Connecting man to man to God
For week of August 4, 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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“You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.”
- Matthew 5:14,16 (CEB)
“Thanksgiving is good but thanks-living is better.”
- Matthew Henry
READING THE BIBLE ON A TIGHT SCHEDULE
by Jonathan Petersen
Even before the sun casts a shadow, the baby is crying and you’ve started your day. As your other kids awake, you feed and dress them while you’re getting ready yourself. The clock is relentless. Rushing out the door to daycare and then your job, you barely have time to nourish your physical body let alone your soul. That’s when you drive down guilt-trip lane.
Your pastor, your parents, your friends, your church small group tell you to read the Bible, study the Bible, even dissect the Bible. But who has time? The crush of each digital second hastens us with the tyranny of the urgent. Keep looking forward because the freight train of deadlines and responsibility is hurtling your way.
We all know the Bible is important to read — the most important book of all; underscored by it remaining at the number one top of the bestseller charts year after decade after century after millennia. It’s God’s Word to us, after all. And yet, once we bring it home from the store, somehow we keep neglecting it. “We’ll get to it... later.” .... Read this in full at
SPIRITUAL MENTORING TIP
by Clare De Graaf
Here is a practical idea for being a more effective and fruitful spiritual mentor:
#1 Give assignments to the men you’re mentoring.
Life is short and I only want to mentor men who are serious about growing spiritually, relationally, and emotionally. So, a few months into the process I often give them some simple assignments, both to test their commitment and to stretch them. Generally, I don’t set up a time to meet again until they’ve completed their assignments and call me to report.
Some Sample Assignments
* Meet with two people you know are Christians and ask them to share their faith journey and what they do to stay spiritually strong.... Read this in full at
“There is a childhood into which we have to grow, just as there is a childhood which we must leave behind; a childlikeness which is the highest gain of humanity, and a childishness from which but few of those who are counted the wisest among men, have freed themselves in their imagined progress towards the reality of things.”
- George MacDonald (1824-1905), David Elginbrod, vol. 1, Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1871, p. 50
DO YOU REALLY KNOW JOHN 3:16?
by Gary Burge
Read it again: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God loves you enough to give his Son for you.
What would it mean for you if you believed this enough to live like someone who is loved by God? And what would living like you are loved look like? How would this reality affect the way you pray? Let’s look at the context of John 3:16.... Read this in full at
URBAN LEGEND OR URGENT LESSON
by Rick Marschall
News, stories, jokes, and gossip have always spread quickly through communities and societies. The same happens today, only slightly faster – at the speed of electrons – but currency of narratives depends less on the means of transmission than the willingness of ears to hear. Uplifting stories and heartbreak. Irony and tragedy. Humor and horror. The Bible says we have “itching ears”… for everything.
This is particularly evident with a familiar component of the internet age we all know, the “Urban Legend.” A recent story going the e-rounds tells of a pastor being introduced to his new congregation. It is emotional and plausible; it sounds authentic and seems genuine. It could be seen as criticism of the American church, or as an observation of human nature. By these descriptions you will have gathered that the story is not true. But that does not mean it is not truthful.... Read this in full at
“A true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle. No, it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ.”
- George Whitefield (1714-1770), from a letter, 1739, The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield, M.A., v. I, London: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1771, p. 47
WITH FAITH IN GOD, MAN TURNS FOUR-PAGE RAP SHEET INTO SUCCESS STORY
By Phil Trexler
Anyone can spot Carmine Robinson as he drives through the roughest sections of Akron, Ohio, inside his flashy SUV with its glistening 24-inch rims spinning off sunshine.
He could be on his way home, or to the bank, or on the lookout for new customers.
But make no mistake, Robinson gets noticed. Now, it's for a different reason.
He welcomes the attention. He's made it now. His transformation, while not complete, is his trophy.
His Transformations barbershop, with his Chevrolet Tahoe parked outside, is his mantle, firmly standing inside the Village of New Seasons, a contemporary retail center. He's been sober seven years, married for the first time and serving as a mentor to others with the same struggles that bogged him down for so many years.
It wasn't always like this for Robinson. Some 60 or so times in his life, police noticed him and slapped on the cuffs. Three times, a judge took notice and shipped him off to prison. Other times, his friends and family noticed that he was high, drunk or homeless.
