir, attending worship, participating in Bible study classes, joining in church social event and performing church-related volunteer work.... Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/7170/53/


VETERAN PRODUCER TEACHES A SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS ABOUT GREAT MOVIES. SO CAN YOU!
Ralph Winter has been producing movies for almost three decades, starting with 1984's Star Trek: The Search for Spock. A devout Christian who once considered going to seminary and becoming a pastor, Winter has more recently overseen such projects as the X-Men and Fantastic 4 movies, plus a handful of independent films geared more toward a faith audience (including The Least of These, Thr3e, House, The Visitation).

In a Sunday school class at Montrose Church in Montrose, California, Winter teaches about how movies connect with our everyday lives, exploring the theological and sociological themes of film. Paul Shrier, a practical theology professor at Azusa Pacific University, interviewed Winter about the class, how others might replicate it in their own churches, and, the Oscars.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/movies/interviews/2012/ralphwinteroscar.html


PBS MOVIE ON AMISH FACED MANY HURDLES
by David Bauder
Faced with subjects whose religion and culture prohibit them from giving interviews on camera or even posing for pictures, many filmmakers would have given up.

The folks at PBS' "American Experience" stuck with it, however, and emerged with a revealing look at the Amish, a religious community of about 250,000 centered primarily in rural Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. The film (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/amish/) premieres Tuesday on PBS stations (8 pm EST).

The Amish, distinguished by their horse-and-buggy mode of transportation, proved not only elusive to study but more complex than most outsiders realize.

"It grew on me how interesting they were and how intriguing they were and how relatively little we knew about them, even though busload after busload of tourists come in to see them," said Mark Samels, executive producer of "American Experience."

As he got to know many Amish, Samels found them as baffled by the idea of being a tourist attraction as the outsiders were of them.... Read this in full at
http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2012/02/23/pbs_movie_on_amish_faced_many_hurdles/


COURT SAYS QUEBEC PARENTS CAN'T PULL STUDENTS OUT OF RELIGION CLASS
Canada's highest court has ruled that children in Quebec schools cannot opt out of a course on ethics and world religions. The Supreme Court Feb. 17 unanimously rejected an appeal from Catholic parents who sought to keep their children out of the class because they felt exposing them to a variety of religions would confuse them. The nine high court judges disagreed, saying that exposing children to different beliefs and values was a fact of life in Canada's multicultural society. Simply teaching children other religions "does not constitute an indoctrination of students that would infringe on the freedom of religion," the court said. The mandatory course is seen as part of Quebec's ongoing march toward secularism; it covers many world religions from a cultural perspective. When it was established in 2008, some parents argued it infringed on their freedom of conscience; the Supreme Court decision upheld two lower court ruling that dismissed the parents' claim.... Read this in full at
http://www.ethicsdaily.com/court-says-quebec-parents-can-t-pull-students-out-of-religion-class-cms-19295


INTERVIEW: CHARLES R. SWINDOLL ON PUBLIC SPEAKING AND LETTING GOD LEAD OUR LIVES
Internationally admired evangelical pastor Charles R. Swindoll has just penned a new book about his growing up with a speech impediment and how, with God's help, he was able to overcome that and help others to find the strength to overcome the challenges in their lives.

Dr. Swindoll spoke with The Christian Post about his life as well as the inspiration and drive behind his new book, Saying It Well.

CP: In the book you reveal that despite your success at being a communicator it was not always that easy for you. The speech problem you experienced was paralyzing for you, how did that shape your vocational view point?

Swindoll: You are referring to my battling with stuttering when I was younger. If anyone has ever seen the movie "The King's Speech," though I am not in a category of a king, they will see something of the struggle that I went through. There is nothing more fearful for the average person in our society than to stand before a group of people and speak. When you add to that the battle of stuttering, your problem is exacerbated beyond words.

