Connecting man to man to God
For week of June 2, 2013
Issue 462

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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  • MUCH, MUCH MORE . . .

The LORD’s faithful love is from forever ago to forever from now for those who honor him. And God’s righteousness reaches to the grandchildren of those who keep his covenant and remember to keep his commands.”
- Psalm 103:17-18 (CEB)

Only God can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony.”
- Joyce Meyer

by Chuck Colson
Christianity is a worldview — a way of seeing all of reality. It isn't just salvation and a relationship with Jesus, vital though that is. It is a life system. God created the world and everything in it; therefore everything finds its ultimate meaning in relationship to Him. Christianity gives us the framework to understand politics, science, economics, the arts, education, and ethics.

Too often, you see, we treat our faith as just one more item on our to-do list. But if Christianity is true, it’s the central framework for everything; the grid that overlays all of life.

Why is it so important to have a Christian worldview? Because Christianity gives us a map to reality; an outline of the world the way it really is: God's moral and physical order. And if we want to make our way effectively through life, to live in accord with reality, we have to follow the map.... Read this in full at

More than 3 in 4 Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.

"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."

According to the Gallup survey ( released May 29, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.

According to the poll, 75% of Americans said it the country would be better off if it was more religious.... Read this in full at

by John Ortberg
One of the things Jesus never actually said was, "By the way, now that I've introduced grace into the equation, no one needs to worry about tithing anymore."

Tithing is considerably less popular than words like generosity or sharing. Among lay people the most common question associated with tithing is: "Am I supposed to base it on net income or gross?" Among pastors the question is: "Isn't tithing an Old Testament concept? Aren't we under grace now?"

This question more or less assumes that it was only post-Pentecost that the church discovered that God is the owner and that people are stewards. It implies that legalistic old Israel thought all they had to do was check the "I tithed" box and then got to spend the rest however they wanted (ignoring biblical statements like "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof").

Worse — a certain looseness of thought about grace sometimes becomes a rationale for not giving at all. A friend of mine made the case: "If my kids are really the Lord's, then I can count the money I spend on their food and clothing and college tuition as falling into the 'good steward' category. If I use my home for hospitality and hosting small group, then the same goes for furniture acquisition and home makeovers. I use my computer for Bible study and my phone to store worship songs, so those items are stewardologically deductible." This type of "all-grace giving" where we give "everything" to God looks suspiciously similar to giving nothing to God.... Read this in full at

by David Murray
The Bible encourages us to spiritual time travel. The believer uses faith to transport herself into the future, a spiritual experience that has significant sanctifying impact on the present (2 Peter 3:11). And in Romans 6, the believer uses faith to transport himself back in time, again with significant present impact.

This spiritual time travel is not an optional extra, something for high-flying Christians, but this is something for every Christian to try. In fact, you will never make much lasting progress in holiness if you do not travel back in time to Calvary’s cross and the empty tomb.

Let me put this as bluntly and as starkly as possible: The Christian’s holiness depends primarily on his/her ability to time travel by faith.... Read this in full at

The first command in Ephesians 5 tells us to be imitators of God by reflecting the way he loves us. Our love for others flows out of our sense of being deeply loved. Instead of constantly looking for the right person, God tells us to become the right person.  Instead of looking for love, God tells us to realize that love has already found us! God loves as no one else ever can.”
- Chip Ingram

by Steven Dodd
As the proverbial saying goes, “One bad apple can spoil the bunch.” Most of us have heard this saying a time or two. However if you are not aware of its meaning, this quip refers to what happens when a bruised apple comes in contact with a good apple; thus, causing the bruise to spread to the other apples, and eventually rotting the bunch. As it’s used today, this “one bad apple” metaphor relates to how one bad influence could lead to the fall of those around them.

In recent years, I have witnessed an onslaught of people attacking Christians for what they believe to be “hypocritical living.” There are many avenues that can be taken when talking about the subject of hypocrisy in the lives of Christians. However, I want to turn the attention of this article not to what others are doing, but to the one that we can actually do something about... Ourselves.

