Connecting man to man to God
For week of November 11, 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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“God revealed his hidden design to us, which is according to his goodwill and the plan that he intended to accomplish through his Son. This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth.”
- Ephesians 1:9-10 (CEB)
“He who attempts to set up God's kingdom in his heart, Furthers it in the world.”
- John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), Sermons, Bearing on Subjects of the Day, London: J. G. F. & J. Rivington, 1844, p. 151
THE PROBLEM WITH LITERALISM WHEN IT COMES TO TRANSLATION
by Ben Witherington
There is a new book out on the market comparing and contrasting four popular recent translations Evangelicals tend to use— the NIV, the NLT, the ESV, and the HCSB. The book is entitled Which Bible Translation Should I Use? A Comparison of Four Recent Versions, and its introducers and editors are Andrew Kostenberger and David Croteau (B+H, 2012, 204 actual pages). Each of the four versions are essentially presented or defended by four individuals who were involved in the translation work themselves— ESV (Wayne Grudem), NIV (Doug Moo), HCSB (Ray Clendenen), and NLT (Philip Comfort). In this particular post I want to address only one issue, that of literalism.
Let it be noted first that none of these four translations really deserve to be called ‘literal’ translations in the strict sense. They are not. They do not follow, for example the word order of the Hebrew or Greek sentences again and again and again for the sake of making good sense in English. In other words, comprehension trumps literalism. Sometimes you will hear one or another of the defenders of the ESV or HCSB or the NKJV claim that their translation is ‘essentially literal’ but not ‘woodenly literal’ (with the latter meaning following word for word the word order in the original language).... Read this in full at
DO CHRISTIANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DIE “NATURALLY”?
by Clare De Graaf
“I’m not sure what to do about my father”, said my friend. “He’s mid 80s, his health is failing, and he can’t live on his own safely anymore. He’s unsteady on his feet and my sisters and I are scared to death he’ll fall down the steps, lay there for a few days, and die. But, he refuses to leave his house where he’s lived for close to 40 years. “Does your father have Alzheimer’s or does he have trouble thinking clearly?” I asked. “No, he’s okay mentally. That’s not the problem.” He just says he wants to die at home.
“Then I’d let him,” I said.
My friend was about as shocked as you may be. So I went on to explain how doing so may be the most loving thing he and his sister could do for him, and how some other serious Christians have thought about these issues.
A few weeks ago, I blogged on the topic “Why do bad things happen to good people?” – like death. I think we Christians hang on to life with a tenacity that probably surprises God, given all he’s promised for us after life on earth. Personally, I’d rather die at the bottom of the stairs in my own house than live for a few more years in a nursing home, shuffling down the halls with a walker, taking a half-dozen medications to keep me alive and wetting myself.... Read this in full at
COMMITMENT SHOWS ITSELF
“In religion, we are not asked to make up our minds, we are asked to make up our lives... We may refuse to make up our minds, but our lives get made up, one way or the other... Whatever we believe with our minds, our lives are committed either to God's way or to the God-denying way, and what matters in religion is the act of commitment.”
- A. Leonard Griffith (b. 1920), Barriers to Christian Belief, New York: Harper & Row, 1962, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1962, p. 190-192
LOVE RENDERS US WORTHY
by Kristyn Komarnicki
Thomas Merton once wrote to Dorothy Day, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.”
The latest issue of PRISM is about learning to love, because only love will render the church worthy of being called the body of Christ.... Read this in full at
MISSION AMERICA COALITION LAUNCHES LOVE2020
The Mission America Coalition / US Lausanne Committee (http://www.missionamerica.org) has launched a national campaign to draw ministries, churches, whole denominations, and individual Christians to show the love of Christ to every person in America by the end of the decade.
"We pray that by year-end 2020, every person in America would be authentically loved by at least one Christian," says Paul Cedar, chairman of the Mission America Coalition (MAC).
LOVE2020 (http://www.love2020.com/) was announced at the MAC annual leadership consultation in Denver. The response of partner churches, ministries, and whole denominations was overwhelming, Cedar reports.
"I'm amazed at how many leaders have caught the vision for prayer-care-share," he said, "and have expressed their desire to be involved in LOVE2020." .... Read this in full at
RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT SURPASSES THE PHARISEES
by Adam Hamilton
I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 5:20
The Sermon on the Mount seems, at so many points, impossible to live. It must have seemed the same to Jesus' first hearers. The Pharisees were focused on purity before God. The name, Pharisee, means “set apart” or “separated,” and they sought to distinguish themselves by the lengths to which they would go to be pious. How could anyone’s righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees?
