Connecting man to
man to God|
For week of July 22, 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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If we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.”
- 1 John 1:7 (CEB)
“A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.”
- Andre Maurois
THE DARK NIGHT IN DENVER — GROPING FOR ANSWERS
by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
The news hit the airwaves like a sudden onslaught, and the truth began to sink in. It has happened again. This time, 50 people shot while attending the midnight premier of the last in the Batman sequence, “The Dark Knight Rises.” According to press reports, a 24-year-old man burst into the crowded theater, wearing a gas mask and carrying an arsenal. After deploying what is believed to be tear gas, he opened fire with a shotgun, a rifle, and two handguns. At least 12 people are dead, and dozens are injured, many critically.
Over 100 police officers responded to the scene in Aurora, just a few miles from Columbine High School, where in 1999 two high school students killed 12 fellow students and one teacher in a rampage that also injured 21 other students. That school massacre became a milestone in the nation’s legacy of violence. Now, yet another Denver suburb joins that tragic list.... Read this in full at
GALLUP POLL: AMERICAN CONFIDENCE IN ORGANIZED RELIGION WANES
Americans' confidence in organized religion has been declining since the 1970s, according to a Gallup poll report. Their newest findings show that just 44% of Americans have "a great deal/quite a lot" of confidence in "the church or organized religion," dropping from 46% in 2002 and 46% in 2007. These results are from Gallup's annual poll of "confidence in institutions." More Protestants express confidence in organized religion than Catholics (56% vs. 46%).... Read this in full at
NEW REPORT EXAMINES BELIEFS OF ASIAN-AMERICANS
Pluralities of Asian-Americans, or 42%, are Christian, according to a new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The next largest group of Asian-Americans identified as unaffiliated (26%), followed by Buddhists (14%), Hindus (10%) and Muslims (4%).... Read this in full at
SURVEY FINDS 19% WITHOUT RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION
Nearly one in five Americans, or 19%, say they have no religious affiliation, a Pew Center for the People and the Press survey finds. That’s the highest figure ever documented, though that number has been rising at a rapid clip.... Read this in full at
DACHAU AND DOUBT
by Dr. James Emery White
It’s difficult to describe a visit to Dachau. Yes, there are buildings and reconstructions. Historical markers abound helping you grasp the significance of your surroundings. But there’s more. When you walk into Dachau, you walk into a mausoleum of human pain and suffering. No one laughs or talks above a whisper, even in the open air of the barracks or assembly grounds. There is a blanket of sobriety, a weight of gravitas.
It is as if you are on holy ground.
How ironic that space drenched with such a sense of the sacred is the seed of so much spiritual doubt. While many found faith of its deepest and most vibrant nature on the grounds of Dachau, others lost it forevermore.... Read this in full at
MANY WAYS TO GOD?
by Clare De Graaf
“My son believes there may be many ways to God, including other religions. I know that’s not true but what do I say to him?”
The man sitting across from me, asking the question appeared to be a sincere Christian attending a good church. But his son ran off to college and heard other opinions that sounded more “fair” than the claim of his church and of Jesus, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, except through me.” John 14:6 And, fairness is the most celebrated virtue on college campus’ today – almost a religion itself.
“Tell me” I asked, “Do you think your son is a believer?” “He was, but not anymore. He says he’s on a spiritual search, like many of his friends.”
That doesn’t surprise me. Ironically, it’s my experience that the only people who seem to believe there are many ways to God, are people who don’t really believe in a real god. Well, that’s not entirely true. That’s taking too big a risk. They’re not atheists – instead, for all practical purposes most believe in the mush god.... Read this in full at
HOW TO SHARE GOD'S PEACE
“The primary gift God gives to those who trust in him is reconciliation with him. But the primary gift the people of God give to those who are reconciled to God is a community of reconciled people. We give them the gift of our own wholeness and oneness. We give the gift of community. We invite them to be part of a people where everyone makes ‘every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’ [Ephesians 4:3].
“God calls us out of darkness and into marvelous light [1 Peter 2:9]. But his intent is that ‘if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another’ [ 1 John 1:7]. So God prepares us to be a people who draw and who welcome every tribe and tongue and nation into the light by first making us light. And he does that, in part, by bringing those who are far away near. He does that by making the community of the converted also the community of the reconciled.