So when I began to learn how to speak I still had the fear because I always had my speaking interrupted with the impediment. So it took some time to gain confidence over that. I am thankful that over time I have been able to conquer that battle though admittedly there are still times that I go back to the principles that were taught by my speech teacher. My book is designed not to hide that, but to highlight it and to let people know that even if you struggle with some fears or an impediment in your speech, there is help available. You can conquer that and go on to be successful as a speaker or as a preacher or whatever is your calling.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/interview-charles-r-swindoll-public-speaking-and-letting-god-lead-our-lives-70177/


BILLY GRAHAM ASSOCIATION CUTTING ALMOST 50 JOBS, SHIFTING TO ONLINE OUTREACH
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, one of the world's largest evangelical ministries, has announced it is cutting 50 jobs, or 10% of its staff, as the organization shifts its focus toward the Internet.

The organization leads spiritual training and retreats, Graham family crusades and festivals, the Billy Graham Library and various evangelical programs through books, print, television, radio, and the Internet.

The association has close to 500 employees, and works on dozens of programs around the world in different countries, but the changing times are forcing it to change focus toward online evangelism, The Charlotte Observer reported.

According to Brent Rhinehart, a spokesman for the organization, a few of the 50 or so laid-off people will be able to continue working until June, but others will only be kept on until mid-March. He explained that the laid off workers will be getting severance packages and career assistance.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/billy-graham-association-cutting-almost-50-jobs-shifting-to-online-outreach-70633/


LET YOUR YES BE YES
by Mike Glenn
I grew up in a small, mill village church where every Sunday we were told what not to do. We would get together the next Sunday and praise God we hadn't done anything. In my little church, we were against sinning, period.

Notice what I said. I said we were against sinning. I didn't say anything about what we were for. Honestly, we didn't know what we were for. We were just against. For most of us, Christianity seems to be defined by those things we aren't supposed to do. We always know what we aren't supposed to do, but few of us know what we should be living for.

When I started thinking about it, I was reminded of a Bible verse that had troubled me for a long time. Now remember, I went to church multiple times a week. I spent a lot time listening to Bible stories and sermons, and there is one verse that always has puzzled me.... Read this in full at
http://www.preaching.com/sermons/11665492/


DOES SECULAR MUSIC IN THE CHURCH ENDANGER SACREDNESS?
A New Jersey megachurch's latest effort to engage the culture by using pop songs in its worship services has drawn some criticism and reignited a debate about whether secular music should be used in churches.

Liquid Church's worship team led the congregation in songs like Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and Bruno Mars' "Grenade" as part of its "Pop God" sermon series in February, a move that some said endangered the sacredness of the church.

Rich Birch, Liquid's spokesman, said the church was trying to "redeem the culture" through those songs, but Dr. John Hardin of the ministry 9Marks cautioned that "the sacred ceases to be that which is set apart when it is framed in that which is perhaps all too near."

Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church & Cool Collide, said he believed such initiatives stemmed from the fact that many churches felt pressure because young people are departing in record numbers, but cautioned that when you attract people with "gimmicky things," there has to be something substantial in terms of discipleship to keep them engaged. "As Christians, we should focus on quality songs that are well-crafted and honest in their lyrics, and theologically rich," he said.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/secular-music-in-the-church-endangers-sacredness-69590/


VERSE TO PONDER
Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.” 1 John 3:18 (CEB)


CONSIDER
I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” Robert Brault


RICK WARREN: BIBLE'S COHESIVENESS PROVES IT TRUE
Pastor Rick Warren continues to push members of his Saddleback Church campuses in Southern California and more than 6,200 other churches globally toward improved biblical literacy. He says, "Only God could have put the Bible together. It is 66 books written over 1,600 years by 40 different authors – and it has one theme. It is one of the reasons we know that the Bible is God's Word: It has a single unified theme. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is all about God redeeming man. Jesus is its star."

The best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, launched his 40-day study of the Bible (http://www.40daysintheword.com/) during worship services of the third weekend in January by preaching that the Bible is not only historically and prophetically accurate, but scientifically trustworthy as well.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/rick-warren-bibles-cohesiveness-proves-it-true-70274/


A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN
by Dan Wooding
After being becoming a quadriplegic, unable to use her hands or legs, after a tragic 1967 diving accident in Chesapeake Bay, Joni Eareckson was so depressed that she even contemplated suicide.

I'm just so grateful there were no Jack Kevorkian's around back then because my problem wasn't so much my quadriplegia; it was clinical depression,” Joni told me in a previous interview at her offices in Agoura Hills, California.

