Connecting man to man to God
For week of May 6, 2012
Issue 407

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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Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.
- Philippians 4:6 CEB

With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?”
- A. W. Tozer

A decennial census of US religions in America was released May 1 by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB). The results show a dramatic increase in the number of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, and Muslims, a modest increase in the number of evangelical Protestants, and a drop in the number of Catholics and mainline Protestants.

Muslims saw the greatest growth rate among the five main religious groups studied. Their numbers increased by 66.7% in the 2010 census from a decade earlier. Latter-day Saints saw the next highest growth at 45.5%, followed by evangelical Protestants at only 1.7%. The number of Catholics decreased by 5% and the number of mainline Protestants decreased by 12.8%.

Notably, when combined, nondenominational and independent churches are now the largest faith group, with over 12 million adherents, according to the report.... Read this in full at

by John Maxwell
Leadership is not an exclusive club reserved for those who were “born with it.” The traits comprising the raw materials of leadership can be acquired. Link them up with desire and nothing can keep you from becoming a leader.

Some people have a more intuitive grasp of how to lead than others. These “natural-born leaders” will always emerge, but their influence hinges upon their ability to supplement inborn talent with learned skills. Ultimately, leadership is developed, not discovered.

The Three Es of Leadership Development
1) Environment
2) Equipping
3) Exposure.... Read this in full at

Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.
On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience. Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation. May we embrace the responsibility we have to each other, and rely on the better angels of our nature in service to one another. Let us be humble in our convictions, and courageous in our virtue. Let us pray for those who are suffering around the world, and let us be open to opportunities to ease that suffering.” .... Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
While it’s possible to write a mission statement and set your goals by catching a few hours here and there, but why would you? Why rob yourself of the opportunity to be alone with God and by doing so telling him that you’re giving him your full attention. “Speak to me, Lord. I’m listening.” Hearing from God requires time alone with him to listen for his direction. It is his guidance you’ll need to truly live a life that blesses him and pleases you.

You say you just don’t have the time? Then skip church, take Sunday off, ask your spouse, a friend, or relative to watch the kids. People have reported that when they’ve asked their spouse for a day off to seek God to be a more godly man or woman, and not just to go to a game, fishing, or shopping, they were surprised at how excited they were to help out. Who wouldn’t want a spouse more deeply committed to them, their children and God? .... Read this in full at

by John Ortberg
Mark Twain reportedly said that man is the only creature that blushes — or needs to.

Guilt is perhaps the modern world's most undervalued commodity. Our capacity for it is a hint of our meaning and destiny. We are able to knowingly create good—and evil. The ability to experience guilt is a sign of health. The only two kinds of people who experience no guilt are saints and psychopaths.


I often think that guilt is a particular hazard for people involved in ministry and church leadership. I don't mean the kind of 'godly sorrow' that the Spirit brings to lead us to repentance and full life. I mean the kind of chronic cloud of inadequacy and general 'loserliness' that chokes motivation and saps energy. So here are a few chronic guilt-inducers that you might want to consider unloading.... Read this in full at

by Erik Raymond
Often times, particularly during tough times, we struggle with the thoughts that people do not understand what we are going through. I cannot count how many times I have heard people say, "But you don't understand what I am going through!"

The good thing for us who are Christians is that we don't necessarily have to understand or identify with what each person is going through in order to help or to be consoled. Why? Because Jesus does.... Read this in full at

What does Philippians 4:13 mean when it says, 'I can do all things through Christ.'? Watch Chris DeRoco, associate pastor, Redemption Hill Church, explain it in the brief video at

     DO IT NOW
You who are letting miserable misunderstandings run on from year to year, meaning to clear them up some day; you who are keeping wretched quarrels alive because you cannot quite make up your minds that now is the day to sacrifice your pride and kill them; you who are letting your neighbor starve until you hear that he is dying of starvation or letting your friend's heart ache for a word of appreciation or sympathy, which you mean to give him some day; if you could only know and see and feel all of a sudden that time is short, how it would break the ‘spell.’ How you would go instantly and do the thing which you might never have another chance to do.”
- Phillips Brooks

Amy and I have always enjoyed keeping our house nice, especially for company. Years ago, if you called and told me you were coming to visit in an hour, our routine would have looked something like this: I'd run to tell Amy that you were coming. She'd ask when. I'd tell her in an hour. She'd panic. For the next 59.5 minutes we'd run around throwing stuff into a closet and explaining to the kids that ‘under no circumstances do you open that closet!’ Then we'd light some candles to give our home that welcoming scent. My job included putting on a worship tape to set the spiritual mood. (If you don't know what a tape is, ask someone over forty.) After freshening up we'd wait for you for the final .5 minutes to put on the our-home-and-family-are-perfect show.

