Connecting man to man to God
For week of December 9, 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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Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die.
– John 11:25 (CEB)
“Heaven is not a far-away place to which we hope to go; it is the presence of God in which we ought to live.”
– William R. Inge (1860-1954), Personal Religion and the Life of Devotion, London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1924, p. 85
AMERICANS HIGHLY RELIGIOUS, LIKELY TO BECOME EVEN MORE RELIGIOUS, POLLSTER PREDICTS
Seven in 10 Americans are very or moderately religious. Looking at demographic trends, Frank Newport, editor in chief for Gallup, predicts that Americans will become even more religious, on average, in the future.
In surveys conducted this year by Gallup, 40% of Americans can be categorized as “very religious,” while 29% are “moderately religious,” and 31% are nonreligious. Religiosity is measured by frequency of attendance at worship services and the importance of religion in the respondents’ daily life. The sample of 326,721 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point.
Among Newport’s other findings, Americans become more religious as they age, women are more religious than men, the South is the most religious region, those with high levels of income and education are the least religious, and Republicans are more religious than Democrats, with one notable exception — blacks are the most religious and the most Democratic of any race or ethnic group…. Read this in full at
PLANNING A FAMILY MISSION TRIP
by Clare De Graaf
There was a time when I thought spending money on a missions trip, for me or anyone, was a waste of money. My thinking was that rather than waste it on travel, why not just give it to the missionaries who actually need it? I was wrong!
Think about all the money most of us spend or will spend for our children’s college education, paying good money for courses they’ll probably never use, or have little interest in.
On the other hand, money spent on a mission trip, if planned wisely could be one of the most valuable stewardship investments you’ll ever make to help you become a passionate and informed donor. Six months after my first missions trip in 1983, I put my business up for sale! It transformed how I thought of the kingdom of God and my place in it.
In this blog, I’ll be discussing a family missions trip, but many of the thought processes and planning also apply to a personal missions trip…. Read this in full at
CHARLES STANLEY – THE MYSTIC BAPTIST
Charles Stanley was rated the third most influential Protestant pastor in America, behind Billy Graham, and Charles Swindoll, in a 2010 survey by LifeWay Research. That’s ahead of Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen, among many other prominent pastors. Given that theologically Stanley is a fundamentalist and dispensationalist — theological approaches that are considered passé today — that’s an anomaly. Though he’s been at the center of controversy (as president of the Southern Baptist Convention while fundamentalists and moderates contended for control; as a pastor who has experienced divorce in a morally conservative denomination), his gracious spirit has tended to win over even his enemies.
Stanley doesn’t wear his formal theology on his sleeve, and instead spends the bulk of his ministry teaching people how the Bible deals with the practical concerns of their lives — family, work, pain, addictions, spirituality, and so forth. He does this as pastor of First Baptist in Atlanta (16,000 members) and through In Touch Ministries, which broadcasts his messages in more than 50 languages worldwide, over 500 radio stations, 300 television stations, and several satellite networks.
Mark Galli, Christianity Today’s senior managing editor, spoke with the 80-year-old Stanley about his latest book (he’s written more than 30), The Ultimate Conversation: Talking with God Through Prayer (Howard), which he considers his most important…. Read this interview in full at
YAHOO CEO: GOD COMES BEFORE BUSINESS
In her first public interview since taking the position of CEO of Yahoo, Inc., Marissa Mayer told a conference audience in southern California that in her life, her priorities are “God, family, and Yahoo — in that order.” Mayer has not specifically talked about her faith and has mostly avoided the media, and at the Fortune Most Powerful Women event in Palo Alto, Calif., she referenced Vince Lombardi as the inspiration for the statement and explained that it was the ruthless pursuit of these priorities that has kept her from interviews and public speeches…. Read this in full at
IN A WORLD WHERE WALKING IS BY FAITH, WORDS PROVIDE SIGHT
Introducing Messages from Estillyen: A Novel of Redemption and Human Worth (http://www.estillyen.com) by William E. Jefferson — a thought-provoking chronicle of a young couple’s search for life’s meaning on an ancient isle that speaks wisdom to the present. Imaginative and entertaining, the novel helps readers grasp the unseen side of life — in a fashion reminiscent of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, and William Young’s The Shack. It is a powerful tale of redemption, in which life strives to conquer death.