“One sign that God has returned to dwell in the center of our lives and of our churches is that we become a living testimony of what we promise. We promise that in Christ all become new creations, no longer seeing others according to the flesh. We promise that in Christ we have the peace of God and the God of peace. We promise that we through Christ receive God's love and forgiveness, and then extend it - with authority - to the whole world. We promise all this, but then claim exemption for ourselves in some petty matter or another.
“When God steps into the center, those who once were part of us, and now are not, come home. They come back. God's personal faithfulness to them and righteousness for them become their daily portion. What before was rumor becomes reality.
“We become living testimony of the new life we promise to others. May our churches be the gathering places for this reconciled community.”
- Mark Buchanan in Your Church Is Too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns Everything Upside-Down
THE KNUCKLEBALL AND FAITH
by Eric Metaxas
If the baseball season ended right now, Mets’ pitcher R. A. Dickey would probably win the National League Cy Young Award. Going by the numbers, he is having a season for the ages.
But Dickey’s story goes far beyond the numbers. It would be worth hearing even if he were an ordinary pitcher.
But he isn’t: Right now at the All Star break, Dickey has a 12-1 record. He leads the National League in wins and complete games and is second in strikeout and walk rate.
The last number is perhaps the most extraordinary of all. You see, Dickey is a knuckleball pitcher, the only one in the major leagues. I won’t explain how a knuckleball works — that’s like explaining how a bumblebee flies — but, suffice it to say, the knuckleball, unlike a fastball and a curveball, seems to have a mind of its own, which makes it notoriously hard to hit and even harder to control. Dickey’s command of the pitch is virtually unprecedented.... Read this in full at
CHURCHES WITH 300-500 IN WEEKLY ATTENDANCE RATE HIGHER WITH FIRST-TIME GUESTS
After four years of sending mystery guests into churches to evaluate the first-time guest experience, Faith Perceptions (http://www.faithperceptions.com/) has again released their findings in its annual Church Index. It shows that "large" churches (300 - 500 in average weekly attendance) performed better than both their smaller and larger counterparts in nine of fifteen categories. Key areas of strength for these large churches were pre-service greeting, seating, in-service greeting, and friendliness. Large church visits comprise 24% of the 1,152 worship services measured in the Church Index.... Read this in full at
PROJECT IDENTIFIES 8 ATTRIBUTES OF DISCIPLESHIP
LifeWay Research surveyed 7,000 churches in 2008 to discover the principles involved with healthy congregations. Last year, LifeWay's researchers went back into the field to focus on individual believers, asking more than 4,000 people about their spiritual lives and level of maturity.
The project has identified eight biblical factors that consistently show up in the life of a maturing believer. Those "attributes of discipleship" are:
1. Bible engagement
2. Obeying God and denying self
3. Serving God and others
4. Sharing Christ
5. Exercising faith
6. Seeking God
7. Building relationships
8. Unashamed transparency.... Read this in full at
“Use sin... as it will use you. Spare it not, for it will not spare you. It is your murderer, and the murderer of the world. Use it therefore as a murderer should be used. Kill it before it kills you; and then, though it kill your bodies, it shall not be able to kill your souls; and though it bring you to the grave, as it did your Head, it shall not be able to keep you there.”
- Richard Baxter (1615-1691), "A Treatise of Death", in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, v. IV, G. Virtue, 1838, p. 831
25 THINGS A DAD SHOULD TEACH A BOY
by Randy Stinson
Before the industrial revolution, it was common for men to spend much of their day in the company of their sons — either on the family farm or in the family business. In those settings, dads could teach their sons practical lessons as well as the lessons of leadership, protection, and provision expected of manhood.
Today, work, school, extracurricular activities, and even church take fathers and sons in separate directions. Dads, therefore, have to be intentional about creating the opportunities to teach their sons — to model manhood, to teach industry and resourcefulness. One way to do that is to work through a list of things that fathers can teach sons.... Read this in full at
10 REASONS TO BELIEVE CHRIST ROSE FROM THE DEAD
In a world filled with belief systems making religious claims, how can you know what to believe? How can you know who to follow? RBC Ministries has written this brochure offering 10 pieces of evidence and witness that verify that following Christ is reasonable. As this evidence is examined and tested, it can also be trusted.