As Amy matured in Christ, her priorities started to visibly change. I still remember the day Amy approached me with her new idea. ‘Instead of putting so much emphasis on our home, what if we chose to value relationships over our image?’ she asked, revealing her well-thought-out passion. ‘I'd like for our place to be the house!’ Amy said, with a spiritual strength that rivaled a Billy Graham sermon. I immediately knew what she was talking about.

She didn't want the house that everyone wanted or the house that won the yard of the month award. Amy wanted something else that I'd never experienced firsthand. Every neighborhood has the one house that every kid wants to come to for fun. It's the house where everyone spends the most time, creates the most memories, and can't wait to come back to visit. It's the house that's never perfect but always full - of food, of love, of people.

Amy carefully explained to me that we could continue to work hard to have the ‘perfect’ house (something that is unattainable anyway), or we could relax our standards and invest more energy in the people we love. So we decided we'd no longer kill ourselves to impress you with our image but instead serve you with our love. We'd have the house that felt like a home.

Now if you come over, chances are pretty good you'll have to walk by a bicycle or two, a rip stick, some faded sidewalk chalk, and a Frisbee in the driveway. You'll step over several toys in the entry way, and the cushions probably won't be straight on our sofa. You might see a half-finished board game sitting out on the dining room table and four stuffed animals sitting in chairs like they're having a tea party. But I promise that although the house may not be perfect, you'll feel welcomed and loved.

When we became more secure with who we were in Christ, we didn't need to impress others with our image but could serve them with our love. When we changed what we believed (valuing people over things), our new beliefs changed how we behaved. And with our new beliefs we found a better way to live. We don't have to live with the constant nausea of materialism; we can be settled and truly full with Living Water and the Bread of Life.”
- Craig Groeschel in Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World

by Carolyn Arends
I'm learning that understanding the literal meaning of the Bible is a more nuanced adventure than my friends and I imagined [during our college years]. We'd been blithely unaware that there is more than one genre in the Bible, or that literary context profoundly matters to meaning. We didn't understand that when we read ancient Hebrew prose poems (like Genesis 1), wisdom literature (like Proverbs), or apocalyptic literature (like Revelation) as if they were science textbooks, we were actually obscuring their meaning.

For me, the most negative consequence of all that well-intentioned literalism was the conviction that Yahweh, having given us his straightforward Word, was completely comprehensible. This paradigm both diminished my perception of God and set up my faith for crisis when I discovered aspects of God that remain stubbornly shrouded in mystery.

If you'd told me back then that the language we have for God — even (especially) much of our biblical language — must be understood analogically, I would have prayed for you and backed away slowly. I wouldn't have understood that there are no words that can be applied to God exactly the same way they are applied to creaturely things, no language that can be used "univocally." .... Read this in full at

In this video, Brennan Manning unpacks the idea, “You’re only going to be as big as your own concept of God.”.... See it at

Local Christians are gearing up to spread goodwill in the streets as part of the seventh annual Love Winnipeg.

With the goal of mobilizing Winnipeg Christians to share Jesus Christ's love through practical acts of service, Love Winnipeg will take place from May 27 to June 10. Events include a pulpit exchange, a day dedicated to caring for the inner city and a variety of events that individual churches can organize to impact their community.

"Getting the church out from behind the four walls is huge for me," says Mark Hughes, lead pastor at Church of the Rock and chair of the Love Winnipeg organizing committee. "The reason Love Winnipeg has life to it and longevity is probably because the people in the churches love to do it. They love the creativity, the ideas, and they love getting out of the pews and into the community connecting with people."

More than 90 churches organized over 100 events last year, according to Ruth Wall, who has served as the organizing committee's administrator ever since Love Winnipeg began in 2006.... Read this in full at

The 23rd annual US Capitol Bible Reading Marathon ( began at 6:00 PM on Friday, April 27, 2012. For 90 continuous hours beginning with the reading of Genesis 1:1, every word of the Bible was read aloud and without commentary, culminating at @ 1:00 PM on Tuesday, May 1, with the reading of the final chapters of the book of Revelation. During those five days, hundreds of Bible believers gathered on the West Front of the US Capitol to read a portion of the Bible, to listen and to pray. See video coverage at

Keep on praying and guard your prayers with thanksgiving.”
- Colossians 4:2 CEB

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.  Love them anyway.”
- Mother Teresa

A longtime star on the conservative Christian circuit, controversial evangelical historian David Barton is today the No. 1 trending topic on Google. The online surge comes on the heels of Barton’s appearance on The Daily Show May 1 (

Barton argues that religion – and Christianity in particular – played a huge role in the founding and history of the United States, and that that role has been largely scrubbed from the history books by modern secular elites.

