Connecting man to man to God
For week of September 2, 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 grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
- Philippians 4:23 (NIV)
“If you think to build a high house of virtues, lay first a deep foundation of humility.”
- St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Sermon LXIX.1.2
WHY THE 'CHRISTIAN LIFE' ISN'T WORTH LIVING
by Kurt Willems
For most of my life, I focused my faith on knowing Jesus through morality management. More accurately, Jesus was savior and the Spirit was the voice that helped give me the strength to avoid things like cussing, gossip, lust, and pride. Getting through a single day where those sins were avoided meant a major victory as I walked closer to Christ.
In college, a new sort of emphasis emerged in my Christian journey. Instead of seeing discipleship as a system of sin management, I discovered the red letters of Scripture. These words of Jesus (along with the actions of Christ that aren’t in red) propelled me in a new direction: justice
It would be safe to say that I went from conservative evangelical focuses to a progressive faith emphasis. Still holding to the essentials of the Christian theology, but believing that true discipleship meant doing certain things. It’s interesting to me looking back: at one end of the pendulum of my faith journey I tried to avoid things, and at the other end of the swing I tried to do things. Both attempts at living the Christian life miss the point of discipleship — completely! Which begs the question: What’s the point? .... Read this in full at
by Clare De Graaf
A half dozen years ago I was invited to dinner by a local pastor and his wife, who I deeply respect and know well. They were expecting a child, who they knew to be a boy.
“We would like you to be our son’s godfather,” they said. I was honored, but I knew almost nothing about this practice, so I obviously I had a lot of questions. While godparenting is well-known in Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and other ethnic circles, it’s relatively unknown in the Protestant world.
The purpose of this blog is to introduce you to this wonderful practice, which if done well could be an unbelievably valuable gift to your child, if they’re not too old, or yet unborn. And, if you’re a grandparent, or expect to be, this may be an idea you may want to share with your adult children, for their children.... Read this in full at
MEN: FIND WHAT MATTERS MOST FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
by Whitney Hopler
When you hit midlife, it’s natural to look back at what you’ve experienced so far. You may discover that, with about half of your life already behind you, you haven’t done all you’d hoped to do, or become the kind of man you’d like to be.
But a midlife crisis isn’t inevitable. Rather than quitting your job, buying a motorcycle, and leaving your family behind to ride off into the sunset, you can discover what truly matters most. Then you can live based on that, to make the rest of your life better than anything you’ve experienced before.
Here’s how to build the rest of your life around what matters most:.... Read this in full at
VIDEO BIBLE STUDY: THE SECRET OF HOW PAUL SUSTAINED HIS PASSION
How often do you feel like you simply can’t go on, it’s too hard, that you’re just not cut out for this? We ALL feel that way from time to time, don’t we? Even the famous apostle Paul felt that way. It’s what you do next that counts.
In Paul we find a man whose passion for Christ was severely tested but never failed. In this video lesson, Patrick Morley probes the secret of how Paul was able to sustain his passion. The secret of sustaining your passion is to never get over grace.... See this video teaching at
AN OBEDIENT MAN
by Roger C. Palms
John the Baptist epitomized a selfless man of God as he prepared the way for Jesus.
John the Baptist came preaching in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah (see Mal. 4:5; Matt. 11:14). He wore hair-skin clothing and ate locusts and honey (see Matt. 3:4). He was a man on a mission sent to prepare the way for Jesus. A lone voice, John cried out not in the big cities but in the desert. He didn't do it for headlines; he did it to make a people ready to meet Jesus so that "all people will see the salvation sent from God" (Luke 3:6, NLT).
John's mission was from God, who gave him the message. John knew who he was and who he wasn't. He said: "'I am not the Messiah'" (John 1:20) and "'Someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am'" (Matt. 3:11). John was not a self-promoter.... Read this in full at
MULTI-SITE CHURCHES REPLACING MEGA-CHURCHES IN THE USA
The number of US congregations that host worship services at more than one physical location has grown to more than 5,000 in the last decade, according to a new report.
Researchers say these "multisite" churches, which may share worshippers across town or many miles apart, are growing at a much larger pace than traditional mega-churches.
Without the burden of additional expensive buildings, congregations find they grow faster in new places, said Warren Bird, research director of Leadership Network.
“It’s a combination of both evangelism and saying, `People may not come to this particular building. How can we take where we are to where they are?'” he told Religion News Service.... Read this in full at
MAKING A DIFFERENCE? OR JUST MAKING IT DIFFERENT?
by Michael Krahn
My journey, like many Christians my age, began with regular church attendance and baptism as a young adult. And I don't consider it rare to have experienced a time frustration in my early 20s and dissatisfaction in my late 20s. Much of this frustration and dissatisfaction had to do with a sense that the Church (both universal and local) was not being all that it could be in the world.