Some have felt the point of the Sermon on the Mount was to offer an impossible picture of righteousness that leads us naturally to the recognition that we need a Savior. Perhaps. But I see it capturing an ideal, something that is always beyond where we are, but yet a vision of piety for which we are meant to strive.... Read this in full at
THE GREAT EVANGELICAL RECESSION
John Dickerson (http://johnsdickerson.com/) spent the last three years documenting the decline of the evangelical church in the US with a unique approach - he is not only reporting on the church's health with the expertise of an award-winning journalist, he is also now serving as a third-generation senior pastor.
According to a news release from Baker Books (www.bakerbooks.com), his evangelical heritage lends credibility to this new book, The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church and How to Prepare (Baker Books, January 2013, ISBN: 978-0-8010-1483-3, $14.99, 256 pages).
Even though, evangelicalism may appear to be on the decline, this faith group still represents tens of millions of Americans. Dickerson’s findings help shed light as to whether or not evangelicalism will persist -- and why it even matters.... Read this in full at
THE BEARER OF THE WORD
“The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 23
HOW WE HIDE OUR SUFFERING
by Tullian Tchividjian
e have said that suffering is inevitable, that it is universal. I'd like to go one step further and say that everyone is suffering in some way, today. I know I am. Perhaps your situation is dire. A death in the family, a painful heartbreak, the loss of a job, a wayward teenager. But perhaps your situation is relatively innocuous: a harshly worded email, a few extra pounds on the scale that won't seem to go away, an unexpected car maintenance bill. All of this is suffering, and all of it is proof that the world is not as it should be!
[But there are barriers to grappling with this honestly.] First, we project a hierarchy of suffering on to God. Someone recently forwarded me a particularly vivid example of this method of denial: "If anyone is having a bad day, remember that in 1976 Ronald Wayne sold his 10% stake in Apple for $800. Now it's worth $58,065,210,000." Translated into spiritual terms you might say, I'm having a bad day, but at least I don't have pancreatic cancer. God has too much on his plate for me to bother him with my petty concerns. He clearly cares more about starving children than he does about my seasonal depression. There may be something noble about keeping things in proper perspective, but soon we are dictating to God what he should or shouldn't care about. Eventually we find ourselves editing our prayers along these lines, as though we were giving a political speech, rather than speaking with our heavenly Father. If the only things that qualify as suffering in your life are natural disasters or global warfare, you will soon find yourself plastering a smile on your face and nodding over-enthusiastically whenever someone asks you how you are doing. Shiny, happy Christians are insufferable, pun intended.... Read this in full at
OUR DANGEROUS OBSESSION WITH ‘HEALTH’
by Wesley J. Smith
A few years ago a book was written by the bioethicist Yuval Levin. Early in Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy, Levin writes, “Any society’s understanding of the foundational good necessarily gives shape to its politics, its social institutions and its sense of moral purpose and direction.” And what is our “primary good” in the West today? Not justice. Not even equality. It’s “relief and preservation — from disease and pain, from misery and necessity.”
Bingo! When eliminating suffering becomes the overriding purpose of a society, people can easily come to perceive that it is proper to accomplish the goal by eliminating the sufferer.... Read this in full at
NEW SURGE OF GROWTH FOR ALPHA USA ON HORIZON
The US arm of ministry leader Alpha International (http://www.alphausa.org/Groups/1000065342/Guest_homepage.aspx) is poised for a new surge of growth through its world renowned evangelism program, the Alpha course. The 10-week small group experience for those within and outside the church promises to bring spiritual life-change into US cities and towns, churches, workplaces, homes, cafeterias, prisons and universities. And, yes, into the hearts of thousands of people — changing, renewing, and transforming them for Christ.
Alpha course is about new beginnings and setting life-change in motion in ways that have proved effective around the world. Since it was launched in London’s Holy Trinity Church-Brompton (HTB) in the late 1970s, and with the introduction of Alpha Publishing in the early ‘90s, the Alpha course has reached 18 million people in 169 countries and in 113 languages. Great Britain, France, Japan, South Africa, and dozens of other countries have seen huge increases in the number of personal commitments to Jesus Christ. According to various research studies, one-half of participants in Alpha make a commitment or recommitment to Christ.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service.”
- Romans 12:1 (CEB)
“The present life is the only opportunity that will be given me for helping others in this world. That is a privilege which even Angels are not allowed. We shall have Heaven for ever, but we have only a short time for service here, and therefore must not waste the one opportunity.”
- Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929), The Message of Sadhu Sundar Singh, B. H. Streeter & A. J. Appasamy, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1922, p. 38
UNITED METHODISTS' COKESBURY RETAIL STORES TO CLOSE
The United Methodist Publishing House plans to close its Cokesbury retail bookstores nationwide, including in Nashville, to focus on selling online and through its call center.
From January through April, all 38 standalone retail stores and 19 stores at seminaries across the country will close.