1. A Public Execution Assured His Death...
2. A High Official Secured The Gravesite...
3. In Spite Of Guards, The Grave Was Found Empty.... Read this in full at
“Joy is peace for having done that which we ought to have done: and therefore it is well expressed... To have something to do, to do it, and then to rejoice in having done it, to embrace a calling, to perform the duties of that calling, to joy and rest in the peaceful testimony of having done so; this is christianly done, Christ did it; angelically done, angels do it; godly done, God does it.”
- John Donne (1573-1631), Works of John Donne, vol. V, London: John W. Parker, 1839, p. 346
OLYMPIAN COUNTS GOD AS COACH
Ryan Hall is the fastest American distance runner competing in the London Olympics and he says he owes it all to his omnipresent coach who has been there with him every step of the way.
“I’ll just be straight forward, my coach is God,” the 29-year-old Hall told CNN.
Last year, after finishing second in the 2011 United States half-marathon Championship, Hall was told to do a routine drug test. The form with the test had a space to fill in the name of the runner's coach.
"I saw the line, it said coach, it was blank, and I said, 'Well you know I have to be honest,' " Hall said, "So I put 'God' down and it turned into a big controversial thing." .... Read this in full at
GOLD MEDALS AND GOD’S WORD
As the London 2012 Olympics are set to start in the British capital, one man in Australia will be watching the events with keen interest.
He is Tom H. Treseder, who during the last century was a World Champion sculler and whose name is etched in rowing history, yet he has revealed that, despite his success, his early life was empty and he was searching for something he had not yet found.
“The rowing trophies began to fill a whole cabinet in the family home,” he says.
His name continued to take up columns in the Australian press. He was popular with girls and older people recognized him as Treseder, the up and coming champion sculler and rower.
Yet, Tom says with all the popularity and success there was still an emptiness, a void in his heart. However he would never let on to those around him that he was searching for something he had not yet found.... Read this in full at
SPORTS BIBLES TO BE FREE IN LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC VILLAGE
Athletes taking part in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will have access to free copies of the Bible and Scripture portions, thanks to an initiative by Bible Society.
According to a More Than Gold press release there will be around 3,000 copies of commemorative English-language Scriptures available as a welcome gift in the Olympic Village Religious Services Centre. There will also be nearly 1,000 copies of Bibles and New Testaments available in a variety of other languages through partnerships with national Bible Societies around the globe.... Read this in full at
BIBLES BY CAMEL
by Paul Haralan Popov, President - Door of Hope International
I met Musaf (not his real identity) while ministering to underground believers in the sweltering desert temperatures of Africa through a good friend who knew his struggles and asked me to help. The sun beat down with an intense heat as I waited at the designated meeting place. I was a little apprehensive. Musaf, from what I was told, liked to do things differently, his own way.
I have smuggled Bibles behind the Iron Curtain and other hostile to the gospel countries for over 40 years using many unique methods. But I had no idea how to penetrate Mauritania one of the poorest most restricted Islamic countries. Musaf’s vision to deliver Bibles into Mauritania was definitely unusual.
“Can you help me purchase a camel?” he asked.... Read this in full at
THE SPIRITUALLY VIGOROUS SAINT
by Oswald Chambers
A saint is not to take the initiative toward self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ. A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him.
The Holy Spirit is determined that we will have the realization of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives, and He will bring us back to the same point over and over again until we do. Self-realization only leads to the glorification of good works, whereas a saint of God glorifies Jesus Christ through his good works. Whatever we may be doing — even eating, drinking, or washing disciples’ feet — we have to take the initiative of realizing and recognizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus.... Read this in full at
THE BIBLE: GOD’S STORY, NOT GOD’S TEXTBOOK
by Subby Szterszky
When I was twelve, I made a deal with God. Being twelve and not yet a Christian, I didn’t realize how misguided, even foolish, such a proposition was. I didn’t understand that as a fallen creature, I had nothing to offer God, nor did He owe me anything except His righteous wrath. I didn’t appreciate that my only hope for God’s favour lay in His free grace, offered to me as a gift through the Gospel. Nevertheless . . .
