Connecting man to man to God
For week of November 18, 2012
Issue 434

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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Christ himself suffered on account of sins, once for all, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous. He did this in order to bring you into the presence of God. Christ was put to death as a human, but made alive by the Spirit.”
- 1 Peter 3:18 (CEB)

The fact of Jesus' coming is the final and unanswerable proof that God cares.”
- William Barclay (1907-1978), in Presbyterian Survey, v. 55

A national men's ministry led by author and pastor Kenny Luck is expanding an ongoing campaign in hopes of re-engaging Christian men within the church and helping them lead spiritually healthy lives. The "Sleeping Giant" movement is aimed at fulfilling God's plan for men to become strong leaders in their families, communities, and the world.

"Men's Ministry has been waiting 20 years for this. Every Man Ministries and Sleeping Giant are providing the flame for the next generation of leadership to ignite a new movement of men within the local church," said Randy Phillips, former president of Promise Keepers and currently the men's pastor at Life Church Austin.

"Kenny Luck has produced a transferable and proven model which is easily accessible and affordable for every church. The Sleeping Giant Total Solution is going to expand the capacity of the local church to reach and develop its men in a strategic and revolutionary way not seen before because it is uniquely built to drive the vision of the senior pastor," Phillips said.... Read this in full at

Giving Tuesday began with a simple thought: we designate Thanksgiving as a day for gratitude and Black Friday and Cyber Monday as two days for getting deals. Wouldn't it be great to have a day for giving back? As a Giving Tuesday partner, World Vision, is challenging Americans to take part in this new national movement on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving by showing they can give as good as they get.

To help those affected by Superstorm Sandy during the week of November 26th, any gift of food, clothing or school supplies for children in the US given through World Vision's Gift Catalog ( will be designated for the Christian humanitarian agency's Sandy relief efforts. World Vision relief teams have been distributing much-needed supplies in some of the most vulnerable communities hit by this devastating storm on the East Coast.... Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
Would the people who know you best consider you a Christian tourist or an ambassador for the kingdom of God?

I threw this question out to a group of leadership men one morning in a monthly discussion group I lead called 1st Tuesdays. I could tell that initially most of the men put themselves in the Christian ambassador column. However as the conversation went on and we began to explore the differences between a Christian ambassador and Christian tourists, several of the men grew more quiet and thoughtful. It’s also been a word picture I’ve used with our own children when in Washington DC or vacation outside the US to help them understand better the missions of kingdom people.

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Cor. 5:20a

Of course, everyone pressed me to define the difference between the two, so I told them and explained it this way.... Read this in full at

by Daniel Burke
It’s tempting to view the sex scandal surrounding retired Army Gen. David Petraeus through a religious lens. After all, most faiths forbid adultery, and even before his fall from grace, some Pentagon colleagues compared Petraeus to the biblical King David — another proud and powerful warrior.

The comparison seemed even more apt after the former four-star general’s resignation from the CIA. “More than one officer cited the biblical adultery of King David and Bathsheba,” wrote The New York Times.

The Bible says that David acted righteously and kept God’s commandments — except in the case of Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband.

Will history remember David Petraeus with the same caveat?” asked Jim Denison, a Southern Baptist scholar in Dallas.... Read this in full at

by Thom Rainer
It’s somewhat surprising that the media is making a fuss about the David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell affair.

After all, adultery is normative according to most media standards.

This time, however, there is the potential damage of compromising highly sensitive security information. And there are the unanswered questions of “Who knew?” and “When did they know?”

But the spectacle does raise the question: What is the impact on a leader and his or her leadership when he or she is involved in an affair? .... Read this in full at

Also see “Christian Leaders Use Media Frenzy Over Petraeus Affair to Define Adultery”

by Mark A. Noll
Abraham Lincoln's religion has been debated almost from the moment of his assassination 130 years ago. Even today, conservative preachers and broadcasters who bemoan the decline of Christian America repeat moving stories of Lincoln's deep piety, while populist naysayers deny such claims. Both groups seem to feel that if only Lincoln could be enlisted on their side — whether of evangelical faith or naturalistic rationalism — it would amount to a great victory for them. But what does the evidence show? The following are facts now well established: .... Read this in full at

by Robert A. Ratcliff
As Advent draws near, we spend a lot of time thinking, teaching, and preaching about the great Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. In Christ, God comes to us, becomes one of us, "pitches his tent" among us. We talk a lot about why God does this, with most of those discussions orbiting the subject of our salvation. But I want to suggest another reason for God's gracious decision to come to us in Jesus Christ: the fact that most of us would rather be God's creator than God's creature.... Read this in full at

by Joel Miller
Nov. 15 marked the start of the Nativity Fast in the Orthodox Church. Like Western Advent, it is a time leading up to Christmas for the faithful prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.

