Connecting man to man to God
For week of March 17, 2013
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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IN THIS ISSUE:
This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Peter 1:5-8 (CEB)
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
- C. S. Lewis
RELIGION AMONG AMERICANS HITS LOW POINT, AS MORE PEOPLE SAY THEY HAVE NO RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: REPORT
The number of Americans who claim to have no religious affiliation is the highest it has ever been since data on the subject started being collected in the 1930s, new research has found.
Sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University analyzed results from the General Social Survey and found that the number of people who do not consider themselves part of an organized religion has jumped dramatically in recent years.
Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the number of "nones" -- those who said they were religiously unaffiliated -- hovered around 5%, Claude Fischer, one of the researchers with UC Berkeley, told The Huffington Post. That number had risen to only 8% by 1990.
But since then, the number of people who don't consider themselves part of a religion has increased to 20%.... Read this in full at
COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL APPOINTS NEW PRESIDENT/CEO JIM MELLADO
Compassion International’s Global Board of Directors announced Mar. 13 the appointment of Santiago (Jim) Mellado as the ministry’s new President and CEO. Board members made the unanimous decision after a global search that began late last year. Mellado will formally take the position in September.
“My heart is full these days as I anticipate joining Compassion’s team and giving myself fully to the cause of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name,” Mellado said, “As I look back on my life experiences, I can see how God has been leading, stirring and preparing me for this role.”
Since 1993, Mellado has served as president of the Willow Creek Association, a not-for-profit ministry dedicated to helping local churches thrive.
He was born in El Salvador to parents with a very strong faith foundation. Due to his father's engineering career, he had the incredible opportunity of growing up in multiple countries and was exposed to many diverse cultures from an early age. After he earned a degree in engineering from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Mellado's professional career has been dedicated to inspiring and equipping local church leaders in more than 90 countries to redeem and restore our world for Christ. He is an authentic, visionary, servant leader with a tender heart for God and is accustomed to leading in a multi-cultural context.... Read this in full at
NEW FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY PRESIDENT NAMED
Pastor and theologian Mark Labberton was named as Fuller Theological Seminary's new president Mar. 12, chosen unanimously by the school's Board of Trustees. Labberton will begin his term on July 1 while replacing current president Richard J. Mouw, who announced his retirement last May.
"I feel an incredible sense of joy and hope to be given this opportunity," said Labberton. "Thanks to Rich Mouw's generous, gracious, and irenic leadership, Fuller is well positioned to influence how the gospel is communicated, understood, and embodied in the world." .... Read this in full at
I HAVE A RIGHT
by Clare De Graaf
Don’t I have a right to be happy? I can’t tell you how many Christian men and women I’ve met with, who’ve asked that question as they contemplated divorcing their spouses. My answer to the, don’t I have a right to be happy question is always the same – “not always!”
God never wants us “happy” in disobedience. He actually wants us to be miserable, until we’re willing to be obedient.
We do have examples in the Law of Moses, where God protects the rights of individuals, in the areas of property rights, the sanctity of marriage, restitution and the right to personal safety. However, by and large the idea of individual rights or “happiness” outside of God’s laws, in violation of them, is unheard of in scripture. Here’s a truth that permeates Scripture, Genesis to Revelation; God almost always values the health of the community, including the church and family, over the rights or feelings of the individual.... Read this in full at
YOU ARE LOVED
by Chris Kratzer
At some intellectual level, most people “think” God loves them to some degree or another. Usually, it is perceived to be with a certain measure of conditions or limits. Yet, nonetheless, in our minds, we embrace the thought that God loves us. But, do we “believe” God loves us?
Believing God loves us moves us from thinking it to be true, to knowing it to be true.
In many relationships, people ask each other, “Do you love me?” sometimes frequently. The reason why they continually ask is because, though they may think the person loves them, they don’t truly believe it. The repeated questions seeks to convince themselves of what they are not convinced.
Jesus once said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Truth that isn’t believed can’t help you. If you don’t believe a person loves you, the truth of their love can’t get through to you. Our thoughts are important, but our beliefs are perhaps the most powerful force God has given to us. Through belief, and belief alone, God moves in and through our lives.... Read this in full at
JUST ORDINARY GUYS
“Two thousand years ago, Jesus walked up to a handful of men and said, "Follow me."