The Texas-based Barton runs a group called WallBuilders, which is "dedicated to presenting America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built – a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined," according to its website.... Read this in full at

Also see “Professors Explore Popular Christian Claims About Thomas Jefferson”

by Mark Oppenheimer
As difficult as it is to find good writing about religion, it is harder still to find good television about religion. Most televangelists do not do good (challenging, nuanced) religious television: one of their goals may be to educate, or win converts, but they have to raise money, and offering sophisticated portraits of religion is as likely to close people’s wallets as open them. Religious television series tend to be unwatchable: no Touched by an Angel for me. And talk-show hosts are rarely any better when it comes to religion. The skepticism of Bill Maher can be as simplistic as the basest prosperity gospel, and we should all be glad that the eager gullibility of Oprah is now quarantined on her own network. Except for public television’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, it is hard to find intelligent talk about religion on TV.

Except for Jon Stewart, that is. The secular Jewish comedian, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, covers religion often, but more important, he covers it well. Stewart seems to genuinely enjoy interviewing religious figures, whether of the left (like Sojourners magazine’s Jim Wallis) or the right (like pseudo-historian, political advisor and textbook consultant David Barton). Some of The Daily Show’s best sketches deal with religion, and his writers and multi-ethnic cast — including one of the few recognizable Muslim comedians in America, Aasif Mandvi — frequently move beyond satire. They are often funny, but just as often smart.... Read this in full at

Counted together, independent evangelical congregations comprise one of the largest religious groups in the nation, after Roman Catholics and their evangelical counterparts in the Southern Baptist Convention. That's according to the census of American religious congregations.

This year, for the first time, a nationwide aggregation of religious traditions counted nondenominational evangelical congregations, ranging from storefront sanctuaries to megachurches.

The 2010 US Religion Census revealed that evangelicals affiliated with independent churches make up the third-largest religious group in the nation. In fact, in 48 out of 50 states, "sovereign" evangelicals occupy a top five spot. Meanwhile, Mormons rank as the fastest-growing group in the nation, followed by Muslims.

The 2010 US Religion Census also improved upon past years by mapping Buddhists, Hindus, four branches of the Jewish community and practitioners of the primarily Japanese Shinto tradition.... Read this in full at

How great is the contrast between that forgiveness to which we lay claim from God towards us, and our temper towards others! God, we expect, will forgive us great offences, offences many times repeated; and will forgive them freely, liberally, and from the heart. But we are offended at our neighbor, perhaps, for the merest trifles, and for an injury only once offered; and we are but half reconciled when we deem to forgive. Even an uncertain humor, an ambiguous word, or a suspected look, will inflame our anger; and hardly any persuasion will induce us for a long time to relent.”
- Henry W. Thornton

[As Jesus's disciples grew up, they] took for granted, as did most other religions of the time, that worship must include sacrifice: something had to die. Their God had forbidden human sacrifice, and so on a festival day Jerusalem was filled with the bleats and cries of a quarter million animals destined for the temple altar. The noise and smell of sacrifice were sharp sensory reminders of the great gulf between God and themselves.

I worked in the Old Testament for so long [while working on The Student Bible] that, when one day I skipped over to the book of Acts, the contrast jolted me. Now God's followers, good Jews most of them, were meeting in private homes, singing hymns, and addressing God with the informal Abba. Where was the fear, and the solemn protocol required of anyone who dared approach [God]? No one brought animals to sacrifice; death did not enter into worship except for the solemn moment when they broke bread and drank wine together, reflecting on the once-for-all sacrifice Jesus had made.

In these ways, Jesus introduced profound changes in how we view God. Mainly, he brought God near. To Jews who knew a distant, ineffable God, Jesus brought the message that God cares for the grass of the field, feeds the sparrows, numbers the hairs on a person's head. To Jews who dared not pronounce the Name, Jesus brought the shocking intimacy of the Aramaic word Abba. It was a familiar term of family affection, onomatopoeic like "Dada," the first word many children spoke. Before Jesus, no one would have thought of applying such a word to Yahweh, the Sovereign Lord of the universe. After him, it became a standard term of address even in Greek-speaking congregations; imitating Jesus, they borrowed the foreign word to express their own intimacy with the Father.

