Connecting man to man to God
For week of September 16, 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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“Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.”
- Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NLT)
“We are pilgrims, not settlers; this earth is our inn, not our home.”
- J. H. Vincent
UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS: THE MORAL HAZARDS OF FOOTBALL
by Benjamin J. Dueholm
On New Year’s Eve in 1967, my father and two cousins awaited a bus in Cumberland, Wisconsin, bound for Madison. They waited in the car not just to avoid the bitter cold, but to listen on the radio to the tense conclusion of the NFL title game between Green Bay and Dallas, the game that would be remembered as the Ice Bowl. They were so intent on the last-second heroics of Jerry Kramer and Bart Starr that they failed to notice the Greyhound pull up, load passengers and depart without them.
Like many native Wisconsinites, I inherited a religious piety that might bloom and wither but a devotion to the Packers that is evergreen. I can tell you exactly where I was during each of the team’s Super Bowl appearances in my lifetime, as well as during each of their playoff flameouts. I own their victories — and their unique community-based status — with an unwholesome sense of pride, and their defeats with an equal bitterness. I’ve been watching football as long as I can remember....
An analogy is sometimes made between football and gladiatorial combat—typically by those who defend and romanticize the game. It’s an analogy that should provoke reflection by Christians. The ancient Christian critique of the Roman spectacles—which included gladiatorial combat, athletic contests and drama—focused on three things: the physical harm to the contestants, the moral harm to the spectators, and the pagan cultic ritual that surrounded the shows. Reading such critiques today raises analogous questions for Christians who participate in the modern football industry.... Read this in full at
FOOTBALL: THE MORAL HAZARD
by Martin E. Marty
More and more religious journals and blogs, plus quoted pulpiteers and pundits, are expressing uneasiness about the attention or addiction to violent sports. Most are written or broadcast by moralists—in Dueholm's case, by Christian ethical thinkers. Convinced that many aspects of the sport are moral hazards, do they turn away? Dueholm and, as we used to say, "the present writer," tend to be in the posture of St. Augustine, who would be converted, but "not yet." With ambivalence, we watch the games and chew nachos.... Read this in full at
HOW ATHLETES HANDLE FAITH
by Anthony Gill, Research on Religion
What does it take to be an elite athlete? And what role does faith play in that lifestyle? The podcast Research on Religion’s guest is Timothy Dalrymple who knows all about being an elite athlete and religion. Tim was part of the 1995 NCAA national championship gymnastics team at Stanford University and was on his way to the 1996 Olympic trials when he tragically broke his neck, unbeknownst to him for several days. He recounts all the dedication and time it took to become a junior nationals champion at age 15 as well as to make it to the highest levels of collegiate competition.
The podcast also follows Tim’s journey beyond athletics through his MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary, his PhD at Harvard, and his current position as the managing editor of the evangelical channel at Patheos.com. He provides numerous insights into the life of an elite athlete and how his faith played an important role in shaping his character during his journey in this world, including his career-ending neck injury on the cusp of a possible appearance at the 1996 Olympics.
Tim corrects a number of misperceptions that the general public has about how religious athletes approach their faith. He notes that what challenges one the most is not the failures, because elite athletes learn about those all the time, but the victories.... Hear this podcast in full at
COACH JOE GIBBS TALKS ABOUT 'GAMEPLAN FOR LIFE BIBLE'
In the GamePlan for Life Bible, coach Joe Gibbs’ writes about how he turned his life around at a low moment with help from the New Testament book of James.
Joe Gibbs visits ReadTheSpirit to talk about his goals in this new inspirational Bible published this autumn by Zondervan. He talks with ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm.
DAVID: We all can’t win. At the Olympics, we heard from proud medalists who had prayed before competing, but I’m sure lots of the losers prayed, too. Our readers know you as the famous Coach Gibbs who won three national championships in two sports. Yet, you don’t win every time, either. So, how do you pray before a competition?
JOE: I pray to God to help me be my absolute best. When we pray before our races, I don’t ask God for a victory that day. I just ask God to help us be at our absolute best that day. Now, to be honest, that doesn’t mean if I was facing a big race or football game, at times I might have violated that rule. (laughing) But seriously, I pray for God to help me be at my best that day.... Read this in full at
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
by Clare De Graaf
That’s the question posed to me by my son, Tyler, and a group of his high school friends ten years ago following the death of a fellow student in a car crash.
Their friend Melissa, an amazing and deeply spiritual girl had been at a beach party at our cottage on Lake Michigan with most of her junior class and having a great time. She and her boyfriend, Jordan, left for the drive home and a mile from the lake, he made a fatal error and another car slammed into them.