I just needed somebody to come alongside me and show me the ropes and teach me and lead me through the maze of questions I had to the point where I could say that ‘I can do this. I really can live life in a wheelchair and live it with a smile, not in spite of the problems but miraculously because of them.’

And because I began to lean harder on Jesus, the stronger you discover Him to be and the more you realize what you can do.”

Today, Joni is an internationally known mouth artist, a talented vocalist, a radio host, author of 17 books, and an advocate for disabled persons worldwide. But in those early days of her disability the last thing on her mind was marriage; after all, who would want to marry someone confined to a lifetime in a wheelchair?” .... Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020108.htm


EXCLUSIVE: CAMPUS CRUSADE'S 60 YEARS IN MINISTRY
The Christian Post interviews Vonnette Bright, widow of Compus Crusade for Christ founder, Bill Bright.
http://video.christianpost.com/exclusive-campus-crusades-60-years-in-ministry-3624/


1ST-CENTURY N.T. FRAGMENT: MORE DETAILS EMERGE
The seminary professor who surprised the academic world by saying a first-century fragment of Mark's Gospel had been found has released new information along with two new claims - an early sermon on Hebrews and the earliest-known manuscripts of Paul's letters also have been discovered.

Details about the finds will be published in an academic book in 2013, says Dallas Theological Seminary's Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament professor. Wallace started the buzz on Feb. 1 when, during a debate with author and skeptic Bart Ehrman, he made the claim about the Mark fragment, which would be the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament.... Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37273


BIBLE EXHIBIT IN ROME TELLS SURVIVAL STORY OF SCRIPTURE
Today's must have-items are sleek hand-held devices that let us download a thousand apps and perform a dozen tasks at once. But for faithful Christians down the generations, the must-have item has been a copy of God's Word in their own hands – a dream some have been willing to give up their own lives for.

While a few clicks on the web or a trip to the local bookstore are all Americans need to get their hands on a Bible, the story of recording and preserving Scriptures over thousands of years has often been one of struggle, suffering and painstaking personal effort.

Most of all, it is a story of the extraordinary survival of God's word in spite of the odds, says Dr. Scott Carroll, the driving force behind a major new Bible exhibition recently launched at the Vatican.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/bible-exhibit-in-rome-tells-survival-story-of-scripture-70607/


SPLINTER CHURCHES REALIGN MAINLINE PROTESTANTISM
There's a popular saying in church-planting circles: It's easier to make babies than to raise the dead.

That principle applies to denominations as well, said the Rev. Paul Detterman, who helped found the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians in January.

"We thought it was easier in the long run to create something new rather than to keep on trying to modify existing forms," he said.

The "existing form," in Detterman's case, was the Presbyterian Church (USA), which remains the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination despite a decades-long plunge in membership.

The ECO may steepen that decline. Thousands of conservative Presbyterians, upset over the PC(USA)'s vote to lift its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy last year, are eyeing the new group. Planning for the ECO, which will not ordain sexually active gays and lesbians, preceded that vote, Detterman said.... Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/culture/social-issues/splinter-churches-realign-mainline-protestantism


HOW PASTORS PLAN TO IMPROVE THEIR CHURCHES
Today's organizations face pressure to stay current, efficient, and relevant. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations, like churches. A new Barna Group study examined how pastors of Protestant churches plan to improve the strategic, operational, and administrative aspects of their ministries.

The nationwide research project was conducted by asking pastors in what ways they are likely to improve their churches in the next year. Respondents were presented with 12 possible activities and asked to rate the priority of each activity. Many, though not all, of these 12 activities related to getting assistance, expertise or resources from organizations outside the church.... Read this in full at
http://www.barna.org/congregations-articles/560-how-pastors-plan-to-improve-their-churches


WHY JESUS DOESN'T PROMISE US AN 'AFTERLIFE'
by Russell D. Moore
There's a cemetery plot, somewhere out there, waiting for your corpse. Regardless of who and where you are, you will one day be quite dead. And in 100 years, chances are no one will remember your name—including the people carrying your genes in their bloodstreams. We see our mortal future in everything from the natural forces that sap our hair color to the bacteria that eventually grind our bodies to a maggoty pulp. The universe rolls around us frenetically, and, in every single case, it eventually kills us.