Then it stopped, like a rock, hitting a wall.... Read this in full at
HOW A COLD-CASE ATHEIST DETECTIVE BECAME A CASE-MAKING CHRISTIAN
by Terrell Clemmons
I think it may be true," Jim Wallace said to his wife Susie. He was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.
"What may be true?"
"Christianity." Why did she need to ask? He'd been obsessed with the subject for several weeks now, talking her ears off on multiple occasions. It had all started at Saddleback Church during an otherwise normal Sunday morning service. A friend, a fellow police officer, had been inviting him for months, and he'd finally acquiesced. Susie liked the family to attend church, and although Jim had no use for religion, he loved his wife deeply and placed a very high priority on marriage and family. As for church, he didn't get it, but he was fine going along for her sake.... Read this in full at
“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.”
- Thomas Kempis
CAN WE TRUST THE GOD OF GENOCIDE?
by Mark Buchanan
John Milton opens Paradise Lost claiming to "justify the ways of God to man." It's questionable whether he succeeds. It's questionable whether anyone does. Most Christians give it a good shot anyhow. Most come up short. Our justifications start sounding like, well, justifications: labored attempts to vindicate God's character against mounting evidence for his seeming apathy, impotency, and incompetency.
But actually, that's the easy part. What's not easy is explaining what appear to be deliberate acts of divine cruelty. God's virulent rage. His hair-trigger vindictiveness. His apoplectic jealousy. Why would God make women and children pay for the sins of despots or the apostasy of priests? God's behavior at times appears to the skeptic, and even to the devout, as mere rancor, raw spite. There are passages in Scripture that make God look like a cosmic bully throwing a colossal tantrum.
In light of this, it's hard to stick to the claim that God is love — unconditional love, love that seeks and serves and suffers and gives until it hurts. It's hard to reconcile the New Covenant God revealed in Jesus Christ, who welcomes little children, eats with sinners, speaks peace to troubled hearts, calls us to love our enemies, and lets adulterers walk away unscathed, with the Old Covenant God, who lays waste to entire cities, lets babies be dashed on rocks, opens the earth to swallow families whole, smites his own priests for just touching holy relics, and encourages parents to stone their own children for acting up.... Read this in full at
ACHIEVING THE GOAL
“Christianity proposes not to extinguish our natural desires. It promises to bring the desires under just control and direct them to their true object.” William Wilberforce (1759-1833),
- Real Christianity, ed. James Houston, Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2005, p. 107-108
THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING THE GLORY OF GOD
by Cal Thomas
If you want to feel insignificant, look at the new pictures NASA has just released (http://earthsky.org/todays-image/earth-seen-from-saturn-july-19-2013 and http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=81702). They show the Earth from 900 million miles away. The little white dot that is the Earth is so small, an editor felt the need to insert an arrow so people could find it. Saturn's rings show up much larger than our tiny planet.
Looking at the photo reminds us of the pettiness of our little squabbles, wars and egos. It also should remind us of the vastness of God who created everything, including our planet, from nothing. The Psalmist says the heavens are telling the glory of God. This NASA picture is just one of many, many examples of His glory.
Scripture tells us that humility gets God's attention more than anything else we do. This one picture of Earth should humble us all.
And to think that God would send His Son to Earth to die for us that we might find our way back to Him, a way blocked by sin. It is amazing grace, isn't it?
HIS WILL, OUR WILL
“Every mother knows that she could secure perfect and easy obedience in her child, if she could only get into that child's will and work it for him, making him want himself to do the things she willed he should. And this is what our Father does for His children in the new dispensation,--He writes His laws on our hearts and on our minds, and we love them, and are drawn to our obedience by our affections and judgment, not driven by our fears.”
- Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911), Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, London: F. E. Longley, 1876, p. 130
YOUNG EVANGELICALS ARE GETTING HIGH
Young Christians are going over to Catholicism and high Anglicanism/Lutheranism in droves, despite growing up in low Protestant churches that told them about Jesus. It’s a trend that is growing, and it looks like it might go that way for a while: people who grew up in stereotypical, casual evangelicalism are running back past their parents’ church to something that looks like it was dug out of Europe a couple hundred years ago at least. It’s encouraged by certain emergent leaders and by other “Christian” authors whose writings promote “high” theology under a Protestant publisher’s cover.
