Connecting man to man to God
For week of July 28, 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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“If my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 (CEB)
“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”
- George Washington Carver
HOW TO HAVE A THRIVING INTIMACY WITH GOD
by Rick Warren
You can have a thriving ministry without a thriving relationship with God, but only temporarily. Anyone can fake it in the short run, but to go the distance, you need a passionate devotional life and continual closeness to Jesus. Often, pastors tend to allow the busyness of ministry and the necessity of studying for sermon preparation to replace a real, personal walk with Jesus. But God wants better for you.
Three T’s for a thriving walk with Jesus…
3. TRUST.... Read this in full at
WHY I BECAME CHRISTIAN
by Eric Metaxas
I’m the child of European immigrants; my dad is Greek and my mother is German. I attended a Greek Orthodox parochial school and my family attended the Greek Orthodox church. I remember a day when I was about ten years old my dad caught sight of the chrome fish on the back of a car. And this, he explained, was from the Greek word ixthys, meaning "fish," because the early Christians used this word as an acronym—Iesus Xristos Theos Ymon Sotir. It stood for Jesus Christ the Son of God Our Savior. It was their secret symbol.
Despite regular church attendance, my Christian faith was essentially nominal. By the time I entered Yale University, I was committed to the life of the mind and the search for meaning. As an undergrad I half-heartedly attempted to divine the meaning of life, with mixed results. I didn't believe that our lives were meaningless, but neither did I settle on any particular alternative.... Read this in full at
DARRYL STRAWBERRY: BASEBALL WASN'T TRUE CALLING
The four-bedroom, two-story modest house sits on a corner in this planned bedroom community, and when this 6-6 muscular-toned man welcomes you inside his home, there is no evidence Darryl Strawberry the player ever existed.
There are no pictures of Strawberry in a baseball uniform. No trophies. No plaques. None of his four World Series rings. Nothing from his eight All-Star Games. None of his 335 home run balls.
"I got rid of it all. I was never attached to none of that stuff," says Strawberry, 51, wearing a North Carolina jersey with Michael Jordan's No. 23. "I don't want it. It's not part of my life anymore."
Darryl Strawberry, the former outfield great, is no longer. Darryl Strawberry, the ordained minister in this town 30 miles west of St. Louis, is very much alive.... Read this in full at
EXCERPT FROM ‘DISCERNMENT’ BY HENRI NOUWEN
“We ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord.” —Colossians 1:9–10 NRSV
Discernment is a spiritual understanding and an experiential knowledge of how God is active in daily life that is acquired through disciplined spiritual practice. Discernment is faithful living and listening to God’s love and direction so that we can fulfill our individual calling and shared mission.
Definitions are a good place to begin, but let me sketch out some of the core affirmations and practices necessary to discernment. When I was living in a Trappist monastery as a temporary monk, seeking to discern whether I was called to live the contemplative life or a more active life of teaching and ministry, I remember walking through a building where I hadn’t been before. I came across a reproduction of Hazard Durfee’s beautiful painting The Flute Player framed with an old but familiar text by Henry David Thoreau:
“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
As I studied the quiet, concentrated face of Durfee’s musician, I realized that discernment is like hearing a different drummer. I remembered that one of the books about Thomas Merton is called A Different Drummer. Merton stepped away from the active, academic life and chose a contemplative life. I wondered if I was called to make that kind of move myself.... Read this in full at
THE ART OF SPIRITUAL CONVERSATION IN A CHANGING CULTURE
Evangelism. Outreach. Missions. Conversions. These are all common evangelical catchphrases to describe the Christian’s call to The Great Commission, to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). And the church has plenty of programs to show for it — from mission trips to neighborhood service projects to student evangelism training. But before any of these can happen effectively, something far more basic must be learned. According to Mary Schaller, president of Q Place, that first step is learning the basic art of conversation.
The church is undergoing a paradigm shift from one-way presentational evangelism to evangelism that looks more like a two-way exchange, and Q Place is a leading voice in this critical rethink of evangelistic practices. The Barna Group team talks with Schaller about the “lost art” of spiritual conversation, and how the church can move away from alienating Christian jargon to language that reaches those of other and no faith right where they are.... Read this in full at
GENDER AND THE TRINITY: AN INTERVIEW WITH PSYCHOLOGIST LARRY CRABB
The most feminine woman might very well be that one slouched at the table, slurping up soup wearing muddy hunting boots and camo vest. The most masculine man might be that one running down the street, fretting about being late for his manicure.