That's not just a matter of our individual destinies. If we are honest, the world around us seems pretty good proof that the gospel isn't true. Doesn't the cosmos seem to be just as the nihilists describe it: a bloody, merciless machine in which power, not goodness or beauty, is ultimate? What, then, is the meaning of life? What's the purpose of history? If it's all heading nowhere, then what difference at all does my existence make?

The gospel of the kingdom doesn't shy away from such questions, but our preaching tends to swerve around the answers it gives. Often we Christians start our gospel proclamation with triumph over sin. Fair enough: The gospel of Christ is indeed the reversal of sin, and of death and hell. But without a broader context, such teaching can treat Christ as a means to an end, a step from the alpha of Eden to the omega of heaven. In a truly Christian vision of the kingdom of God, though, Jesus of Nazareth isn't a hoop we jump through to extend our lives into eternity. Jesus is the kingdom of God in person. As such, he is the meaning of life, the goal of history, and the pattern of the future. The gospel of the kingdom starts and ends with the announcement that God has made Jesus the emperor—and that he plans to bend the cosmos to fit Jesus' agenda, not the other way around.... Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/february/jesus-afterlife.html


DIE YOUNG CHALLENGES READERS TO ABANDON THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
by Dan Wooding
Award-winning and bestselling authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco live in the real world. They understand that self-fulfillment is part of the American Dream. They also understand that the only way to a truly rich and fulfilled life is death: death to self.


Their counter-cultural message is spelled out clearly in the pages of Die Young: Burying Your Self in Christ (Crossway, 2012). The DiMarcos guide readers into a practical understanding of what it means to become "living sacrifices" for Jesus Christ.

According to a news release from Jana Muntsinger of McClure Muntsinger Public Relations, Die Young is a manifesto written by a transparent husband/wife duo who are committed to living intentionally and helping others do the same. Today's culture drives people towards selfishness and ego, but Die Young flips that notion on its head and offers a better way-a way that leads to life as God intends. As Paul calls to readers in Romans 12, so the DiMarcos call their readers to become "living sacrifices."

The DiMarcos weave Biblical teaching with "first person" confessionals from each of the authors, so Die Young is both theologically rich and completely relatable. Hayley confesses how her obsession with perfection permeates led to her first engagement being called off. Michael describes how doing time in jail was exactly what he needed to wake up to whole concept of dying young. Michael explains, "For me, to die young was to remove me as the center of my world, and put God and others in my place, loving and serving them as much, if not more, than I do myself." Hayley adds, "It's about an ability to deny yourself so you don't serve your desires over God's." .... Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020113.htm


IS GOD AT WORK IN THE “ABOVE-GROUND” CHURCH IN CHINA?
by Mark Ellis
While we hear frequent reports about the underground house church movement in China, especially many of the hardships they face due to their resistance to government control, it may surprise some to realize there is life in the registered, “above ground” church, officially known as the Three-self Patriotic Movement.

China Partner serves the registered church in China “above board and legally” by supplying Christian literature, pastoral training, and forging partnerships to build the church.

Erik Burklin, president of China Partner, recently returned from China, where he worked with several pastors currently seeing God’s hand at work in significant ways. Rev. Zhao and his wife graduated from Sichuan Theological Seminary in 1995 and came to Yibin city to serve the local church.

When they arrived, there was one church building and one meeting point (two ecclesias); today there are 18 churches. Yibin had 200 believers when they started to minister in that city; today there are over 4,000.... Read this in full at
http://blog.godreports.com/2012/02/god-is-working-in-the-above-ground-church-in-china/


THE ORANGE TOUR ONLINE SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 6
The Orange Tour Online (http://whatisorange.org/orangetouronline) will be held next Tuesday, March 6. Hosted by Orange, a nonprofit organization providing resources and training to help churches maximize their influence on the spiritual growth of the next generation, this online event will be packed with practical ideas for church leaders and ministries. It is designed to move teams toward a unified strategy and provide easy-to-implement suggestions for partnering with parents. Reggie Joiner, founder of Orange, will focus on leadership essentials, big ideas for churches, and the nine core insights to shaping the next generation's worldview.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/751119062.html


LAITY LODGE MARKS THE LIFE OF KEITH MILLER
Leaders and staff of Laity Lodge (http://www.laitylodge.org/) marked the death and celebrated the life and national impact of Laity Lodge's founding director John Keith Miller, who died Jan. 22, 2012 at the age of 84. Howard E. Butt, Jr., president of the H. E. Butt Foundation and Foundations for Laity Renewal and founder of Laity Lodge, called Miller "instrumental in introducing the open, candid philosophy that made this the 'safe place' it is today."

