CONNECTIONS News – 01/27/2013

Connecting man to man to God
For week of January 27, 2013
Issue 444

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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But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.”
– James 1:5 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
“You can do little about the length of your life, but you can do much about its width and depth.”
– H. L. Mencken

     NEW STUDY SHOWS FORCES DRIVING CHURCH GROWTH & LOSS
by David Crumm
Church growth is the hottest topic among church leaders nationwide, because they know the hard truth: The survival of their congregations depends on growth.

As journalists, we carefully watch the horizon. When we find a new book like Leadership That Fits Your Church and a scholar-author like Cynthia Woolever, we introduce them to our readers.

What is the “US Congregational Life Survey”? “The largest and most representative profile of worshipers and their congregations ever developed in the US.” More than half a million people answered the main questionaire. To deepen the study, additional specialized surveys were conducted (one zeroed in on congregational leaders, for example). The greatest strength is the study’s focus on people in the pew in average-sized churches. Most other new books on church life focus on large congregations and the viewpoints of clergy…. Read this in full at
http://www.readthespirit.com/explore/2013/1/21/new-study-shows-forces-driving-church-growth-loss.html

     FEWER PEOPLE ARE CALLING THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS – THAT’S A GOOD THING
by Larry Osborne
The magazine Christianity Today recently reported the results of a national poll that showed a huge drop in the number of people who self-identify as Protestant Christians.

At first glance, that may seem alarming. Many of us might see it as another sign of continuing national spiritual decline.

But we’d be wrong.

Upon closer examination of the data, the large drop in the number of Americans who call themselves Protestant Christians is not a sign people are turning from the faith in massive numbers.

It’s a sign those who used to call themselves Christians (but neither believed Scripture nor followed Christ) are now coming clean…. Read this in full at
http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/164791-larr-yosborne-fewer-people-are-calling-themselves-christians-good-thing.html

     LISTENING TO GOD
God is our true Friend, who always gives us the counsel and comfort we need. Our danger lies in resisting Him; so it is essential that we acquire the habit of hearkening to His voice, of keeping silence within, and listening so as to lose nothing of what He says to us. We know well enough how to keep outward silence, and to hush our spoken words, but we know little of interior silence. It consists in hushing our idle, restless, wandering imagination, in quieting the promptings of our worldly minds, and in suppressing the crowd of unprofitable thoughts which excite and disturb the soul.”
– Francois Fenelon (1651-1715), Selections from Fenelon, ed. Mary Wilder Tileston, Boston: Roberts Bros., 1879, p. 107

     SUPER BOWL IS HERE AGAIN
by Bill Ellis
The excitement builds for Super Bowl XLVII (http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/47). Billions of dollars will be involved. For the stars, it will mean millions in income. Merchants will take in vast sums of money. Manufacturers of paraphernalia of all kinds will fit into price ranges for whatever you want to spend to remind you of the game.

Any way you look at it, it will be an expensive event. It invades the family home, schools, churches, clubs and parties of some kind wherever people gather to enjoy football.

Here’s some “Football Theology”:
SWEEP — what church custodians do each week.
COME BACK — what some church members decide to do after a long absence.
SEVEN STEP DROP — getting as far from the preacher as possible.
BOOTLEG — is something the preacher and revenuers seldom approve…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010111.htm

     MOST AMERICANS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT RESTRICTIONS IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
A new study conducted by Barna Group shows millions of adults — particularly active Protestants — are concerned religious liberties are under threat. The research, conducted in partnership with Clapham Group, included 1,008 adults from across the religious spectrum, representing the nation’s population from the most active to the most skeptical. Here are 5 observations about the findings:
1. Americans have a relatively gloomy view of religious freedom in the US.
2. There seems to be widespread agreement on what “religious freedom” means, in principle.
3. Many controversial aspects of religious liberty are bubbling over, with most Americans subscribing to us-versus-them narratives.
4. There is a substantial difference of opinion about which values should dominate the nation’s vision for the future.
5. Younger Americans, in general, are much less concerned about religious liberty issues…. Read this in full at
http://www.barna.org/culture-articles/600-most-americans-are-concerned-about-restrictions-in-religious-freedom

     RAISING FEAR-LESS CHILDREN
by Clare De Graaf
What can we do to help our children or grandchildren grow up with less fear and anxiety?”

