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For week of July 1, 2012
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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“The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives.”
- 2 Peter 3:9 (CEB)
“Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand.”
- Mark Twain
DEAD SEA SCROLLS, BIBLE HISTORY BROUGHT TO LIFE IN EXHIBIT
Type "Dead Sea Scrolls" into the search bar and Google presents 29 pages of images related to the ancient documents. Stick the 1998 animated film "The Prince of Egypt" into the DVD player and DreamWorks presents its rendition of Bible times in the Near East.
For many Christians, the eastern lands where God spoke to Abraham, where God led the Israelites to freedom, and where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again may just as well exist only in the events' respective time periods. Hindered by vacation time, finances, or other responsibilities, millions of people cannot visit the desert surrounding the Dead Sea. For some, Google and DreamWorks may offer the closest access they may ever have to the lands the patriarchs crisscrossed by sandaled foot.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hopes to change that reality and give more people than ever a chance to see manuscripts that reveal the faithful transmission of the biblical texts over thousands of years through its Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition, which will run from July 2012 to January 2013 (http://seethescrolls.com/).... Read this in full at
Also see “Why the Dead Sea Scrolls matter”
“Scrolls' accidental discovery adds to intrigue”
SUNDAY OBSERVANCE (THE “BACKSTORY”)
by Clare De Graaf
“Papa, is it a sin to work on Sunday?”
A few weeks ago my wife and I had four of our grandchildren ages 9-13 out to our cottage overnight. On Sunday I was taking a walk with them and we passed two guys building a wall; therefore, the question.
“The short answer to your question of whether or not it’s a sin to work on Sunday is this; it depends! Let’s get some ice cream, because this will take a few minutes to explain.”
The worst kept secret in our family is that I give long answers to almost every question put to me, especially about the Bible. The reason I do is because I value context. I want them to know the “backstory” of why I and other followers of Jesus believe or behave the way we do instead of simply giving them the, “because the Bible says so” line. While that answer may be accurate, it’s not very helpful for helping our children or grandchildren grow in their admiration for the wisdom of God.
What follows is a very simplified version of the theology behind a teaching that still confuses and even angers some adults about “the rules” they grew up with surrounding what they could and couldn’t do on Sunday. I hope it’s helpful to you as you teach your children or grandchildren.... Read this in full at
A HOLY NUDGE (ARE YOU LISTENING?)
“After they left the room, they began saying to one another, ‘This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.’ -Acts 26:31
“The apostle Paul was a persuasive speaker, but he did not convince all his listeners. Bernice was part of the second-highest audience before whom Paul presented his defense. She was with her brother Herod Agrippa II when Festus invited them to evaluate this outspoken Jewish-Roman prisoner who had recently appealed his case to Caesar. Bernice was apparently convinced of Paul’s innocence, but failed to apply his message to her own life.
“We know from sources outside the Scriptures that Bernice led a shameful life. She lived with her brother in what appears to have been an incestuous relationship. She outlived one husband and abandoned another. Later she was the mistress of Titus, who eventually became Roman emperor. She moved in the highest social circles of her time, yet she rejected or ignored the opportunity to find the peace with God that came so close to her through Paul. We don’t know if Bernice considered what Paul said, only that she did not respond to it.
“God may well bring a life-changing opportunity into your life today, or he may simply nudge you toward a more honest, patient or self-controlled lifestyle. In either case, are you listening?
Prayer: Lord, make me aware of your holy nudges.”
Source: Once-A-Day Men & Women of the Bible Devotional
THE CHURCH'S DOMAIN
On the frontier of Internet exploration, the .church is prime virtual real estate.
Recently, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) released a list of applications for nearly 2,000 possible new "after-the-dot" endings to website URLs. From .aaa to .zulu, the list runs a gamut of possible endings. The mix includes .sex, .shop, .pizza, brand names like .nissan and .northwesternmutual, and several faith-based words, including .bible, .catholic, .church, .cbn, .christmas, .faith, .mormon, .halal, .islam, .yoga, and .kosher. Of those, only .church and .yoga had more than one applicant.