Miller's "new kind of honesty," Butt said, encouraged clergy and laity alike to share spiritual struggles as well as victories. Miller helped make Laity Lodge one the first Christian retreats to integrate the small group concept into regular programming.

"Keith's work marked a decisive change in American Christian culture, cutting across a broad swath of church life," Butt said.

Miller's first book, The Taste of New Wine, was published in 1965 while at Laity Lodge, selling more than a million copies. He wrote or co-wrote 24 books on subjects from Christian living, addictions and codependence, to spiritual transformation, and business. His writing with Bruce and Hazel Larson influenced the Christian world's practical understanding of "relational theology." "Keith's commitment to the adventure and the story gave many others a way to know Jesus and to live their faith," Butt said.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/4205219030.html


STUDY: VIDEO GAMES HAVE VIOLENT VIEW OF RELIGION
Debates over violent or sexually-explicit video games have been raging since the early days of gaming, as titles like Mortal Kombat, Night Trap and others fueled the fires of controversy.

But Greg Perreault, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, decided to explore an untapped avenue of gaming controversy: religion. More specifically, he focused on the correlation between violence and religion, both organized and more spiritual beliefs.

Perreault studied five games, and while the specifics differ, he found that in each case, religion was closely tied to violence.... Read this in full at
http://games.yahoo.com/blogs/plugged-in/study-video-games-violent-view-religion-020246823.html


CHRISTIAN CAMPING ASSOCIATION KICKS OFF EFFORT TO PROVIDE CAMP EXPERIENCE FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED KIDS
Christian Camp and Conference Association launched an effort this week to send underprivileged kids to camp for a week, regardless of their ability to pay. “Corners of the Field” is a national initiative to raise campership dollars and to help local camps across the U.S. give kids the best week of their lives in the beautiful setting of a camp. "Imagine the impact if any kid, anywhere could go to camp regardless of their ability to pay. Imagine if kids struggling with their identity, longing to be loved, faced with huge peer pressure or thoughts of self-injury could experience in a beautiful place the love of a God who has a plan for their lives," said Gregg Hunter, CCCA CEO/President

In conjunction with a national awareness building effort called The Power of Camp, CCCA is educating parents and the public about the need for camp and the unique benefits children receive from a week away at camp.... Read this in full at
http://religionnews2.ehclients.com/press-releases/christian-camping-association-kicks-off-effort-to-provide-camp-experience-f


STUDY: MORE KIDS GETTING SEX-CHANGE TREATMENTS
According to a new study in the medical journal Pediatrics, sex-change treatments for teens and young children are on the rise at clinics in the United States, although still a small number, CBN News reports. The treatments, which include taking drugs to stop puberty, often start around age 11. Dr. Norman Spack, who wrote the report, said pediatricians "need to know there are children who think they were born the wrong sex." Spack is the director of one of America's first gender identity medical clinics at Children's Hospital Boston, which averages about 19 sex-change procedures on kids every year.... Read this in full at
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/healthscience/2012/February/Study-More-Doctors-Giving-Kids-Sex-Change-Treatments/


MOST US CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK
New research shows more than half of births to American women younger than 30 are outside of marriage, the Daily Mail reports. With two-thirds of children in the USA born to mothers under age 30, it appears the majority of births are out of wedlock. Across all ages, four in 10 women are not married when they have children. Data shows the fastest growth in the past 20 years is among white women in their 20s with some college education but no four-year degree; most college graduates, however, marry before having children, suggesting family structure is becoming a new class divide. "Marriage has become a luxury good," said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. But studies consistently show that children born to married couples do better in school and develop fewer social, cognitive, behavioral and emotional problems.... Read this in full at
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103235/Most-children-U-S-born-wedlock.html


MORE AMERICANS REJECTING MARRIAGE IN 50S AND BEYOND
A growing number of men and women in their 50s and 60s are opting out of marriage and venturing into old age on their own.