That’s a question asked of me recently by a group of concerned Christian parents. One of my December blogs was about fear and faith in times of economic crisis. In it I shared how my childhood experiences shaped my “emotional truth” – which are the things I felt were true, based on my life experiences.

Ann Voskamp, the best-selling author of One Thousand Gifts, an amazing Christian woman, said this in her January 3, 2013 blog:

My dad, he used to look at my straight-A report card and then look me straight in the eye and say, “Well – maybe your little sisters will someday make me proud.” Then she goes on to say, “And when you can’t live up to expectations, you can feel like dying – or running away.” That’s her emotional truth which obviously still haunts her.

In my 30 years of mentoring, I’ve come to this conclusion about certain people: Most driven and successful people are still trying to win the admiration or approval of someone they couldn’t when they were young. Either that, or they have been inspired to excel by someone who believed in them deeply and loved them unconditionally.

Today, let’s talk about what we as parents and grandparents can do to raise fearless children. Who was it in your life that either cheered you on, or you could never seem to please?…. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2013/01/21/raising-fear-less-children/

     HAVING THE GRACE TO SAY “YES”
by Bryce Klabunde
When your children and grandchildren ask you for an object or a privilege, their request presents an opportunity to express grace in your relationship. But how can you give permission without being permissive? And what if the request really makes your skin crawl as a parent? Instead of a trip to the mall, what if your son wants to go on an out-of-state trip for a wild party weekend? Instead of a puppy, what if your daughter wants a tattoo?

When your children make a request, it can feel like they are stomping on the car accelerator. “Let’s go!” they blurt out. They want to move forward as quickly as possible. Your immediate reaction is to slam on the brakes. “Let’s stop!”

Many times, your parental intuition is correct. You need to help your children slow down and think through the potential consequences in order to make wise decisions.

However, as you review your recent no responses to your children, have you been saying no too much? Not every request is as serious or long-lasting as a tattoo. Before you weigh the request, examine your heart. Are you saying no simply because a yes answer would inconvenience you? Saying yes to your children often means saying no to yourself, and that’s difficult to do…. Read this in full at
http://www.insight.org/library/articles/parenting/grace-to-say-yes.html

     DEPEND ON GOD
One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give and so fail to realize your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God.”
– C. S. Lewis

     AMERICA’S MOST (AND LEAST) BIBLE-MINDED CITIES
From its place in schools to the public square, to people’s individual lives, the current and future role of the Bible in US society is an often-debated topic. A new release from Barna Group shows how this debate plays out regionally and takes a look at how 96 of the largest cities in the nation view the Bible.

The report ranks the most and least “Bible-minded” cities by looking at how people in those cities view the Bible. The study is based on 42,855 interviews conducted nationwide and the analysis of Bible trends was commissioned by American Bible Society. Individuals who report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches are considered to be Bible-minded. This definition captures action and attitude — those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures. The rankings thus reflect an overall openness or resistance to the Bible in the country’s largest markets.

The top ranking cities, where at least half of the population qualifies as Bible-minded, are all Southern cities:
* Knoxville, TN (52% of the population are Bible-minded)
* Shreveport, LA (52%)
* Chattanooga, TN (52%)
* Birmingham, AL (50%)
* Jackson, MS (50%).
The least Bible-oriented markets:
* Providence, RI (9%)
* Albany, NY (10%)
* Burlington, VT (16%)
* Portland, ME (16%)
* Hartford, CT (16%)
* Boston, MA (16%)…. Read this in full at
http://cities.barna.org/americas-most-and-least-bible-minded-cities-2/

     B.C.
by Ann Spangler
I recently purchased a new stove complete with bells and whistles that my old, defunct stove doesn’t have. But before the new stove could be installed, I had to deal with an appalling amount of dirt and grime that lay hidden behind the old one. Holding my nose to ward off the smell of caked-on grease, I was only too happy to get down on hands and knees, scrubbing the surface in preparation for my spanking, new appliance.