Messages from Estillyen (Twitter: @estillyen & #estillyen) follows the reflective, yet dynamic, journey of Hollie and Goodwin Macbreeze to the Isle of Estillyen. Caught up in a years-old mystery, the couple unexpectedly find themselves grappling with the meaning of human worth, the surrender of self, and the cleansing nature of forgiveness. Hollie also struggles to accept a recent diagnosis of polycystic kidney disease, for which there is no cure. Through it all, they grow to recognize the life-giving messages words convey — and the extraordinary need for the One perfect medium to embody the singular message of life…. Read this in full at
CHURCHES AND THE DISABLED
The disabled, says religion writer Mark Pinsky, “are not just people who need help, but they are people who can help.” …. Read & view this in full at
HERE I COME, READY OR NOT
by Rick Marschall
Surveys tell us that an awful (and I do mean awful) lot of people are buying into this Doomsday Scenario. You know, the 12-21-12 Farewell Party supposedly devised by the lost civilization of infant-sacrifice folks, the Mayans. The prophesy is found in pictograms carved into a stone, a very small fragment of which was rescued from a gravel quarry. How coincidental, or not, that someone writing a book salvaged this message from centuries past, just in time for a book he was writing. And what a coincidence, or not, that the due-date for the evaporation of the universe, after all these centuries, is right about now.
There are, supposedly, many other dire predictions from many other cultures, all with the same date circled on their calendars. Or virtually so, because many of these fortune-tellers had no conception of the Christian calendar, or months and years. Ah, skeptics like me are told, it is not about dates, but how the celestial bodies line up. OK, I get it. Folks could divine future events, even to precise moments – the same folks who were incapable of surviving as societies, much less inventing doorknobs. I might be straying from the fine points of documentary evidence, but you get my point…. Read this in full at
ZIG ZIGLAR GETS ‘SEE YOU AT THE TOP’ FAREWELL
Hundreds paid tribute to Zig Ziglar during a memorial service Dec. 1 at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX, which pastor Jack Graham called a “See You at the Top celebration.”
Thousands more online viewed the service for the legendary motivational speaker who touched countless lives throughout his four decades on the speaking circuit and through his 30-plus books, including the best-selling “See You at the Top.” Ziglar died Nov. 28 of complications from pneumonia. The husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather was 86.
“We’ve gathered not only to mourn,” Graham said, “but also to worship and draw our hearts near to the Christ he loved, to the Savior he followed.”…. Read this in full at
Q&A: A CANDID HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS’ ORIGINS
While many may long for the true, “spiritual” Christmas from bygone days, the Rev. Bruce Forbes says that it never really existed. In his book Christmas: A Candid History, Dr. Forbes argues that the holiday as we know it today has always been part religious observance, and part party.
Dr. Forbes, an ordained United Methodist minister, is chair of religious studies at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. He spoke by phone with Mary Jacobs.
Q: Many traditions of Christmas have pre-Christian roots, and in the minds of some people that “taints” Christmas. Your thoughts?
A: One of the greatest surprises in writing this book was to understand how winter celebrations preceded an annual celebration of Jesus’ birth. If you think about winter, and its real severity, it just makes sense for human beings living in areas that have winter to have a mid-winter blowout party. You can guess what it would be like. You would celebrate light, to push back the darkness. It might feature evergreens, when it looks like everything else has died. It also could feature plants that bear fruit in winter, like holly or mistletoe. You would have feasting, get together with people so you don’t feel isolated, and maybe [have] singing, dancing, even gifts. That’s what a lot of us think about as Christmas, and yet I haven’t said a word about baby Jesus in a manger. So all of those are predictable parts of a mid-winter celebration, and we shouldn’t be surprised that, before Jesus even walked the earth, there were human beings dealing with winter, and they had mid-winter parties…. Read this in full at
IT’S A CHRISTMAS TREE; ALWAYS HAS BEEN, ALWAYS WILL BE
by Bill Ellis
The number of people who want to sell anything you can imagine during the Christmas season, but want to call a beautifully decorated evergreen anything but a Christmas tree amazes me. It is argued and discussed by politicians at every level of state and national government.
It is not the tree. It is the name of the tree. They want everything. Everything except the name. That name is Christ. They want to have all that is associated with Christmas, but the name Christ is more than they can accept.
