Connecting man to man to God
For week of April 14, 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:
While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
- Romans 5:6-8 (CEB)
“If we're not telling God and our family that we love them, we just wasted a day of our life.”
- Ted Roberts
DEATH OF RICK WARREN'S SON SHOCKS CONGREGATION; CHURCH MEMBERS TOLD TO 'WEEP TOGETHER'
Saddleback Church members took their first step towards healing after learning the previous day from Pastor Rick Warren that his son had committed suicide: they wept together.
Already scheduled to preach the weekend services before the tragedy occurred, Associate Senior Pastor Tom Holladay, who is Warren's brother-in-law and often considered his right-hand man, told those attending church services April 7 that he had been asked to talk about a book that the lead pastor had been reading.
"[Warren] said 'there's this little book I've been reading and I would like you to talk to the church about this book – the points that are in this book – and the name of the book is How to Survive the Worst Day of Your Life'," Holladay explained to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 and to those watching online.
"We have a pastor with a certain kind of spiritual sensitivity to us and the Lord, so even before they (Warren's family) knew what was happening this is the message he wanted to be passed along to us this weekend," he said. "So, I'm just going to pass it along."
Warren's 27-year-old son, Matthew, took his own life April 5 at his home in Mission Viejo after a lifelong struggle with mental illness, the well-known Christian leader at the Lake Forest, Calif.-based church announced early April 6.
"No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," wrote Warren in an email to church members.... Read this in full at
Also see “Rick Warren's Son Dies from Suicide”
NEITHER LIFE NOR DEATH, NOT EVEN SUICIDE, CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD
by Al Hsu
Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States takes his or her own life. That's 35,000 suicides every year in this country—and likely more, since many suicides are disguised as accidents. Sadly, suicide occurs among Christians at essentially the same rate as non-Christians.... Read this in full at
THE DEPRESSION EPIDEMIC
by Dan G. Blazer
The church is God's hospital. It has always been full of people on the mend. Jesus himself made a point of inviting the lame, the blind, and the possessed to be healed and to accompany him in his ministry, an invitation often spurned by those who thought they were fine as is. We should not be surprised, then, that the depressed populate not only secular hospitals and clinics, but our churches as well. Yet depression remains both familiar and mysterious to pastors and lay church leaders, not to mention to those who share a pew with depressed persons.... Read this in full at
REMEMBERING MARGARET THATCHER'S PUBLIC THEOLOGY
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died April 8 at the age of 87, helped to shape the course of 20th century history.
Raised a devout Methodist who later joined the Church of England, Margaret Thatcher vigorously applied her Christian faith to her public life as one of the most important and successful leaders of the Cold War era.
Thatcher outlined her public theology in her 1988 speech to the Church of Scotland, where she explained the Bible offers a "view of the universe, a proper attitude to work, and principles to shape economic and social life." She said: "We are told we must work and use our talents to create wealth. 'If a man will not work he shall not eat' wrote St. Paul to the Thessalonians. Indeed, abundance rather than poverty has a legitimacy which derives from the very nature of Creation."
In her speech, Thatcher said Christianity doesn't offer political and economic specifics. But "any set of social and economic arrangements which is not founded on the acceptance of individual responsibility will do nothing but harm." .... Read this in full at
MARGARET THATCHER OBITS OVERLOOK HER 'DEVOUT CHRISTIAN FAITH'
Obituaries are flooding the Internet following the death of Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom's first female prime minister — and one of the most controversial yet influential to ever hold the post. But overlooked is how her Christian faith inspired the Iron Lady's politics.
"Few obituaries are likely to mention her devout Christian faith, which was the foundation of her political program and the bedrock of her conviction for less government, lower taxes, more freedom, and greater personal responsibility," notes Cranmer, a British blog on religion and politics. It rounds up the many statements that Thatcher made on faith and politics over her career, including a 1988 speech given at the "zenith of her power" (in Cranmer's estimation). "We must not profess the Christian faith and go to Church simply because we want social reforms and benefits or a better standard of behavior," Thatcher told the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1988, "but because we accept the sanctity of life, the responsibility that comes with freedom, and the supreme sacrifice of Christ." .... Read this in full at
IN THE SIGHT OF GOD
“He has great tranquility of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.”
- Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ , Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, II.vi.2, p. 93
MEN AND FEAR
by Clare De Graaf
Last week I met with two very successful, Christian men – both workaholics – and made this statement to test their reaction: Most Christian men are more afraid of failure than they are of God.
Their immediate reaction confirmed what I’ve known for years. “It’s true! And, we fear failure even more than death,” they chimed in.
I need to make it clear that this attitude is not true of all men, but of many many men, even Christian men and here’s why.
