Connecting man to man to God
For week of November 25, 2012
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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“Cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ — the Message — have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives — words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
- Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)
“The people of God are not merely to mark time, waiting for God to step in and set right all that is wrong. Rather, they are to model the new heaven and new earth, and by so doing awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass.”
- Philip Yancey (b. 1949), Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud, p. 237
by Shane Raynor
Advent is one of my favorite times on the church calendar. But when I was growing up, it was little more than the Christmas pre-season, a countdown to the birth of Jesus… and the cool benefits for kids that came with commemorating that event… time off from school, presents, and lots of food. The real meaning of Advent would escape me until I got older.
Advent is sometimes misunderstood. Most people with a traditional church background understand that it’s observed the four Sundays before Christmas, but we don’t always understand the significance of the season. And churches that use the Lectionary are sometimes caught off guard by the passages that reference the second coming of Christ. (“We haven’t even celebrated the first coming yet!”)…. Read this in full at
WONDERING HOW TO SHARE YOUR FAITH WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Christmas is soon upon us. Most of us look forward to gathering with family and friends, but sometimes our time around the table isn’t always pleasant. Many Christian believers would like to share their faith with their loved ones, but are at an impasse as to how to do it in a way that is intentional, yet non-threatening. Outreach, Inc. has the solution with the launch of the I am Second Church Kit and you’re invited to share your own I am Second stories.
“The I am Second movement is designed to inspire people from all walks of life to live for God and for others,” says Eric Able, Vice President of Marketing at Outreach, Inc. “We want your I am Second stories. From now until December 7th just ‘Like’ us on our Facebook Fan Page, mention I am Second, and tell your story, http://www.facebook.com/outreachinc. This will automatically enter you into a drawing to win one of 5 I am Second church kits to be given away in December.” …. Read this in full at
TITHING – HOW MUCH SHOULD CHRISTIANS GIVE?
by Clare De Graaf
“Clare, how much should Christians give back to the Lord in offerings or tithes?”
I was leading a discussion group in another state on the topic of money when this question was asked. “I think I need to ask you another question before I answer yours. How much of what you have belongs to God?,” I asked the man, a young businessman and serious Christian. “All of it!” he answered correctly.
“If that’s the case, then you’ve asked the wrong question”, I told him. “The question you should have asked is not how much should Christians give, but rather, how much should Christians keep for ourselves?” To illustrate, I told this story about a friend of mine.
I have a good friend, Bruce, who manages a great deal of money for a very wealthy individual and his family. This man has entrusted Bruce to invest his money and expects Bruce to give him a good return on his investment.
If Bruce ever asked his client, “How much of your money do you want back?” I’m sure this wealthy individual wouldn’t know whether to laugh or get angry over that question. “What do you mean how much do I want back? All of it, of course and anytime I want it! It all belongs to me. Why would you even ask that question?” …. Read this in full at
GIVING THANKS FOR C.S. LEWIS
by Joel J. Miller
Besides Thanksgiving in the USA, November 22 this year marks the 49th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death.
I read a newspaper obituary about Lewis that my grandmother kept. She preserved the entire paper. The event was buried in the back–barely two column inches if memory serves. The rest of paper, or at least the majority of it, was dedicated to reporting the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Both men died the same day. Coincidentally, both men answered to Jack.
Though popular, this British author could not compete with an American president, and his passing was choked out by pages and pages of copy about the death of Kennedy…. Read this in full at
“We sometimes confer too great importance on our individual spiritual or religious life. To be sure, each of us is of infinite worth before God, for he gave his Son to save us. But above all each of us is important for the work which God demands. The Christian is not just the man who is saved by Christ; he is the man whom God uses for the salvation of others by Christ.”
- Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), The Judgment of Jonah, tr. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1971, p. 88-89
FEEL ENVIOUS SOMETIMES? HERE’S THE ANTIDOTE
When we covet something or someone that belongs to another, it is more than a simple desire for something we don’t possess. Covetousness is desiring something that is not ours to have. It is akin to envy.
Coveting was at the heart of Adam and Eve’s choice to eat the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3:1–6). It is a fundamental result of the sinful nature. In fact, Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer says that every one of the Ten Commandments can be summed up in the last: “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). He states, “Any time that we break one of the other commandments of God, it means that we have already broken this commandment, in coveting.” In other words, the inward sin of coveting produces other outward sin.
When we steal something, for example, the desire to have what belongs to another precedes the stealing.
A different way to live than giving in to covetousness is to have an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness. When we are grateful, we become aware of all that we do have and all God has done for us. Gratitude helps us experience the blessings of what God has given us (see Colossians 3:16). It focuses our hearts in the right place. As the saying goes, “Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”
When we get in touch with our true desires, the desires of our hearts, and pursue God to fulfill them (see Psalm 37:4), he takes pleasure in giving them to us. That is very different than wanting something that belongs to someone else.