I was at the scene in minutes. I was relieved that no alcohol was involved, but that didn’t matter now. I had to return to our cottage and tell her friends that Jordan was injured, but okay. However, their friend Melissa had died. As you can imagine, it was a scene I’ll never forget.
Several weeks later a dozen students were hanging out at our house and our son came in our bedroom, woke me up and asked if I would speak with his friends. So I dressed and walked into a very somber, even angry gathering. “Mr. De Graaf, why do bad things happen to good people?” .... Read this in full at
POLL: A MORE RELIGIOUS WORLD
by David Ignatius
God is having a strong millennium, according to some fascinating recent poll results gathered by the Pew Research Center. The data show that, even as the developing world is getting more modern, it is also getting more religious, with especially sharp gains for both Christians and Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Pew studies are reassuring in that they indicate the rise in Muslim and Christian belief in Africa is accompanied by a surprising degree of tolerance for others and support for democracy. They also show a deep fundamentalism, with Christian support for biblical law about equal to Muslim support for Shariah.... Read this in full at
THE POINT OF NEED
“Jesus met a person at his point of need. We should, too. If his need is in the area of marriage, God has good news for him. If he is struggling with guilt, God has good news for him. Likewise God has good news for the person who needs love and affection, security or esteem... A caring friend who meets them with the gospel at a point of need is often the only way they will see through the caricatures to the real Christ.”
- Joseph C. Aldrich (1941-2009), Lifestyle Evangelism, Multnomah Press, 1981, p. 88
LESS THAN 20% OF CHURCHGOERS READ THE BIBLE DAILY
by Ed Stetzer
Statistically, you can see a recurring pattern: Bible engagement is directly related to spiritual growth.
While it may be possible to become a "better person" by attending church, it is not true spiritual growth. New life in Christ, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, are regular Bible engagement is evident in the lives of growing believers.
God's Word is truth, so it should come as no surprise that reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most statistical influence on growth in this attribute of spiritual maturity. As basic as that is, there are still numerous churchgoers who are not reading the Bible regularly. You simply won't grow if you don't know God and spend time in God's Word. Bible reading won't make you a Christian and you can't grow without the power of the Spirit, but engaging the word deeply matters.
However, if tangible life changes are statistically related to Bible engagement in the life of a disciple of Christ, why aren't more reading and studying the Bible? .... Read this in full at
THE EVANGELICAL JESUS PRAYER
Southern Baptists — of all people!—recently debated the propriety of the Sinner's Prayer — of all things! What's the world coming to when we can't even count on Baptists to unswervingly defend the faith once delivered to the saints?
They eventually affirmed the Sinner's Prayer by a strong majority, but not without a fight. Yet the Baptist naysayers are not alone; the Sinner's Prayer has recently been suspect in influential evangelical circles.
The Sinner's Prayer rose from the mist of evangelical revivalism, and is in many ways a work of genius, as brilliant as the simple formulations of Martin Luther (Sola fide! Sola Scriptura!). It comes in many flavors, but it generally contains two elements: repentance for sin and trust in Christ's redemptive work at the Cross for forgiveness.... Read this in full at
DOES THE CHURCH CARE ABOUT BOYS?
by Tim Wright
Boys are 60% more likely to be held back in kindergarten than girls. Does the church care?
For every 100 girls suspended from elementary and secondary school, 250 boys are suspended. For every 100 girls expelled, 355 boys are expelled. For every 100 girls diagnosed with a learning disorder, 276 boys are so diagnosed.
85% of stimulant addressing meds in the world are prescribed to boys in the US. Over the last 20 years the reading skills of 17-year-old boys have steadily declined. 60% of college enrollees are now women. Does the church care? .... Read this in full at
THE UNTOLD STORY OF PASTOR RAY ORTLUND’S BEAUTIFUL HOME-GOING
by Mark Ellis
Ray Ortlund, a beloved pastor, author, and radio broadcaster — who touched the lives of many through small-group discipleship – bravely endured the complications of pulmonary fibrosis, an insidious lung disease that also claimed the life of Campus Crusade Founder Bill Bright.
Ray and wife Anne founded Renewal Ministries after he led two of the most prominent churches in Southern California. Together they authored more than 25 books and traveled extensively throughout the world speaking on behalf of renewal and revival among God’s people. For 19 years, Ray was the speaker for the “Haven of Rest” radio broadcast.
Ray went to be with Jesus on July 22, 2007. Five years after his home-going, his wife and daughter recount the untold story of the months and final days of his glorious life.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other.”
- Philippians 2:1-2 (CEB)
“We don't have to be perfect...we are asked only to be real, trusting in His perfection to cover our imperfection, knowing that one day we will finally be all that Christ saved us for and wants us to be.”