That is according to Larry Crabb, a Christian psychologist best known for bringing spiritual direction into his many books and seminars. His most popular title, Inside Out, taught that real change in Christ begins with digging into our own internal muck. Now, in Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender That Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes (Baker, 2013), Crabb contends it's time for Christians to look at what Scripture really says about masculinity and femininity and what it means to be made male and female in God's image.
Crabb, a scholar in residence at Colorado Christian University in Denver, talks in this interview about gender beyond looks and "roles." .... Read this in full at
TOP 10 RUDEST THINGS PEOPLE DO IN CHURCH
by J. Lee Grady
Lots of things annoy us today. But we should be most concerned about what God considers rude.
It doesn’t bother me anymore to hear a phone ringing during a church service. It’s part of life in the 21st century. But I’ll admit I was shocked last month when I heard a ringtone while I was preaching—and a woman seated in the third row pulled her phone out of her purse and began a lengthy conversation as if she were in the waiting room of a beauty parlor.
That incident prompted me to post a question on Facebook the next day. I asked my friends to share their own stories of rudeness in church. That triggered an avalanche of pent-up frustration about crinkly peppermint wrappers, loud music, smelly feet (yes, someone took off their shoes during the service), unruly children, coffee-sipping saints and parishioners who try to finish their pastors’ sentences during sermons.
When I tallied the responses, I came up with this list of the rudest things people do in church:.... Read this in full at
THREE WAYS TO BE AN OPTIMIST
by Gene Jennings
Optimists make opportunities out of difficulties. Pessimists make difficulties out of opportunities. The optimist sees the doughnut. The pessimist sees the hole.
If I’m an optimist, it might be hard to tell sometimes. I fear that my attempts to be witty through sarcasm and cynicism would probably lead you to believe that I am a pessimistic person. But I’m almost positive that I’m an optimist.
I wasn’t very positive yesterday morning. Unfortunately, Monday morning lived up to its reputation. From 9:00 am until 1:00, it seemed like one negative thing after the other. In hindsight, it’s all good. At the time, however, I wanted to scream.
I’m sure you’ve never had a day like that.
So, how can we remain optimistic when it seems the world around us is crumbling? The Bible talks about setting our minds on good things. What exactly can we set our mind on when our tendency is to look only at the negative? Here are a few thoughts:.... Read this in full at
GET OFF THE SIDELINES WITH THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT
“When God's Spirit moves, his purposes are revealed and accomplished in ways that no committee, personality test, or computer program could ever figure out.
“D. L. Moody is a great example of that. We're not all called to be a D. L. Moody. But regardless of how we're set apart, it is God's responsibility to equip us... Sometimes the work encompasses world-changing missions, such as that of Moody. At other times, the work is much more personal and closer to home.
“Just as each member of the human body functions differently from the others, the Spirit energizes each of us in the body of Christ to fulfill God's purpose. Without the Spirit's power being exercised, we tend to sit on the sidelines, inactive and unfulfilled. Worse, we are tempted to critique those actually "in the game" trying to proclaim Christ and serve his people. Anyone can criticize the efforts of another believer, but at the judgment seat of Christ, we will answer for ourselves only, not another.
“Christ didn't die on the cross so that we would spend our time as Christians on earth merely sitting around waiting for his return. Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" (Matt. 9:37). The reason for the shortage today is that too few are yielded to the Spirit whom Christ sent to us. But there's still time, and we have a patient, merciful Savior on our side.
“Who knows how God can use you if you step out in faith and let the Holy Spirit take control? We're not called to be spectators watching from the stands as the prince of darkness goes about to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus said there is a shortage of workers, but the actual work will be done by God's Spirit through you and me doing things beyond our wildest imagination. It all begins when you offer yourself to serve.”
- Source: Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit by Jim Cymbala
by Roy Baldwin
Margaret Thatcher once said, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.” I wonder how true that is for men?