The culture surrounding my generation and the world around us was in a lot of trouble and we felt responsible to do something about it. And so we began to think of ways to make an impact. And not only did we think, we started to act!
But when I look back now, I can see that I too often fell prey to a spirit of brash actions. As is often the case, I was fueled by very good desires — to see more people meet Jesus, to see the church make a bigger impact and to tackle injustice in the world.... Read this in full at
“‘Faith’ in biblical terms is never a bare decision, or a general ‘spiritual’ approach to life. It is always defined by its content, and the content of saving faith must be Jesus Christ. It is therefore certainly not enough to assume that anyone with however vague a "religious" approach to life must be a Christian in disguise; some of Jesus' harshest words were reserved precisely for the "religious" people of his day.”
- Michael Sadgrove & N. T. Wright, "Jesus Christ the Only Saviour", in The Lord Christ, John Stott, ed., vol. 1 of Obeying Christ in a Changing World, John Stott, gen. ed., 3 vol., London: Fountain, 1977, p. 78
KNOWN AND LOVED
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”
- Psalm 139:1-3
Popular TV shows and movies often picture a sinister government agency spying on citizens — reading correspondence, recording calls, checking financial transactions, watching movements. We abhor the possibility of that happening because we highly value privacy and resist control. And we carefully hide our secrets. This goes much further than emails, phone calls, and bank accounts; we also hide our sins of commission and omission. We may be afraid of being found out, discovered. Often, however, we simply fear rejection. What if the real person, hidden behind the facade, were uncovered? So consider...
What if someone knew...
... your deepest thoughts and emotions?
... your true motives?
... your complete personal history?
... your talents, abilities, and gifts?
... your dreams and desires?
Would you feel threatened? Afraid? Embarrassed? Relieved?
God knows. He has "searched" you. He understands who you are, what you have done, and why you do what you do. He even knows your secrets. And he stands ready to forgive, heal, correct, guide, affirm, protect, and conform you to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).
Follow God’s ways. He knows and wants what’s best for you. No need to hide. You are known; you are loved.
Source: Once-A-Day Men & Women of the Bible Devotional
WORSHIP PASTOR OVERCAME ADDICTION, LEADS OTHERS TO WHOLENESS IN CHRIST
by Mark Ellis
Enormously gifted as a worship leader, yet living a secret life of addiction, Matt Tommey now uses his art as a way to connect with God and lead others into personal and creative wholeness.
"I grew up in the church under a Steinway piano," says Matt Tommey, worship pastor, artist, author, and founder of The Worship Studio. At 13, living in Columbus, Georgia, he gave his heart to the Lord and answered a very early call into worship ministry.
As a young teenager, several traumatic events - his grandfather's death, sexual abuse by a same-sex family member, and a deteriorating relationship with his father created a perfect storm of brokenness. Matt struggled for many years to overcome his inner distress, but succumbed to addiction and other unhealthy relational patterns.
He was driven into living a double life of fear and shame, performance and perfection, which only served to drive the pain deeper.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Come, let’s worship and bow down! Let’s kneel before the LORD, our maker! He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep in his hands. If only you would listen to his voice right now!”
- Psalm 95:6-7 (CEB)
“The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick along side it.”
- D. L. Moody
THE OTHER SUFFERING
by Andrée Seu Peterson
Picture the scene: You have just gone out on a limb for God. You have made a statement in public in the company of scoffers, or sophisticates, and it has laid a bomb. Maybe your comment is met with awkward silence. Maybe you catch a man casting a furtive glance across the room at his friend—a look of superiority, a mutual admiration society of two who consider themselves to live on a higher plane. Or maybe you are met with outright insult.
When I think of the sufferings of Christ I usually think of the nails and crown of thorns. I don’t usually think of the ridicule.... Read this in full at
WHAT MAKES LEADERSHIP CHRISTIAN?
by Robert A. Ratcliff
If you want to be a Christian leader, you'll have no trouble finding advice. The world seems awash in books, articles, web sites, videos, and more on the subject. Practically all of this literature suggests that Christian leadership is distinct from other varieties (and on that I agree); a lot of it assumes that figuring out how it’s different is a relatively simple matter (on that I’m not as sanguine). I wonder just how simple it is to discern those principles in the first place, and especially how easily leaders can apply them in their own life. So in what follows I’m going to try to talk about what makes leadership Christian without resorting to easy answers.