An event happened as Jesus hung on the cross that seemed to seal the new intimacy for the young church. Mark records that just as Jesus breathed his last, ‘The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.’ This massive curtain had served to wall off the Most Holy Place, where God's presence dwelled. As the author of Hebrews would later note, the tearing of this curtain showed beyond doubt exactly what was accomplished by Jesus' death. No more sacrifices would ever be required. No high priest need tremble to enter the sacred room.

Those of us in modern times have lived under the new intimacy for so long that we take it for granted. We sing choruses to God and converse in casual prayers. To us, the notion of sacrifice seems primitive. Too easily we forget what it cost Jesus to win for us all - ordinary people, not just priests - immediate access to God's presence. We know God as Abba, the loving Father, only because of Jesus.”
- Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew

Delegates to the governing body of the United Methodist Church (UMC) have maintained language in the denomination's rule book calling homosexual practice "incompatible with Christian teaching." Delegates from Africa, comprising about 30 percent of the total, were decisive in votes on wording that sought to soften the church's position. In a negotiated conclusion, it appears all subsequent legislation on sexuality will be left unaddressed at the denominational gathering.

The United Methodist Church will continue to prohibit same-sex unions and expect clergy to be celibate if single and monogamous if married in a marriage between man and woman. The development is counter to recent moves in other liberal-led U.S.-based mainline Protestant churches to liberalize their sexual teachings.... Read this in full at

by Michael S. Horton
Among the contradictions of my childhood experiences in churches was the fact that, on one hand, there was the famous portrait of Jesus by Warner Sallman — meek and mild verging on the effeminate — and, on the other hand, the appearance of various sports figures to remind us that Jesus was not just male but a man's man who ran the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip.

It is hardly a newsflash that we've been living through an era of upheaval in gender roles. Churches have been divided over the role of women in ministry. In "Young, Restless, Reformed" circles, a new generation is discovering Jonathan Edwards and "masculine Christianity" in one fell swoop. Weaned on romantic — even sentimental — images of a deity who seems to exist to ensure our emotional and psychic equilibrium, many younger Christians (especially men) are drawn to a robust vision of a loving and sovereign, holy and gracious, merciful and just, powerful and tender King. As David Murrow pointed out in Why Men Hate Going to Church (2004), men are tired of singing love songs to Jesus and don't feel comfortable in a "safe environment" that caters to women, children, and older people. His critique is familiar to many: men don't like "conformity, control, and ceremony," so churches need to "adjust the thermostat" and orient their ministry toward giving men tasks (since they're "doers"). Men don't like to learn by instruction; they need object lessons and, most of all, to find ways to discover truth for themselves.

I get the point about a "soft" ministry, especially worship, with its caressing muzak and the inoffensive drone of its always-affirming message. It's predictably and tediously "safe." Get the women there and they'll bring their husbands and children. Not only has that not worked, it's sure to bore any guy who doesn't want to hear childrearing tips or yet another pep talk on how to have better relationships.... Read this in full at

by Peggy Fletcher Stack
In the wildly popular and enigmatic TV show “Lost,” strangers found themselves marooned together on a mysterious island where they explored themes of love, death and redemption (and also the nature of time and mortality).

Today’s viewers might have missed the fact that an earlier program, watched by millions of Boomers, also had a reportedly spiritual message — “Gilligan’s Island.”

The seven castaways, who signed up for a “three-hour tour,” washed up on an “uncharted desert isle,” from which they could never escape. In this telling, no time travel tricks were allowed.

And each of them, according to a book by the show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz, represented one of Christianity’s “seven deadly sins.”

So which figure represented which sin? Here’s a suggestion:
The Professor — Pride.
Thurston Howell III — Greed.
Ginger — Lust.
Mary Ann — Envy (of Ginger's looks).
Mrs. Lovey Howell — Gluttony.
The Skipper — Anger or wrath.
Gilligan — Sloth.

There’s even a Bible study book titled Gilligan’s Island and the Seven Deadly Sins by Stephen Skelton.

A separate site ( sees Lovey Howell as representing sloth, noting that the rich man’s wife “has never lifted a finger in her life,” and the Skipper represents both gluttony and anger.

This leaves Gilligan without an assigned characteristic.