The period of fasting and preparation mirrors the fast before Easter, or Pascha as we usually call it. Also forty days, from the November 15 to December 25, it is like a little Lent. And not without reason. Christmas and Easter are intertwined. The feasts show the symmetry of God’s providence, that the birth and triumph of Christ are parts of a seamless whole, the saving work of God in human history.... Read this in full at

Santa Claus, the bearded fellow whose belly shakes like a bowlful of jelly, is an essential part of the Christmas tradition. But there’s much more to the “jolly old elf” who became an international symbol of holiday cheer, according to the new book The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra (Baylor University Press, $24.95 hardcover, November 1, 2012), by religion historian Adam English, a professor at Campbell University. Sorting through historical and archaeological evidence and folklore, and drawing upon his own research, English restores the saint to his rightful place in Western history.... Read this in full at

by Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
Along with 18,000 soon-to-be friends, I am excitingly gearing up for Urbana 12, InterVarsity's triennial student missions conference that will be held in St. Louis, December 27-31, 2012.

Since 1946, InterVarsity has hosted 22 student mission conferences, involving over a quarter of a million students. Yes, that's 250,000+ Urbana alumni.

Billy Graham once observed that half of American missionaries can trace their vocational call - at least in part - to Urbana. Leaders of the Union of Evangelical Students of India (our sister student movement) estimate that two-thirds of North American missionaries now serving in India have been influenced by Urbana. And executives of Interserve, a leading mission agency, write that "close to 80% of our current field workers and candidates have attended an Urbana conference." .... Read this in full at

by Josh Larsen
The concept of the Resurrection is unpalatable to modern minds largely because it defies science and reason. But postmodernism also instinctively rejects the idea because, at least in our pop-culture narratives, we expect resurrections to serve purposes other than that which Christ’s did.

If Jesus’ resurrection was both an assurance of his triumph over death and an ushering in of a new movement of shalom, that’s completely countercultural to a pop-art understanding of what it means to have new life after death. The latest James Bond film, Skyfall, is a stark reminder of this. When figures come back from the dead in our contemporary stories, they generally do so to kick butt.... Read this in full at

Hundreds of young Bible scholars gathered in Tennessee recently to compete in the 2012 National Bible Bee, an annual event where $260,000 in prize money was up for grabs.

The fourth annual Bible Bee kicked off Nov. 14 in Sevierville, Tenn., where 300 qualifiers began competing in events designed to test their knowledge of the Scriptures. The books focused on throughout this year's competition are 1 and 2 Timothy – letters written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a young pastor in Ephesus.

At the local level, contestants had thoroughly studied 2 Timothy and memorized at least 25 Bible Memory passages. Children in each age division – primary, junior, and senior – at the national challenge are also responsible for having thoroughly studied 1 Timothy and having memorized several hundred additional verses from throughout both the Old and New Testaments.... Read this in full at

A day after turning 94, Billy Graham writes: "I plan to spend the next 12 months, if God permits, doing all that I am able to do in helping to carry out a fresh vision God has given us — a vision to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to every possible place in America by the time of my 95th birthday." .... Read this in full at

Pastor Dustin Buff traded in his job, his house, and his sense of security for a backpack, a Bible, a sleeping bag, one change of clothes, identification, and a cell phone.

For 10 days, Buff and youth minister Philip Nguyen were intentionally homeless, wandering the streets of Norman, Oklahoma in a personal quest to understand the plight of the homeless.

The pair spent their days moving through Norman, looking for gaps in homeless services and engaging the homeless in conversations about their lives and their options. “I was surprised to discover how easy it was to get food,” Buff said. “You can get two hot meals a day thanks to Food and Shelter [a local nonprofit organization]. Finding a place to sleep is harder.” .... Read this in full at

by Charles R. Swindoll
Elevators are weird places, aren't they? Especially crowded ones.

Years ago, a couple of friends and I were waiting for an elevator. As the doors slid open, I saw that the little space was packed with people whose faces all said, "You guys aren't gonna get in here, are you?"

Naturally, we did. I was last.

I felt the door close against my back . . . and everyone stared in my direction at the numbers above my head. After a few seconds of total silence, I smiled big and said loudly, "You might have wondered why we called this meeting!" The place broke open with laughter. It was amazing! People began talking and actually relating . . . on an elevator.