Spokesmen for the two applicants for .church — LifeChurch.tv, an Oklahoma-based church, and Donuts Inc., a for-profit domain name registry that coordinates domain name use — both said they would make the domain broadly available to faith-based organizations. In contrast, representatives for the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they intend to closely monitor .catholic, .mormon, and .lds to protect their reputations. Only groups recognized under canonical law will be able to use .catholic, said Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The LDS church also plans to restrict its domains to official Mormon entities.... Read this in full at
WILL NAE'S CODE OF ETHICS FOR PASTORS BECOME PROFESSIONAL STANDARD?
Prominent Christian leaders continue to sign and endorse a "Code of Ethics for Pastors" document (http://www.nae.net/codeofethics) created by a National Association of Evangelicals taskforce and recently released. But others wonder why the Bible – already serving as a standard – isn't enough.
"As evangelicals, I think we have the best of pastors across America, but what we have not had in the past is a code of ethics for professionals," said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE, in regards to career ministers during a panel teleconference Wednesday. "We believe that most pastors are professionally ethical, but we recognize that there is a benefit to a written standard to measure by."
Megachurch pastor Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., recently signed the Code of Ethics for Pastors, joining Charles Blake, West Angeles Church of God in Christ; Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church; Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church; Max Lucado, Oak Hills Church; John Ortberg, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church; Samuel Rodriguez, New Season Christian Worship Center; and Bryant Wright, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.... Read this in full at
BAD HABITS: HOW TO TRADE THEM IN FOR GOOD
“‘A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit,’ Erasmus said. When I read this thought, I am surprised because I had never known and I am sad for all that would have changed if only I had.
“I look down at the pen, this pen I keep wielding, one writing her way all the way to one thousand [gifts]. This is nothing less than the driving of nails. Nails driving out my habits of discontent and driving in my habit of [thankfulness].
“I'm hammering in nails to pound out nails, ugly nails that Satan has pierced through the world, my heart. It starts to unfold, light in the dark, a door opening up, how all these years it's been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent. Because that habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude. I hammer.”
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts: Finding Joy in What Really Matters
MASTERING THE GOLF SWING OF LIFE
by Mark Galli
Most [golf] amateurs will not hit more than three "decent" shots out of 100 in any given round. What's amazing is how little this discourages most of us. And how much we still believe that during the next round, we're probably going to hit somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of our shots the way we intend! And when we talk about our last game, we'll mostly talk about those three "perfect" shots.
This strikes me as a close approximation to the rhythms of sanctification. I'm pretty pessimistic when it comes to claims that we can be "radically transformed" by the gospel in this life. I believe most of the transformation language in the New Testament is spoken in hope; that is, it refers to our life with Christ at the end of history, when everything will be transformed, root and branch (see Philippians 3:21, for example). In the meantime, we muddle along mired in sin, but not without hope. We know that it is not our sin that defines us, but our forgiveness in Christ. That we sin over and over is not news, and it's no even longer even particularly bad news; it's just old news. The truly amazing thing — the good news — is that this old news does not define who we are, which is beloved of God despite our sin, forgiven in grace! .... Read this in full at
I'M TERRIFIED OF SHARING MY FAITH. HOW DO I GET OVER THAT?
by Becky Pippert
I've discovered that most church folk, whatever their denomination, have a similar reaction to evangelism: "That's just not my cup of tea, thank you." You can almost hear the iron gates clanging shut in their minds.
When I ask people why they don't evangelize, I've heard: "I've never been fond of imposing something on someone." Or, as one Reed College student so succinctly put it, "Evangelism is how many people I've offended this week." Or one of my favorites, "You know, I would evangelize if I didn't love people so much."