When was the last time you felt your masculinity was challenged? What defines manhood? Are there certain stereotypes that men are constantly trying to live up to or down to? My dear friend and co-worker Glenn Stanton in his book, “Secure Daughters Confident Sons” writes this:
“Don’t you think the world becomes a better, happier, and healthier place when men are encouraged to become the best version of who they already are? That’s part of our job as parents raising boys. Still, we are wise to remember that Clint Eastwood is not Albert Einstein is not Harrison Ford is not George Washington Carver is not Abraham Lincoln….is not your husband or your son.” (p.20)
I believe Glenn gets it right and I would add that families and society win when men are encouraged to become the best version of who they are called to be. Each man that Glenn highlights is so different, yet in their own innate being they help us define masculinity.... Read this in full at
INTO THE NEW
by Mel Lawrenz
At the intersection of past and future, we have one of the greatest opportunities to influence the common good. Unthinkingly, we sometimes idealize the new and devalue the old. The truth is, the only way for tomorrow to have integrity is for the best of yesterday to pass through the gateway of today.
In my interactions with leaders from churches and other organizations, I find that most people want to be ”fresh,” “innovative,” “pioneering.” Who wouldn’t? Innovation is a great ideal if you believe that God the creator is continually making things new.
True innovation is not copying someone else’s idea and touting it as ”the next great thing.” If we aren’t true to our own context we may find ourselves committed to “the next great thing,” which was actually new twenty years ago, and now abandoned by the people who created it.... Read this in full at
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN BY "SPIRITUAL WARFARE"?
by John Ortberg
Perhaps the most intriguing and controversial notion regarding the life of the soul is the image of spiritual warfare. Why was this picture of spiritual reality invoked by the writers of Scripture, and what does it mean for the way we do ministry?
Perhaps the place to begin is here: the biblical writers lived in a world where the reality of the spiritual was taken for granted; we live in a world where that belief erodes a little more each day.
The greatest book on spiritual warfare in the twentieth century was written by an Anglican intellectual who, I think, never himself used the phrase "spiritual warfare" and may well never have heard it used. C. S. Lewis's little book The Screwtape Letters is a classic because it shows the stakes at play over the fate of a single soul.
Lewis notes how difficult it has become for human beings to take seriously the reality of the spiritual as a fundamental dimension of the universe. Uncle Screwtape (a senior devil) writes, "Thanks to processes which we set at work in them centuries ago, [human beings] find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes."
Sometimes, an inability to believe in Satan reflects a larger inability to believe in a spiritual plane at all. Our culture is relentlessly materialistic. This is, as Lewis points out, part of what makes prayer difficult for modern people.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“It’s impossible to please God without faith because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him.”
- Hebrews 11:6 (CEB)
“Joy cannot be pursued. It comes from within. It is a state of being. It does not depend on circumstances, but triumphs over circumstances. It produces a gentleness of spirit and a magnetic personality.”
- Billy Graham
THE DEVIL’S TOOLS
By Michael Halleen
"Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building." (Ezra 4:4)
An old story says that the Devil once held a sale of all the tools of his trade. Everything was displayed—keen-edged daggers of jealousy, sledge-hammers of anger, manacles of greed, arrows of covetousness and spears of deception—all available at bargain prices. Nearby was a table holding the more subtle weapons of vanity, fear, envy and pride.
But in a place of honor, framed and set apart from all the others, was a small wedge, marked and dented from frequent use. The name on this wedge was Discouragement, and its price was higher by far than any other tool being sold. Asked the reason for this surprising difference, the Devil explained, "It's because this is the tool I use when all the others fail. Let me get that little wedge into a person's consciousness and it opens the way for everything else! It's provided more opportunities for me than any other!"
The people of Judah, freed from exile in Babylon late in the 6th Century B.C., returned to their land to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its great Temple. But those who had been living in the land during the interim were not happy with the new arrangement and did whatever they could to discourage the rebuilding. Official letters of accusation, appeals, threats, intimidation, sabotage of the work in progress—and more—all served to slow down the work and even brought it to a complete halt for some sixteen years.
The wedge of discouragement is still as effective a weapon as any the Enemy has in his arsenal. There are shields, however, that offer protection:
~ Patience. God's delays are not necessarily God's denials.
~ Responsibility. Don't blame your lack of progress on others. We are where we are through our choices alone.
~ Courage. Be willing to do what you fear.
~ Wisdom. Be open to reconsidering your goals and revising your plans.
~ A quiet heart. Be at peace. Put the burden down and rest until your heart is still.
