Connecting man to man to God
For week of September 30, 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, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
- 2 Corinthians 13:13 (CEB)
“If you're going through difficult times today, hold steady. It will change soon. If you are experiencing smooth sailing and easy times now, brace yourself. It will change soon. The only thing you can be certain of is change.”
- James Dobson
COMING CLEAN: CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL – AND THE SOULS OF THOSE YOU LEAD
by Max Lucado
I like beer. I always have. Ever since my high school buddy and I drank ourselves sick with a case of quarts, I have liked beer. I like the way it washes down a piece of pizza and mutes the spice of enchiladas. It goes great with peanuts at the baseball game and seems an appropriate way to crown eighteen holes of golf. Out of the keg, tap, bottle, or frosty mug — it doesn't matter to me. I like it.
Too much. Alcoholism haunts my family ancestry. I have early memories of following my father through the halls of a rehab center to see his sister. Similar scenes repeated themselves with other relatives for decades. Beer doesn't mix well with my family DNA. So at the age of 21, I swore off it.
I never made a big deal out of my abstinence. Nor someone else's indulgence. I differentiate between drinking and drunkenness and decided, in my case, the former would lead to the latter, so I quit. Besides, I was a seminary student (for the next two years). Then a minister (three years). Next a missionary (five years). Then a minister again (twenty-two years and counting). I wrote Christian books and spoke at Christian conferences. A man of the cloth shouldn't chum with Heineken products, right? So I didn't.
Then a few years back something resurrected my cravings. Too many commercials? Too many baseball games? Too many Episcopalian friends? (Just kidding). I don't know. Quite likely it was just thirst. The south Texas heat can rage like a range fire. At some point I reached for a can of brew instead of a can of soda, and as quick as you can pop the top, I was a beer fan again. A once-in-a-while ... then once-a-week ... then once-a-day beer fan.... Read this in full at
SEE YOU AT THE POLE DRAWS PRAYERFUL TEENAGERS
About a million teenagers at schools across the nation and the world gathered Sept. 26 for the 22nd annual See You at the Pole global day of student prayer.
This year students used Twitter and Facebook to communicate about their involvement, with student Claire Fridey tweeting "One of my favorite days of the school year is #seeyouatthepole! Prayer is powerful!" and a user named Israel tweeting "#seeyouatthepole was a nice way to kick off the day."
See You at the Pole, which began in 1990 among a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, "is simply a prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before school to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school and nation to God," according to the event's website, www.syatp.com. SYATP is student-initiated, student-organized and student-led.... Read this in full at
Also “'See You at the Pole' Calls for Spiritual Awakening”
by Clare De Graaf
I’ve recently blogged on the biblical view of death for a believer. I’d like now to address why believers suffer at all. If God is sovereign over everything and all powerful, then it’s within his power to stop senseless suffering, so why doesn’t he?
Here’s my honest answer. I don’t know. And some Christians, in their zeal to act as God’s PR department have tried too hard to put the best spin on suffering and death, so God doesn’t appear to be either indifferent, or the source of our suffering.
I’ve stood in line at funerals, wincing at the comments made by people right off bumper stickers, God knows best, God’s timing is always perfect, All things work together for our good. All these statements are true. I just don’t think they’re helpful to people who are sad and suffering.... Read this in full at
THE MAN AT THE BOTTOM
by Tullian Tchividjian
Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is about bad people coping with their failure to be good. That is to say, Christianity concerns the gospel, which is nothing more or less than the good news that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). "[Christ] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification" (Rom. 4:25). The gospel is a proclamation that always addresses sinners and sufferers directly (i.e., you and me).
The prevailing view in much of contemporary Christianity is more subjective. It tends to be far more focused on the happiness and moral performance of the Christian than the object of faith, Christ Himself.