“They were ordinary people like you and me. As they went about their business on the day Jesus called them, none of them would have expected his life to change so quickly and completely.
“The disciples could not have fully understood what they were getting into when they responded to Jesus' call. Whatever expectations or excitement they felt, nothing could have prepared them for what lay ahead. Everything about Jesus — his teaching, compassion, and wisdom; his life, death, and resurrection; his power, authority, and calling — would shape every aspect of the rest of their lives.
“In only a few years, these simple men were standing before some of the most powerful rulers on earth and being accused of "turn[ing] the world upside down" (Acts 17:6, ESV). What began as simple obedience to the call of Jesus ended up changing their lives, and ultimately, the world.” Francis Chan in Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples (David C. Cook, 2012)
YOUR SINS ARE DONE AWAY WITH!
by Stephen McCaskell
Hebrews 9:28 - so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
I’m reading through Hebrews right now and I read this passage last night. There are two things I want to encourage you with today:
1. If you are saved, if you are in Christ, your sins are done away with! Your record is clean because of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection. This is the good news and it’s the kind of thing we forget about far too often. If your sins have been paid; why should you continue living in them? They have been paid for, so now you can live a new life in Christ. You can kill the sins you have struggled with in your flesh because now you live by the Spirit.
2. Are we eagerly waiting for Jesus to come back? I’m not nearly as much as I should be. I recently ordered a new computer online and I was excited to get it because I haven’t had a new computer in years. Every day, probably 3-4 times a day I would go to the Canada Post website, type in the tracking number and see where the computer was. I was anxiously wanting it to come, I couldn’t wait! I was like a child on Christmas morning waiting for his parents to wake up so he could finally open his presents. We need to remember, these things (like my laptop) are but a shadow of the substance which belongs to Christ.
Be encouraged, your sins are done away with and now you can live your new life in Jesus. Now, let us eagerly await the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
THE FORGOTTEN MESSAGE OF LENT
by Barrett Owen
The forgotten message of Lent is we’re required to do more than just believe in Christ and surround ourselves with people who are like-minded; we must also follow. There’s a huge difference between being a believer and choosing to be a follower. Followers confess their sins, seek forgiveness, and move with the Spirit.
As much as I surround myself with incredible Christian witnesses, I too fail to follow at times. We all do. And we need to confess and turn from this.... Read this in full at
WHEN JESUS PREPARED TO SCRAMBLE UP THE CROSS
by Rick Marschall
This is the Christian story: The Lord of the universe was pleased to create the earth and populate it with human beings. An aspect of His love was to imbue His children with free will, which no mortal has ever failed to use toward rebellion and sin. God delivered laws and commands to His Chosen People, called so because in His plan, when the Law would be recognized as insufficient for a rebellious humanity to be reconciled to Him; that from them, a Messiah would arise who would provide the means of that salvation.
These basics are widely known, even if non-Christians shrug their mental shoulders; even if Christians cease to be in awe of God’s plan, even taking for granted their astonishing inheritance. It has been calculated that the odds of all the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the birth, life, locations, miracles, and other circumstances surrounding Jesus (most not disputed, even by enemies of His and His disciples at the time) exceed a hundred million to one.... Read this in full at
WHY THE CROSS?
by Charles Hefling
Some questions won’t go away. It is an article of the Nicene Creed that the Lord Jesus Christ was “crucified for us under Pontius Pilate.” What do the two little words *for us* mean? What good is the cross?
To ask that is to ask what is in technical parlance a soteriological question. But English-language theology has long used a good old English word as the comprehensive name for what the question is about: atonement. How atonement, or the atonement, can best be understood is thus a standard and convenient way to state the basic question in regard to Christ’s suffering and death as beneficial.
It is a commonplace that no “orthodox” answer has ever been formally defined. Nor is there consensus. Gustaf Aulén famously distinguished what he called “three main types of the idea of the atonement,” and others have offered similar typologies. But however they are categorized, explanations of the cross are not only different but disparate. That is why there is a question. Of the available positions, which one(s) should be taken seriously, taught, believed, and preached? .... Read this in full at
LOVE FOR OTHERS
“A love for others will result in the Christian being concerned for the total good of others: material, social and spiritual. A concern for the social and material should not be a substitute for man in his relationship with God, nor should it be viewed as a convenient bridge to the spiritual; rather, because he knows God, he reflects the character of God.”