~ Faithfulness. Look up. Hold simply to God and to the journey God has set you on.
For the people of Judah 26 centuries ago, the shields held. Work resumed, and the city and its Temple were rebuilt. Strong leadership prevailed. Persistence won the day. Goals were reached, victories won. The wedge of discouragement can slow — but need not stop — the progress of the people of God.
Copyright 2008 Dr. Michael A. Halleen. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes. (Contact Mike at email@example.com. Also check out Mike's book "You Are Rich: Discovering Faith in Everyday Moments":
BIBLICAL PHILOSOPHY OF LEADERSHIP
by Oliver Lutz
The essence of biblical leadership is servant leadership. Jesus focused on this in John 13:1-17, giving the example of washing the feet of the twelve disciples. By doing this, he gave them a visible example to help them better understand the actions of a servant leader. Below are a few things we should keep in mind concerning servant leadership.
Typically, we see someone as a leader or a servant, but not both. Jesus, however, combined the two ideas. A Christ-like leader must think and act with a servant mindset. Jesus didn’t neglect leadership. In Luke 22:26, he taught that “the one who rules” should do it in a servant attitude. He didn’t say we should give up ruling/leading. It is good to give direction, try to achieve goals, expect accountability, take responsibility, correct mistakes, and make decisions.... Read this in full at
TRULY DIFFERENT AND JOYFULLY WEIRD
“I'm willing to admit: there are plenty of things I don't know. But this doesn't matter. What matters is the one thing I do know for certain: God is with me. He's with you too, even right now as you read these words. He wants to help you be the person he created you to be.
“We don't have to carry heavy loads that constantly weigh us down and hold us back. We don't have to take on a dozen new goals to prove to others, or to God, that we're strong enough to change. We don't have to fix ourselves. We have only to remain focused on our pearl of great price, the single gem embodying what we truly long for.
What one thing do you desire from God above all else?
What one thing is the Holy Spirit showing you that you lack? Will you have the courage to obey the voice of God?
What one thing do you need to let go? It's time. Forget it. Press forward
What one promise do you need to claim? Find it. Don't give up. Cling to it.
Normal people attempt countless goals with limited success. Weird people focus on just one God-given objective with tremendous results. Instead of trying to take in the entire scope of your life's mural, maybe it's time to zero in on one major detail, one significant color, one delicate brushstroke. Focus all your attention on it. Let God create in you his masterpiece. He will make you truly different and joyfully weird.”
- Source: Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working by Craig Groeschel
HOW TO BE A WEIRD CHRISTIAN WITHOUT BEING “WEIRD”
by Stephen Altrogge
If we truly follow and obey Jesus, we will strike the world as being weird, odd, possibly even a bit unstable. After all, what “normal” person seeks to fight against sexual lust? What “normal” person wants to give away a significant portion of their income? What “normal” person forgives their enemies and does good to those who mistreat them? What “normal” person stakes all their hope on a dying and rising Messiah? Following Jesus means saying “no” to many of the things the world loves and considers normal. It often means offending others for the sake of obeying Jesus.
On top of the inherent worldly weirdness of Christianity, the gospel is inherently offensive. The gospel is an affront to our self-righteousness. It tells us that we are wicked, that God is holy, and that we cannot earn our way to God. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, it says:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
To those who don’t know God, the message of the gospel is folly. Insanity. Stupidity. Utter ridiculousness. It is a stumbling block to Jews, insanity to Muslims, and stupidity to atheists.... Read this in full at
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
by Men’s Network
As I look back over my life, I see how choices I made have led to where I am today. For example, when I considered my undergraduate program I had to choose between a large state university and a small religious institution. While I'm convinced I would have succeeded at either school, the decision to trek the less-travelled road of the religious school led to the path that placed me in my current position....
The point is this: our choices have consequences. One decision leads to another. Each ends with a choice. The next decision does the same. Sometimes our choices seem obvious, a true no-brainer. At other times, we're faced with a gut-wrenching decision.... Read this in full at
HOW DO YOU CREATE A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME?
Each family may answer that question differently, but here are some general characteristics:
1. Joy-Every family will encounter trials and hardships, but there is no circumstance that can rob us of our joy if we know that the key to our present welfare and future destiny lies in Christ alone.