Unfortunately, Christians today seem to be more identified for what we hate, than for what we love.... Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
I no longer love my husband. I’m not looking to get out of this marriage, but he’s selfish, insensitive to my needs and feelings, and a mediocre father at best. Yet, the Bible commands me to love him. I’ve tried, but I just don’t find much in him that’s lovable. So, how does that work?”

I get this question all the time. It comes from Christians who I perceive to be good willed, not looking for a divorce, but feeling guilty because they don’t feel any love or admiration for their spouse. So, what does the Bible have to say about this dilemma?

Does God himself, love people he doesn’t like?

Consider this from respected theologian, Floyd Barackman; “When we consider God’s love for the world, we must be careful not to equate this love with human friendship or love, which is based on the pleasure that we receive from others. God’s sacrificial love for the world is based wholly on His grace, or undeserved favor. God’s love is an affection that moves him to provide for the well-being of humans, regardless of their personal merit, worth or spiritual state.

It is God’s kind of love that we are to express toward others, even toward our enemies (John 13:34-35; Matt. 5:44-45). God does not ask us to love all people, that is, to take pleasure in them. He does demand that we minister to their needs, even at personal sacrifice (I John 3:16; 1 Cor. 13:4-7), and that we show them patience, kindness, and courtesy (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Needless to say, we can do this only by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22).” .... Read this in full at

[Let's] reflect briefly on what the Bible says about sin and death. Both testaments teach that death is the just punishment for sin (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23; James 1:15). If the wages of sin is death, why don't more people die immediately? More people don't die instantly because God is gracious and slow to anger. He decides to delay the punishment for sin and give people opportunities to repent.

While severe punishments should remind us that death is the natural consequence of sin, instead we think God is mean. While delayed punishments should remind us that God is slow to anger, instead we think we don't really deserve death. We end up taking God's mercy for granted.

Is the God of the Old Testament angry? Yes. Is the God of the Old Testament loving? Yes. Is the God of the New Testament angry? Yes. Is the God of the New Testament loving? Yes.

Anger and love are not mutually exclusive. Love for people can lead to anger over a broken relationship. Love for people can also lead to anger about injustice. The God of the Old Testament and New Testament is both quick to love and slow to anger. And we should be too.” David Lamb in God Behaving Badly

We have been adopted as sons by the Lord with this one condition: that our life express Christ, the bond of our adoption. Accordingly, unless we give and devote ourselves to righteousness, we not only revolt from our Creator with wicked perfidy, but we also abjure our Savior Himself.”
- John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. I [1559], tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921,, p. 616

There’s surprisingly little data available on where the world’s atheists live. But a 2012 poll by WIN/Gallup International — an international polling firm that is not associated with the DC-based Gallup group — asked more than 50,000 people in 40 countries whether they considered themselves “religious,” “not religious,” or “convinced atheist.” Overall, the poll concluded that roughly 13% of global respondents identified as atheists, more than double the percentage in the US.

The highest reported share of self-described atheists is in China: an astounding 47%. Faith has a complicated history in China. The state is deeply skeptical of organized religion, which it has long considered a threat to its authority.... Read this in full and see the map at

Evangelical Christians are not as bad as you think, Tom Krattenmaker tells his fellow progressives, secularists, and religious liberals in his new book, The Evangelicals You Don't Know: Introducing the Next Generation of Christians.

Krattenmaker describes a new generation of evangelical leaders, such as social activist and "red letter Christian" Shane Claiborne, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, and megachurch pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren, who are working to shatter the stereotypes held by many non-evangelicals after three decades of Christian Right political activism.

Krattenmaker is a religion writer for USA Today. He has often been critical of Christians, and evangelicals in particular, in his previous writings. While researching for the book, though, Krattenmaker traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., to spend some time at the Focus on the Family headquarters. While there, he apologized to Daly for stereotyping him and ignoring the good work that Focus has accomplished. He wrote about that apology in some op-eds associated with the release of the book.... Read this in full at

~ Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

~ Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

~ When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

~ When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.

~ Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

~ Take naps and stretch before rising.

~ Run, romp and play daily.

~ Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

~ Be loyal.

~ Never pretend to be something you're not.

~ If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

~ When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

~ Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

~ Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

~ On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.

~ When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

~ No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.

~ Bond with your pack.

~ Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

by Alex Joyner
Something is happening to men. By traditional societal measures of success, they are slipping. They are underrepresented in higher education. They have been disproportionately affected by the economic downturn. They are less likely to be married than in the past and more likely to be confused about their role in marriage and family.

Writer Hanna Rosin highlighted the changing role of men in a 2010 Atlantic magazine article provocatively titled “The End of Men.” She also expanded on the themes of the article in a book called The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. Rosin is not a triumphalist who celebrates as men struggle. Instead, she explores what’s going on with men and women in the contemporary landscape and asks, “What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?” .... Read this in full at

by Eric Metaxas
Is it possible for one's life to change literally overnight? In 1988 I had a dream in which God spoke to me in what I have come to call "the secret vocabulary of my heart." The next morning, all was new and newness. Perhaps even newness-ness.

I had the dream around my 25th birthday, and if someone had investigated my life at that time to determine who I was, they'd likely have settled on three themes at the heart of my identity: first, that I am Greek; second, that I loved freshwater fishing; and third, that I was deeply committed to the life of the mind and the search for meaning.... Read this in full at

by Alister McGrath
Few would now dispute that C. S. Lewis is one of the greatest Christian apologists of the twentieth century. So what is his approach to apologetics, and why has it been so successful?

Many Christian apologists have assimilated Lewis to their own way of thinking, presenting him in thoroughly modernist terms as an advocate of rationalist defences of faith. Yet to get the most out of reading Lewis, we need to approach him on his own terms. Here, I want to explore Lewis's distinctive understanding of the rationality of faith, which emphasizes the reasonableness of Christianity without imprisoning it within an impersonal and austere rationalism.

I came to appreciate this distinctive approach when researching my recent biography of Lewis. For reasons I do not understand, the importance of Lewis's extensive use of visual images as metaphors of truth has been largely overlooked. For Lewis, truth is about seeing things rightly, grasping their deep interconnection. Truth is something that we see, rather than something we express primarily in logical or conceptual terms.... Read this in full at

If there's one refrain coming from James K. A. Smith these days, it's that Christians can't think our way into the kingdom. It may sound strange for a philosopher (at Calvin College) to downplay the role of thinking, but Smith is quick to see the inconsistencies between what we think and what we do. Indeed, he recently caught himself reading the Christian farmer-philosopher-poet Wendell Berry while sitting in the food court at Costco. Smith was struck by the dissonance. Berry is an apostle of mindful and earth-friendly food production and consumption, while Costco is the symbol of American supersized consumption.

When we try to think our way out of such inconsistencies, our behavior keeps coming back to bite us. That's because behavior is not driven by ideas. It is a bodily thing that reflects the way we order—or disorder—our loves and desires.

In 2009, Smith published Desiring the Kingdom (Baker Academic), in which he argued that in order to help college students put their desires in proper order, Christian higher education needed to incorporate worship and spiritual practices at a foundational level. This year, Smith published a follow-up, Imagining the Kingdom, designed to provide a rationale for, as the subtitle has it, "how worship works." In the book, he interacts with two French theorists — Pierre Bourdieu and Maurice Merleau-Ponty — to understand how human beings use bodily rituals to shape their desires. Former Christianity Today editor-in-chief David Neff talked with Smith about how rituals — both religious and secular — shape our beliefs and affections.... Read this in full at

I can usually sense that a leading is from the Holy Spirit when it calls me to humble myself, serve somebody, encourage somebody or give something away. Very rarely will the evil one lead us to do those kinds of things.”
- Bill Hybels

by Os Hillman
For centuries, Christians thought culture would change if we just had a majority of Christians in the culture. That has proven to be a false assumption. Culture is defined by a relatively small number of change agents who operate at the top of cultural spheres or societal mountains. It takes less than 3-5 percent of those operating at the top of a cultural mountain to actually shift the values represented on that mountain.

For example, this is exactly what advocates in the gay rights movement has done through the "mountains" of media and arts and entertainment. They have strategically used these avenues to promote their cause and reframe the argument. They are gradually legitimizing their cause through these two cultural mountains through a small percentage of people in society operating at the top of the media and arts and entertainment mountain.... Read this in full at

A new study finds that American veterans who had a negative experience serving during World War II attend church more frequently today than those who were less troubled by their service.