Most Christians are so afraid of being labeled part of the lunatic fringe that they say nothing about their faith, save in the friendly confines of the church. Any effective evangelism training begins by realizing people are plagued by guilt, fear, and negative attitudes, which must be identified and exorcised before we can get anywhere.... Read this in full at
PURSUING GOD THROUGH THE SMALL THINGS
by Joel J. Miller
We live in a day of extremes, and sometimes it seems our culture’s highest virtue is going overboard. Everything is super-sized, quad-shot, high-energy, maximum-strength, full-throttle.
I wonder and worry about how much of that infects our faith. If being radical for Jesus means being totally committed to the kingdom, that’s great. But if we’re obsessing on doing something big for Jesus, as if that’s the only thing that counts, then we’re missing something. The truth is that holiness and kingdom service are found in the small occurrences of normal days.... Read this in full at
THE REACH OF LOVE
by Tony Evans
Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He decided to pass through Samaria. He was returning to Jerusalem and the disciples could not believe He wanted to travel into the region. Even though it was the shorter route home, the Samaritans were considered to be unclean by most Jews. Therefore, the area was generally avoided. But not by Jesus. He had an appointment with a woman at a well. Only, He did not let His disciples in on His plans.
As He stopped to rest beside the well, they urged Him to keep moving. Finally, He sent them into the city to buy food. When a woman showed up to draw water, Jesus asked her for a drink. He violated a long list of Jewish rules by talking with this woman—a person whose life was far from pure. Only women who lived sinful lifestyles came to the well at midday. Yet, this was exactly when and where she met the Savior.
The bottom line of their discussion was focused on God’s unconditional love. He is willing to go anywhere to meet us, and Jesus proves this by traveling into Samaria. Until we come to know and experience His personal love for us, we will never understand how to worship Him.... Read this in full at
THEOLOGIAN: YOUNG EVANGELICALS WANT TO RETHINK WHAT IT MEANS TO BE EVANGELICAL
Theologian Peter Enns believes that some – mostly young, evangelical Christians today – want to rethink what it means to be evangelical but the movement's leaders are resistant to talking about the issues for fear of repercussions.
"People within evangelicalism desperately want to question the very foundations that made evangelicalism what it is, which is, basically, defending the faith, defending the Bible against the bad guys," Enns told The Christian Post in an interview at the Pastorum Live Conference hosted by Logos Bible Software earlier this month.
The Bible raises some difficult issues that these young evangelicals want to talk about, he said. But some "old guard" evangelicals make it difficult to have those conversations. These younger evangelicals don't want to leave evangelicalism, but they want to maintain their evangelical identity while transforming it.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them.”
- Matthew 16:25 (CEB)
“My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
- Clarence Budington Kelland
THEOLOGIAN D.A. CARSON: HELL IS NOT FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO REPENT OF SINS
People who end up in hell do not repent, from what the Bible tells us, said respected New Testament scholar Don Arthur (D.A.) Carson June 24 at The Gospel Coalition National Women's Conference in Orlando.
Carson, who is co-founder of The Gospel Coalition along with Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, said that as far as he can see in the Bible, "there is no hint anywhere that people in hell genuinely repent."
Pointing to the well-known parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, Carson, who is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., noted that in the story the rich man dies and from hell he looks up and sees Lazarus and Abraham. But instead of admitting that he was wrong to treat Lazarus poorly while they were alive, the rich man continues to boss him around.... Read this in full at
EMERGENCY BIBLE NUMBERS
- When you are sad, call on John 14
- When you don’t feel loved, call on Romans 8:38-39
- When you have sinned, call on 1 John 1:8-9
- When you are facing danger, call on Psalm 91
- When people have failed you, call on Psalm 27
- When God feel far from you, call on Psalm 139
- When your faith needs encouraging, call on Hebrews 11
- When you are scared, call on Psalm 23
- When you are worried, call on Matthew 6:25-34
- When you are hurt, call on Colossians 3:12-17
- When you feel no one is on your side, call on Romans 8:31-39
- When you are seeking rest, call on Matthew 11:25-30
- When you are suffering, call on Romans 8:18-30
- When you feel you’re failing, call on Psalm 121
- When you pray, call on Matthew 6:9-13
- When you need courage, call on Joshua 1
- When you are in need, call on Philippians 4:19
- When you are hated because of your faith, call on John 15
- When you are losing hope, call on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
- When you are seeking peace, call on John 14:27
- When you want to do good works, call on John 15
- When you want to live a happy life, call on Colossians 3:12-17
- When you don’t understand what God is doing, call on Isaiah 55:8-9
- When you want to get along with others, call on Romans 12:9-21
50 YEARS LATER: HIGH COURT'S SCHOOL PRAYER RULING STILL FUELS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY DEBATE
When Steven Engel and several other parents decided to sue the state of New York in 1958 over a state-composed prayer being recited in public schools, a culture war was ignited that still smolders today.