Why not call it a Johnmas, Paulmas, Marymas, or Marthamas tree? The simple answer is what we call Christmas is not about any of these people – all of whom have good, honorable names. It’s simple. We would have no Christmas without Christ…. Read this in full at
THE MYSTERY OF ADVENT
by Elizabeth Evans Hagan
Advent has always been a mystery to me. Maybe it is because I never celebrated it in the churches of my childhood, where we just rushed into singing every verse of “Joy to the World” the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Maybe it is because there is strangeness in getting all hyped up about waiting for the coming of the Christ child when we know that Christ has already been born.
Maybe it is because the themes of Advent are often not about the here and now, but of a “come, let’s dream” nature of words like joy, peace and love. The concrete is much easier for us to get our minds around.
Baptists, as whole, are new to the tradition — unlike our Catholic and mainline Protestant friends. Although we are catching on, many of us are still learning.
Frequently pastors like myself are asked the million-dollar question: “What does Advent mean?” After I explain it’s a worship series of devoting time to wait, not rushing to Christmas too soon, the next question is almost always, “Why can’t we sing Christmas carols till later on in the month?” …. Read this in full at
STAGGERING TO THINK ABOUT
He so loved us that, for our sake,
He was made man in time,
although through him all times were made.
He was made man, who made man.
He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, he the Word,
without whom all human eloquence is mute.
THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO TO TURN YOUR MARRIAGE AROUND
by Philip Wagner
A few years ago, I went to traffic school. This may have had something to do with my driving. Let’s just say attendance was not optional and leave it at that.
I drive every day. I rely on my driving skill for my work, my family and my life. I thought I knew all I needed to know about driving, but soon after the class started I was surprised to discover just how many things I did not know or had forgotten.
What is the difference between a double yellow line and a broken white line?
How many feet before an intersection should you signal?
What do all these different traffic signs mean?
Did you know having a driver’s license is a privilege and not a right? I’m pretty sure I had not thought of that prior to traffic school. If I wanted to pass the test at the end of the class, I needed to know these answers.
What if married couples had to take a quiz every five years in order to renew our marriage licenses? …. Read this in full at
EXHIBIT HIGHLIGHTS TIFFANY’S LASTING IMPACT ON AMERICAN CHURCH DESIGN
Louis C. Tiffany is perhaps best known for his intricate glass lamps, but a new exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art (http://www.mobia.org/) reveals a spiritual side to the master designer and craftsman whose studio single-handedly shaped the image of American churches.
“Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion,” which runs through Jan. 20, 2013, centers on the religious memorials and decorations that Tiffany and his firm created for American congregations for about a half century, beginning in the 1880s…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
[Jesus said,] “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep.
– John 10:14-15 (CEB)
“I know well that when Christ is nearest, Satan is also busiest.”
– Robert Murray M’Cheyne
FOR AMISH, FASTEST-GROWING FAITH GROUP IN US, LIFE IS CHANGING
For America’s Amish, much is changing. The Amish are, by one measure, the fastest-growing faith community in the USA. Yet as their numbers grow, the land available to support the agrarian lifestyle that underpins their faith is shrinking, gobbled up by the encroachment of exurban mansions and their multidoor garages.
The result is, in some ways, a gradual redefinition of what it means to be Amish. Some in the younger generation are looking for new ways to make a living on smaller and smaller slices of land. Others are looking beyond the Amish heartland of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, seeking more space in states such as Texas, Maine, and Montana…. Read this in full at
HILLARY CLINTON: BEING METHODIST IS FUNDAMENTAL TO WHO I AM
As the Secretary of State is expected to soon announce her departure from the Obama administration, she has spoken in a surprisingly candid manner about the importance of her Christian faith on her career in public service.
Hillary Clinton, who was raised in the United Methodist Church, once said her heritage instilled in her the ‘obligation’ to relieve suffering but now the 65-year-old has gone even further, calling her faith ‘fundamental’ to her identity.
The personal statement by the former first lady turned senator turned cabinet member comes amid the unending speculation that she has her eye on another bid for the White House in 2016…. Read this in full at
GOING TO HELL WITH TED HAGGARD
by Michael Cheshire
I didn’t plan to care about Ted Haggard. After all, I have access to Google and a Bible. I heard about what he did and knew it was wrong. I saw the clips from the news and the HBO documentary about his life after his fall. I honestly felt bad for him but figured it was his own undoing. When the topic came up with others I know in ministry, we would feign sadness, but inside we couldn’t care less. One close friend said he would understand it more if Ted had just sinned with a woman. I agreed with him at the time. It’s amazing how much more mercy I give to people who struggle with sins I understand. The further their sin is from my own personal struggles, the more judgmental and callous I become. I’m not proud of that. It’s just where I was at that time in my walk. But that all changed in one short afternoon…. Read this in full at
Two men met recently and struck up a conversation. One was telling the other about some problems he was having with one of his kids.