Gilligan is the person who put them there. He prevents them from leaving by foiling all of their escape plots. Also, it is his island," the site notes, "[and] he does wear red in every episode."

Could the goofy title character in the white sailor’s hat be, well, Satan?

by Alice Horner
It isn’t exactly “Green Acres,” but a rooftop farm at a New York City Baptist church is making the improbable a reality.

March 31 kicked off the second planting season for a neighborhood garden consisting of 52 soil-filled kiddie pools that serve as planting beds atop Metro Baptist Church in the part of midtown Manhattan known as Hell’s Kitchen.

Alan Sherouse, pastor at Metro for three years, says the idea was a dream for several years, but it became a reality at a neighborhood meeting in the fall of 2010. Demands on Metro’s food pantry had increased, and there were rumors that a local vegetable market was closing. Taking action, Sherouse teamed up with MCCNY Charities and the Clinton Housing Development Corporation to get the project going.... Read this in full at

by Michael Hyatt
There is a tragedy in our world today. Most people aren’t living their dreams, and the reason is simple: fear. They’re scared to be who they are.

When you endeavor to find your life’s work, there is a lot at risk:
* You could fail.
* You could lose the respect of your friends.
* You could go broke.

You could mess up in a hundred different ways. But — and this is important — you could also succeed. And until you start living into your calling, you’re robbing the world of a gift.... Read this in full at

by Daniel Silliman
The beginnings of Tyndale House were audacious -- even beyond audacious. The start of the publishing firm was so implausible, it's success springing from a kind of obviously crazy idea, and yet it has been so successful, it calls for some sort of explanation.

The Christian publishing house is, today, the third largest Christian publisher in the United States, with nearly 10 percent of the Christian market. Tyndale published such pivotal and important evangelical books as Left Behind, and Tim LaHaye non-fiction, James Dobson's bestseller, Dare to Discipline, and Josh McDowell's More than a Carpenter, as well as more recent successes such as the best-selling memoir of Indianapolis Colts' coach Tony Dungy, and an account of missionaries held hostage in the Philippine jungle, In the Presence of My Enemies, which sold 200,000 copies in hardcover.

The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, with events starting May 3.

Fifty years ago, this was a kitchen table operation, by one 45-year-old man, the author of a children's picture Bible who had a degree in zoology, a bit of experience on the distribution side of publishing, and a manuscript he couldn't get published.... Read this in full at

The head of a California-based evangelical religious liberty group stated Thursday that Christianity is presently the most persecuted religion on earth based on evidence gathered.

Dr. Carl Moeller told The Christian Post at an event on rising religious intolerance abroad that Christians are "the most persecuted in the world" when the nonprofit examined religious groups suffering from increased persecution.

"In terms of sheer numbers, the large size of the Christian populations around the world, where they're repressed or restricted… Whether you count martyrs, those killed, or you count those living in regimes, sizable Christian populations live under extreme restrictions in places like China, Indonesia, and of course the Middle East," said Moeller.... Read this in full at

Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.”
- Martin Luther King

Pray continually.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 CEB

Words: John of Damascus (675-749); translated from Greek to English by John M. Neale, 1859
Music: Arthur S. Sullivan, 1872

Come, ye faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness;
God hath brought forth Israel into joy from sadness;
Loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke Jacob’s sons and daughters,
Led them with unmoistened foot through the Red Sea waters.

Tis the spring of souls today; Christ has burst His prison,
And from three days’ sleep in death as a sun hath risen;
All the winter of our sins, long and dark, is flying
From His light, to Whom we give laud and praise undying.

Now the queen of seasons, bright with the day of splendor,
With the royal feast of feasts, comes its joy to render;
Comes to glad Jerusalem, who with true affection
Welcomes in unwearied strains Jesus’ resurrection.

Neither might the gates of death, nor the tomb’s dark portal,
Nor the watchers, nor the seal hold Thee as a mortal;
But today amidst the twelve Thou didst stand, bestowing
That Thy peace which evermore passeth human knowing.

Alleluia!” now we cry to our King immortal,
Who, triumphant, burst the bars of the tomb’s dark portal;
Alleluia!” with the Son, God the Father praising,
Alleluia!” yet again to the Spirit raising.

>from NetHymnal at

Many a fellow is praying for rain with his tub the wrong side up.”
- Sam Jones


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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The only time you make a mistake is when you don’t learn from it.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor

Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box! 

CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box! 

The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ. 
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program. 
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