(Source: The NIV Life Journey Bible: Find the Answers for Your Whole Life)
WHAT MAKES JESUS ANGRY?
by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
Since Jesus was human “in every way that we are, except without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), it is not surprising that He showed anger. His anger never ran wild, however, and anger danger was never an issue with Him.
But Jesus often got angry at His disciples, especially Peter. He got angry with the Pharisees. Jesus got angry with the priests and publicans of the temple. It is very revealing what ticked Jesus off. Of course, we are encoded beings, and human nature is not the same in all ages. If Jesus exhibited the seven basic facial expressions that correspond to seven basic emotions recognized by people from all cultures, the emotion ascribed to that face would depend on the broader context in which it occurred. What sparks anger in particular can differ radically from one age to another.
The range of Jesus’ ire is impressive. For example, within a very short period of time in Jesus’ life, three things made Him see red, and each one reveals something important about the essence of the gospel…. Read this in full at
WRESTLING WITH GOD: DR. ANDREW ROOT ON YOUTH MINISTRY
by Nathaniel Torrey
Recently Wesley Theological Seminary hosted The Foundation for Evangelism’s 2012 Wallace Chappell Lecture. Dr. Andrew Root, Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, spoke about the task of evangelizing young people in a culture of quick thrills and flashy imagery.
Dr. Roots said by softening the gospel, we really do a disservice to young people. When people come to the church for healing and comfort, a prepackaged and plastic version of Jesus Christ is incapable of giving them what they need. Instead, we should be ready to grapple with the stark realities of a life of faith. In closing, Dr. Root pointed to the story of Jacob, who literally wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, as an example of the kind of church life we should be giving young people…. Read this in full at
“Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both the glory and honor beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”
- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), “The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory, and other addresses, Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 12
JOY, JOY, JOY
by Amy Butler
Lately, that vacation Bible school song “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” has been running around in my head, and I can’t get it out.
Remember the song? We learned it, I guess, to remind us that if we love Jesus successfully enough then joy and peace and all that good stuff would naturally come to us. I don’t recall worrying too much as a 5-year-old about a potential absence of those things in my life, but I do remember liking the song.
Cut to being a grown up: Now the quest for love, joy and peace can be almost all-consuming. I see people in my office day in and day out who are looking for some or all of these things, often without much success…. Read this in full at
TWO PREACHING GIANTS AND THE ‘BETRAYAL’ THAT TORE THEM APART
by John Blake, CNN
Andy Stanley walked into his pastor’s office, filled with dread.
The minister sat in a massive chair behind an enormous desk. He spread his arms across the desk as if he were bracing for battle. His secretary scurried out of the office when she saw Andy coming.
The pastor had baptized Andy when he was 6, and groomed him to be his successor. But a private trauma had gone public. And Andy felt compelled to speak.
The minister stared in silence as Andy gave him the news. The “unspoken dream” both men shared was over.
After Andy finished, the pastor looked at him as tears welled up.
“Andy,” he said, “you have joined my enemies, and I’m your father.” …. Read this in full at
Also see, “A new challenge for Andy Stanley”
5 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM FRANKLIN GRAHAM
by Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
The Rev. Franklin Graham spends most of his time running an international aid group called Samaritan’s Purse. But he usually makes headlines for his political pronouncements.
Over the past year, Graham has attracted attention for his role placing newspaper ads in which his dad, the iconic Rev. Billy Graham, encouraged voters to support conservative values in the lead-up to Election Day. Franklin Graham is CEO and President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which in addition to financing the ads removed a reference to Mormonism as a cult from the group’s website. The move came as Franklin and Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney, who was campaigning to be the first Mormon president, shortly before Election Day.
The younger Graham stopped by CNN’s Washington bureau en route to New York, where he was checking in on Samaritan Purse’s Superstorm Sandy relief and promoting a Christmas campaign collecting gifts for poor children. Five things we learned from his visit:…. Read this in full at
PETRAEUS AND SIN AS A SPECTATOR SPORT
by Ian Ebright
There’s no lack of angles to examine and uncover when it comes to the extramarital affair of former CIA Director General David Petraeus. Some reports are examining what the development suggests about our government’s intelligence apparatus, but most of the coverage spends its time zeroing in on the salacious details.
Perhaps it has always been true that public intrigue follows personal stories of drama and decline. What I find unique about this moment in history is our nation’s unquenchable appetite for human weakness coupled with distribution geared to maximize consumption…. Read this in full at
AUTHORS ASK: ‘WHAT IF JESUS REALLY MEANT WHAT HE SAID?’
Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ.
In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.