Ten or fifteen years ago, it was American evangelical congregations that seemed cutting edge. They had the bands, the coolest youth pastor, professional babysitting for every women’s Bible study, and a church library full of Christian novels. But now, to kids who grew up in that context, it seems a bit dated or disconnected—the same kind of feeling that a 90?s movie gives them. Not that it’s not a church; it’s just feels to them the way that 50?s worship felt to their parents. So they leave. If they don’t walk away from Christianity completely, they head to Rome or something similar.... Read this in full at
WILD GOOSE: AN EXPERIMENT IN FINDING COMMON GROUND
by Brad Russell
Why would Phillip Yancey, The Indigo Girls and SPEECH from Arrested Development all hang out together in the woods? This may sound like one of those logical reasoning questions on the LSAT, but stretching yourself to listen for common connections is what the Wild Goose community seems to be all about. For a more complete answer, though, you’ll have to head out to the third annual Wild Goose Festival being held in Hot Springs, North Carolina, August 8-11, 2013.
I recently asked Gareth Higgins, executive director of the festival, to take a break from what must be an endless to-do list, and unpack the history and intentionality behind this unique gathering of artists, theologians, social justice advocates and seeking people of all kinds.
Q: I’ve read that Wild Goose was inspired by the Greenbelt event in the UK and you’ve joked with Phil Madeira about the festival being a kind of Christian version of “Burning Man” without the fire. What’s at the core of the founders’ vision for the event?
A: I would say it all comes down to the idea that Christians shouldn’t kill people. The pursuit of the teachings and life of Jesus is supposed to be about love. Yet, religious institutions have an alarming tendency to promote the shadow side of human nature.
So, Wild Goose (a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit) is really about intentionally creating a space where people can experience an altered state of consciousness that is not chemically induced, but generated by face-to-face engagement with a loving community who are followers of Jesus. We invite people into an environment that is different from everyday life. The event is held outdoors in the beauty and rhythm of nature. Many are camping. They stop worrying about how they look. And they’re challenged to express themselves authentically while listening to a range of ideas and life experiences from people they likely don’t typically encounter. We have no interest in simply perpetuating the institution of Christianity, rather we want to help people in their evolution toward becoming more loving people in the spirit of Jesus.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 3:14 (CEB)
“You can tell the size of your God by looking at the size of your worry list. The longer your list, the smaller your God.”
- Author Unknown
REPORT: AMERICANS HOLD DIFFERENT VIEWS OF WHAT “RELIGIOUS” MEANS
by Lauren Markoe
There is a lopsided divide in America about what it means to be a religious person, with a majority believing that it’s about acting morally but a strong minority equating it with faith.
Nearly 6 out of 10 Americans (59%) say that being a religious person “is primarily about living a good life and doing the right thing,” as opposed to the more than one-third (36%) who hold that being religious “is primarily about having faith and the right beliefs.” .... Read this in full at
BARELY HALF OF WEEKLY CHURCHGOERS THINK PASTORS CONTRIBUTE 'A LOT' TO SOCIETY
Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans think clergy contribute "a lot" to society, according to new data from a survey on which professions Americans respect most, Christianity Today reports. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 18% of American adults surveyed believe clergy contribute "nothing" to the wellbeing of society, and another 36% believe clergy contribute "some." That's just 1% less than those who believe clergy contribute "a lot." .... Read this in full at
HALF OF ADULTS SAY RELIGIOUS 'NONES' ARE BAD FOR AMERICA
As more Americans identify as religiously unaffiliated, almost half of all adults say the so-called rise of the "nones" is a bad thing for society. According to new data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 48% of adults consider the decline in religious commitment to be bad for America.... Read this in full at
WHAT KIND OF MARKETS WOULD JESUS WANT?
by Danielle Kurtzleben
Would Jesus want free markets? A new survey suggests the American public is divided on the question. Fully, 44% of Americans believe capitalism and Christianity are at odds with each other, and 41% believe the two ideologies are consistent with each other, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution.