Think about it: How often have you heard the gospel equated with a positive change in a believer's life? "I used to __________, but then I met Jesus and now I'm ___________." It may be unintentional, but we make a serious mistake when we reduce the good news to its results, such as patience, sobriety, and compassion, in the lives of those who have heard it. These are beautiful developments, and they should be celebrated. But they should not be confused with the gospel itself. The gospel is not a means to an end, it is an end in itself.... Read this in full at
MORE FOOLS THAN WISE
by Rick Marschall
“Regrets, I’ve had a few...” Such words imply a summation, and we humans often stop on the path to wipe our brows and rest, and think about what got us there. There is not one among us who does not think about the What Ifs or the Missed Opportunities, but we seldom give thanks for the wrong decisions we avoided or the opportunities that might have led to grief.
The saddest situation attends those whose regrets outnumber the joys. And sadder still is when people sigh and believe that such is their fate, or that it is too late to change their life’s profile, so to speak. While anyone has one breath remaining, this is a cruel lie.
One of the Bible’s great subtexts is that it is never too late. And the application is in every sphere of life, not a theological corner. (Eventually we all will realize that theology is not a corner of life but the entire room, the broad landscape. Other “important” aspects of life are actually corners and compartments.) That is, it is never too late to receive, and accept, God’s favor. Salvation is offered to the vilest sinner. Think of the worst person you know, or history’s cruelest villains. Not one person will be shut out of Heaven, or receive God’s forgiveness, if that heart seeks God, repents, and accepts Christ as Lord and Savior. The Bible tells us so.... Read this in full at
KEEP MOVING, AND OTHER ADVICE TO KEEP MEN HEALTHY WITH AGE
by Janice Lloyd
Before flopping down on that cherished spot on the sofa, along with the television remote, a salty snack, and cold one, consider these tips about how to score some big points for your health and still enjoy the games.
"Men are the king of the remote control but they're going to have to get up and do something instead of watching sports all weekend or late into the night," says Martha Grogan, a cardiologist and editor of the Mayo Clinic book Healthy Heart for Life!
Even working out earlier in the day doesn't get you off the hook. Being still for long periods is harmful, she says, adding prolonged sitting can be as harmful as smoking for the heart. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the USA. Exercise can help prevent it, and can also help decrease your chances of getting cancer, diabetes, dementia, and a spare tire.... Read this in full at
DISCERNING THE NEWS
by Sarah Bailey
It’s no secret that many Christians harbor deep skepticism of the “liberal media elite.” Some have been burned by the media, noting unfair or unfriendly coverage from the past. “I never just accept what newspapers say about people. I’ve seen them get facts, quotes, and reasons wrong far too many times,” California pastor Rick Warren wrote on Twitter earlier this year. Or, as popular blogger Jon Acuff has suggested, Christians tend to treat the secular media as though it were Satan’s newspaper.
The skepticism runs deeply in response to perceptions Americans feel about how the media treats religion. Just 19 percent of Americans say the news media is friendly to religion, a poll from the Pew Center found in a March 2012 survey. Skepticism of the media seems to run deeper for evangelicals, at least when reporters cover religion. About half of evangelicals believe the press is “unfriendly” to religion, compared to 35 percent of Americans overall. The result can be a tendency for media consumers to read only those we agree with or ideas we want to affirm.
But carrying an unhealthy cynicism toward the media can rattle our sense that there is indeed knowable truth. Instead, the savvy Christian should seek to gather several pieces of information and ideas before filtering them through what he or she knows to be true. We can look to media accounts to begin to understand general revelation, God’s providential work manifested in the world around us.... Read this in full at
FOR-PROFIT CHRISTIAN COLLEGE WINS FREE CAMPUS
A for-profit, Christian university in Arizona has won one of the education world’s most sought-after prizes: a free, historic, freshly renovated campus in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts.
Phoenix-based Grand Canyon University plans to open an extension campus in Northfield, Mass., on a 217-acre site formerly owned by Northfield Mount Hermon School. The private secondary school sold the campus in 2009 to Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain owned by the billionaire Green family of Oklahoma. The Greens invested $5 million in upgrades with the intent to give it to a Christian institution.
