Connecting man to man to God
For week of October 7, 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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“Seek the LORD when he can still be found; call him while he is yet near.”
- Isaiah 55:6 (CEB)
“God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.”
- Leighton Ford
“SENSELESS” SUFFERING – PART 2
by Clare De Graaf
How in the world could a loving God allow this kind of thing to happen?
That question was voiced in anger by a pastor from Seattle as a small group of us stood over the emaciated and now dead body of a man on the streets of Bombay. (Now Mumbai)
I was in India for the first time almost thirty years ago, part of a group of pastors and lay people there to see the spiritual need for Bibles in India. We had been stepping over and going around hundreds of street dwellers every day and had passed this man still alive a half an hour before. We specifically remembered him because he was begging for money while coughing his lungs out, right in front of the restaurant where we were going to have dinner.
After we ordered, several of us had the same thought almost simultaneously. How in the world can we as Christians sit in here eating to our hearts content while this man is dying on the street fifty feet away? So we got up, went outside and found the man lying on a filthy blanket dead. Hence the anguished question. How in the world could a loving God allow this kind of thing to happen? .... Read this in full at
SOCIAL MEDIA CAN CHANGE SPIRITUAL HABITS
by Alan Rudnick
Even though 89% of American households have a Bible, the number of those who read it daily is very low. A new study released by LifeWay Research revealed what may be one of the many a sources of church attendance decline. Only 19% of church goers read their Bible daily. About 18% said that they never read their Bible.
The study found that:
While the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think on biblical truths, a recent study found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Scriptures.
The hot religious craze now is spiritual individualism, which has had a direct impact of the spiritual development of Christians. Though Christians or non-church going Christians may claim they are very spiritual, they most likely have not grown spiritual at all. You may be able to read a Bible at home, but how can you learn without guidance? The spiritual but not religious moment is focused on how individual trumps the religious community.
So how are we to draw these spiritual folk back to a religious community? Social media.... Read this in full at
TEST PILOT FOUND GOD IN THE MIDST OF TRAGEDY
by Mark Ellis
Life Magazine called him one of the top five test pilots in the U.S. His illustrious career extended into his eighties, well beyond the time most retire from the grueling physical demands of high-performance jets.
"I knew what I wanted to be at the age of five," says Russell O'Quinn, the internationally recognized test pilot and aircraft designer. As a child during the Great Depression, his father decided to re-roof their house, which was under the final approach to a local airport.
Since Russell's mother was away, his father decided on a creative way to look after the lad while he worked. "He took a hammer and nailed the seat of my pants to the roof," Russell recalls. "A 10-penny nail is a very effective babysitter." He spent an afternoon watching planes fly overhead, which began his love affair with flying.... Read this in full at
THE NEXT CHRISTIANS
In the first of a 2012 series for The Civil Conversations Project, Krista Tippet of On Being radio program speaks with two Christian leaders who are reshaping their part in common life, and the common good — something much bigger than politics.
Both Gabe Lyons and Jim Daly are bringing a new imagination, and are defying stereotypes of religious — specifically Christian, Evangelical — America that flourish in an election year. Recorded in front of a live audience at the University of Minnesota, this often surprising conversation addresses subjects like gay marriage, abortion, and the strident reputation that Christian evangelicals have earned in the past decade. Listen to this in full at
WALK IN HIS STEPS
By Carol Round
An 1896 novel, “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon, launched a grassroots movement in the 1990s called “What Would Jesus Do?” Many of us remember the popular question that sparked a revolution of sorts, especially among youth. The initials WWJD first appeared on cloth bracelets and later on t-shirts, coffee mugs and other items.
Sheldon’s novel grew out of a series of sermons he delivered to his Topeka, Kansas church. Sheldon’s approach to the Christian life was expressed in the phrase “What would Jesus do?” with our Savior serving as a moral example. In this popular novel, translated into 21 languages, the Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. The homeless man has a difficult time understanding why so many Christians ignore the poor.
Commenting on standing outside the church door and listening to the hymns being sung, the poor man says, “It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following in His steps? .... Read this in full at
WHAT GALILEO'S TELESCOPE CAN'T SEE
by James K. A. Smith
Analogies have persuasive power, a suggestive force that operates on an almost unconscious level. To say that A is "like" B is to suggest that everything we associate with A should also be associated with B—whether good, bad, or ugly.