However, those numbers diverge widely when income is taken into account, even among the subset of Christian Americans. Among Christians who make under $30,000 per year, only 35% say capitalism is consistent with Christian values, while 50% say it's at odds with Christianity. Meanwhile, among Christians who make $100,000 or more, the reverse is true: 59% say capitalism and Christianity are consistent, while only 29% say they are antithetical (a similar split exists among the broader American public as well).... Read this in full at
DISAGREEING WITH GOD
“There is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him, you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”
- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan, 1952, reprint, HarperCollins, 2001, p. 48
CHURCHES GRAPPLE WITH CLOTHING AND WHAT’S APPROPRIATE AS SUMMER HEATS UP
As Ann Cabiness stood in the Communion line at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Sunday morning, two things were on her mind: connecting with God and getting out of the humid sanctuary before someone mentioned her skimpy tank top and tight, knee-length running pants.
“I know I’m inappropriate, but I’m trying to save time. I know I’m in the wrong. My mother would not approve,” the 30-year-old said sheepishly as she made a beeline from Mass at the Bethesda church to the gym. “But would it be better that I not come?” .... Read this in full at
A DAD'S PERSPECTIVE: WHY I TELL MY DAUGHTERS TO DRESS MODESTLY
by Peter Chin
By now, I'm sure a few of you have read Rachel Held Evans' piece on modesty that was published on Q Ideas last month (and the countless articles about the topic on the Christian blogosphere).
Obviously, I'm not a woman and can't comment from that perspective; neither have I been subjected to the conservative social restrictions around modest dress, nor to sexual harassment or exploitation – thank God. So my opinions on this matter must be read with a mountainous chunk of salt. But I am the husband of a woman and the father of three sooner-than-I-would-like-it-to-be women. And, I'm a fellow human being, and I think that counts for something.
From my perspective, I'm going to encourage my daughters to dress appropriately because modesty is the loving prerogative of the mature.... Read this in full at
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DECLARES WAR ON INTERNET PORN
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a plan July 22 aimed at curbing Internet pornography in the UK. Cameron's plan requires every Internet user in the country to say whether they want to have access to pornography, and creates a joint British and American "task force" to take on obscene websites, which Cameron said are "corroding childhood." .... Read this in full at
“Not only is knowledge of self tied to knowledge of God, but we know ourselves truthfully only when we know ourselves in relation to God. We know who we are only when we can place our selves--locate our stories--within God's story.”
- Stanley Hauerwas (b. 1940), The Peaceable Kingdom, University of Notre Dame Press, 1983, p. 27
US HOUSE REJECTS CALL TO ALLOW NONRELIGIOUS MILITARY CHAPLAINS
House lawmakers late July 23 approved an amendment to a Pentagon spending bill to prevent the appointment of nonreligious military chaplains.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. John C. Fleming, R-La., requires that only religious organizations be permitted to endorse chaplains for the military.
“The amendment holds the military to its current standards on endorsing agencies, which must be recognized religious and faith-based organizations,” said Fleming’s spokesman, Doug Sachtleben.
Currently, the Department of Defense recognizes more than 200 endorsing agents, all of them based on a belief in God. But there has been a recent push by Humanists, who do not recognize a supernatural divinity, to endorse their own military chaplains.... Read this in full at
CHAPLAINS PREPARE FOR MILITARY SERVICE
Southern Baptists have a profound influence on the nation's military chaplaincy, both in practice and development. With more than 1,400 chaplains, Southern Baptists have more endorsed chaplains serving in the U.S. military than any other denomination or faith group. Yet their influence does not only come from sheer numbers, but also from the character of the individuals who serve.
One of those individuals is Chaplain Major General Doug Carver, U.S. Army (retired), and current executive director of chaplaincy services for the North American Mission Board. NAMB is the endorsement entity for all Southern Baptist chaplains, military and civilian, a total of 3,617.... Read this in full at
YOUNG WOMEN DELAYING MARRIAGE
The marriage rate in the United States is continuing its decades-long downward slide, with fewer American women than ever getting married and others waiting longer to wed, according to a new report (http://www.livescience.com/38308-us-marriage-rate-new-low.html).
The marriage rate has fluctuated in the past, with dips in the 1930s and 1960s, but it has been in steady decline since the 1970s.... Read this in full at
FAMILY VIOLENCE CAN LEAD BOYS TO AGGRESSION AND DRUG PROBLEMS
Boys exposed to familial violence, including conflict between siblings, become increasingly aggressive toward their peers at school, and this aggression is associated with greater levels of alcohol and drug use over time, a new study by a University of Illinois researcher suggests.