“We hope this campus will provide a home for students to find their purpose in Christ and realize their full potential in life,” said Hobby Lobby President Steve Green in a statement on Sept. 21. “We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this historic campus and for this community.” .... Read this in full at
LIFE LAID DOWN
by Marcus Brotherton
As a prisoner of the Imperial Japanese Army in the jungles of Thailand during WWII, Ernest Gordon, a commander in a Scottish infantry battalion, saw firsthand the depths of depravity that can happen when man sinks to his lowest.
At age 24, Gordon was captured while escaping from Sumatra after the fall of Singapore. With other prisoners he was marched into the jungle to build the notorious bridge on the River Kwai.
Starvation, beatings, disease, and dawn-to-dusk slave labor were hallmarks of the death camp. The Scottish and British soldiers, normally bastions of composure, good cheer, and self-discipline, were slowly influenced by death’s destructive grip. Morale broke down, along with concern for one’s fellow man.
Over time, “nothing mattered except to survive,” wrote Gordon. “We lived by the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest. It was a case of ‘I look out for myself and to hell with everyone else.’ The weak were trampled underfoot, the sick ignored or resented, the dead forgotten. All restraints of morality [were] gone.”
Then, slowly, something remarkable began to emerge in the camp.... Read this in full at
SOMETIMES UNDERSTANDING FOLLOWS OBEDIENCE
by Carolyn Arends
Sometimes you have to do what's being asked of you before you understand why it's required. You have to be willing to taste the soup in order to discover the spoon is missing. In religious parlance: "Understanding follows obedience." It's an axiom every bit as true as it is vexing. Psalm 111 observes that "all who follow [God's] precepts have good understanding"—not the other way around.
Lately, for me, the command to "taste the soup" has been about attending church. Trouble is, I just haven't felt like going.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.”
- Ephesians 4:29 (CEB)
“How utterly opposed to the thought of Jesus Christ is all asceticism, all religious isolation and retreat from the world. His aim was not to get his followers out of the world, but to get them into the world. Society, not solitude, is the natural home of Christianity.”
- Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901), Thoughts for Every-day Living, New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1901, p. 42
THE MILLENNIAL HYMNAL
by Matthew Boffey
Several Sundays ago I noticed we had new hymnals — which might seem like an oxymoron. Hymnals are supposed to be old and tattered, right? Even better if the pages are brown with age. But our new hymnals are unworn and chic with smooth red binding. They also have a hip copyright date: 2008.
I was surprised to see Matt Redman’s, “Blessed Be Your Name” and Chris Tomlin’s, “How Great is Our God” in these new hymnals. These are good songs with biblical, God-glorifying content, and I’m glad that our churches are singing them. But I admit that when I saw them, I frowned.
“These aren’t hymns,” I thought, “these are chart-toppers.” Almost in fear that my favorite traditional hymns had been retired, I scoured the book to find something old. I was relieved to see that “Be Thou My Vision” and “How Great Thou Art” made it in.
At first I was miffed to see the newbies encroaching on the old-timers’ sacred space. But I soon realized that my initial aversion was unfair. I was presuming certain criteria for a hymn: Written before I was born, and fit for an organ.... Read this in full at
STUDY: MEGACHURCHES CAN TRIGGER FALSE SPIRITUAL HIGHS
by Alan Rudnick
“God’s love becomes ... such a drug that you can’t wait to come get your next hit. ... You can’t wait to get involved to get the high from God.” That’s what a megachurch worshiper said in a new study on the affects of spiritual highs in megachurches.
The lights, the swaying induced music, the large crowd, and that celebrity pastor preaching to you. Ahh… the spiritual high.
According to a new study, that “spiritual high” could be a result of a chemical process in the brain. The estimated 10% of American Protestants, about 6 million worshipers, who regularly attend one of 1,600 mega churches could experience this chemical process.... Read this in full at
OCTOBER IS "CLERGY APPRECIATION MONTH"
by Bill Ellis
In the United States and other parts of the world, October is observed as "Clergy Appreciation Month." A pastor said, "It is my favorite month of the year."
Some churches do everything they possibly can for their pastor. Their gratitude for a kind and loving shepherd is always being expressed. In what ways?