My mother was gravely ill at the time, fighting for her life following complications from two major surgeries nine days apart. I pleaded with God to spare my mom’s life the best way I knew how, and when He did, I decided to return the favour by reading the Bible cover to cover.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.”
- Isaiah 41:10 (CEB)
“I have more trouble with D. L. Moody than with any other man I ever met.”
- D. L. Moody
STRUGGLING WITH HOMOSEXUALITY IS A PARADOX, BUT EMBRACING HOMOSEXUALITY IS A CONTRADICTION
by Michael Horton
Can Christians embrace a same-sex lifestyle and still be members in good standing in a Christian church?
I've been asked to comment on the controversy provoked by a recent interview in the Atlantic with Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International—an evangelical ministry founded to help Christians and non-Christians find freedom from the guilt and power of a same-sex lifestyle.
Christians may debate public policy, but in this interview, Chambers raises issues that are very clearly addressed in Scripture. Especially when we are dealing with human lives, daring to draw our counsel from God, we need to affirm the simplicity of biblical teaching on the subject while rejecting an over-simplifying of the issues involved.... Read this in full at
4 TRAITS OF WISE LEADERS
by Thom Rainer
Part of my daily devotional Scripture reading in recent months focused on James. In particular, I read and reread the first chapter. It seemed no matter how many times I went through it I wanted to read it again because it just kept speaking to me.?One of the first things James talks about in his epistle is leadership. His message is for me, for you, and for our churches.
As a leader, I need wisdom — God’s wisdom. Not because of my level of responsibility, but because I have nothing unless He gives it to me. In James 1:2-8, we see the need for wise leaders. The following qualities emerge from this passage.... Read this in full at
ALL GOD WANTS
“[A religious expert] came to Jesus, because he wanted to trap Jesus in a theological debate. (Or, in our terms, because he wanted Jesus to tell the crowd which denomination he was in or whose side he was on in a political or religious debate.)
“[The religious expert asks,] ‘Of all the commandments [the 613], which is the most important?’
“If Jesus picks one, he could be guilty of picking and choosing the wrong one. If he doesn't pick one, he looks lame. Jesus was ready ... and he offers to his listeners [what] I call the Jesus Creed:
‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12:29-31.
“What God really wants is for you and me to love God and to love others, and if we do that everything else will fall in line.
“Jesus' words are mind-blowing and they initiate us into his grand vision of the kingdom of God. The 613 aren't understood until you understand that every commandment is either a ‘love God’ or a ‘love your neighbor’ command. To turn these two into 613 is to minimize the centrality of love. To see the 613 as expressions of either loving God or loving others is to set the 613 free to be what God wants them to be. The remaining 611 are merely instances of what it looks like to love God and to love others. Jesus turned the number 613 into two.
“There are only two commandments: Love God. Love others. If you love God and love others, you do all God wants of you.”
- Scot McKnight in One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow
A MAN’S PRAYER LIFE
by Dr. Raleigh Washington
The biblical life requires men to pray daily. There’s even a verse that says, “pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17) Believe it or not, I never met a man who prayed without ceasing until 1994.
Promise Keepers had just gone “national,” and Coach Bill McCartney spoke at a sold-out (then called) “Hoosier Dome.” A few of us were driving together back to Chicago, just talking about ministry. It wasn’t a theologically heavy discussion, just a casual conversation about ways to minister to men.
During that three-hour drive, I asked Coach four or five questions, and each and every time, before Coach answered the question, he stopped and prayed something like, “Lord, don’t let me speak out of my own wisdom, but only from your Spirit.”
We would drive another 30 miles, and Coach would pray, “Lord, let me speak your word.” .... Read this in full at
EVANGELISM IN AN INTERFAITH WORLD
by Nick Price
I remember the first time I attended an interfaith gathering. I was attending a conference on interfaith youth work in Chicago that was hosted by the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). The conference began on an inspiring note as Dr. Eboo Patel, founder and president of the IFYC, articulated the need for interfaith cooperation in a post-9/11 world. His vision was to build a world where people of different faith communities served together and built bridges of understanding instead of bombs of destruction.