Emerson Eggerich, points out in his wonderful book on marriage, Love and Respect, that the need for respect is a man’s deepest value. In the military and when in battle, men would prefer to die than risk losing the respect of their buddies. Soldiers don’t really die for their country. They die for their friends in their unit.
Most men spend a good share of their lives trying to prove to their peers they have value. They don’t always consciously think of it, but it’s there. We long to be admired and even envied by others. But, if we can’t be admired, at very least, we don’t want to be seen as a failure. This is particularly true in our vocations.... Read this in full at
WATCH OUT FOR THE DRIFT
“We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”
- D. A. Carson
WHAT DID JESUS DO THOSE 40 DAYS?
by Rick Marschall
One of the most significant periods of the church calendar, and least celebrated or noted, is the 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead. He walked and talked in places where His ministry had been; He was seen in His restored body by thousands; He healed many; He continued to preach, He continued to love. And then He ascended to Heaven, taken up in the sky, which also was witnessed by others.
We really should think more about these 40 days, and the significance of the Ascension. Jesus’ birth had been according to Scripture. His miracles had shown His power. His preaching had taught the world wisdom. His persecution and death had fulfilled prophecies. That He conquered death was an astonishing miracle. But His ascension to Heaven – His bodily rise to be with the Father at the Throne, the mystery of rejoining the Godhead – more than any detail of these other manifestations, confirms the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Forty days Jesus showed the world that He lived again. The Sanhedrin had called Jesus a blasphemer, and others claimed His miracles were of the devil... but His 40 days in Jerusalem and surrounding areas, being seen by multitudes, was scarcely disputed. The contemporary Jewish historian Josephus referred to it, as did other writers. Two generations later, the writer Eusebius interviewed many people who had known people who saw Jesus during these days, told of miracles, even cited sermons and letters of the risen Jesus.... Read this in full at
IF DEAD MEN DON'T RISE
by Tim Challies
Almost 2,000 years ago, a Christian named Paul wrote a letter to a group of people in Corinth, a city in Greece. People in that city had at one time been enthusiastic about the Christian faith, but had then begun to have some second thoughts. They had written a letter to Paul to ask something like, "You told us that this man Jesus died and then came back to life. We're pretty sure you don't actually expect us to believe that a man was dead and then alive again. That must have been some kind of a metaphor or a moral, right?"
But Paul doesn't blink. He says, "Yes, that is exactly what I am saying." In this letter to those Christians he affirms again and again that Jesus really and actually died. Paul is concerned that these people in Corinth are faltering in what they believe about the resurrection and he addresses them in an interesting way. He says, "Okay, so you think that dead people simply cannot come back to life. Well why don't we just take a moment to consider that. Let's consider the implications if that is true." He does this in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.
I find it very interesting that he approaches things in this way. You and I need to think about the implications of what we believe, or what we don't believe, or what we refuse to believe. Sometimes we have these little dangling threads in what we believe and we just haven't considered them properly. What Paul does here is say, "Let's think about what will happen if we say that dead people don't ever come back to life. Let's just ponder that for a few minutes." He begins to tug on that loose thread.... Read this in full at
THE BEATITUDES FROM THE MESSAGE
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that — count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
- Matthew 5: 1-12 (The Message http://www.messagebible.com/)
THE COMMUNITY OF THE BEATITUDES
“Having reached the end of the Beatitudes, we naturally ask if there is any place on this earth for the community which they describe. Clearly, there is one place, and only one, and that is where the poorest, meekest, and most sorely tried of all men is to be found--on the cross at Golgotha. The fellowship of the Beatitudes is the fellowship of the Crucified. With him it has lost all, and with him it has found all.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship, Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 113-114
NOT BY SIGHT
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. — Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
At the beginning of flight training, a student flies with an instructor by his side, over familiar terrain, and in perfect weather. All his decisions are based on sight. But at the end, when a student pilot receives his “instrument rating,” he has learned to fly by himself, over unfamiliar terrain, and in total darkness. He has learned to trust not his sight but his instruments—compass, altimeter, air speed, and radar. He has learned to "fly blind."
Just as a flight instructor’s ultimate goal is to see a student get his instrument rating, so the father in Proverbs had the same goal for his son.
What is the spiritual equivalent of an instrument rating? It is trusting in the Lord, not in one’s own understanding. Every parent, teacher, and leader knows his protégés will one day encounter darkness, storms, and unfamiliar terrain in life. The key to their graduation and promotion is learning to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
"Flying blind" in life doesn't mean closing your eyes; it means keeping them on the Lord.