In the prime of my life, when energy and enthusiasm seemed to be without limitations, I was the shepherd of a flock that gathered in a sheepfold in Decatur, Illinois, at a place called Peoples Church of God.
The sheep I loved so much were led, cared for, looked after, guarded, protected, watched over, kept secure and escorted to shady green pastures and still waters. They were the pride and joy of my life. I cannot relive those unforgettable years except through memory and pictures. There has not been a day since I left that flock that they have not been alive in my memory. I'm grateful to the thousands of people I met in that great church and wonderful city.... Read this in full at
DENZEL WASHINGTON TELLS GQ HE READS BIBLE DAILY, HAD POWERFUL ENCOUNTER WITH HOLY SPIRIT
by Mark Ellis
Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington told GQ Magazine he reads the Bible every day and had an intense encounter with the Holy Spirit in his twenties.
“I read from the Bible every day, and I read my Daily Word,” he told GQ’s Michael Hainey. The devout Christian and son of a Pentecostal minister also talked about his father’s influence in his life.
Washington said it was not difficult to be a preacher’s son. “He wasn’t a taskmaster, but there were certain things you couldn’t do. He had his own church, and it was a long Sunday, because you had to be there all day.”
While Washington felt some rebellion as a teen when his church attendance began to feel like “a job,” he’s thankful for his father’s presence and influence. “Everyone I grew up with didn’t have a father. I had a father. My father was a decent man. He was a very spiritual man and a gentleman.” .... Read this in full at
PROVING GOD IS NOT A LIAR
by Andrée Seu Peterson
How would you feel if you were married to a guy who came home one day and said, “Good news, Honey! I now believe that you are not cheating on me. I had you checked out by a detective and he said you’re telling the truth”?
This is how I feel when I read that some archeological discovery has “vindicated” the Word of God. “Yippee! Science has proved that God is not a liar!” (At least till the next accusation.) I can only imagine how God feels about the way we take the testimony of notorious liars to prove His truthfulness.
I happen to be in the Old Testament these days, and I came across a casual mention of the tunnel King Hezekiah (who reigned between 727 and 698 BC) built to defend Jerusalem against Assyrian invasion:.... Read this in full at
CONFESSIONS OF AN ECUMENICAL, EVANGELICAL, BAPTIST CHRISTIAN
by Roger E. Olson
Confessions of an Ecumenical, Evangelical, Baptist Christian. The only problematic adjective in that string of labels, at least to most people, is “ecumenical.” How can a person be all four of those at once? Well, some might question whether one can be evangelical and Baptist or Baptist and Christian, but I’ll set those aside for now. I’ll take for granted that in the U.S., anyway, the problematic element in the list is ecumenical. Many evangelicals and Baptists question whether it is possible to be ecumenical and evangelical, or ecumenical and Baptist, or even ecumenical and Christian!
Lately there’s been a lot of talk among Baptist theologians about Baptist catholicity—whether and how it might be possible for Baptists to affirm their own catholicity in the sense of belonging to the church universal. By this they clearly do not mean just belonging to some invisible church of Jesus Christ composed of all true believers throughout the world and across the ages. Most Baptists believe in that (except those affected by Landmarkism). They mean belonging to the visible church of Jesus Christ together with other visible churches.... Read this in full at
THE DEFINITION OF ‘EVANGELICAL’
by James R. Rogers
In the book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, Robert Putnam and David Campbell analyze the results from surveys they created to help them describe and understand American religion. As with any survey, the results of Putnam and Campbell’s polls can be received with confidence only if the sample size of the surveys is large enough to assure the researchers that the results reflect the underlying population. So Putnam and Campbell needed to aggregate members of religious groups in order to get a large enough sample so that they, and their readers, have some confidence in the statistical results they publish. One of the categories they created is the category of “evangelical Protestant.”