- David Bronnert, "The Gospel and Culture", in The Changing World, Bruce Kaye, ed., vol. 3 of Obeying Christ in a Changing World, John Stott, gen. ed., 3 vol., London: Fountain, 1977, p. 120
WHEN WE LIE ABOUT PRAYING FOR OTHERS: 7 THOUGHTS
by Thom S. Rainer
It happened on this blog. It was unexpected and revealing at the same time. Someone made a comment that, above all, he needed people praying for him. So I wrote in response, "I'm praying for you. I really mean it." Then I paused. Why did I write "I really mean it"? Wasn't my promise of prayer sufficient? Why did I have to add a child-like "cross my heart" promise?
Unfortunately, I knew the answers to the questions even as I asked myself. I have sometimes lied when I promised someone I would pray for them. Please don't judge me too harshly, though the breaking of the promise of prayer probably deserves such condemnation.
It is not my intention to lie. It is not my intention to fail to pray for that person. I simply forget after I tell them. Again, that statement is an indictment in itself.
This confessional may seem totally strange to you. It is likely that you have not messed up in this area like I have. How does it happen? It's not an excuse, but the situation usually works in this manner. Someone approaches me and asks for prayer. It might be right after I've spoken somewhere. So I tell them I will most certainly pray for them. But I don't. I forget about their heartfelt request as soon as I start talking to the next person.
On other occasions I will see someone I know. I pass them in a hallway or speak to them on the phone. I know that they are in a particular situation that needs intercessory prayer, so I make a promise: "I'll be praying for you brother (or sister)." And, then again, I forget. I lie. I lie about something as sacred and holy as prayer.
As you can likely tell, I am convicted of this sin. I have asked God to forgive me and I have begun to make certain I don't lie about intercessory prayer again. Here are 7 steps I am taking:.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.
- Romans 8:28
“People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.”
- Zig Ziglar
WHAT CLASSIC SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE NEEDS THE MOST RENEWAL AMONG AMERICAN CHRISTIANS?
Three leading Christians on growing in Christ: Fasting (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove), Listening to Jesus (Anne Graham Lotz), and Silence (Dallas Willard).... Read this in full at
ANNE LAMOTT ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CHRISTIAN
I am a staunch Democrat and a devout, if terrible, Christian. What this means is that I am socially and fiscally liberal, an old style bleeding heart liberal, who loves Jesus and tries to be His faithful servant, supports gun control, abortion rights and tries to love everyone as a brother or sister.
Some days go better than others. Like many people, I am equal proportions of narcissism and low self-esteem, so every now and then, on festive occasions, I get wrapped up in my own petty distractions, obsessions and needs. But as much as possible, I try to help take care of the poor, the aged, the hungry and scared. I get to keep starting over.... Read this in full at
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ROB BELL
by Trevin Wax
Rob Bell’s new book comes out today: What We Talk About When We Talk About God. In line with his previous offerings, it’s a conversational, thought-provoking monologue designed to raise questions and stimulate discussion.
It’s been two years since the release of Love Wins, a book that challenged traditional evangelical conceptions of hell and eternity. Bell has since left the pastorate and embraced a new role as a post-evangelical, spiritual advisor of sorts. He is positioning himself more an artist than theologian, more poet than preacher.
That said, his poetry preaches. So what’s the sermon?
The gist of Bell’s new book is that the world is humming with spirituality. Far from being distant and removed, God is present in our lives. We need to be reawakened to Him; we need the eyes to see Him at work. Dogmas and doctrines just get in the way of truly experiencing God. What once helped us now harms us and holds us back. But God is ahead of us, beckoning us forward to the new world that is coming.... Read this in full at
'DUCK DYNASTY'S' COMMANDER TALKS FAITH
The 8.6 million who viewed the 2013 season premiere of "Duck Dynasty" no doubt enjoy family patriarch Phil Robertson's antics, from his unkempt beard to promises of poor hygiene. But the fisherman and duck caller with a master's degree in education also tells a story of faith.