What do I mean by easy answers? For one thing, I mean taking garden variety leadership insights, wrapping them in the thin layer of a story from the Bible, and calling them biblical. Folks often point to Exodus 18, the day Jethro taught his son-in-law Moses how to delegate authority, as an example of a biblical leadership principle. But other than that one chapter, when does delegated authority ever figure in the larger story of Moses and Israel’s encounter with God? The rest of the story focuses on how good a job Moses and the Israelites are doing (or not doing) in following God.... Read this in full at
WHY DID JESUS USE SO MANY QUESTIONS WHEN HE TAUGHT?
by Josh Hunt
One of the classic examples of Jesus using a question to teach is found in Luke 9.18 where Jesus says, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
Why did Jesus ask this? Did he not know? That could be. When he became human he set aside some of his god-ness. In another context he said he did not know the day or the hour when he would return. I think it is more likely, however, that it was a teaching moment for the disciples.
This is what I call a warm up question. It is a get-em talking question. I write small group curriculum for a living. I start nearly every lesson with this kind of question. It is a question to get the group started talking.
People have said to me, “I have tried using a discussion questions and my group doesn’t want to talk.” Do what Jesus did. Get them talking about somebody else. People love to talk about someone else. I think this is why Jesus asked them about what other people thought. It is always easier to talk about what other people think than to share our own convictions or feelings.... Read this in full at
GAME SHOW NETWORK SETS RATINGS RECORD WITH 'BIBLE CHALLENGE' DEBUT
The premiere episode of GSN's new original series The American Bible Challenge set a network ratings record, drawing nearly 2 million viewers.
The game show series, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, drew 1.7 million viewers for its 8 p.m. series debut, according to network officials, outperforming the previous record by more than half a million viewers. Overall the series, which challenges participants to answers questions based on the Bible, averaged 2.3 million viewers for the night including additional replays.... Read this in full at
Also see “'The American Bible Challenge' Mixes Faith, Humor and Charity”
GOOD NEWS FOR THE GOOD NEWS CLUB: CHILD EVANGELISM FELLOWSHIP WINS LEGAL VICTORY IN MINNEAPOLIS
Minneapolis Special School District No. 1 must reinstate the Good News Club, sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship, in its after-school program, ruled the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Aug. 30. The federal appeals court determined that the school district engaged in viewpoint discrimination when it ousted CEF for offering "enrichment programming from a religious perspective."
"We are extremely grateful for this decision and look forward to the opportunity of serving interested students at the Jenny Lind Elementary School," said Mr. Tom Levanos, executive director of operations for CEF.... Read this in full at
PARABLES OF THE NOT-SO-SOCIAL GOSPEL
by Rev. James Martin, S.J.
The Lazy Paralytic
1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at his home. 2. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5. When Jesus saw this he grew angry, "Why did you wreck my roof? Do you have any idea how much that cost to install? Do you know how many tables and chairs I had to make in my carpentry shop to pay for that roof? The reeds alone cost five talents. I had them carted in from Bethany." 6. The disciples had never seen Jesus so angry about his possessions. He continued, "This house is my life." The disciples fell silent. 7. "It's bad enough that you trash my private property, now you want me to heal you?" said Jesus.... Read this in full at
THE MORMON MOMENT
by Bob Allen
Nearly 200 years after religious zeal prompted a young convert named Joseph Smith to found a movement called the Latter-day Saints, the once-despised minority “cult” increasingly is going mainstream.
With a Mormon running for president, a hit Broadway musical titled Book of Mormon and the now-rejected polygamy from the religious group’s past forming the plotline of the long-running HBO series Big Love, evidence abounds of what has been termed the “Mormon moment.”
For evangelicals trying to decide how to vote in the upcoming presidential election, it also has renewed discussion of whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christian.... Read this in full at
Also see: The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture by Stephen Mansfield
HOW TO PREPARE FOR MORE RESPONSIBILITY
"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, '...Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor. Remove Aaron's garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there.'" Numbers 20:23-26
Eleazar, son of Aaron, was an excellent understudy, well trained for his eventual leading role as the high priest of Israel.
In order to assume such a responsible and potentially stressful undertaking, Eleazar had to be thoroughly prepared. An understudy benefits from having both the script and a human model of the role. Ever since childhood, Eleazar had been able to observe Moses and Aaron. Now he could help Joshua, with whom he was paired to lead the people into the promised land. Eleazar served as a trusted advisor to Joshua and supervised everything in the tabernacle.
An understudy must know the lead role completely and be willing to step into it at a moment’s notice. What life lessons are you learning from those around you? God may have put certain people in your life in order to prepare you for future positions of leadership and responsibility. If you are single, seek counsel from married couples you respect. If you are planning to have children one day, observe the model of godly parents. Learning from those around us is an effective way to prepare for what God has planned for our future.
Prayer: Point out my teachers, Lord...
Source: Once-A-Day Men & Women of the Bible Devotional
A Sunday School teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?"
One bright little girl replied, "Because people are sleeping."