While the group of evangelical churches identified by Putnam and Campbell generally shares a consensus on a set of basic doctrines—the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, his deity, his virgin birth, his second coming, etc.—there nonetheless is also significant variation in belief and practice among this set of churches. Yet for all the variation, churches in this group do share an underlying commonality in orientation toward reading the scriptures that allows for cross-denominational identity and communication.... Read this in full at
STEPHEN COLBERT WEARS HIS RELIGION IN HIS PUNCH LINES
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
At a time when the term "God-given," as used in the Democratic platform, caused enough controversy that it was removed and then reinstated, it's the one place on television where liberal Christianity is given a place at the table. The Passion of the Colbert. No one in popular culture talks about religion the way Stephen Colbert does.
The man, in reality and character, is a devout and out Catholic, observer of Lent and teacher of Sunday school. Unlike other comedians of his persuasion — liberal though disguised as conservative — Colbert does not hide, ignore, downplay or make light of his faith. On Ash Wednesday, he shows up with the obligatory smudge on his forehead. He has been known to recite bits of the Nicene Creed on air. He has appointed a smart and articulate Jesuit, Father John Martin, as official chaplain of his show.... Read this in full at
STUDY: TV RATINGS SYSTEM IS 'A FAILURE'
Parents relying on the television ratings system to block objectionable content from their children might want to reconsider its usefulness, according to a new study that finds TV programs often include explicit content without the proper warning and that TV-PG programming has explicit content every five and a half minutes.
The study by the Parents Television Council (PTC) examined all primetime programming for the four major broadcast networks during the first two weeks of the November 2011 sweeps period.
PTC found that:
* 44% of the instances of explicit content on TV-PG programming did not include the needed descriptor -- "L" (language), "D" (suggestive dialogue), "S" (sexual situations) or "V" (violence).
* primetime programming includes so much explicit content during TV-PG shows that a child would have been exposed to such content every five and a half minutes.... Read this in full at
REPORT: RESTRICTIONS ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM INCREASING WORLDWIDE
Religious believers throughout the world face a rising tide of restrictions, according to a study released Sept. 20.
In the one-year period ending in mid-2010, 75% of the world’s population lived in a nation with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs or practices, according to the study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew tracked religious freedoms denied by government and cultural authorities.
A previous Pew study on the subject found that 70% of the world lived under religious restrictions.
The Pew researchers found increasing intolerance in every region of the world. Government and social restrictions on religious freedom particularly tightened in the Middle East-North Africa region, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, according to the study.... Read this in full at
OBAMA AT THE UN: A NEW RELIGION DOCTRINE
President Obama on Sept. 25 gave a forceful speech (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/25/remarks-president-un-general-assembly) at the United Nations, in which he challenged much of the world's assumptions about free speech and religion.
Here are 5 points from his address, which together, add up to an Obama Doctrine on Religion:
1. Blasphemy must be tolerated, however intolerable
2. Religious respect is a two-way street
3. Turn the other cheek
4. One nation under God
5. The danger of extremism.... Read this in full at
“In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.”
- Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), Markings, tr. Leif Sjoberg & W. H. Auden, (q.v.), New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964 (post.), p. 122
VERSE TO PONDER
“But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”
- 1 John 2:5-6 (NIV)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: AH, HOLY JESUS
Words: Johann Heerman, 1630; translated from German to English by Robert S. Bridges, 1899
Music: Johann Crüger, 1640
Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended,
That man to judge Thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by Thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
’Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
I crucified Thee.
Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
For me, kind Jesus, was Thy incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and Thy life’s oblation;
Thy death of anguish and Thy bitter passion,
For my salvation.
Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay Thee,
I do adore Thee, and will ever pray Thee,
Think on Thy pity and Thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.
>from NetHymnal at
“Christian community is not an ideal that we must realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly shall we think of our community and pray and hope for it.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 38
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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UPWORD 2012 Bible verses paired with beautiful nature photos during the US presidential election season (ends Nov. 9)
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(BTW: whenever the URLs in this newsletter are too long to turn into links on your e-mail program, just copy the entire URL (two lines or more) and paste it into a temporary email message. Then delete the return in the middle of it and copy it again. Then paste it into your web browser and hit enter.)
All we are saying is give pizza chants.
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, email@example.com if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
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