From the book Sanctuary by David Jeremiah
WHERE THE "CHRISTIAN" NAME REALLY CAME FROM
by Brian Kammerzelt
“Christian” — few words in the English language carry as much baggage as this one. It’s a loaded label, to be sure, but what’s interesting is that Jesus never actually gave a name to His followers. The early Church never called themselves Christians. In the Bible, the title most often used was “saints.”
The Greek word for saints is hagios which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” It is almost always used in the plural — “saints.” This reflects not just the individual but the connection to a group of people set apart for the Lord and His Kingdom.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty.
- Hebrews 1:3 (CEB)
“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world, that is not intended to make us rejoice.”
- John Calvin
EXITING THE ROLLER COASTER OF SELF
by Blake Coffee
David, the writer of poetry and shepherd of sheep and singer of songs and dancer of dances and slayer of giants and armies ... David, the writer of so many of the Psalms ... exhausts me!
He is just so very dramatic, don’t you think? His “highs” are so much higher than I can even imagine and his lows are so much lower than I can connect with. He is an emotional roller coaster!
Me? Not so much, really. I am pretty even-keeled.
But I do know the feeling of being “lost” in myself ... of feeling so sorry for myself that I lose sight of anyone else around me. My emotional roller coaster may not have the neck-breaking turns and heart-stopping plunges which David’s had ... but I can at least connect with the desire to stop the ride so I can get off!
Here is an important thing about David: as emotionally unpredictable as he appears to be, his ongoing walk with the Lord was rock solid.... Read this in full at
7 THINGS I HATE ABOUT SPIRITUAL FORMATION
by John Ortberg
The phrase "spiritual formation" expresses the most important process in the world. But it also drives me crazy. Although I grew up in the church, I never heard the phrase until I was out of college. Now it's a subject I find myself writing and thinking about a lot. But like all language, the phrase has a way of taking on baggage and barnacles and misunderstandings. So here are a few items I need to get off my chest.
1. I hate how spiritual formation gets positioned as an optional pursuit for a small special interest group within the church. People think of it as an esoteric activity reserved for introverted Thomas-Merton-reading contemplatives. I hate that. Spiritual formation is for everyone. Just as there is an "outer you" that is being formed and shaped all the time, like it or not, by accident or on purpose, so there is an "inner you." You have a spirit. And it's constantly being shaped and tugged at: by what you hear and watch and say and read and think and experience. Everyone is being spiritually formed all the time. Whether they want to or not. Whether they're Christian or not. The question isn't if someone will sign up for spiritual formation; it's just who and what our spirits will be formed by.... Read this in full at
CHURCH CHAT: CARSON HANDLES SPOTLIGHT ‘PRAYERFULLY, HUMBLY’
When Dr. Ben Carson spoke at February’s National Prayer Breakfast in front of United States President Barack Obama, his critical views on national healthcare legislation and the country’s increasing debt set the media abuzz.
His comments have since led to appearances and features in top news agencies, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Fox News.
Carson, 61, is no stranger to the spotlight. He first gained international recognition in 1987 for successfully separating cranially conjoined twins. He has served as director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, since he was 33 years old.
Q: Do you feel a special sense of responsibility and stewardship for the attention you get?
A: There’s no question God sets these things up. My whole life I feel has been orchestrated by him. When you’re placed on a platform, you have a definite responsibility to remember who put you there and why.... Read this interview with Dr. Carson in full at
DIED: LEGENDARY NYT JOURNALIST, EVANGELIST JOHN MCCANDLISH PHILLIPS
McCandlish Phillips’ Obituary in The New York Times
McCandlish Phillips, journalism’s evangelical dropout
JOHN MCCANDLISH PHILLIPS: BRIGHT LIGHT FOR CHRIST IN THE BIG APPLE
by Tony Carnes
The New York Times stylist mixed his love of the Lord with his love of journalism.... Read this in full at
A HEARTY EUCHARIST
by Ian Heston Doescher
Every Christian denomination that includes communion—the Eucharist or Lord's Supper—as one of its regular practices recognizes the thanks-giving aspect, and in that regard Jesus’ original institution of the meal is remembered. At the most fundamental level, eucharisteo is the Greek word for “giving thanks” (Matthew 26:26-30).
But the similarities between the original last supper and our churches’ communion services tend to end at remembering Jesus’ words and sharing some form of bread and wine. Jesus’ “giving thanks” has turned into a fairly circumscribed prayer of thanksgiving; abundant bread shared and passed has turned into a small morsel of bread at best or, at less-than-best, a wafer resembling cardboard (so says my spouse Jennifer Creswell, an Episcopal priest). For the most part, these changes have been for sound historical and/or practical reasons. Nevertheless, there is something to be said for going back, insofar as possible, to a practice that more closely resembles the early church or Jesus’ last meal with his disciples itself. How can we reclaim, for our congregations and our worship services, a sense of how the early church both commemorated the last supper and ate together? How can we, in our communion practices, strive to (in the most literal sense) be more Christ-like? .... Read this in full at
FCC MAY DROP BAN ON TV NUDITY, EXPLETIVES
Nudity and expletives normally reserved for cable television would be allowed on broadcast TV under a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In an announcement that received little attention but could have a major impact on America's families, the FCC April 1 announced it is considering changes to the current broadcast indecency policies that would permit "isolated expletives" and isolated "non-sexual nudity" on broadcast TV, something that currently could draw a fine.