In an interview four decades later, Engle recalled the obscene phone calls, a cross burning and taunting of his children in his New Hyde Park community, which was in conflict over the prayer and his decision to fight it.
While the US Supreme Court sided with Engel on June 25, 1962, the decision hardly put to rest the overarching issue of religion in public schools.... Read this in full at
OPPORTUNITIES VS. RESPONSIBILITIES: ONE KEY TO LEARNING THE DIFFERENCE
“Ish-Bosheth probably never planned to be king. His older brother Jonathan was the obvious choice to replace their father, King Saul. Then, in a single day, Saul, Jonathan and two other brothers were killed in battle. Ish-Bosheth's absence from the battle might have indicated a lack of heart for fighting or leading.
“Much like his father, Saul, Ish-Bosheth was a hesitant and ineffective king. He was put on the throne by Abner, the commander of Saul's army. Though Ish-Bosheth was a surviving son of the king, he owed his position to Abner. Yet Ish-Bosheth, whose reign lasted only two years, was also afraid of Abner's power. When Abner was killed, Ish-Bosheth must have realized the weakness of his position. The king was soon murdered by two of his own officers.
“Ish-Bosheth mistook an opportunity for a responsibility. Like him, we are often compelled to fill a need, regardless of its incompatibility with our gifts and strengths. When Abner offered the throne to Ish-Bosheth, he could have declined, knowing he wasn't suited for the job. He certainly did not ask for God's counsel. Even when the door before us seems open wide, we would be wise to pray before we go inside.
“Prayer: Lord, help me discern the opportunities and responsibilities before me.”
Source: Once-A-Day Men & Women of the Bible
THEOLOGY OF THE SODA BAN
by Sebastian White, O.P.
Physical health is a good thing because the human body is a good thing. The human person is a hylomorphic unity, which is just the philosophical way of saying that it’s composed of both body and soul, matter and form: The soul is the form of the body, Aristotle would say. So the body is not simply a gangly collection of disparate organs but a living human person, with a principle that accounts for its organic unity and growth. The body is not a mistake or ill-conceived tool, either. The soul does not simply make use of the body like an underpaid and underappreciated intern who goes home every night in tears. No, the definition of man includes flesh and bones.
One of the most serious threats to the medieval Church was the dualistic Cathar, or Albigensian heresy — body, bad; spirit, good. It is interesting to note that, historically, the moral consequences of dualism tend to be opposites: extreme asceticism and extreme hedonism. Both are logically defensible: If the body is contemptible and unimportant, you either punish it severely for the good of the soul, or wallow in indulgent pleasure because what you do with it doesn’t really matter. So some of the Albigensians spurned any sexual contact, venturing beyond asceticism into masochism, and advocated suicide, often by starvation, to finally free the soul from the trap of the body. The others . . . well, use your imagination (on second thought, don’t). Whatever way you slice it, their obsession with spiritual perfection masked, paradoxically, an obsession with the body.