The study also finds that when service members were fearful in combat, they reported prayer was a better motivator for getting them through it than several other factors, including the broader goals of the war.

Researchers say the study, which will be published in a future edition of the Journal of Religion and Health, has implications for health professionals, counselors, and clergy who work with veterans with more recent service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most important thing is that the more veterans disliked the war, the more religious they were 50 years later,” said Craig Wansink, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College and co-author of the study with his brother, Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University.... Read this in full at

God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
- John 3:17 (CEB)

Honesty, or dishonesty, is shown in every little act of life.”
- Mabel Hale

by Tim Keller
I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.”

What I hear most often is, “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts — about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t they just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?”

It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.

First of all, let’s be clear that it’s not only the Old Testament that has proscriptions about homosexuality.

The New Testament has plenty to say about it as well. Even Jesus says, in his discussion of divorce in Matthew 19:3-12, that the original design of God was for one man and one woman to be united as one flesh, and failing that (v. 12), persons should abstain from marriage and from sex.

However, let’s get back to considering the larger issue of inconsistency regarding things mentioned in the OT that are no longer practiced by the New Testament people of God. Most Christians don’t know what to say when confronted about this.... Read this in full at

by Rick Warren
Jesus was definitely an iconoclast, continually challenging the conventional thinking of His day. Twenty different times Jesus said, "You've heard it said… but I say to you…" And even today, his thoughts on leadership go against the grain.

Most modern books on leadership, whether Christian or secular, give the same advice – be confident, never admit fear, maintain control and be composed, be convincing and never show weakness. But Jesus had a different style altogether. Instead of leading from a position of strength (lording authority over people), Jesus led from a position of weakness, becoming a servant.... Read this in full at

by Jeremy Statton
We make decisions on a daily basis. And some of these choices can have tremendous impact in our lives like buying a new house or quitting a job or choosing to marry.

But these decisions, though they seem incredibly important in the moment, have little consequence outside of themselves. They do matter today. But some day they won’t. We tend to over-inflate their importance for one reason. The outcomes affect our comfort.

I believe that God does care about the little things in our lives because he cares for us. Like feeding the sparrows, he is in the details of our lives. But the decisions we worry may not be the ones he wants us to worry about.... Read this in full at

A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business and is the countersign of friends. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature's best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody until it is given away. Keep smiling- and let your smile be one of sincerity. Don't just force it out to make a sale, to keep out of a fight, or for similar reasons. But smile from the heart out, making those who see you smile do likewise in a feeling of good fellowship.”
- James M. Tulloch

by Jonathan Merritt
Shane Claiborne doesn’t write books that tell you how to live. He writes books that he’s living.

At 38-years-old, Claiborne has become a leading figure in the New Monasticism movement. He is co-founder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia, PA and someone who believes Christians should engage the power structures of our day just as Jesus did. Claiborne always has a fresh twist on contemporary life that challenges everyone to rethink their walk with God. He’s the author of several books including The Irresistible Revolution, Jesus for President, and Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers. Here he talks about church, politics, and co-writing Red Letter Revolution with Tony Campolo.... Read this in full at

by Matt Smethurst
Like it or not, it's true: more people are living in cities than ever before. This migration cityward doesn't appear to be waning, either; in fact, it's projected that within the next 35 years our world will be 70 percent urban. (In 1800, that number was 2%. In 1900, it was 14%.)

So what bearing should this reality have on today's church? In Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church (Crossway), Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard seek to address such pressing questions and trends. Their aim, as Um explains in a video featuring Buzzard and Christ + City author Jon Dennis, isn't to insinuate that city ministry is superior. It is, however, uniquely strategic.

"This book is not about why cities matter more. We need gospel-preaching, gospel-shaped churches wherever there are people," Um says. "But more people are moving into cities than ever before. Around the world 5.5 million people per month are moving into cities. That's another San Francisco every month." .... Read this in full at

Mark Seabolt left his prison cell wearing someone else’s clothes. He hated the hiking boots, and neither the pants nor the shirt fit very well. He was angry, empty, broke and alone. To the members of the Fort Gibson Church of Christ, he was perfect.