Robertson's faith walk began in his late 20s during his "sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle" when his sister was handing out Christian tracts in a bar where he worked, he said in an interview at LifeWay.com.
"I just decided to follow Him 38 years ago when I heard that He, in fact, was God in flesh. Not only was He God in flesh, it took the blood of God to remove my 'sex, drugs, and rock and roll' lifestyle -- sin," Robertson said. "Well, I'm sitting there listening and I'm like, 'Man, that was a mighty kind thing to do for a scumbag like me.' Not only that, it wouldn't do me any good, though, if something could not be done about the six-foot hole I'm going into -- and you too, by the way." .... Read this in full at
Ronald Meredith describes one quiet night in early spring: "Suddenly out of the night came the sound of wild geese flying. I ran to the house and breathlessly announced the excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese across the moon? It might have ended there except for the sight of our tame mallards on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known.
"The honking out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into their wild yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge to fly--to take their place in the sky for which God made them--was sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never raised from the water. The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable. Temptation always is enjoyed at the price of losing the capacity for flight." (Ronald Meredith, Hurryin' Big for Little Reasons via Sermons.com)
JUDAICA FOR CHRISTIANS
Carrie Love is a self-professed “Scripture nerd.” Raised in an evangelical church in Louisiana, she now lives in Manhattan where she works at an educational non-profit and attends Central Presbyterian Church. In 2008, she signed up for Hebrew classes at New York University’s Hillel House. “It makes sense to want to know how the Old Testament was written originally,” Love, 32, says. “For me, it’s the same God who inspired those words and who came incarnated. I want to bring them together in a holistic way.” Last spring, she hosted a Passover Seder for her church friends. She also got a Hebrew tattoo that reads, “You are with me,” a verse from the 23rd Psalm. Getting it inked in Hebrew was particularly meaningful: “It’s all part of this history that I believe is true.”
Love is part of a growing number of American Christians drawn to Jewish learning and to an array of Judaism’s rituals and products. They practice Israeli dancing, wear jewelry with the Star of David, or decorate with objects bearing Hebrew script. In 2011, The New York Times took a lighthearted look at evangelical ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts), profiling Sally and Mark Austin, members of a San Antonio megachurch, who “Googled their way to ketubahtree.com.” The ketubah they chose, bearing text from the Reform Jewish movement, now hangs above their bed.
RESISTANT OR RESILIENT?
by Bill Wilson
Two of the more important words for a congregation to ponder in the 21st century are resistant and resilient. Which of those two words better describe your congregation may well determine whether your congregation is viable in the next 10 to 20 years.
Observers of the church in America may differ on the specifics but generally agree that a turning point of sustainability is coming for most local congregations in the near future. Our dependence on the financial support of aging members, our aging physical facilities and the trends of church attendance in the population at large portend a looming crisis of viability.
Excluding megachurches and church plants, which have their own crises of sustainability to manage, the likelihood is that older, traditional congregations will face a window of viability that culminates in the 2020s with immense pressure to merge, close, or radically alter congregational life. At the risk of sounding alarmist, I believe wise leaders must take seriously the warning signs and respond proactively to this crisis.... Read this in full at
SELECTING THE RIGHT LEADER
by Gordon Govier
The Roman Catholic Church has a leadership challenge, and so does InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The challenges are different in a lot of ways, but as the world is focused on the Vatican and the transition taking place there, we can’t help but reflect on the transition process our campus chapters undergo every year.
For the Roman Catholic Church, the College of Cardinals will meet in the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, and eventually a symbolic puff of white smoke will signal the selection of a new pope. The requirements for the job are well-known, the most basic of which is that the pope must be a baptized member of the church. No one but the most unenlightened would expect the Dalai Lama to be the choice of the College of Cardinals.
For InterVarsity, an evangelical campus mission with 900 chapters on 575 campuses across the country, there’s no Sistine Chapel and no symbolic puff of smoke, but every chapter selects a new leadership team each year. And over the past decade, a small but growing number of colleges have pressured InterVarsity to change its leadership criteria. In their view, it doesn’t really matter if the Dalai Lama ends up as the leader of an InterVarsity chapter.... Read this in full at
WHY BELIEVERS OF ALL STRIPES SHOULD CARE ABOUT THE NEW HEAD OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
by Timothy C. Morgan
The new pope will inherit a troubled global church. Internal scandal and unaddressed external problems pose great risks to the vitality of Catholicism. But the consequences of success or failure are huge for the church universal, the world's 2.1 billion Christians of every denomination.