Both Campolo, 77, and Claiborne, 37, are Red Letter Christians – a movement of people who have shed other Christian titles and are attempting to simply live out the teachings of Jesus, which in some Bibles are printed in red letters. Their book is divided into three sections to discuss what Christians believe, the ways they live, and the social and political implications of “taking Jesus seriously.” …. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.”
- Colossians 2:6-7 (The Message)
“To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.”
- John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), Parochial Sermons, v. 1, New York: D. Appleton, 1843, p. 42
‘ROLLING JUBILEE’ CITES BIBLE IN PROJECT TO ‘FORGIVE’ ANONYMOUS DEBTS
The Rolling Jubilee project (http://rollingjubilee.org), an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street (http://strikedebt.org/) movement, is following the Bible’s example of forgiveness by offering an early Christmas present to those throughout the country who are suffering debt from medical expenses, credit card bills, or college tuition fees.
A brainchild of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s subgroup, the Strike Debt committee, the Rolling Jubilee is a volunteer-run debt relief project with a simple goal: to use donated money to absolve the debt amounts held by collection agencies.
As the project’s official website states, the word jubilee “comes from many faith traditions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A jubilee is an event in which all debts are cancelled and all those in bondage are set free. It worked in Biblical times and it can still work today.” …. Read this in full at
THE DANGER OF CALLING BEHAVIOR ‘BIBLICAL’
by Rachel Held Evans
On “The Daily Show” recently, Jon Stewart grilled Mike Huckabee about a TV ad in which Huckabee urged voters to support “biblical values” at the voting box.
When Huckabee said that he supported the “biblical model of marriage,” Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”
And there’s a big problem, Stewart went on, with reducing “biblical values” to one or two social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring issues such as poverty and immigration reform.
It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.
As someone who loves the Bible and believes it to be the inspired word of God, I hate seeing it reduced to an adjective like Huckabee did. I hate seeing my sacred text flattened out, edited down and used as a prop to support a select few political positions and platforms…. Read this in full at
BIBLE BEE CONTESTANT WINS $100,000 AFTER THREE-WAY TIEBREAKER
The top three senior division students in Nov. 17′s National Bible Bee finals took turns quoting passages of Scripture from memory for over an hour without making a single error, causing the contest – and the winner of the $100,000 grand prize – to be determined by a tiebreaker.
Officials of the fourth annual event, which was held in Sevierville, Tenn., turned to the students’ preliminary challenge scores, including their written tests, to determine the winner after a deadlock in the final round. Though much was at stake in the competition, eventual winner Sophie Haire of Havre de Grace, Md., told The Christian Post on Monday that each finals participant wanted the others to succeed.
“It wasn’t like it was an intense, hard competition that was grueling,” said Haire. “It was like a family experience where we were all supportive of each other and wanted each other to keep going.”
The 2012 Bible Bee marks the third year Haire has participated in the event. In preparation for the contest, which began Nov. 14 and ended Nov. 17, Haire spent between two and eight hours per day throughout the summer and fall studying and memorizing the necessary passages of Scripture…. Read this in full at
NEW PRESIDENT WILL LEAD ORGANIZATION INTO ITS 3RD CENTURY OF MINISTRY
After a yearlong search, the board of American Bible Society (http://www.americanbible.org/) has unanimously selected the organization’s 27th president and CEO: S. Douglas Birdsall. He will replace the retiring R. Lamar Vest as the leader of one of America’s founding ministries.
“Doug will join American Bible Society in March 2013, building on 30 years of leadership focused on pointing people to the message of the Bible,” said American Bible Society Board Chairman Pieter Dearolf. “We are excited to have found someone so well-suited for guiding the ministry into a new century of work around the world.”
American Bible Society will mark its 200th anniversary in 2016.
Birdsall is currently the executive chairman of The Lausanne Movement and the founding director of the J. Christy Wilson Jr. Center for World Missions at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Through his leadership with Lausanne, Birdsall chaired the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization: Cape Town 2010, which brought together 4,200 church leaders from 198 nations and was reported by Christianity Today (http://bit.ly/ZJFdRf) to be “the most representative gathering of Christian leaders in history.” …. Read this in full at
LAUSANNE MOVEMENT LEADERSHIP TRANSITION UNDERWAY
Recognizing this new call on Rev. S. Douglas (Doug) Birdsall’s life, the Lausanne Board of Directors has unanimously affirmed him for the new position. “We are pleased to commend Doug Birdsall to this new role at the American Bible Society, knowing he will be a great asset to ABS,” says Ram Gidoomal, Chairman of The Lausanne Movement Board of Directors.
Birdsall will continue in his current role with Lausanne through February 2013. He will join American Bible Society in March 2013. A search for a new CEO for Lausanne is underway, with plans to have a new CEO in place shortly after the new year, allowing for a time of leadership transition.