After a while the other guy said, “You think you have family problems? Get a load of my situation. A few years ago I met a young widow with a grown-up daughter and we got married. Later, my father married my stepdaughter. That made my stepdaughter my stepmother and my father became my stepson.
“Also, my wife became mother-in-law of her father-in-law. Then the daughter of my wife, my stepmother, had a son. This boy was my half-brother because he was my father’s son, but he was also the son of my wife’s daughter, which made him my wife’s grandson. That made me grandfather of my half-brother.
“This was nothing until my wife and I had a son. Now the sister of my son, my mother-in-law, is also the grandmother. This makes my father the brother-in-law of my child, whose stepsister is my father’s wife.
“I am my stepmother’s brother-in-law, my wife is her own child’s aunt, my son is my father’s nephew and I am my own grandfather. And you think you have family problems!”
THE MODESTY RULES: IS A WOMAN RESPONSIBLE FOR A MAN’S LUST?
by Emily Maynard
Many of the discussions of The Modesty Rules relate women’s clothing choices to lust, but I think that’s a mistake.
Let me explain: I propose we’ve lost sight of what lust actually is. In fact, we have confused biological sexual attraction with lust and called it sin. This is one reason why shame is so rampant in Christian circles, why we hide rather than confess our reality, why we try to control rather than offer each other the open love and freedom of Christ: We have made into sin something that is not sin.
God created you to desire another person for affection, intimacy and relationship! Being physically attracted to someone is not lust. Wanting to kiss someone is not lust. Enjoying kissing someone is not lust.
Those desires can be a catalyst for lust, but in themselves, they are morally neutral, God-created, biological and chemical reactions. Your body recognizing sexual compatibility with another person is not inherently evil.
Don’t get me wrong. Lust is serious, and lust is a sin. But lust is about control, not just sex. Lust dehumanizes a person in your own heart and mind. It is the ritual taking, obsessing and using someone else for your own benefit rather than valuing that person as an equal image-bearer of God…. Read this in full at
THE EDGY CHRISTIAN MEDIA STARTUP YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT
by Alan Rudnick
More and more, Christian media outfits try to create their own social media platforms to get noticed. However, a new edgy social media startup, “Sogo” is taking a different route on social media to get their message out.
Sogo (http://sogomedia.tv/ & http://www.youtube.com/SogoMediaTV) describes itself as: Sogo Media TV – a new kind of Christian television network that uses the exploding platform of YouTube to distribute exclusive videos from an impressive collective of progressive Christian voices, as well as curates the religion and spirituality niche on YouTube. Founded in 2012, Sogo is short for “social gospel,” a play on words that also refers to “social media + gospel message.”
If you have ever been on GodTube or FaithVillage, you know those are specially Christian websites for Christians to share Christian content. Many Christian social media platforms want to create their brand of Christian media because of concerns of secular culture’s negative effects on social media. Sogo doesn’t seem interested in creating an alternate platform for its content, but rather desires to use the existing and popular YouTube instead…. Read this in full at
WYCLIFFE REPORTS ‘DRAMATIC INCREASE’ IN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
Wycliffe Bible Translators, an organization with the mission to translate the Scriptures into every language by 2025, has said that it has dramatically increased its efforts and that the organization is very much on course for reaching its goal.
“These statistics are very important in showing progress toward our goal of seeing a Bible translation in progress in every language community needing it by 2025,” said Bob Creson, president of Wycliffe USA, in a statement shared with The Christian Post. “They demonstrate, not only to ourselves, but to those who invest in us, and those we invite to join us, that what we are doing is making a difference in the pursuit of our God-given mission.” …. Read this in full at
THE DANGERS OF A “BUILD-A-BEAR” THEOLOGY
by Frederick Schmidt
Our contemporary obsession with crafting our own theology is expressed in the following ways:
1. We prefer to escape what we perceive as the burdens and strictures of the past.
2. We favor the creative enterprise of fashioning a theology all our own.
3. And, inevitably, we find ourselves making the journey alone.
It’s a common American enterprise. And, today, on the far side of the high-tide denominationalism of the 1950s and 1960s, we live there again — in part because we prize our religious freedom; in part because churches fail in their obligation to teach “the faith.”