There aren’t many card-carrying Albigensians running around today, but there is another kind of bodily obsession — a cult of the body — that is just plain unhealthy. The ideal body image shifts with culture, no doubt. The plump, pale figures of Baroque painting were archetypically beautiful and aristocratic. But what is considered ideal now — and gyms surround you with magazines, pictures, and mirrors to aid your meditation — is elusive and unrealistic. Many spend hours of precious time and heaps of precious cash for the gym, but can’t seem to find the time for Sunday worship, or spare more than a couple of bucks for the church.... Read this in full at
EXODUS INTERNATIONAL REJECTS REPARATIVE THERAPY FOR GAYS
Exodus International President Alan Chambers addressed the crowd at the 37th annual Freedom Conference on Wednesday in order to share why the organization will no longer use reparative therapy to help those who struggle with same-sex attraction (SSA), and will use a model that focuses more on discipleship instead.
Chambers told The Christian Post that reparative therapy, which seeks to "cure" SSA through activities like counseling and prayer, sets the person seeking therapy up for failure by giving him or her unrealistic expectations.
"As the president of Exodus International and, even more than that, as a Christian leader who is out in front of people all the time, it is my responsibility to lead honestly and transparently and to share with people that, just because you become a Christian,...your struggles don't always go away," he said. "You don't get to a place where you're never going to be tempted again." .... Read this in full at
PROMINENT ATHEIST BLOGGER CONVERTS TO CATHOLICISM
She went from atheist to Catholic in just over 1,000 words.
Leah Libresco, who’d been a prominent atheist blogger for the religion website Patheos, announced on her blog recently that after years of debating many “smart Christians,” she has decided to become one herself, and that she has begun the process of converting to Catholicism.
Libresco, who had long blogged under the banner “Unequally Yoked: A geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend,” said that at the heart of her decision were questions of morality and how one finds a moral compass.... Read this in full at
DAILY AWWW: DAD'S AMAZING GRAD GIFT
On behalf of all the parents out there, Thanks for nothing, Bryan Martin!
While we're sure your daughter Brenna appreciates the beautifully thoughtful graduation gift you gave her, it also pretty much guaranteed the rest of us will look like slackers with whatever gift we give our own children now.
What's an iPad, necklace or hearty pat on the back when compared to the lovingly sentimental item you spent 13 years creating for this one special day?
On the surface, Martin's gift of a copy of Dr. Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" appears nice, if unspectacular. But it gets better once the book is opened.
Inside, the pages are filled with notes and remembrances from each of Brenna's teachers, principals and coaches which her dad asked them to write down at the end of every school year for the last 13 school years since kindergarten.... Read this in full at
“The army of Israel looked at Goliath through the eyes of man and said he's too big to beat. David looked at him through the eyes of God and said he's too big to miss.”
- Wally Carter
VERSE TO PONDER
“You must not take revenge nor hold a grudge against any of your people; instead, you must love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”
- Leviticus 19:18 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: BLESSÈD CROSS OF JESUS
Words: Fanny Crosby, 1877
Music: Hubert P. Main
Wand’rer, come, there’s room for thee,
At the cross of Jesus;
Come and taste salvation free
At the cross of Jesus.
Blessèd cross! precious cross!
There my hopes are twining;
There I see a Father’s love
Through a Savior shining.
Come and bring thy burden now
To the cross of Jesus;
Lay thy burning, throbbing brow
At the cross of Jesus.
O what comfort thou wilt find
At the cross of Jesus;
Love thy broken heart will bind
At the cross of Jesus.
See the crimson waters flow
At the cross of Jesus;
Come and tell thy every woe
At the cross of Jesus.
>from NetHymnal at
“Prayer crowns God with the honor and glory due to His name, and God crowns prayer with assurance and comfort. The most praying souls are the most assured souls.”
- Thomas Brooks
PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
DAILY BLESSING PACT
Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.
I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Estates & inheritances
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase
"And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deut. 28:2).
[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you'd like us to add you to our prayer chain to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness. I'll add your name to the list for the time you'll be away.]
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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!
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