While familial violence more directly influences girls' alcohol and drug use during adolescence, it seems to do so independently of aggressive behavior such as bullying and fighting, according to the study, which was published online recently in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.... Read this in full at
ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IN THE USA STARTS AS EARLY AS SECOND GRADE
By second grade your child is likely to be delving into more complex concepts of science and math and broadening their knowledge of the world, child development experts say. And according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, they're also liable to be taking their first sips of alcohol.... Read this in full at
THE 10 MOST SINFUL CITIES IN AMERICA
by Randy Nelson
Move over, Las Vegas, NV — there’s a new capital of sin in America. Oh, you’re still pretty bad, but it turns out that St. Louis, MO has you beat when it comes to the big seven: Pride, lust, greed, wrath, envy, gluttony, and sloth.
Here’s the full list of the 10 most sinful cities in America:
1. St. Louis, MO
2. Orlando, FL
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. Pittsburgh, PA
5. Milwaukee, WI
6. Cincinnati, OH
7. Miami, FL
8. Buffalo, NY
9. Detroit, MI
10. Las Vegas, NV.... Read this in full at
SECULAR GROUP OBJECTS TO QUOTES ABOUT GOD ON USA PASSPORTS
A secular group has sent a letter to the US State Department to oppose the printing of quotations that refer to God on US passports.
The letter, written by Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Rebecca S. Markert, asks the State Department to provide FFRF with documents from when officials decided to add the quotations to the passports. Markert says the references to God are a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause because the documents are issued by the government.
But Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), says it is constitutional for the quotes to appear on passports. The Establishment Clause, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," was not designed to prevent "benign" references to God or faith from being made in government, Sekulow says, and the passport quotes endorse neither a specific faith nor a specific denomination... Read this in full at
RETURN TO PAGANISM INCREASING IN ENGLAND
He is difficult to find and even then is barely visible, but he's there. Green Man, a symbol of ancient pagan religion, stares down from the nave of Norwich Cathedral. In a way, his presence is symbolic of how it has always been, and still is, in this medieval city.
Norwich has the unique distinction of being officially classified as England's most ungodly city. That's not unusual considering it's the only English city to ever be excommunicated by a Roman Catholic pope.
The excommunication came in 1274. Its "ungodly" status comes from the 2011 census.
The 2011 survey has Norwich leading the way in a national shift away from Christianity, with 42.5 percent in the city saying they have no religion, against a national rate of 25.1 percent.... Read this in full at
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS ABOUT MORE THAN RELIGION
by Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett
A common theory about freedom of religion suggests that such a value is grounded in a modus vivendi, or compromise: People agree to respect each other's freedom in order to avoid religiously motivated strife. But the modus vivendi theory obscures the deep ground of principle on which the right of religious liberty rests and the true reasons for respecting the religious freedom of others.
As a Republican and a Democrat on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, we are committed, with our colleagues, to advancing religious liberty around the globe. One of our goals is to make clear that such liberty is not simply a matter of sensible social compromise, or just an American ideal or a Western value, but an essential element of human dignity.... Read this in full at
“I can say from experience that 95% of knowing the will of God consists in being prepared to do it before you know what it is.”
- Donald Grey Barnhouse
VERSE TO PONDER
“So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up,”
- Hebrews 12:1 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: O KING ENTHRONED ON HIGH
Words: An idiomelic sticheron from the Pentecostarion (the Greek Office for Pentecost) (Venice, Italy: 1898); translated from Greek to English by John Brownlie, 1900
Music: Henry W. Davies (1869-1941)
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
“What deadens us most to God's presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort... than being able from time to time to stop that chatter including the chatter of spoken prayer. If we choose to seek the silence of the holy place, or to open ourselves to its seeking, I think there is no surer way than by keeping silent.”
- Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), The Temple: a book of prayers, William Edwin Orchard, 3rd ed., New York, E. P. Dutton, 1918, p. 105
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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Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure
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Kirk Cameron - Recovering Atheist
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I'm not bald...I'm just taller than my hair.
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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