Across the chain, about 185 full-time employees plus more than 100 part-time workers will lose their jobs as the company redirects its resources toward other sales channels as part of an initiative it calls CokesburyNext.... Read this in full at
5 MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Jack Levison
ome friends from my days at Wheaton College recently spent some time with my wife and me in Seattle. We haven’t seen much of them since graduation, but know that they have committed their lives to the Holy Spirit’s leading—which, in their case, led them to opening a medical clinic for Quechuans in the backwoods of Bolivia. The native Quechua are small and dark, while the descendants of Spaniards are tall and white. My friends long ago threw in their lot with the small and dark people.
You’d think answering God’s call to the nations would be enough submission to the Spirit for any Christian couple. But as the evening wound down, our friends asked us if they should speak in tongues. An acquaintance gave them the name of her pastor to help them. “Should we call him?” they asked.
I was stunned. What could prompt two committed Christians — with deep devotional lives and radical work among the world’s forgotten — to yearn for a further work of the Holy Spirit? .... Read this in full at
ESSENTIAL LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES FROM A RENOWNED AGENT OF CHANGE
Cultures and organizations do not change without strong leadership. While many leadership books focus on management or administration, the central focus of "The Conviction to Lead" by Albert Mohler is on changing minds.
Dr. Mohler is a prominent voice in evangelicalism, fighting for Christian principles and challenging secular culture. Using his experiences and examples from history, Dr. Mohler demonstrates that real leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. His book walks the reader through what a leader needs to know, do, and be in order to effect change.... Read this in full at
A MATTER OF FAITH
by Carol Round
One of the things I like about technology is being able to stay connected with others. While I sometimes groan about our fast-paced world, I love keeping up with like-minded individuals through Facebook. On November 1, I noticed a 40-Day “thanks”-giving challenge. Each day in November, people began to post those things and people for which they are grateful. I joined the challenge and began posting daily.
During November, we celebrate a national day of thanksgiving, always the last Thursday of the month. This American holiday is a time to remember and give thanks for all of our blessings. For many, however, it’s the only day of the year they feel led to express their gratitude.
Did you know that one of humanity’s most powerful positive emotions is gratitude? Several years ago, psychologists started studying the science of giving thanks. What they discovered might surprise you. When you count your blessings, it makes you happier, even during difficult times.... Read this in full at
JONI EARECKSON TADA: GOD GIVES PASSION FOR PEOPLE
"No five-year plan that you embark on will be more important than the people put before you to serve," Joni Eareckson Tada told students at California Baptist University. "If you have a passion for God, you will have a passion for people."
Tada, who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident in 1967, said in a chapel message at the Riverside, Calif., campus that she wakes up with no energy 95% of the time and no strength to live through another day with disabilities.
"I lay in my bed and tell God, 'But I can do all things through You who strengthens me. Can I borrow your smile? Because I don't have one for today.'".... Read this in full at
STUDY: CHURCHGOING TEENS GO FURTHER WITH SCHOOL
Sociologists from Brigham Young University and Rice University found religiously-affiliated youth are 40% more likely to graduate high school than their unaffiliated peers and 70% more likely to enroll in college.
The researchers note that teens' fellow church-goers are an important factor, serving as mentors who help teens set their sights high.
"Youth have a unique chance to form relationships with peers and mentors outside of their classroom at school or their neighborhood at home," said Lance Erickson, the lead study author and a sociologist at BYU. "Mentors especially care for, counsel with and encourage youth throughout their growing years in a way that teachers and parents might not be able to." .... Read this in full at
HAVE YOU HEARD?
“‘Not called,’ did you say? Not heard the call, I think you should say. He has been calling loudly ever since He spoke your sins forgiven -- if you are forgiven at all -- entreating and beseeching you to be His ambassador. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull poor sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity and listen to its pitying wail for help. Go and stand by the gates of Hell and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house, and bid their brothers, and sisters, and servants, and masters not to come there. And then look the Christ in the face, whose mercy you profess to have got, and whose words you have promised to obey, and tell Him whether you will join us heart and soul and body and circumstances in this march to publish His mercy to all the world.”
- William Booth (1829-1912), All the World, v. I, London: Salvation Army Book Stores, 1884-1885, n.1, Nov. 1884, p. 2
A ZEAL HE DOES NOT OWN
by Bob Burroughs
There is a wonderful, thought-provoking text by the hymn writer Frederick W. Faber (1814-1863) titled "There’s A Wideness In God’s Mercy.
It speaks to this generation perhaps even more powerfully than to his own. It is not sung as often as it should be these days, and this is a tragedy -- for it speaks great truth that we should be hearing and singing in times like this.