This is more than a butterfly effect. Rome is not Las Vegas—what happens in Rome will not stay within the borders of Vatican City. One consequence of globalization is that the walls that have long divided Catholics from Orthodox, mainline Protestants, evangelicals, and Pentecostals are eroding.
Brian Stiller,a global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, commenting about Catholic and evangelical relations, wrote on his blog recently, "Not in 500 years have the two sides been so close and friendly." .... Read this in full at
MILLION MAN MOVEMENT STILL GOING STRONG
Many organizations dream about changing the world but few actually reach that goal, yet one Dallas-based ministry is breaking records. Over the last 36 years Christian Men's Network has trained over 1 million men in more than 100 countries and now growth is exploding. Currently more than 350,000 men each month participate in the most popular men's curriculum in the world. On April 18-20, at LION'S ROAR 2013 (http://www.lionsroar2013.com/), CMN invites men to summit, to strategize and synergize with world-class national and international leaders who are "majoring in men." .... Read this in full at
WHO IS MY MOTHER?
by Dr. Ray Pritchard
Sometimes Jesus could seem rude. Or maybe blunt would be a better word.
But perhaps we have not understood him correctly. Jesus stood in a dual relationship to his mother Mary and to his earthly brothers and sisters. They were indeed part of his earthly family. He never denied them or disowned them, and he never treated them unkindly. But he never forgot the greater priority of the spiritual over the physical. Thus he could say of his disciples, “Here are my mother and my brothers” (Matthew 12:49). And to make sure everyone understood his point, he added that those who do the Father’s will are his true spiritual family (v. 50).... Read this in full at
GOD'S ARCHITECT: ANTONI GAUDI'S GLORIOUS VISION
Architect Antoni Gaudi's vision for the Sagrada Familia (http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/), a cathedral under construction in Barcelona, Spain for over 130 years, is aided by modern technology. Lara Logan reports. See this 60 Minutes report at
TEXAS CORNERSTONE MEGACHURCH UNVEILS $5 MILLION NOAH'S ARK
Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, unveiled its new 28,400 square foot building (http://www.sacornerstone.org/earlychildhood/event/ark-grand-opening-2013) inspired by Noah's Ark on March 16. Meant for children, the new facility with true-to-size animatronics animals is to underscore the Bible's authenticity.
"With its unique, stimulating and larger-than-life elements, the Ark experience will truly bring to life the famed Bible story and be an inspirational adventure to all who enter," the 20,000-member church says on its website, of the building that cost nearly $5 million.... Read this in full at
60% OF CONGREGATIONS' GIVING NOT KEEPING UP WITH INFLATION
The majority of US congregations reported increased giving throughout the economic recession, according to a new report from the Indiana University School of Philanthropy. But it's not all good news: Most congregations also reported significant spending increases—and less than half said their revenue kept up with inflation.
According to the report, "only about 4 in 10 congregations had revenues that kept pace or were ahead of inflation between 2007 and 2011. Congregations with the oldest average age of attendees were more likely to report that revenue growth lagged behind inflation." .... Read this in full at
“Being a Christian doesn't mean that our struggles are necessarily different from those of non-Christians; it's just that our solution to the struggles is different.”
- Bobby Richardson
VERSE TO PONDER
Instead, regard Christ as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it.
- 1 Peter 3:15
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: O THE BITTER SHAME AND SORROW
Words: Theodore Monod, 1874
Music: Charles J. Vincent, Jr. (1852-1934)
O the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I let the Savior’s pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
“All of self, and none of Thee!”
Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on th’accursèd tree,
Heard Him pray, “Forgive them, Father!”
And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of self, and some of Thee!”
Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
“Less of self, and more of Thee!”
Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered:
Grant me now my supplication,
“None of self, and all of Thee!”
>from NetHymnal at
“A day without prayer is a boast against God.”
- Owen Carr
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 tried to catch some fog. I mist.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
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