When you stop and think about it, an elevator is a microcosm of our world: an impersonal place where anonymity, isolation, and independence are on display. No involvement, no encouragement. No need to share, reach out, or give a rip. Just watch the numbers and look at nobody. It's almost as if there's a sign over our lives that reads: NO TALKING, NO SMILING, NO TOUCHING, NO EYE CONTACT!

I'm glad Jesus ignored that sign. Aren't you?

Our Savior modeled how to live—perfectly. He didn't just preach from heaven, keeping a safe distance from us. He came to earth. He literally became one of us. He cared. He listened. He served. He touched lives, supported, and affirmed. He encouraged. He connected. He took time to listen. He walked with people. Jesus never "took the elevator."

The world is filled with people who live and die in anonymity. To those who yearn for true success as modeled by Jesus, the anonymous author of a new book points toward humility, service, sacrifice, and surrender.

The author of "Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God's Everything," released by B&H Publishing Group, chose to publish under the name "Anonymous" and to maintain nearly complete anonymity. Only one B&H editor and a couple of executives at LifeWay Christian Resources know the identity of Anonymous -- reportedly a well-established author -- who communicates via a specially created email address.

"This book is a call to stop imitating the world's formula for success and instead follow the model of our humble King," Anonymous said in quotes provided by B&H. "I couldn't think of any way to reconcile that message while simultaneously promoting myself, so I chose to take up the challenge of embracing my own obscurity." .... Read this in full at

A Michigan church's youth group is launching an effort to collect 20,000 Bibles to donate to a global ministry organization that will distribute them abroad.

SonRise Church of Howell will be collecting the Bibles until December 20, when they will give them to the Fowlerville-based Christian Resources International.

"The Bibles will go to India and Africa. They are distributed through CRI missionaries to be used for training Pastors, Evangelism, Lending Libraries, and Bible Libraries," said Jessica Wisuri, Special Projects Director for CRI. "We are not necessarily looking for specific versions of the Bible. Although, we do have a need for Study Bibles & Commentaries." .... Read this in full at

Christ died to save us, not from suffering, but from ourselves; not from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust. He died that we might live--but live as he lives, by dying as he died who died to himself that he might live unto God. If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God, and he that does not live to God, is dead.”
- George MacDonald (1824-1905), "Freedom", in Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, London: Longmans, Green, 1889, p. 96

When HCJB Global ( United Kingdom's Whistling Frog Productions identified its mission to take the gospel to those outside the church who listen to mainstream radio stations, it determined to do it with excellence.

That excellence was recognized twice within one week when Whistling Frog Productions in Bradford, UK, took home top honors from the Christian Broadcasting Council (CBC) Awards and the Jerusalem Awards for inspiring segments that aired on radio stations across Britain.

Whistling Frog placed first in the CBC Awards "Radio Short Features" category for its production of "The Band that Played On," the story of Wallace Hartley, bandleader aboard the Titanic's fateful sailing. CBC judges commented that the feature "packs a big punch, provoking thoughts about how we ourselves would face imminent death." .... Read this in full at

by Matt Appling
No matter how much evidence there is, faith is what we are left with because God cannot be unquestionably proven. Maybe God wants it that way.... Read this in full at

Since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”
- Colossians 1:9 (CEB)

Trust in your Redeemer's strength...exercise what faith you have, and by and by He shall rise upon you with healing beneath His wings. Go from faith to faith and you shall receive blessing upon blessing.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon

by Chris Horst
A "restful buying experience." Few American consumers would ever think to describe mattress shopping this way. In fact, if you have been mattress shopping recently, restful is probably the last word that comes to mind.

"This is one of the sleaziest industries in the world," says business owner Ethan Rietema. "Customers are treated so poorly. Stores beat you up, trying to get as much money as they can, but they couldn't care less if you get the right bed."

Rietema and Steve Van Diest, both former campus ministers, are bringing rest — and integrity — back to a business largely devoid of it. Four years ago, a Christian entrepreneur invited the Colorado natives to begin deploying their relational abilities in strip malls rather than on college campuses. They now co-own three Urban Mattress stores in Denver and have franchised four more. And, they argue, their current work is just as important as their former ministry.... Read this in full at

The newly elected, 113th US Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none,” continuing a gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole. While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of the members belonged to Protestant denominations.