So, for example, if I describe American soldiers as "crusaders," I have just painted them with an analogical brush that colors them as religiously motivated warriors guilty of the worst bigotries of the West. The analogy is loaded with a moral depiction that exceeds what's actually said. So all the disdain we have towards our (usually caricatured) understanding of the Crusades is now overlaid on our perception of military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Conversely, if I describe the proponents of my cause as "prophets" or "martyrs," I have loaded the perceptual deck with images of heroism and purity. Just by the analogy, we get to don our white hats and claim the moral high ground. Or if we describe our regime as "Camelot," we associate ourselves with romance and royal privilege. Never underestimate the power of an analogy. And never simply accept it.... Read this in full at
5 FAITH LESSONS IN THE HOBBIT
Devin Brown, author of "The Christian World of The Hobbit," explores the Christian element vitally important to Tolkien's writings and in these articles offers 5 brief lessons about faith evident in "The Hobbit"
Lesson #1: No Such Thing as Luck
Lesson #2: Strange Help in The Hobbit
Lesson #3: “Very Good for You”
Lesson #4: Figuring Out What is Right and
Lesson #5: The Power of Gold.... Read this in full at
CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS ARE LIKE NFL TEAMS
by Ben Howard
In honor of the beginning of the NFL season and because I have a bizarre need to compare things that are in no way similar to each other. I give you a list of Christian denominations and their corresponding NFL team.
Roman Catholic – Chicago Bears
They've been around since the beginning and their history is filled with both conquests and venerated saints like George Halas, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. However, in recent years they've often been on the defensive leading to middle of the road status. Finally, Mike Ditka is Pope John Paul II and Walter Payton is Mother Teresa.
Episcopalian/Anglican – Oakland Raiders
Historically, a rebellious group of upstarts from the insurgent AFL that has tamed over time as it's come to find more mainstream success. Still prone to bouts of rebellious behavior that come across more weird than iconoclastic in the modern context. You have a legion of hardcore fans that refuse to leave even if your behavior seems occasionally bizarre. Al Davis is King Henry VIII and John Madden is N.T. Wright.... Read this in full at
'I'M SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS' IS A COP-OUT
by Alan Miller
The increasingly common refrain that "I'm spiritual, but not religious," represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society. The spiritual but not religious "movement" - an inappropriate term as that would suggest some collective, organizational aspect - highlights the implosion of belief that has struck at the heart of Western society.
Spiritual but not religious people are especially prevalent in the younger population in the United States, although a recent study has argued that it is not so much that people have stopped believing in God, but rather have drifted from formal institutions.
It seems that just being a part of a religious institution is nowadays associated negatively, with everything from the Religious Right to child abuse, back to the Crusades and of course with terrorism today.... Read this in full at
JESUS FILM NOW A SMARTPHONE APP
New apps for smart phones arrive daily - some by the hour - to bring fun games, traveling tools, and convenient tips. But Jesus Film Media has brought a new kind of app to share the gospel through videos in over 1,100 languages directly on your device.
The JESUS Film Project introduces JESUS Film Media (http://www.jesusfilmmedia.org) allows, a free app providing anyone with an Android or iOS device access to the complete library of The JESUS Film Project - some 66,000 video clips.
"Film provides a way to casually engage in conversation about spiritual topics. We hope the app will spark spiritual conversations and connect more people with the life-changing message of Jesus," said Erick Schenkel, executive director of The JESUS Film Project.
With access anywhere, anytime, the Jesus Film Media app allows users to instantly view or share a film clip with anyone. By eliminating barriers like language, literacy, electricity and more, JESUS and the entire library of Jesus Film resources can be shared without hassle.... Read this in full at
THE FAKE 'HOLY WAR' OVER DONALD TRUMP'S 'GET EVEN' ADVICE
by Karen Swallow Prior
Liberty University hosted Donald Trump at its campus-wide convocation last week, marking the second time this year the school made national headlines for hosting a prominent conservative who falls outside the institution's evangelical Christian identity. Following a nationally-covered commencement speech by presidential nominee Mitt Romney in May, the school's invitation to Donald Trump might have seemed mere fodder for a slow news day. However, when Trump hedgingly suggested to over 10,000 students in attendance to "get even" in order to succeed, a controversy was born, and the outcries came from both ends of the religious spectrum, from People for the American Way to ultraconservative Christian bloggers.
A guy goes into a fancy lounge wearing a shirt open at the collar, but the bouncer tells him he needs a necktie to get in.
The guy doesn't have a necktie handy, so goes out to his car and gets his jumper cables. He ties these around his neck, manages to fashion a fairly acceptable looking knot, and lets the ends dangle free.
He goes back to the lounge. The bouncer looks him up & down and then says, "Well, OK, I guess you can come in - just don't start anything."
VERSE TO PONDER
“May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
- 1 Peter 1:3 (CEB)
“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends.”
- George Muller
MEDICARE, END OF LIFE AND LIVING OUR THEOLOGY
by Gary Gook
Medicare is consistently a wedge issues for both sides of the political spectrum. The issue becomes even more controversial in the reality that more than 30% of the cost of Medicare comes in the last year of life.