In two years and 10 days of incarceration — for assault and battery and attempting to manufacture methamphetamines — Seabolt received one visitor and two pieces of mail. One was a picture of the church’s building with directions. His curiosity won out, and he tracked down the building a day after leaving prison.

Gingerly, he walked into the church’s office, “looking different, smelling different and talking different” than a typical churchgoer, he said. The staff’s reaction was shocking. They welcomed him — even hugged him — and invited him back for Bible study that night.

These people are crazy, he thought. Don’t they know what I’ve done? .... Read this in full at

Beth Keith has spent the last 12 months researching churches that are bucking the trend of decline in attendance among young adults. She has identified 5 types of churches that are successfully reaching and discipling the "missing generation" of people in their 20s and 30s.

Her report, Authentic Faith: Fresh expressions of church amongst young adults, finds that these churches are largely in towns and cities, and especially in London.

The study does not consider all churches with young adults (identified in the report as those aged 20 to35) but only those churches with growing numbers of young adults.

Churches represented in the study include those from the Church of England, Methodist and Baptist denominations, free churches with links to church planting networks, CMS and Church Army plants, and independent churches with links to other organizations.

The 5 types of young adult churches are identified by Keith as:
* Church planting hubs
* Youth church grown up
* Deconstructed church
* Church on the margins
* Context shaped church.... Read this in full at

by Jerry Bowyer
Peter Berger is perhaps the world’s most prominent living sociologist. He has written two dozen books including seminal texts in the development of the sociology of religion, the sociology of knowledge, and the sociology of modern development. He may be the most qualified person to speak with authority on matters pertaining to the relationship between religious beliefs and economic development, so I decided to ask him to explain this to me. This interview is the result, and it’s worth listening to in full. At age 84 Berger is still sharp as a tack and has a long lifetime of study and analysis behind him (and I expect quite a number ahead of him).

When I asked him what he has learned in a lifetime of studying these questions, he told me that there are certain social preconditions to economic development, and that the way a society operates is important in regards to how prosperous that society can become. This is largely a matter of culture, and for most of the world culture basically means religion. Religion drives culture; culture drives social forms; social forms drive development.... Read this in full at

An Italian expert in Hebrew manuscripts said May 30 he had discovered the oldest known complete Torah scroll, a sheepskin document dating from 1155-1225. It was right under his nose, in the University of Bologna library, where it had been mistakenly catalogued a century ago as dating from the 17th century.

The find isn't the oldest Torah text in the world: the Leningrad and the Aleppo bibles - both of them Hebrew codexes, or books - pre-date the Bologna scroll by more than 200 years. But this is the oldest Torah scroll of the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, according to Mauro Perani, a professor of Hebrew in the University of Bologna's cultural heritage department.... Read this in full at

Goodness is love in action, love with its hands to the plow, love with the burden on its back, love following His footsteps who went about continually doing good.”
- James H. Hamilton

Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.”
- James 1:19 (CEB)

Words: Birgitte C. Boye, 1778; translated from Danish to English by George A. Rygh, 1909
Music: 15th Century German melody

Holy Spirit, God of love,
Who our night dost brighten,
Poured on us from Heav’n above,
Now our faith enlighten.
In Thy light we gather here;
Show us that Christ’s promise clear
Its Amen forever.
Jesus, our ascended Lord,
Oh, fulfill Thy gracious Word:
Bless us with Thy favor!
>from NetHymnal at

The famous scripture that all those good people that go to "church" every Sunday, like to quote: "Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is".
Which assembly is the "right one?"
Which assembly makes God happy?


The main evidence that we are growing in Christ is not exhilarating prayer experiences, but steadily increasing, humble love for other people.”
- Frederica Mathewes-Green


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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US Army Leadership Manual: Competent, Confident, and Agile

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(BTW: whenever the URLs in this newsletter are too long to turn into links on your e-mail program, just copy the entire URL (two lines or more) and paste it into a temporary email message. Then delete the return in the middle of it and copy it again. Then paste it into your web browser and hit enter.) 

You can't change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying over the future.
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. 
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