“As Doug moves into this new role he takes with him the prayers and high esteem of the Lausanne Board and the entire Movement,” Gidoomal concluded. “We ask for your prayers as Lausanne’s Leadership Selection Committee seeks the Lord’s guidance. We are confident God will provide the right leader to take us into the next decade of effective ministry.” …. Read this in full at
ATHEIST GROUP LIKELY TO GET $67,000 IN UW STUDENT FEES
An atheist group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison seems on track to receive nearly $70,000 in student fees for staffing and programming next year, in what appears to be a first for the university and student atheist groups nationally.
The Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics, or AHA as it’s called, said it will provide support services for students struggling with doubts about their faiths and offer a safe place where they can discuss religious issues without fear of recrimination…. Read this in full at
ANNE LAMOTT DISTILLS PRAYER INTO ‘HELP, THANKS, WOW’
Many of us are thinking about what we’re thankful for — taking time to consider how best to appreciate what we have in our lives. This year, novelist and memoirist Anne Lamott has focused on using prayer to help express our thanks. Many of her books explore how individuals can transform their lives — how one moves from being troubled to feeling whole. In Lamott’s case, she suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse; after hitting rock bottom, she found her faith.
Lamott has a new book out called Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Lamott speaks with NPR’s Renee Montagne about asking for guidance, offering gratitude, and expressing wonder…. Read this in full at
THE CHURCH AND THE US MARINES
by Steve Law
Recently I have visited several churches. I’ve noticed something in common about all of them, and it’s something that is disconcerting for an organization whose primary purpose is to help people have a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. Here’s my discovery:
Most churches are designed for themselves.
That’s a pretty broad statement, so let me explain. I’ve been in church life and work my entire life. When I walk into a church building, I know how to slip in and find a seat without being noticed too much. I know what the program in the Sanctuary or worship center will be like and how long it will last. I know who the people “on stage” are even if I’ve never seen them before. I know all this because I’ve been in church for a very, very long time…. Read this in full at
SUDAN: WHO CARES ABOUT GENOCIDE?
Sudanese president Omar el-Bashir’s genocidal jihad continues unabated against the non-Muslims and non-Arabs in the ‘new south’ of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Islamist, Arab-supremacist regime in Khartoum wants the oil and water in its ‘new south’ but it just does not want the ‘infidels’ and ‘blacks’ who live there defiantly opposing Islamisation and demanding basic human rights. According to NubaReports, aerial bombardment of Christian towns has escalated in recent weeks, famine is spreading and there is still no humanitarian aid. The most shameful thing in all this is the indifference of the West. Why does the ‘International Community’ — especially the ‘moral’ West — not care about this genocide? The church must care! Please pray for God to intervene in Sudan. Pray Psalm 10…. Read this in full at
“I read of a Christian who said, ‘I used to have many disappointments, until I changed one letter of the word and chopped it in two, so that instead of ‘disappointments,’ I read it, ‘his appointments.’ That was a wonderful change, for ‘disappointments’ break your heart, but ‘his appointments’ you accept cheerfully.”
- Charles Spurgeon
VERSE TO PONDER
“Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”
- Colossians 4:2 (The Message)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: O FATHER, WE WOULD THANK THEE
Words: Ada R. Greenaway, 1904
Music: Johann M. Haydn (1737-1806)
O Father, we would thank Thee
For all Thy love has given,
Our present joy of sonship,
Our future joy in Heaven;
The life which sin had blighted
So wondrously restored
By our mysterious union
With Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rich gifts of life and gladness—
A new and heav’nly birth,
Baptismal waters flowing
To cleanse the sons of earth;
The strength in which to follow
The steps that Jesus trod;
And love beyond all knowledge
Which calls us sons of God.
O mercy all abundant
Bestowed on us today!
O hope of future glory
Which fadeth not away!
By God’s great love begotten
To living hope and sure,
May we at Christ’s appearing
Be pure as He is pure.
For all Thy gifts, O Father,
Our hymns of praise arise—
The love which calls us children,
The hope which purifies;
The grace by which we offer
A service glad and free;
The earnest of perfection,
Of fuller life with Thee.
>from NetHymnal at
FRIDAY NIGHT REPLAY
Listen to Friday night’s Path Of Life fellowship gathering online broadcast on Blogtalk radio here:
“To strive in prayer means to struggle through those hindrances which would restrain or even prevent us entirely from continuing in persevering prayer. It means to be so watchful at all times that we can notice when we become slothful in prayer and [that we] go to the Spirit of prayer to have this remedied. In this struggle, too, the decisive factor is the Spirit of prayer.”
- O. Hallesby (1879-1961), Prayer, London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1943, reprint, Augsburg Fortress Books, 1975, 1994, p. 110
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).
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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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