Unfortunately the discussion ranges from the silly, such as the macabre predictions of “death panels,” to the seeming lack of acknowledgement by some that Medicare cannot be sustained in its present form for future generations. Christians from both sides grow weary of the lack of genuine effort to solve the dilemma and often opt out of the discussion.
That should not be an option for us if we take seriously the New Testament’s call to citizenship. However, our best contribution to the discussion may be our theology and how we live it rather than our politics.
Hopefully our theology has been developed through years of study and testing it in the real world. By testing I mean living it in our own lives and observing it in the lives of others. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 3:14, “Continue in what you have learned because you know those from whom you learned it.” .... Read this in full at
BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION OPENS ONLINE SCHOOL TO 'REVIVE GOSPEL TEACHING'
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has launched a new online evangelism school aimed both at pastors seeking to spread the gospel and ordinary Christians looking to grow stronger in their faith.
"Our focus is evangelism. Sharing the gospel, preaching the gospel, and that is what this school of evangelism is all about," said Gary Cobb, Director of Training for BGEA.
The school will offer a 12-part training course and draw from more than 60 years of evangelic outreach to communicated the most effective ways of reaching the world with the gospel, the school says.
Cobb said that besides making taking classes more convenient for people, the cost will also be lower and offer an even better value.... Read this in full at
FORMER SOONER PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF
He was a member of Bob Stoops' first recruiting class at the University of Oklahoma. He played in two national championship games, three Big XII championship games and four bowl games while at OU.
What he did as a Sooner football player he continues to do today -- not on the field, but in the locker room, dorm room, throughout the campus and even on road trips. Having an influence in people's lives is what Smokey Hurst is still doing.
While honing his athletic skills at OU, Hurst honed his spiritual strength through the Paradigm campus ministry (formerly Baptist Student Union, or BSU). And now he's back to help others do the same.
STARTING THE DAY RIGHT
“For thee, who professest the name of Christ, do thou depart from all these things; do thou make conscience of reading and practising; do thou follow after righteousness; do thou make conscience of beginning the day with God; for he that begins it not with him will hardly end it with him; he that runs from God in the morning will hardly find him at the close of the day; nor will he that begins with the world and the vanities thereof, in the first place, be very capable of walking with God all the day after. It is he that finds God in his closet that will carry the savour of him into his house, his shop, and his more open conversation.”
- John Bunyan (1628-1688), The Whole Works of John Bunyan, v. II, London: Blackie, 1862, p. 537
FAITH BASED ORGANIZATIONS TO LEAD CROSS-CONTINENTAL BIKE TOUR TO END POVERTY
Cyclists are signing up for the ride of their lives next summer, taking God's message of hope to the streets.
The Sea to Sea 2013 Bike Tour (http://www.seatosea.org/) is a 9-week, 3,900-mile cycling trek across North America designed to raise awareness and funds in support of those living in poverty around the world. The tour is hosted by the Reformed Church in America, Partners Worldwide, and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) -- an agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America
The tour begins June 21, 2013, in Los Angeles and ends nine weeks later in New York City. Stops include Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Toronto, and Montreal. Organizers expect this will be the largest bicycle tour to ever cross the United States and Canada, and applications are already coming in. Riders have the option of going the full distance or registering for one to five week segments.... Read this in full at
2 USA CHRISTIAN BROADCASTERS READY FOR MESSIAH IN JERUSALEM
If the Messiah descends from the Mount of Olives as foretold in the Bible, America's two biggest Christian broadcasters are well-positioned to cover it live thanks to recent acquisitions of adjacent Jerusalem studios on a hill overlooking the Old City.
Texas-based Daystar Television Network already beams a 24-hour-a-day live webcam from its terrace. Not to be outdone, Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Trinity Broadcasting Network last month bought the building next door.
The dueling studios are part of an aggressive push by US evangelical broadcasters seeking to gain a stronger foothold in the holy city. Their presence not only offers boasting rights with American viewers and contributors, but also -- and more controversially -- a platform for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to Jews in Israel.... Read this in full at
NEED A BIT OF BIBLE? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
Onlookers might think you're checking stocks, watching clips of "Honey Boo Boo" or reading news out of Libya. But on the subway, in the doctor’s office, under a beach cabana – with the right gadget, God’s word can be with you.
Making the Bible accessible and shareable is what YouVersion’s Bible app is all about. About 300 versions of the Bible can be downloaded for free to smartphones and tablets, allowing people speaking 144 different languages to get their fix of Scripture.
“A lot of people in the US have six or seven Bibles in the house and never use them,” says Bobby Gruenewald, 36, the man behind this mobile Christian mission. “Our goal was to help people engage with the Bible.”
If numbers are any indication, mission accomplished.... Read this in full at
MEMORIZING SCRIPTURE CHANGES LIVES, AUTHOR SAYS IN EBOOK
Words from Galatians 5:22-23 adorn Art Toalston's office at Baptist Press. "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" are carved from oak, hanging as a bold exhortation on the wall.
