Connecting man to man to God
For week of December 15, 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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“When the fulfillment of the time came, God sent his Son, born through a woman, and born under the Law. This was so he could redeem those under the Law so that we could be adopted.”
- Galatians 4:4-5 (CEB)
“The basis for happiness: something to do; someone to love; something to look forward to.”
MANY CHRISTIANS 'UTTERLY UNPREPARED' TO DEFEND THEIR FAITH, SAYS LEADING CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST
Dr. William Lane Craig, philosophy professor and a leading Christian apologist, believes there is an urgent need for the church to equip its members to give good responses to tough questions about their faith, especially in light of a cultural climate that has made it easier for atheists to be more outspoken, sometimes aggressively so, in their attacks on religious beliefs.
Expressing skepticism over the accuracy of a 2012 Pew Research Center survey that found an increase in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans, Craig suggested that the New Atheism movement inspired by the works of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and others has removed "the stigma of being an atheist or self-identifying as an atheist." .... Read this in full at
4 REASONS CHURCHES SHOULD CELEBRATE ADVENT
by Tim Spivey
I wasn’t raised in a tradition that is known for its robust celebration of Advent. In fact, the entire season was viewed as, primarily, a pagan holiday — at least Christmas was seen that way. We weren’t anti-Christmas. Christmas was great — it just didn’t have a lot to do with Christianity, as we saw it. My mind has completely changed on that. In fact, Advent and Christmas (especially Christmas Eve) have come to be one of the most important spiritual times of the year for me.
Here are 4 reasons I think churches should celebrate Advent and Christmas: .... Read this in full at
THE INCARNATION AND CHILDBIRTH
by Aubry Smith
The incarnation of Christ was always a hard one for me. God left the glory of heaven and became a flesh-and-blood person. The incarnation has always felt like something too holy to approach — too otherworldly, too beyond my comprehension. There are stars and angels, and all creation silently worships at this “hallowed manger ground.” God coming near still felt … far.
Until I gave birth. I look at nativity scenes now with humor. I think, “Are you kidding me?!” The three members of the holy family with a soft halo, serene and peaceful smiles. Jesus is clean, alert, and roly-poly with beautiful brown curls. Mary with her pale skin and glowing smile. All the animals peering in on the scene with interest.... Read this in full at
AN UNEXPECTED CHARACTER AROUND THE NATIVITY
by Benjamin Kerns
In the time of Jesus’ birth, God was in the process of doing the most amazing thing in all of human history. At the same time, Bethlehem was jam-packed with families for the census. While there were many people in the proximity of this historic work of God, everyone seemed to miss it.
Imagine a gigantic family reunion. Everyone was busy preparing their homes for guests, buying presents for loved ones, etc. And while everyone was doing their own thing, God shows up. This kind of feels like the mall at Christmas time.
This Christmas season, what are the things that are consuming your mind and distracting you from seeing that God is actually alive and moving in our midst? .... Read this in full at
AN EPIC LIST OF ADVENT DEVOTIONALS
Advent is a season of expectation, anticipation and preparation, a time for Christians to both celebrate Jesus' birth and ready themselves for his Second Coming. For 2013, Advent began on Sunday, December 1 and continues until Christmas Eve, December 24th.
To celebrate the season, scores of authors, bloggers, and Christian organizations offer Advent devotionals to help Christians the world over set their hearts on the baby Emmanuel as well as the Conquering King. FaithVillage.com has gathered these devotionals below in an epic list to help you and your family find a resource that will deepen your wonder at the gift we've been given this Christmas.... Read this in full at
THE MEANING OF ADVENT
by Mike Glenn
Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, has become so important to our economy that many businesses opened on Thursday so the crowds could get a jump on all of the sales. The news reporters showed us video of happy shoppers pushing their over-stuffed carts out of the stores and into the parking lot.
The message is obvious: the more you buy, the happier you are. Really? Is our nation’s discontent coming from a lack of stuff? Hardly. Most of us have more stuff than we know what to do with.... Read this in full at
MARY, MERCY, AND THE MAGNIFICAT
by Shane Raynor
If you’ve never read the Magnificat closely, you should. (It’s the text of Luke 1:46-55, where Mary prophesies during her visit to her relative Elizabeth.) I’ve read it several times over the past couple of days. There’s a lot of theology going on in this little passage, and I see something new each time I read it.