Over the past 20 years, the divorce rate among baby boomers has surged by more than 50 percent, even as divorce rates over all have stabilized nationally. At the same time, more adults are remaining single. The shift is changing the traditional portrait of older Americans: About a third of adults ages 46 through 64 were divorced, separated or had never been married in 2010, compared with 13 percent in 1970, according to an analysis of recently released census data conducted by demographers at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio.... Read this in full at
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/us/more-americans-rejecting-marriage-in-50s-and-beyond.html?_r=1&hpw


RADIO INVITES ARAB WORLD ON 'JOURNEY OF HOPE'
More than a year after "Arab Spring" upheavals began to oust governments in North Africa and shake up much of the Middle East, another wave of hope continues to sweep across the region. The pioneering missionary radio broadcaster HCJB Global launched its "Journey of Hope" campaign March 1 (http://www.hcjb.org/journey-of-hope-about), showcasing a media outreach effort that offers a better future - and eternal destiny - for those still living amid social, political and cultural uncertainty.... Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2364319063.html


WHEN THERE'S MORE TO WINNING THAN WINNING
by Frank Deford
When last we left the NCAA, it was February madness, colleges were jumping conferences, suing each other, coaches were claiming rivals had cheated in recruiting — the usual nobility of college sports.

And then, in the midst of all this, the men's basketball team at Washington College of Chestertown, Md., journeyed to Pennsylvania to play Gettysburg College in a Division III Centennial Conference game.

It was senior night, and the loudest cheers went to Cory Weissman, No. 3, 5 feet 11 inches, a team captain — especially when he walked out onto the court as one of Gettysburg's starting five.

Yes, he was a captain, but it was, you see, the first start of his college career. Cory had played a few minutes on the varsity as a freshman, never even scoring. But then, after that season, although he was only 18 years old, he suffered a major stroke. He was unable to walk for two weeks. His whole left side was paralyzed. He lost his memory, had seizures.... Read this in full at
http://www.npr.org/2012/02/22/147186116/when-theres-more-to-winning-than-winning


CONSIDER
The strongest moral decisions are the ones we make before temptation strikes.” Life Application Study Bible


VERSE TO PONDER
God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (CEB)


THIS WEEK'S HYMN: MY FAITH LOOKS UP TO THEE
Words: Ray Palmer, 1830
Music: Lowell Mason, 1830

My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine!

May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire!
As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,
Pure warm, and changeless be, a living fire!

While life’s dark maze I tread,
And griefs around me spread, be Thou my Guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away,
Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.

When ends life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold sullen stream over me roll;
Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!

>from NetHymnal at
http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/m/y/myfluptt.htm


     ON PRAYER
Too many people regard prayer as a formalized routine of words, a refuge for weaklings, or a childish petition for material things. We sadly undervalue prayer when we conceive it in these terms, just as we should underestimate rain by describing it as something that fills the birdbath in our garden. Properly understood, prayer is a mature activity indispensable to the fullest development of personality--the ultimate integration of man's highest faculties. Only in prayer do we achieve that complete and harmonious assembly of body, mind and spirit which gives the frail human reed its unshakable strength.” 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


     PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY 
http://christiansincrisis.net/


     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!

PERSONAL
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

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


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

The Complete Gift Solution
http://www.FranksWorldOfGifts.com

Books, Music & More!

http://www.ChristianConnectionBooks.com

Get your domain name here!
http://www.GoGlobalDomains.com

Up to 50 Free Penny Auction Bids
I'm giving away up to 50 free bids to use in my penny auction site. I will be giving away TONS of free bids for you to start bidding in
our exciting Penny Auctions. Register a Free account today to lock in your spot.
http://www.fdcoleman.zeekler.com/splash/


     SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES 
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why. 

10 Steps for Boosting Creativity
http://www.jpb.com/creative/creative.php

Common English Bible
http://www.CommonEnglishBible.com

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.) 


Money does not buy happiness, but it's a lot more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
Rev.frank@gmail.com


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, frank@frankcoleman.com if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program. 
Path Of Life Ministries is located in Chicago, IL.
Visit our website at: http://www.pathoflifeministries.org/  


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