THE GOD WHO IS (AND ISN'T) THERE
by John Wilson
In the book The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt (Thomas Nelson), Joseph Loconte gives a very different account of Christian faith—not at all contemptuous of "fact and reason" but grounded in mystery, holding opposing truths in tension, alert to the limits of our knowledge but unhesitatingly affirming the hope that we share. This is a good book to give to someone who is looking at faith from the outside, but it will also be helpful to believers who have been led to expect tidy answers and neat resolutions and have come up hard against disappointment, absurdity, and loss.... Read this in full at
HOLY-WOOD: THE FILM INDUSTRY'S NEW PASSION FOR CHRIST
The good book is back in showbiz. Darren Aronofsky has a bearded Russell Crowe for Noah. The documentary Bible Quiz is in post-production. Will Smith's directorial debut will be Cain and Abel (reportedly with a vampire twist). Paul Verhoeven's Jesus of Nazareth has its finance in place. Justin Theroux is rewriting Swear to God – a comedy about a hedge-fund manager who has seen the Almighty. Ridley Scott, Warner Bros – with a rumour of Spielberg directing – and the Chernin Entertainment Company all have Moses movies. Mary Mother of Christ, a film about the life of Jesus up to age 12, is currently prepping, as is Langston Hughes's Black Nativity, with a cast of Samuel L Jackson, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson. And earlier, a Pontius Pilate movie was greenlit.
Given the preponderance of reboots and remakes, it is no surprise that Hollywood is going back to the greatest story ever told, the source for many of its successes of the 20s and 50s. Adjusted American box-office records show that four of the top 100 most successful films have a biblical theme: The Ten Commandments (1956), Ben-Hur (1959), The Robe (1953) and The Passion of the Christ (2004). That The Passion of the Christ is the only one in the global top 100 (at 68, with earnings of $611m worldwide) would suggest it is the last gasp of an exhausted genre.... Read this in full at
BILLY GRAHAM EXHIBIT HIGHLIGHTS EVANGELIST'S INFLUENCE ON WORLD LEADERS
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is inviting visitors to Charlotte, NC, to visit the new "Billy Graham: God's Ambassador to World Leaders" exhibit at The Billy Graham Library, which documents the evangelist's meetings and interaction with various leaders from across the world during his career.
Tom Phillips, vice president of The Billy Graham Library, shared with The Christian Post that the purpose of the exhibit is to show "how a humble dairy farmer's son became an ambassador for Christ to numerous world leaders and every US president since World War II."
Phillips noted that visitors to the "Billy Graham" exhibit will be able to see letters, gifts, personal photos and other rare memorabilia showing the powerful effect Graham managed to have on important figures through prayer, counsel and compassion.... Read this in full at
MUSLIM DIVERSITY OF BELIEF, PRACTICE EVIDENT IN PEW STUDY
Westerners tend to assume most Muslims are strongly committed to the Quran and to establishing Islamic republics, but that isn't accurate, Mike Edens, a professor of theology and Islamic studies, told Baptist Press concerning a Pew Research Center study of more than 38,000 Muslims in 39 countries.
"About 20 percent of any Muslim population is actually committed to Islam having the leading role in their society," said Edens, who teaches at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary after serving 26 years in the Middle East with the International Mission Board.... Read this in full at
THE HYMNS THAT HAUNT US
by David Neff
Earlier this year, NPR told the story of Teresa MacBain, a United Methodist pastor who had stopped believing in God. In March, when she just couldn't keep it to herself anymore, she told the American Atheists Convention that she was one of them.
Coming out as an atheist felt good. But when she got home to Tallahassee, Florida, she discovered that a video of her coming-out speech had gone viral. Her church and community shunned her.
I was saddened but not surprised. Many people attend seminary because they are seeking answers to serious questions about the faith. When they do pastoral care, those questions become sharper.
What really caught my attention about MacBain's story was this: "I miss the music," she told NPR. "Some of the hymns, I still catch myself singing them," she said. "I mean, they're beautiful pieces of music." .... Read this in full at
“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.”
- Robert Schuller
VERSE TO PONDER
“There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- Galatians 3:28 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: AFTER THE LIFE-PATHS
Words: Jennie Wilson
Music: Anthony J. Showalter
After the lifepaths we’re treading
End upon time’s solemn shore,
There will be light at the river
While the redeemed ones pass o’er.
There will be light at the river,
There will be light at the river,
There will be light at the river,
While the redeemed ones pass o’er.
There will be light for the spirits
Who thro’ deep shadows have come—
Fadeless light shining glad welcome
Out from the windows of home.
There will be light for the weary
Who thro’ sore trials have passed—
Radiant light as they enter,
Peace that for ever shall last.
There will be light for the faithful,
Whate’er the way they have trod—
Glorious light sent to guide them
Safe to the city of God.
>from NetHymnal at
“Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.”
- Oswald Chambers
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!
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, email@example.com if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
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