As I cleaned, I thought about my heart B.C.—that is, my heart before it “Belonged to Christ.” I wasn’t a murderer or an armed robber or even a cat burglar. I was just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill sinner, going my own way. Despite trying to be a “good person,” I had already broken many of God’s commandments during my twenty-one years on earth. Since I didn’t even know whether God existed, I allowed myself to pick and choose which of his commandments I would observe. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Well, I was pretty much my own god, doing what I wanted. “Honor your father and mother.” Okay, as long as they acted in a way that commanded my respect. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” I didn’t see anything wrong with using a bit of colorful language from time to time. What was the big deal? …. Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/blogs/ann-spangler/bc.html

     TO EXPAND YOUR INFLUENCE, ELEVATE YOUR CAPACITY TO THINK
by John C. Maxwell
In 1978, unemployed sportscaster Bill Rasmussen hatched an idea to launch the world’s first around-the-clock television station and to devote its programming entirely to sports. Roughly a year later, the Entertainment and Sports Network (ESPN) made its initial broadcast, and in just a few years the station rapidly transformed the way Americans watch athletics. Whereas the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) of the time televised only a few main events on the weekends, ESPN offered nonstop, 24/7 sports coverage. Sports enthusiasts flocked to ESPN in droves, and the station steadily expanded into the global media empire it is today.

Growth always increases your capacity — that’s the Law of Expansion. The explosive growth of a business happens only because a leader has greatly expanded his or her capacity to think. Such was the case with Bill Rasmussen, founder of ESPN. How exactly did he broaden the scope of his thought? …. Read this in full at
http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/to-expand-your-influence-elevate-your-capacity-to-think

     THE MAN WHO BIRTHED EVANGELICALISM
by Timothy George
One hundred years after his birth and a decade after his death, is it time to revisit Carl F.H. Henry? For many, the first question very well may be “Carl who?”

The answer is, the Carl Henry who invented post-World War II evangelicalism; the evangelicalism we are still in large measure living with today. If you want to understand the core passions of contemporary evangelicalism, you have to understand the passions of Carl Henry.

Henry did not invent post-war evangelicalism all by himself, of course. He had lots of help from Harold John Ockenga, the Strategist; Billy Graham, the Evangelist; Bill Bright, the Activist; Francis Schaeffer, the Apologist; and many others. But it was Henry more than anyone else who argued the case and set forth a compelling intellectual apologetic for what was called in those days the New Evangelicalism…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-web-only/man-who-birthed-evangelicalism.html

     OBAMA EXTOLS A BIBLICAL VISION OF EQUALITY FOR ALL IN SECOND INAUGURAL
A presidential inauguration is by tradition the grandest ritual of America’s civil religion, but President Obama took the oath of office on Monday (Jan. 21) in a ceremony that was explicit in joining theology to the nation’s destiny and setting out a biblical vision of equality that includes race, gender, class, and, most controversially, sexual orientation.

Obama’s speech, his second inaugural address, repeatedly cited civic and religious doctrines — namely the God-given equality extolled by the “founding creed” of the Declaration of Independence — to essentially reconsecrate the country to the common good and to the dignity of each person…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/2013/01/21/obama-extols-a-biblical-vision-of-equality-for-all-in-second-inaugural/

     PREACHERS PRAY FOR UNITY AT NATIONAL CATHEDRAL INAUGURAL SERVICE
President Obama started his second term with a traditional worship service and a challenge to help heal the nation’s divides.

We find ourselves desperately longing to find common ground, to find a common vision, to be one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for everyone,” said the Rev. Adam Hamilton, the Kansas City pastor chosen to preach Tuesday (Jan. 22) at the National Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral. “In this city and in this room, are the people who can help.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/2013/01/22/preachers-pray-for-unity-at-national-cathedral-inaugural-service/

     COLD-CASE CHRISTIANITY
Book review by Tim Challies
The more things change, the more they stay the same. While time marches on, and while the Christian faith marches on, the objections to it remain very much the same. Likewise, there are only so many arguments for the existence of God and the accuracy of the Bible. But even while the arguments remain much the same, it can be helpful to present them in fresh ways.