However, as the morning progressed, a problem arose. When discussing the challenges of interfaith work, a Christian participant shared that the biggest problem he faced was including the conservative members of his own tradition in the interfaith movement. The other participants quickly echoed this frustration, with words like "evangelicals" and "fundamentalists" punctuating their statements of exasperation and disdain. Eventually it was my turn to share, and I made the confession that brought the earlier concerns a little closer to home: "My name is Nick Price, and I am an evangelical Christian." .... Read this in full at
WHY POOR TIPPING COMPROMISES THE GOSPEL
by Raymond Johnson
I have been serving tables at a restaurant for several years in order to support my wife and children and to pay my way through graduate school. Repeatedly, I have observed Christian people -- or people who identify themselves as Christians by wearing Christian T-shirts/apparel or their Christian conference name tag, etc. -- come into the restaurant at which I work, pray for their food after acting rudely toward their server, leave a 10 percent tip (give or take a few percent) and a Gospel tract, and then leave.
Whether Christians are aware of it or not, a subpar tip is a stumbling block in communicating the Gospel. It causes unbelieving servers to think that we, as Christians, value money over everything and everyone else (1 Timothy 6:10).... Read this in full at
IN QUEENS, CARVER TELLS RELIGIOUS STORIES THROUGH WOOD
The sounds of hammers and saws fill the air in the small workshop of the Byzantion Woodworking Company in the Queens (New York) neighborhood of Astoria. The smell of sawdust and wood polish is thick.
At the center of it all, woodworker Konstantinos Pilarinos lovingly chisels elaborate carvings destined for Greek Orthodox churches across the country.
“The pieces I make by hand, that people pray upon in church, are like my children,” he says.
A series of tragedies brought Pilarinos to this city and this profession.... Read this in full and see the video report at
PORNOGRAPHY, RESPECT, AND RESPONSIBILITY: A LETTER TO THE HOTEL INDUSTRY
by Robert P. George and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
(The following is a letter on pornography and business ethics written by two prominent public intellectuals — one a Christian, one a Muslim — sent to hotel industry executives recently.)
We write to ask you to stop offering pornographic movies in your company’s hotels. We make no proposal here to limit your legal freedom, nor do we threaten protests, boycotts, or anything of the sort. We simply ask you to do what is right as a matter of conscience.
We are, respectively, a Christian and a Muslim, but we appeal to you not on the basis of truths revealed in our scriptures but on the basis of a commitment that should be shared by all people of reason and goodwill: a commitment to human dignity and the common good. As teachers and as parents, we seek a society in which young people are encouraged to respect others and themselves—treating no one as an impersonal object or thing. We hope that you share our desire to build such a society.
Pornography is degrading, dehumanizing, and corrupting. It undermines self-respect and respect for others. It reduces persons—creatures bearing profound, inherent, and equal dignity—to the status of objects. It robs a central aspect of our humanity—our sexuality—of its dignity and beauty. It ensnares some in addiction. It deprives others of their sense of self-worth. It teaches our young people to settle for the cheap satisfactions of lust, rather than to do the hard, yet ultimately liberating and fulfilling, work of love.... Read this in full at
SANDUSKY, SEXUAL ABUSE, AND SECURITY IN YOUR CHURCH: LEARN FROM JOE PATERNO'S TRAGIC MISTAKE
by Ed Stetzer
Penn State University released the findings of an internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The investigation was to determine who knew what, when they knew, and what they did with the knowledge that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing children both on and off the campus. Sandusky was convicted of 45 criminal counts last month and is awaiting sentencing, and the coach who, according to the report, knew about it passed away earlier this year.... Read this in full at
“God expects us to grow spiritually. The end result is His responsibility. Our job is to cooperate with the process.”
- Rory Noland
VERSE TO PONDER
“I will give thanks to you with a heart that does right as I learn your righteous rules.”
- Psalm 119:7 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: FOR ALL THE SAINTS
Words: William W. How, 1864
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
>from NetHymnal at
“Prayer is the very highest energy of which the mind is capable.”
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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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I'm very good at opening childproof caps ... with a hammer.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
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