John Wesley tells us in his Explanatory Notes that “Mary said, under a prophetic impulse, several things, which perhaps she herself did not then fully understand.” .... Read this in full at
ADVENT: MORE IS YET TO COME
by Melissa Kruger
Peeking out from behind the orange pumpkins and overflowing cornucopias, you may have already begun to spot cinnamon red candles, thick green garlands and an array of ornaments. TV commercials present snow-filled scenes, roaring fires and busy elves making toys in Santa’s workshop. The sights and sounds of the season are upon us. They quietly whisper: Christmas is coming.
In just a few days, my husband will climb into the attic and one by one boxes will be brought down and opened. Each bin contains memories of our lifetime together as a family. As the tree is trimmed, my children eagerly recall family vacations, preschool creations, and favorite childhood photos. Christmas music fills the air, hot chocolate is served and new memories are added to the old.... Read this in full at
KEEPING THE “X” IN XMAS: IT’S NOT SOME SECULAR CONSPIRACY
by Benjamin L. Corey
Well folks, it’s that time of year again. Soon our stockings will be hung by the chimney with care (something the Corey family did the day before Thanksgiving), gifts will be wrapped and placed beneath the tree, Christmas cheer will fill the air, and our Facebook news feeds will begin to be clogged with posts about “Keeping Christ in Christmas”.Ugh. It happens every year.
Back in the day, I too would recoil whenever I saw Christmas written as “Xmas.” How dare those godless atheists try to take the baby Jesus out of my manger, and block out the word Christ with a big, black, X… right? Wrong.... Read this in full at
WHY NYT BESTSELLER ANN VOSKAMP HUNG HER CHRISTMAS TREE UPSIDE DOWN
by Jonathan Merritt
When Ann Voskamp penned “One Thousand Gifts: Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”, no one predicted the book, would sit on the ”New York Times” bestseller list for more than 60 weeks. Since then, Voskamp, a former greeting card writer, has continued to develop a cult following online with her homespun wisdom and poetic prose. No one can turn a phrase quite like Ann.
But now, Voskamp has shifted her attention to Christmas. Her newest book, “The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas,” was an instant bestseller and intends to wrestle the true story of Christmas from the clutches of commercialism and consumerism. Voskamp is so committed to her message that the farmer’s wife and mother of six hung her Christmas tree upside down this year. Here, we discuss how she wants to help people discover a different Christmas story and why she decided to turn that iconic Christmas symbol upside down in her home.... Read this in full at
CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY UNDERGOES FACELIFT
As visitors descend upon Bethlehem this holiday season, they will notice a different look for the Church of the Nativity. Wrapped in scaffolding, the basilica located at the traditional site of Jesus’ birth is undergoing a much-needed facelift after 600 years.
Experts say that water is leaking from the rooftop and threatens to cause serious damage to mosaics and other priceless items.... Read this in full at
4-LETTER WORDS TO EMPLOY
“Some 4-letter words that Christians need to revitalize with appropriate action are: give, live, pray, read, hope, help, sing, work, lead, grow, walk, dare, join, lift, talk, and love; but the greatest of these is love.”
- Unknown Author
BIBLE GATEWAY APP NAMED CHRISTIAN MOBILE/TABLET APP OF THE YEAR
The world’s most visited online Bible search engine, Bible Gateway (BibleGateway.com; @BibleGateway), is this year’s winner of the internationally-acclaimed Christian New Media Awards’ (CNMA) Christian Mobile/Tablet App of the Year for the Bible Gateway App.
The award, given during CNMA’s annual conference in London Nov. 9, 2013, recognizes a Christian individual, project, or organization that has produced the most useful and effective mobile/tablet app during the year. More than 900 entries vied in 15 award categories, from which 15 winners and runners-up were named.... Read this in full at
THE 2014 CHRISTIANITY TODAY BOOK AWARDS
by Matt Reynolds
If you're a faithful reader of Christianity Today, you'll have noticed that our magazine looks a little different from the version that arrived in your mailbox this time last year. So it's fitting that our annual book awards have some new features of their own — three, in particular.
First, beyond naming winners in our ten regular categories, we've christened from among those winners our first-ever CT Book of the Year: God's Forever Family, Larry Eskridge's history of the Jesus People movement. Now, this is no exact science. And really, we wouldn't have gone wrong laying the extra laurel atop any of the competitors, or a dozen other books besides. You may have your own favorite to recommend. But we can't see any harm in generating buzz — or provoking debate — around a book our judges praised for its originality, meticulous research, and colorful character sketches.... Read this in full at
WHY DO WE FAIL TO INCLUDE SOME OF THIS YEAR'S BEST BOOKS?
by Mark Galli
A MODERN-DAY JONAH: MAN SURVIVES THREE DAYS UNDER THE OCEAN
Jonah survived three days under the ocean, inside the belly of a whale. So did Harrison Odjegba Okene, except he was in the belly of an upturned tugboat.