In the late ‘90s Lee Strobel exploded onto the scene with The Case for Christ. His unique angle was approaching the Christian faith as a journalist. “Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields. Strobel’s tough, point-blank questions make this book read like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it’s not fiction.” It was an effective book that sold millions of copies and one that continues to sell today.

J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity may well be The Case for Christ for a new generation. He has a unique approach of his own. Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who dedicated much of his career to solving homicides that had been left unsolved many years before. He would re-open old investigations, take a fresh look at the evidence, interview the witnesses and suspects, and see if he could bring closure to old crimes…. Read this in full at
http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/cold-case-christianity

     CHICAGO PASTOR PLANS TO RUN A MARATHON A DAY FOR FIVE MONTHS — COAST TO COAST
Right now, 49 year-old Steve Spear is training for the run of his life. The Chicago-area pastor recently quit his job as a Willow Creek pastor after 15 years, to focus on raising $1.5 million to provide clean water for 30,000 people living in Kenya. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, a cross-country fundraising run from Southern California to New York City. Spear, who only took up long-distance running five years ago, has completed countless marathons and ultra-marathons but has never done anything like this before. He will attempt to run a marathon a day for five months, from coast to coast.

Spear will start his quest on April 8th, 2013 from the Santa Monica Pier on the Pacific Ocean, finishing up five months later in August in New York City. Steve Spear says his former senior pastor at Willow Creek, Bill Hybels is planning to run with Steve on the final leg of the cross-country odyssey into New York City. Spear will seek support from churches along the way…. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2281571343.html

     VERSE TO PONDER
Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit.”
– Galatians 6:7-8 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
Your God is too small.”
– J. B. Phillips

     THE SECRET INGREDIENT TO SUCCESS
by John Ortberg
People who study spelling bee contestants (some people clearly have too much time on their hands) say that the winners are characterized by an interesting dynamic. At the top level, national spelling bee winners cannot be predicted by IQ or grade point average or test scores. Researchers say that those who perform at the highest level are the students who are willing to keep looking at flash cards and drilling and practicing long after everybody else gives up.

Which leads to the next question: what enables some students to keep at it when everybody else is watching Gilligan’s Island reruns or playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2? (Bonus points if you understand both references.)

The answer is grit.
The ability to endure. The capacity to continue a worthwhile activity in the face of boredom, frustration, pain, or lack of immediate gratification. Grit predicts effectiveness far more than natural talent or genetic endowments. Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness.

So I have been thinking a lot about grit lately. Over the last several months, since we did a staff re-structure, I have embraced a whole lot more leadership functions for our church and staff. I’ve needed to re-structure my time, my energy deployment, my activities, my goals, and the way I’ll be evaluated. I am being stretched in ways that are wonderful but often deeply challenging. (In ministry, like in yoga, stretching should not cause sharp sudden damaging pain, but it always goes beyond what’s comfortable.) …. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/january-online-only/secret-ingredient-to-success.html

     WHEN TRUTH TRUMPS NICENESS
by Marcus Brotherton
Years ago I worked alongside a difficult co-worker. This young man seldom had anything good to say to anybody.

He was affable when he wanted to be. But he often interacted with people using sarcasm or putdowns. His favorite salutation, one used co-workers and even sometimes customers, was, “How’s Dummy today?”

For the first while I found myself giving this man the benefit of the doubt. His behavior irked me, yes. But I constantly dismissed his actions, explained them away, or swept them under my emotional rug.

I said to myself, “Oh, he’s only this way because his marriage is difficult.” Or, “He’s only being a jerk because he woke up the wrong side of the bed this morning.”