You may remember the first stanza:
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
Like the wideness of the sea
There is kindness in His justice
Which is more than liberty
I’m prone to think about justice and liberty not only as they relate to our country but also to the church. God, in his tender mercy and grace, has great kindness in his justice and liberty.... Read this in full at
CHICAGO’S PACIFIC GARDEN MISSION CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS IN NEW BUILDING AND 135 YEARS OF NON-STOP OPERATIONS
by Dan Wooding
On September 15th, 2012, America’s largest continuously operating rescue mission, Pacific Garden Mission (http://www.pgm.org/), celebrated its 135th anniversary.
According to a news release, once it opened on September 15, 1877, the doors to the “Old Lighthouse” have never closed for a total of over 49,300 consecutive days - over half the age of the United States, spanning the terms of 26 US presidents.
This month also marks five years since PGM relocated to its new building at 1458 S. Canal Street, Chicago IL 60607.
PGM has grown from its start with Colonel George Clarke and his wife, Sarah, in a small storefront seating about 40 on a few wooden benches at 318 S. Clark Street, to what is now 67 East Van Buren Street in 1880, and then to 646 South State Street in 1923 where it remained until 2007.... Read this in full at
JUSTIN WELBY TO BE NAMED NEW ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, DESCRIBED AS 'UNASHAMEDLY EVANGELICAL'
The Bishop of Durham, the Right Rev Justin Welby, is the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
Welby, 56, an Old Etonian and former businessman in the oil industry, is the successor to Dr Rowan Williams, who will step down at the end of the year.
Welby is known to support the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman; he is against same sex marriage and is opposed to homosexuals serving as bishops. Theologically he has been described by The Telegraph UK as "unashamedly part of the evangelical tradition, upholding a more traditional and conservative interpretation of the Bible than some in the Church of England." .... Read this in full at
SISTINE CHAPEL IS 500 YEARS OLD
See this CNN video report at
Also see the chapel’s website at
See large images
IS IT ETHICAL TO DEFY EVACUATION ORDERS?
by G. Jeffrey MacDonald|
As Hurricane Sandy bore down on the barrier islands of New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie gave stubborn residents one more thing to worry about. Their decisions to defy evacuation orders, he suggested, were “selfish” and morally unjustified.
“This is putting first responders in significant, significant danger” as they prepare to rescue the uncooperative, the Republican governor said Oct. 28. “It is not fair to their families for you [on the islands] to be putting them in that danger because you decided that you wanted to be hardheaded.”
As storm cleanup continues, so also does the moral debate. The idea of evacuation as a moral duty has gained traction among some local officials, theologians and hurricane survivors. But others find the notion misguided, uncompassionate and a threat to individual liberties.... Read this in full at
FRENCH MOVE TOWARD FULL FUNDING OF ABORTION
French lawmakers have voted to provide full government funding of abortion.
France's National Assembly voted Oct. 26 to increase coverage of both surgical and chemical abortions for 2013 to 100 percent, according to reports in the Associated Press, LifeSite News, and other media.
"This news is doubly troubling," said C. Ben Mitchell, professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. "Obviously the policy will increase the number of unborn lives lost. That's the first tragedy.
"The second [tragedy] is that France now has a negative replacement rate. The number of native French is shrinking. Yet the Muslim population is growing rapidly. The future of France will increasingly look less like Paris and more like Islamabad," Mitchell told Baptist Press.
French law now covers 70% of the cost for chemical abortions and 80% for surgical abortions.... Read this in full at
“Much of what is sacred is hidden in the ordinary, everyday moments of our lives. To see something of the sacred in those moments takes slowing down so we can live our lives more reflectively.”
- Ken Gire
VERSE TO PONDER
“God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions.”
- Hebrews 4:12 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: ALL GLORY TO GOD
Words: Charles Wesley, 1745
Music: Charles H. Gabriel, 1912
All glory to God, and peace upon earth,
Be published abroad at Jesus’ birth;
The forfeited favor of Heaven we find
Restored in the Savior and Friend of mankind.
Then let us behold Messias the Lord,
By prophets foretold, by angels adored;
Our God’s incarnation with angels proclaim,
And publish salvation in Jesus’ name.
Our newly born King by faith we have seen
And joyfully sing His goodness to men,
That all men may wonder at what we impart,
And thankfully ponder His love in their heart.
What moved the Most High so greatly to stoop,
He comes from the sky our souls to lift up;
That sinners forgiven, might sinless return
To God and to Heaven; their Maker is born.
Immanuel’s love let sinners confess,
Who comes from above, to bring us His peace;
Let every believer His mercy adore,
And praise Him forever, when time is no more.
>from HymnTime at
FRIDAY NIGHT REPLAY
Listen to Friday night's Path Of Life fellowship gathering online broadcast on Blogtalk radio here:
“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”
- Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, New York, Revell, 1895, p. 20
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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Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!
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.
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