For the Nigerian cook, it was some verses his wife had sent him earlier that day that helped him endure his ordeal on the seafloor of the Atlantic Ocean: "Oh, God, by your name, save me … The Lord sustains my life."
In a May event that saw widespread attention this week, Okene's tugboat capsized during a storm off the coast of Nigeria, but he found a pocket of air to breathe as the ship sunk 100 feet to the seafloor below.... Read this in full at
15 MYTHS ABOUT BIBLE TRANSLATION
by Daniel B. Wallace
1. Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind. Anyone who is conversant in more than one language recognizes that a word-for-word translation is simply not possible if one is going to communicate in an understandable way in the receptor language. Yet, ironically, even some biblical scholars who should know better continue to tout word-for-word translations as though they were the best. Perhaps the most word-for-word translation of the Bible in English is Wycliffe’s, done in the 1380s. Although translated from the Latin Vulgate, it was a slavishly literal translation to that text. And precisely because of this, it was hardly English.
2. Similar to the first point is that a literal translation is the best version. In fact, this is sometimes just a spin on the first notion. For example, the Greek New Testament has about 138,000–140,000 words, depending on which edition one is using. But no English translation has this few. Here are some examples:.... Read this in full at
HOW CAN THEY BELIEVE…?
by Rick Marschall
If you had a child playing at the edge of an ever-widening sinkhole – and sinkholes lately have been in the news, including ones that swallowed people as well as houses – you would call that child to move back. If your friend were eating something poisonous without realizing the dangers, you would advise that friend of the fact. We do the same, some of us, with people, even strangers, who smoke. “Intervention” today increasingly is employed on behalf of people with drinking problems.
Followers of Christ, who subscribe to the beliefs that all of us make mistakes and are sinful at heart; that therefore a wide gulf separates us from a Holy God; that this God nevertheless desires eternal fellowship with us and offers forgiveness and salvation; and that “accepting” Jesus – believing in our hearts and confessing with our words – these Christians cannot do anything else than have the same regard for other people’s souls as we do their health and comfort.... Read this in full at
MEET THE CHRISTIAN REPORTER CLIMBING THE LADDER AT THE NEW YORK TIMES
Michael Luo strolls through midtown Manhattan to a sushi lunch, musing about his latest apartment renovations and the New York Knicks. But when conversation turns to his work these days-reporting for The New York Times on loopholes in current gun laws-Luo turns serious. "My wife would much prefer it if I covered something else," says Luo. "It has certainly led to some apprehension." While working on a story about mental illness and guns, he had to notify his editor where he was going and when he left-similar to his reporting protocols while briefly working in The New York Times's Baghdad bureau.
Yet it's this kind of serious journalism that has earned Luo, 37, the George Polk Award for criminal justice reporting, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists while at the Associated Press, and a job at The New York Times, where he has worked since 2003. He has covered everything from the last two presidential campaigns to Hurricane Katrina to the war in Iraq. Most recently, Luo has zeroed in on the gun industry and the wide availability of firearms-earning him a Pulitzer Prize nomination and frequent spots on the paper's front page.
Luo became a Christian as an undergraduate at Harvard University, and today attends Redeemer Presbyterian with his wife and daughter. He recently spoke with Paul Glader, a journalism professor at The King's College and former staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, about his faith and his work.... Read this in full at
FATHERLESSNESS HARMS THE BRAIN, NEUROBIOLOGISTS FIND
Kids need dads, according to a neurobiological study published this month in the journal Cerebral Cortex. The absence of fathers during childhood may lead to impaired behavioral and social abilities, and brain defects, researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada, found.
"This is the first time research findings have shown that paternal deprivation during development affects the neurobiology of the offspring," senior author Dr. Gabriella Gobbi told MUHC News.
Other studies have observed that children raised without fathers are more likely to demonstrate a number of risk factors, such as substance abuse. There are a large number of environmental factors, though, that could contribute to those risk factors, so previous studies have had difficulty demonstrating that the absence of fathers directly contributes to social and behavioral difficulties.... Read this in full at
THREE OUT-OF-THE-BOX IDEAS FOR THE CHURCH TO BEGIN ADDRESSING THE GAY CHRISTIAN DILEMMA
by Clare De Graaf
Christians tend to vilify the sins we’re least likely to commit ourselves! Nowhere is this more true than on the topic of homosexuality.