Catholics have seen the biggest gains among the 530 seats in the new Congress that have been decided as of Nov. 16. So far, Catholics have picked up five seats, for a total of 161, raising their share to just over 30%. The biggest decline is among Jews, who have been elected to 32 seats (6%), seven fewer than in the 112th Congress, where Jews held 39 seats (7%). Mormons continue to hold 15 seats (about 3%), the same as in the previous Congress.... Read this in full at

by Andrew Harrod
Speaking on November 5, 2012, before a synod of Germany’s Lutheran Church (Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands or EKD), German chancellor Angela Merkel incited national controversy. Merkel’s address in Timmendorfer Strand in the German province of Schleswig-Holstein included the passing comment that “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.” The German federal government had thus made the protection of religious freedom, including that of Christians, into a goal of German foreign policy.

Merkel’s singling out of Christianity did not find favor with various human rights advocates, as reported by the German news agency dapd. Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Germany director, Wenzel Michalski, found Merkel’s conception “totally senseless” given that all religious persecution is equally wrong, irrespective of faith. Michalski cited Muslims in Burma, Falun Gong members in China, and Jews worldwide as non-Christian examples of persecution victims. A representative of Amnesty International also found Merkel’s reference to Christianity “not sensible.” Jerzy Montag, a German member of parliament from the Green Party (Die Grüne), likewise judged Merkel’s estimation to be “misguided,” given that any ranking of persecution among religions is “not especially helpful for combating human rights violations.” .... Read this in full at

Britain’s charity watchdog has put the charitable status of the nation’s churches in question after it ruled that a congregation in Devon in the South West of England did not exist for public benefit.

According to a Christian Concern article, under charity law churches and other organizations must show that their existence has some form of “public benefit.”

But in a letter to the Plymouth Brethren, the Charity Commission explained its refusal to grant charitable status to one of the denomination’s churches in Devon.

Head of legal services for the commission, Kenneth Dibble, stated: “This decision makes it clear that there was no presumption that religion generally, or at any more specific level, is for the public benefit, even in the case of Christianity or the Church of England.” .... Read this in full at

by Tom Ogburn
The moment started innocently enough. I was walking with my wife through an exhibition hall at the Oklahoma State Fair. We were on a date just enjoying our time together. Then a stranger raised his voice from his rather sad display and confronted me: “Are you going to heaven or hell? Without Jesus it will be hell for you!”

I hardly knew how to respond. This man did not know me. We had never met. He had no idea that I was a pastor and that my walk with Christ is at the very heart of who I am.

Part of me wanted to pivot and talk to the man, but a quick glance told me that he would not be open to a real conversation. The anger flowing on his face showed that he had his confrontational gospel pitch, and that was enough for him.... Read this in full at

by Susan Steinberg
A three-year-old girl came running down the center aisle of the sanctuary and straight into my arms. “I’m here!” she exclaimed, laying her head on my shoulder.

I had no idea who she was, but I held her close for a few moments before beginning the children’s message. I have forgotten what my message was about that day, and I imagine everyone else has too. But many of us will never forget this child’s exuberant and tender response to the invitation to join the circle of faith.

When I began serving as an associate pastor for children’s ministries, I thought I would be at it for a year or two—three at the most. It was a part-time position, after all; the hours matched the needs of my family. Our children were both in preschool at the time, so I planned to stay at the church until the youngest one entered kindergarten. Then, I thought, I would move on to something more high- profile and adult-centered — something more like what I’d envisioned when I was in divinity school.... Read this in full at

Church leaders, denominational executives, and religion researchers gathered in Colorado recently to examine the church's health and prognosis. The Future of the Church Summit was sponsored by Group Publishing.

Thom Schultz, president of Group Publishing, kicked off the Summit behind a prop -- a hospital gurney. "Spiritually, we're going through a time of rapid change," he said. "This patient -- the American church -- is in serious condition."

After evaluating current trends, Summit members predicted a number of likely scenarios for the American church in the next ten years: .... Read this in full at

As the head of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly might be considered one of the nation's leading culture warriors -- a title that certainly applied to his predecessor, James Dobson, who founded the organization and built it into a powerhouse of the conservative evangelical movement.

And, to be sure, Daly threw the considerable resources of his organization -- which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage -- behind the campaign to defeat President Barack Obama, paying for millions of mailers that listed the presidential candidates' positions on issues that were important to "values voters."

In the aftermath of the election, however, Daly is willing to say things that few conservative evangelical leaders are likely to say. He believes, for instance, that the Christian right lost the fight against same-sex marriage in four states in part because it is on the losing side of a cultural paradigm. He says the evangelical community should have been considering immigration reform years ago, "but we were led more by political-think than church-think."