- Gigi Graham Tchividjian
'GOD'S DOUBLE AGENT'
Activist-pastor Bob Fu once called himself "God's double agent" because he taught English during the day at a Chinese communist school and conducted home Bible studies at night.
But now Fu is based in Midland, Texas, where he heads ChinaAid, which provides legal assistance and support to pastors, political dissidents, and couples resisting China's one-child policy. This new focus brings Chinese and American Christians closer together in common cause. His advocacy against China's brutal one-child policy is proving to be highly effective in drawing believers from both nations into the fight for the unborn as well as for greater religious freedom. He believes China may soon have one of the largest populations of Christians worldwide.
Christianity Today deputy managing editor Timothy C. Morgan interviewed Fu several times for his perspective on change inside China and its growing Christian community.... Read this in full at
C.S. LEWIS FOUNDATION TO COMMEMORATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF AUTHOR C.S. LEWIS’S DEATH
The C.S. Lewis Foundation (http://www.cslewis.org/) of Redlands, California, will present a series of events in the United States and England over the next two years to celebrate the ongoing legacy of the celebrated British scholar and writer, C.S. Lewis (1898-1963).
Clive Staples Lewis was an acclaimed author and scholar. He is particularly honored for his contributions in literary criticism, apologetics, and children’s fantasy literature. Lewis’ works have been translated into over thirty languages, and millions of copies have been sold worldwide. The majority of his 40 plus books have remained in print since his death on November 22, 1963 (the same day President John F. Kennedy and author Aldous Huxley died). The most well-known of Lewis’ works are The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters.
To celebrate this legacy, the C.S. Lewis Foundation will host events in San Diego (CA), Houston (TX), Oxford (UK), and Cambridge (UK). The first event in the series will be the C.S. Lewis Summer Conference in San Diego, June 19-23, 2013. Taking place at the University of San Diego, the conference will feature a wide range of noted C.S. Lewis scholars and performing artists. The theme is “Living the Legacy: The Vision, Voice, & Vocation of C.S. Lewis.” .... Read this in full at
EVANGELICALS SEEK A FUTURE FOR THOUSANDS OF FROZEN EMBRYOS
The embryo was frozen in liquid nitrogen when Gabriel and Callie Fluhrer found it. They didn’t know whether that embryo would grow to be a boy or a girl, or whether it would even grow at all.
But to the Fluhrers, it was worth the risk. That tiny collection of cells was a baby, they believed. And if they didn’t pluck it from the warehouse where it had been stored since its biological parents decided they didn’t need or want it any longer, it was likely to die.
“If we’re going to stand against abortion, it’s not simply picketing a clinic,” said Gabriel Fluhrer, a public relations and publishing coordinator for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. “It’s doing the hard work of adopting the orphans around the world, whether embryos or orphans living in China.”
Anna Fluhrer was born in December 2010: from a frozen embryo to a healthy baby girl.
Hundreds of thousands of embryos are stored in high-tech storage facilities across the United States. To an increasing number evangelical Christians, that’s hundreds of thousands of babies.... Read this in full at
WHY PROTESTANTS ARE ESPECIALLY FASCINATED WITH THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
by Mark Galli
When I visited the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit in Philadelphia in June, I started fidgeting almost immediately. The exhibit (at the Franklin Museum, running through October 14) begins by walking visitors through a display of archeological treasures (some 600, according to the publicity) from Israel's history, dating from 1200 B.C. to A.D. 68. I had come to look at the Scrolls, and here I was wading knee deep through the ancient archeology.
There is a method in the exhibit's madness, of course. For one, such history puts the Scrolls in the larger historical context. I'm guessing that the curators also recognized that having non-Dead Sea Scroll treasures would attract visitors who may not have much interest in the Scrolls alone.
All well and good, but I'd come for the Scrolls—where the heck were they? Scholars asked a similar question when they were first discovered in 1947—where had they been all this time? .... Read this in full at
WHY BLASPHEMY LAWS ARE WRONG
by Russell Moore
News reports tell us that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian minister sentenced to death in Iran, has been released and acquitted of blasphemy. Advocates of human rights and religious liberty are rejoicing all over the globe. At such a time, it’s worth Christians asking: just why are blasphemy laws wrong?
Now, obviously, as Christians we disagree with Islam and its teachings. And, obviously, we stand in solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. But why would such laws against blasphemy not be appropriate in the reverse case. If a Christian majority existed in a country, with the will to enforce all the laws it could, would this country be justified in outlawing Islam or atheism or Wicca? Why not?