The FCC is asking for public feedback on the proposed policy. The deadline is the end of April.... Read this in full at
THE LATINO REFORMATION
Sunday worship at Calvary Foursquare Church in Silver Spring, Md., starts in an empty parking lot. The congregants usually arrive on foot with well-worn Bibles in hand. They come in groups, Latino mothers and toddlers, grandparents and friends. "Que Dios te bendiga" -- May the Lord bless you -- each one says, offering hugs and kisses to everyone they meet.... Read this in full at
THE MAIN REASON FOR DECLINING CHURCH ATTENDANCE: CHILDREN'S SPORTS?
Sunday used to be a day reserved by many Christians for attending worship services, but new research indicates the extent to which American churches today are competing against myriad other activities. The biggest competition? Children's sports.
According to a new study published in the Review of Religious Research, an examination of declining attendance at 16 congregations revealed that many pastors place the most blame on children's sports activities, since both practices and competitions are increasingly "scheduled on Sunday mornings at the very time when many churches traditionally have provided religious education." .... Read this in full at
MYSTERIOUS STONE STRUCTURE DISCOVERED BENEATH SEA OF GALILEE
A giant "monumental" stone structure discovered beneath the waters of the Sea of Galilee in Israel has archaeologists puzzled as to its purpose and even how long ago it was built. The mysterious structure is cone shaped, made of "unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders," and weighs an estimated 60,000 tons the researchers said. That makes it heavier than most modern-day warships.
Rising nearly 32 feet (10 meters) high, it has a diameter of about 230 feet (70 meters). To put that in perspective, the outer stone circle of Stonehenge has a diameter just half that with its tallest stones not reaching that height.... Read this in full at
COHABITATION IS LASTING LONGER, BECOMING MORE COMMON
Unmarried couples who live together are staying together longer than in the past — and more of them are having children, according to new federal data that details just how cohabitation is transforming families across the US.
For almost half of women ages 15-44, their “first union” was cohabitation rather than marriage, says the report from the National Center for Health Statistics. For less than one-quarter, the first union was marriage. The report was based on in-person interviews conducted between 2006 and 2010 with 12,279 women ages 15-44.... Read this in full at
“I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work.”
- Henri Nouwen
VERSE TO PONDER
If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life?
- Romans 5:10 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: HOW CALM AND BEAUTIFUL THE MORN
Words & Music: Thomas Hastings, 1831
How calm and beautiful the morn
That gilds the sacred tomb,
Where Christ the Crucified was borne,
And veiled in midnight gloom!
O weep no more the Savior slain;
The Lord is risen; He lives again.
Ye mourning saints, dry every tear
For your departed Lord;
Behold the place, He is not here,
The tomb is all unbarred;
The gates of death were closed in vain:
The Lord is risen; He lives again.
Now cheerful to the house of prayer
Your early footsteps bend;
The Savior will Himself be there,
Your Advocate and Friend:
Once by the law your hopes were slain,
But now in Christ ye live again.
How tranquil now the rising day!
’Tis Jesus still appears,
A risen Lord to chase away
Your unbelieving fears:
O weep no more your comforts slain;
The Lord is risen; He lives again.
And when the shades of evening fall,
When life’s last hour draws nigh,
If Jesus shine upon the soul,
How blissful then to die!
Since He has risen that once was slain,
Ye die in Christ to live again.
>from NetHymnal at
FRIDAY NIGHT ARCHIVE REPLAY - 04/05/2013
LORD OF ALL
Pretend that you know nothing about Jesus Christ, nothing from a book, nothing from a "church," nothing. Then you over hear me talking about Jesus, and you ask, "Who is Jesus?" I give you a piece of paper with five verses of Scripture: Colossians 1:16-20. I say, "read this. You agree.
Let's see what truth we can gain from them.
“The very question "Does prayer work?" puts us in the wrong frame of mind form the onset. "Work": as if it were magic or a machine -- something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayer is a corollary--not necessarily the most important one--from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.”
- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), "The Efficacy of Prayer" in The World's Last Night , Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 8
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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The future arrives one day at a time.
Frank Coleman, Editor
Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, email@example.com if you'd like to participate in a men's discipleship program.
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