I was tempted to hold off blogging on this topic until after the Christmas holidays, but with kids’ home from college and families gathered, I decided differently. As spiritual leaders in our families, we ought to be the thought leaders, pro-actively engaging our children in this conversation.
Anyone who spends any time with younger Christians will tell you, most are ready to accept same-sex attraction and marriage as a fact of life. And, if Christians don’t, then we’re unloving. Most haven’t thought much about the distinction between practicing homosexuals and celibate ones. But, we have the opportunity to guide that discussion thoughtfully and biblically.
So, for the last year, I’ve been meeting with two Christian gay men. Both are committed to Christ and to celibacy. I’ve met with them to try to better understand the gay experience, the pain, the loneliness and the frustration. In particular, I wanted to explore with them ideas to help homosexual Christians, committed to celibacy, live life in all its fullness, in every way the Bible allows, both in and out of the church.
Here’s my position on this issue; I do not believe it’s a sin to be gay or lesbian any more than it is a sin to be a “straight” who is tempted by lust. We are all tainted by the fall and sin has corrupted God’s original intent for human sexuality. That’s not the way he made us. It’s what we’ve become. All sex outside of marriage is sin and I do not believe the Bible allows same-sex marriage.... Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel.”
- Isaiah 7:14 (CEB)
“Too many times we miss so much because we live on the low level of the natural, the ordinary, the explainable.”
- Vance Havner
TIME’S PERSON OF THE YEAR: POPE FRANCIS
With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience. TIME Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs explains why Francis is TIME's choice for Person of the Year 2013.... Read this in full at
POPE FRANCIS DESIGNATES PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR 2014 FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
HEALTH MATTERS: MEDICINE'S GROWING SPIRITUALITY
In a health crisis, patients and families may turn to a member of the hospital staff who offers help beyond the physical aspects of medical treatment: the chaplain.
With growing recognition of the role of spirituality in health care, hospital chaplains are being called on to help patients cope with fear and pain, make difficult end-of-life decisions and guide families through bereavement after a loss. They may help sick or dying patients reconnect with estranged family members. New guidelines call for chaplains to be included on teams of doctors and nurses who provide palliative care—which specializes in relieving the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness. And chaplains often step in to help clinicians deal with their own feelings of stress and burnout.
Nearly 70% of community hospitals surveyed in 2011 provided chaplaincy services, up from 62% in 2003, according to the American Hospital Association.... Read this in full at
SUICIDE BY THE NUMBERS
By David Brooks
According to the World Health Organization, global suicide rates have increased by 60% in the past 45 years. The increase in this country is nothing like that, but between 1999 and 2010, the suicide rate among Americans between 35 and 64 rose by 28%. More people die by suicide than by auto accidents.
"When you get inside the numbers, all sorts of correlations pop out. Whites are more likely to commit suicide than African Americans or Hispanics. Economically stressed and socially isolated people are more likely to commit suicide than those who are not. People in the Western American states are more likely to kill themselves than people in the Eastern ones. People in France are more likely to kill themselves than people in the United Kingdom.... Read this in full at
LONGEST STATE EFFORT TO SAVE MARRIAGE FAILS TO REDUCE DIVORCE
As more states experiment with ways to strengthen marriages, stats suggest the oldest and largest state marriage initiative in America has failed to reduce divorces.
In fact, 13.5 percent of adults in Oklahoma were divorced in 2012, up from 11.6 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate is one of the nation's highest, reports the Tulsa World.
While such numbers track with the national trend, it's not good news for the Sooner State, which has spent 14 years and $70 million trying to combat divorce.
Begun in 1999, Oklahoma's Marriage Initiative is largely funded by discretionary federal welfare dollars, and offers counseling and workshops for every stage of romance—from dating to divorce to remarriage. An estimated 5 to 10 percent of Oklahoma's adults participated in related workshops between 2001 and 2007.... Read this in full at
“There is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.”
- Dallas Willard
VERSE TO PONDER
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.”
- John 15:5,8 (CEB)
THIS WEEK'S HYMN: COME, THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS
Words: Charles Wesley, 1745
Music: Rowland H. Prichard, 1830
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
>from NetHymnal at
“He walks as in the presence of God that converses with Him in frequent prayer and frequent communion; that runs to Him in all his necessities, that asks counsel of Him in all his doubtings; that opens all his wants to Him; that weeps before Him for his sins; that asks remedy and support for his weakness; that fears Him as a judge, reverences Him as a lord, obeys Him as a father, and loves Him as a patron.”
- Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), Holy Living , in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D., v. III, London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1847, I.iii, p. 27
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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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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