Fundamentally, this is because blasphemy laws and other uses of state power to enforce religious belief or worship are themselves a repudiation of the beliefs themselves. A religion that needs state power to enforce obedience to its beliefs is a religion that has lost confidence in the power of its Deity.... Read this in full at
'HOLDING HISTORY': RARE MEDIEVAL BOOK OFFERS WINDOW TO RELIGIOUS LIFE OF MIDDLE AGES
University of South Carolina English professor Scott Gwara had sorted through 32 lots of medieval books and manuscripts in a London auction house when he pulled out box 33 and discovered a pristine prayer book that he hoped would round out USC's collection of 15th-century religious texts.
"I pulled this off the shelf and I thought, 'This is amazing,'" Gwara recalled Friday as he unveiled the volume that was hand-lettered and illuminated more than 500 years ago. "It is the original cover, it has never been rebound, and the paint is as fresh as it was in 1490."
Better yet, for a medievalist such as Gwara, the prayer book he uncovered in May while teaching a USC Maymester course on King Arthur was illuminated by Robert Boyvin. Boyvin was one of the premier French painters of his time, a renowned illuminator who was commissioned by wealthy and religious patrons intent upon owning one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages.... Read this in full at
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CURTAILS MILLENNIAL OUTREACH PROGRAM
Focus on the Family announced that as part of a restructuring plan the ministry is letting go of Esther Fleece, who was a leader of the organization's millennial relations program and an assistant to the ministry's president, Jim Daly.
The announcement came as the organization had been struggling for several years with finances during the country's downturned economy and since the departure of founder James Dobson in 2009.
"Focus on the Family has been working diligently over the last three years to reach out to millennials," said Daly in a statement regarding Fleece. "And while there is still much we want to do in this area, we have accomplished in the short run what we'd hoped to achieve. Therefore, at this point we are making a strategic turn of direction, and our approach will be of a different nature going forward." .... Read this in full at
HOW BUZZ ALDRIN'S COMMUNION ON THE MOON WAS HUSHED UP
Before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module on July 20, 1969, Aldrin unstowed a small plastic container of wine and some bread. He had brought them to the moon from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder. Aldrin had received permission from the Presbyterian church's general assembly to administer it to himself. In his book Magnificent Desolation he shares the message he then radioed to NASA: "I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."
He then ate and drank the elements. The surreal ceremony is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine: "I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements." .... Read this in full at
HONESTY MAY BOOST HEALTH, STUDY FINDS
People who tell fewer lies experience improved health, such as less stress and fewer headaches, according to research presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.
"Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week. We wanted to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health," lead author Anita Kelly, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, said in an APA news release Aug. 4.
"We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health," Kelly said.... Read this in full at
"THE WORLD'S FASTEST AMPUTEE"
US athlete Marlon Shirley, the original blade runner, was the first man to gain the title of "the world's fastest amputee" after he broke the 11 seconds mark for running 100 metres. He won gold at the Sydney and Athens Paralympic Games and he also won medals for the long and the high jump. But Marlon had an exceptionally tough start. He begged for food on the streets of Las Vegas before he was taken into an orphanage at the age of five. It was there that he lost his foot in a lawnmower accident. Marlon was eventually successfully adopted, and his athletic potential was spotted at an inter-state high school athletics competition. He went on to become one of the greatest Paralympians. Listen to this interview at
“Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded.”
- J. I. Packer
VERSE TO PONDER
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, lovers of your fellow believers, compassionate, and modest in your opinion of yourselves.”
- 1 Peter 3:8 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: AFTER THE MIDNIGHT
Words: James Rowe, 1915
Music: Samuel W. Beazley
After the midnight, morning will greet us;
After the sadness, joy will appear;
After the tempest, sunlight will meet us;
After the jeering, praise we shall hear.
After the shadows, there will be sunshine;
After the frown, the soul-cheering smile;
Cling to the Savior, love Him forever;
All will be well in a little while.
After the battle, peace will be given;
After the weeping, song there will be;
After the journey there will be Heaven,
Burdens will fall and we shall be free.
Shadows and sunshine all thro’ the story,
Teardrops and pleasure, day after day;
But when we reach the kingdom of glory,
Trials of earth will vanish away.
>from NetHymnal at
“We hear much in our day of the "rest of faith", but there is such a thing as the fight of faith in prayer as well as in effort. Those who would have us think that they have attained to some sublime height of faith and trust because they never know any agony of conflict or of prayer, have surely gotten beyond their Lord, and beyond the mightiest victors for God, both in effort and prayer, that the ages of Christian history have known.”
- R. A. Torrey (1856-1928), How to Pray, Fleming H. Revell, 1900, p. 36
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 didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
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