2. Orderliness-As the apostle Paul says, "God is not the author of confusion but of peace" (I Corinthians 14:33).
3. Grace-A Christian home should be a safe place to mess up. Family members need to be reminded that love, not perfection, is the goal.
4. Service-A Christian home is tempered and flavored with acts of kindness, respect, humility and love.
5. Spiritual Disciplines-A Christ-centered home provides an environment in which every member of the family learns how to live by studying Scripture, praying and spending time in God's presence.
6. God's Purposes-A Christian home is a place where the family's goals are founded upon His values and the vision for the future is consistent with His plan.
WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN GOD IS SILENT
by Nicole Unice
I’ve got a secret — I’m not hearing God’s voice very often. And by “very often” I mean almost never. Since I’ve spent much of my life encouraging others in a relationship with God, this can be very disconcerting, and it’s made worse by the Christians I know who appear to have a direct line to God all the time. God is finding them parking spaces, telling them about apartments, practically giving them a “to do” list every week.
So how come I don’t hear Him like that? True, there have been times when I have a deep sense of God’s presence in my life. There have been times where I have also had a distinct sense of His voice in my soul. But the times I “feel” and “hear” Him are hardly frequent enough to consider us in a relationship. If I’m only relying on those rare experiences, I find myself pretty confused and disheartened (especially when I’m around those “other people” who apparently have coffee with Jesus every morning!).... Read this in full at
"GOD, GIVE ME WHAT I DESERVE!"
“Give me what I deserve! We all might want to think twice about demanding that, because what we think we deserve might diverge significantly from God's judgment on the matter.
“The prophet Joel ministered during the time when a severe drought and locust plague were crippling the land. God's people had evidently assumed that divine blessing was their right, no matter how corruptly they lived. But God reminded them by means of these natural disasters that abundant life was realized only in relationship with him. When that relationship was ignored or allowed to fade, then the protective barriers against death and destruction were lowered and the enemies of life could charge in.
“For God's people the good things of life would not come about because they were somehow better than other people, but because they were plugged into the unfailing, life-generating power source.
“Joel saw in the immediate disasters of drought and locust plague vivid reminders of the coming day of the Lord when God's judgment would be amplified to a global scale... Then, too, the only island of life in a sea of death and destruction will be found in relationship with God.
“Jesus has already experienced our day of judgment and has enabled us even now to enjoy a foretaste of the restoration of all things that will take place when he returns again on the final day. To experience that foretaste, however, we have to make sure our chairs are scooted up to the table of God's grace. Only in our relationship with the source of life can we expect to realize true life for ourselves. We can only really live when we live together with him.
“There are many who are hoping that their lives will have been "good" enough to merit a pass on the day of judgment. Others are waiting for the day to come when they can finally experience life. Some are just trying not to think about the coming day of judgment. How easy it is to resolve all of these concerns about that day through faith in Jesus Christ! Jesus offers us his own righteousness to replace our blameworthiness, unshakable joy to replace our circumstantially determined happiness, and justifiable confidence in him to replace our justifiable doubt in ourselves. The day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14). Let's decide for life in Christ.”
-Source: How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture by Michael Williams
“The problem with spending your life climbing up the ladder is that you will go right past Jesus, for he's coming down.”
- John Ortberg
VERSE TO PONDER
“Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer.”
- Romans 12:12 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: O KING ENTHRONED ON HIGH
Words: An idiomelic sticheron from the Pentecostarion, 1898; translated from Greek to English by John Brownlie, Hymns of the Greek Church, 1900.
Music: Henry W. Davies (1869-1941)
O King enthroned on high,
Thou Comforter divine,
Blest Spirit of all truth, be nigh
And make us Thine.
Thou art the Source of life,
Thou art our treasure store;
Give us Thy peace, and end our strife
Descend, O heavenly Dove,
Abide with us alway;
And in the fullness of Thy love
Cleanse us, we pray.
>from NetHymnal at
“To pray does not imply that without prayer God would not give us anything or that He would be unaware of our needs, but it has this great advantage, that in the attitude of prayer the soul is best fitted to receive the Giver of blessing as well as those blessings He desires to bestow. Thus it was that the fullness of the Spirit was not poured out upon the Apostles on the first day, but after ten days of special preparation.”
- Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929), At the Master's Feet, Fleming H. Revell, 1922, p. 46
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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Time is a great healer, but a lousy beautician.
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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