They are the first fruit of the writer's continuing journey of early morning Christian meditation and of Scripture memorization that has birthed the ebook, "When I Meditate," a Scripture-centric call to enjoy the vibrant Christian faith.
"The words of Scripture in our souls are, in essence, the language of God," said Toalston, longtime editor of the Baptist Press news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. "That is hugely powerful in a personal sense. The Christian faith is wondrously vibrant." .... Read this in full at
BIBLE PUBLISHER TYNDALE FILES SUIT AGAINST ABORTION MANDATE
Bible and Christian book publisher Tyndale House has filed suit against the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate, asserting it is an unconstitutional violation of religious liberty to force the publisher to pay for drugs that violate its faith tenets.
The mandate requires employers -- with few exceptions -- to carry employee health insurance plans that cover contraceptives and drugs that can cause chemical abortions. The latter drugs often are called "emergency contraceptives" and can act after conception, even after implantation. They come under brand names such as Plan B and ella.
Tyndale is the publisher of The Living Bible as well as books by James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, Bill Bright and Josh McDowell.
At least 30 lawsuits have been filed against the mandate.... Read this in full at
RECORD NUMBER OF JUSTICES ATTEND RED MASS
Six of the nine Supreme Court justices attended the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington Sept. 30. The event’s speakers spoke about using faith in decision-making but largely stayed away from the controversial issues the court will face in the coming months.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Elena Kagan all attended the 60th annual Mass. This was Kagan’s first Red Mass.
Having six justices in attendance ties a record set in 2009. The only justices to not attend this year were Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, both of whom are Catholic, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish. Kagan and Breyer, both of whom were in attendance, are also Jewish.... Read this in full at
UNITARIAN FAITH GROWING NATIONWIDE
For Nathan De Lee, going to church as a kid was an ordeal. De Lee, a Unitarian Universalist, grew up in rural Kansas, where members of his faith were few and far between. Attending services meant an overnight trip to Kansas City, where the nearest Unitarian Universalist congregation was.
Today, getting to church is easy for De Lee, an astronomer at Vanderbilt. He's a regular in the choir on Sundays at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, which has a congregation of about 500.
De Lee is one of a growing number of Unitarian Universalists, a group of people who believe in organized religion but are skeptical about doctrine. The denomination grew nationally by 15.8% from 2000 to 2010, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.... Read this in full at
INDIA: UNRELENTING PERSECUTION
by Elizabeth Kendal
Persecution of the Church in India is unrelenting, primarily due to the Hindu nationalists' incitement of racial and religious hatred, the impunity afforded violent persecutors and the authorities' lack of political will. 'Religious Freedom' laws define 'force', 'fraud' and 'coercion' in ways that criminalise virtually all Christian witness. Such laws are a gift to the Hindu nationalists who incite violence, blame the victims and are appeased with impunity and restrictions on egalitarian Christianity that the high-caste Hindus recognise as a threat to their own caste privilege. The government is reluctant and even afraid to tackle Hindu propaganda. Consequently it advances, fuelling religious hostility and creating an incendiary environment. The situation is extremely dangerous. Please pray for the Church in India..... Read this in full at
“Surprise is the secret of joy.”
- G. K. Chesterton
VERSE TO PONDER
“This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ.”
- Philippians 1:9-10 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: AH! LORD GOD, THE WORLD’S CREATOR
Words: Jean Mauburn, 1494. Translated from Latin to English by George R. Woodward, 1904.
Music: Johann G. Ebeling, 1666
Ah! Lord God, the world’s Creator,
King of all, great or small,
Art Thou cradled, art Thou crying,
Swathed and bound, on the ground,
In the stable lying?
“Love of man hath brought Me hither,
Cords of love, from above,
To exalt him thither;
Dead in trespass, child, I sought thee;
Gone astray, from My way,
Life and pardon brought thee.”
“Empty be My scrip and coffer,
Yet ’tis wealth, plenty, health,
I am come to offer;
Haste I to enrich and dress thee;
Born to die, low I lie,
And would gladly bless thee.”
Therefore thousand thousand praises
Are Thy due, Babe Jesu,
These my heart upraises;
Angels, mortals, furthest, nighest,
Sing in mirth, “Peace on earth,
Glory in the highest.”
>from NetHymnal at
“God's true preachers have been distinguished by one great feature: they were men of prayer. Differing often in many things, they have always had a common center. They may have started from different points, and traveled by different roads, but they converged to one point: they were one in prayer. God to them was the center of attraction, and prayer was the path that led to God.”
- E. M. Bounds (1835-1913), Preacher and Prayer, Publishing House of the M. E. Church, South, Dallas, Tex., 1907, p. 41
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 not fat...I'm just too short for my weight.
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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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