And, along the same lines, he argues that evangelicals have made a mistake by marching in lock step with the Republican Party.... Read this in full at

Tony Blair has been interviewed as part of a new project to inspire millions of Christians to speak up for the world's poorest people.

According to a press release from Micah Challenge, in a new series of videos "The Jesus Agenda" ( Mr. Blair argues that Christians should be advocating on behalf of the world's poorest people and getting involved in action.

In an interview with Joel Edwards, the International Director of Micah Challenge, Mr. Blair said: "If our faith means anything to us. If we can see the inspiration of Christ in any real way, then how can we remain passive in what still remains a situation where hundreds of thousands of people, in fact millions of people die needlessly...

"We have to be out there helping. not just by bringing relief, but by changing the systems of governance that promote things like corruption." .... Read this in full at

Jen Shang understands the power of prayer — to open wallets. Ms. Shang, who bills herself as the only philanthropic psychologist in the world, recently advised a religious organization to tinker with a direct-mail fund-raising solicitation, to encourage potential donors to pray before deciding to give.

Some religious people, Ms. Shang found, “pray and read Bibles when making a major life decision before they talk to others, think about it, meditate about it, let their emotions cool down.”

The experiment paid off. In early research, the solicitation with the suggestion of prayer “significantly” increased the campaign’s response rate compared with previous appeals.... Read this in full at

When President Barack Obama takes the oath of office for the second time on Jan. 21, 2013, an atheist group wants him to do so without mentioning God and without a Bible.

Following Obama's re-election, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent him a letter asking him to reject the way "this country politicizes religion." FFRF attorney Andrew L. Seidel wrote: "When you stand to reaffirm your oath, do so using the language of the Founders. Eliminate the religious verbiage. While you're at it, why not place your hand on the Constitution instead of a Bible?" The FFRF argued that the words "so help me God" are not prescribed by the Constitution, nor is a requirement for the president to place his hand on a Bible when taking oath.

"[Obama's second term] is a chance to do something that no president in recent memory has done: reach out to secular Americans," FFRF wrote. "In the past, that might have been politically costly. But this recent election shows that it will be politically costly not to reach out to secular America. We are the future." .... Read this in full at

Instead of living a black-and-white existence, we'll be released into a Technicolor world of vibrancy and emotion when we more accurately reflect His nature to the world around us.”
- Bill Hybels

Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. Everything that is in the world — the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions — is not of the Father but is of the world.”
- 1 John 2:15-16 (CEB)

Words: The Psalter, 1912
Music: Dmitri S. Bortniansky, 1825

How good it is to thank the Lord,
And praise to Thee, Most High, accord,
To show Thy love with morning light,
And tell Thy faithfulness each night;
Yea, good it is Thy praise to sing,
And all our sweetest music bring.

O Lord, with joy my heart expands,
Before the wonders of Thy hands;
Great works, Jehovah, Thou hast wrought,
Exceeding deep Thine every thought;
A foolish man knows not their worth,
Nor he whose mind is of the earth.

When as the grass the wicked grow,
When sinners flourish here below,
Then is there endless ruin nigh,
But Thou, O Lord, art throned on high;
Thy foes shall fall before Thy might,
The wicked shall be put to flight.

Thou, Lord, hast high exalted me
With royal strength and dignity;
With Thine anointing I am blest,
Thy grace and favor on me rest;
I thus exult o’er all my foes,
O’er all that would my cause oppose.

The righteous man shall flourish well,
And in the house of God shall dwell;
He shall be like a goodly tree,
And all his life shall fruitful be;
For righteous is the Lord and just,
He is my Rock, in Him I trust.

>from NetHymnal at

Listen to Friday night's Path Of Life fellowship gathering online broadcast on Blogtalk radio here:

Granting that we are always in the presence of God, yet it seems to me that those who pray are in His presence in a very different sense; for they, as it were, see that He is looking upon them, while others may be for days together without even once recollecting that God sees them.”
- Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), The Life of St. Teresa of Avila of the order of Our Lady of Carmel, New York: Benziger Brothers, 1916, p. 58


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!

Marital harmony
Family unity
Children saved
Faithful pastor
Spirit-filled church
Real friendships
Relatives redeemed
Educational benefits
Recreational time
Fulfilling career
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will

Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
Estates & inheritances
Investment increase
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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Paradox: What you need two apples a day to get rid of.
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, if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program. 
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