The struggle we have with Build-A-Bear theology is exactly what you would expect. We either cut ourselves off from collective wisdom about the work of God in the world, or we borrow so selectively on it that we isolate ourselves from one another…. Read this in full at
REVITALIZATION TAKES GUTS
by Jessica Miller Kelley
Honesty and courage. These two words may call to mind a virtuous Boy Scout or a knight of King Arthur’s round table, but to Jorge Acevedo, they are the essentials for revitalizing churches in decline.
Grace Church, the United Methodist congregation Acevedo leads, had lost half its members in a five year period before Acevedo was appointed there in 1996. Now, Grace is a thriving church with four campuses across southwest Florida. Three of those campuses were once languishing congregations that have been revitalized (the fourth is a grocery store turned community center).
Acevedo is passionate about revitalizing declining congregations, and his denomination overall. A major research study commissioned by The United Methodist Church found that only 15% of United Methodist congregations scored highly on indicators of vitality like small group involvement, pastoral training of lay leaders, mission engagement, and use of topical sermon series…. Read this in full at
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SISTERS AND NUNS?
The Catholic church makes legal distinctions between these two basic categories of women religious. Women religious who are actively engaged in some sort of apostolate are referred to as sisters, and those who leave the world and willingly embrace the monastic life are nuns. This gets confusing because either a sister or a nun is ordinarily addressed directly as “Sister X.” Thus people tend to think that the two terms are interchangeable — but they aren’t. While a cloistered nun is called “Sister,” this does not mean that all sisters are nuns…. Read this in full at
THEOLOGIAN SAYS CHINA TO HAVE LARGEST CHRISTIAN POPULATION
During a recent book launch in Rome, a noted theologian said that China will be home to the majority of the world’s Christians within the next two decades.
“Interfaith dialogue is something that China, which will have the world’s largest Christian population in 20 years, lives with every day,” said Harvey Cox during the presentation at the city’s Jesuit Gregorian University…. Read this in full at
CHRISTIANS STILL SUFFERING INTENSE PERSECUTION IN NORTH KOREA ONE YEAR AFTER LEADERSHIP CHANGE
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un allows women to wear pants in public, likes to see Mickey Mouse and his friends perform, and experiments with light agricultural reform, but he hasn’t made any essential changes in the first year after his father Kim Jong-Il’s death.
In fact, he has been preoccupied with building his image and tightening security. He increased the number of spies in China who search for Christians and organizations helping North Korean refugees. The use of television, radio and cell phones by North Koreans has also been thoroughly investigated and Christians report no changes in their situation of being isolated from the outside world…. Read this in full at
WHY JEWS DON’T BELIEVE IN JESUS
by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
One of the most common questions we receive at Aish.com is: “Why don’t Jews believe in Jesus?” Let’s understand why — not in order to disparage other religions, but rather to clarify the Jewish position.
Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
1. Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.
2. Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah.
3. Biblical verses “referring” to Jesus are mistranslations.
4. Jewish belief is based on national revelation.
But first, some background: What exactly is the Messiah? …. Read this in full at
God has not promised skies always blue,
flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day,
rest for the labor, light for the way,
grace for the trials, help from above,
unfailing sympathy, undying love.
- Annie Johnson Flint
VERSE TO PONDER
So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life — indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.
– John 10:7, 9-10 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: ADVENT GLORY
Words & Music: J. Harker (1880-?)
The day is fast approaching when the Savior shall appear,
And every eye His glory shall behold;
The tokens of His coming fill the loyal heart with cheer
Though strife abounds and love is waxing cold.
We’ll see Him as He is,
And the brightness of His glory we shall share;
We’ll see Him as He is,
And the likeness of His image we shall bear.
In all His Father’s glory, clothed in majesty unveiled,
With myriads of the shining angel band,
The King descends triumphant in Whose might we have prevailed,
And all the ransomed rise at His command.
Oh, may we all as sons of light be watching unto prayer,
For surely our redemption draweth nigh;
With holy zeal and patient faith, let every soul prepare
To join the advent chorus in the sky.
>from NetHymnal at
FRIDAY NIGHT REPLAY
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HE MUST INCREASE [reprise]
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”
– Oswald Chambers
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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This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
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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