I tried to answer kindly when he offered insults. A lot of people did. But time went on, and the man didn’t change. At least not as far as I could tell…. Read this in full at
http://www.marcusbrotherton.com/2012/12/when-truth-trumps-niceness.html

     HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHURCH
by Anthony Gill
In the wake of several highly publicized shootings, this podcast looks at how safe churches are, and what they can do to improve their safety, with Jim McGuffey, an independent security consultant with A.C.E. Security Consultants LLC and an expert on church security…. Read this in full at
http://www.researchonreligion.org/social-issues/jim-mcguffey-on-church-security

     THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH?
by Gordon Govier
Some unique features of a first century synagogue found along the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee have sparked speculation that it may have belonged to a congregation of followers of Jesus of Nazareth, and not an ordinary Jewish community. However, the evidence is circumstantial so the story is pure speculation at this point.

The excavation took place in 2009 in Migdal, just north of Tiberias. In the first century it was a fishing village known as Magdala. Jesus lived nearby, in Capernaum, and one of his most well-known followers came from this village: Mary Magdalene…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010101.htm

     THE PROBLEM OF LIVING WITHOUT AWE
by Paul Tripp
At breakfast you’ll say something like, “Wow, this cereal is good!” Or, “We had a good time at the park.” Or, “Let me tell you where to get a good cup of coffee.” Or, Sam is really a good husband.” So maybe when we read that God is good what is supposed to happen inside of us doesn’t happen.

When you read the words, “God is good,” your heart should be filled with wonder, amazement, gratitude, humility, and love. Or to capture what our response should be in one word; AWE. Now, this is where the problem lies. I am convinced that many of us live day after day without any awe whatsoever.

For sinners, the road between awe and complaining is very short. You and I were created to live our lives in the shadow of awe. Every word we speak, every action we take, every decision we make, and every desire we entertain was meant to be colored by awe. We were meant to live with eyes gazing upward and outward. We were meant to live with hearts that are searching, and hungry and being satisfied. Bad things happen when human beings lose their sense of awe. Bad things happen when we have no wonder inside of us. Bad things happen when we are no longer amazed. Bad things happen when we look around and nothing impresses us anymore…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/spiritual-growth/the-problem-of-life-without-wonder.html

     VIVA THE UN-LANCE ARMSTRONG
On December 2, Spanish athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai – bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner – the certain winner of the race – mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.

Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first…. Read this in full at
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/vivaun-lance-armstrong/

     A LIFE, A NEW LIFE, A NEWER LIFE
by Rick Marschall
On January 20, 2013, less than a month shy of the day we met 40 years ago, Nancy Marschall was taken off life support. My wife was a strong Christian, an amazing mother, and possessor of a modest personality that everyone loved. Her shyness masked a robust faith that touched and inspired uncountable people. Many of us would have defined ourselves by the ailments she endured: a diabetic since 13, she sustained several heart attacks, a heart and kidney transplant, thyroid cancer, legal blindness, toe amputation, broken bones, celiac disease, several strokes, dialysis, and, last week, a ruptured stomach ulcer that saw her lose 14 units of blood, outpacing transfusions. She experienced miraculous healings, and some healings by doctors’ hands. Other healings, she is experiencing right now.

For a long time she was unable to exercise, as you might imagine. But she exercised her faith. While waiting 18 weeks for a heart and kidney transplant, she overcame her shyness to pray with patients waiting with her at Temple University Hospital. Then she held services. I assisted, and she recruited our children Heather, Ted, and Emily, to participate in the services and room visitations, and pray with our counterparts in recipients’ families. Our faith was strengthened too as we dealt with heartache, unanswerable questions, grief, and shared joy. We witnessed healings, and helped lead people to conversions, in a ministry that lasted more than six years…. Read this in full at
http://www.mondayministry.com/blog/2013/01/20/a-life-a-new-life-a-newer-life/

     HOW TO AVOID INEFFECTUAL PRAYERS
James, the brother of Jesus, was serious about his prayer. He used to go to the temple and kneel in prayer so often and for so long that his knees were reputed to be as calloused and tough as a camel’s. He was bishop of Jerusalem then and was martyred several years before the temple was ultimately destroyed, but as long as he had life he could be found, as one ancient writer put it, “bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people.”

Given his intense practice, it comes as no surprise that James discusses prayer in the letter that bears his name. These verses in the fourth chapter hit me this morning: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joeljmiller/2010/07/how-to-avoid-ineffectual-prayers/

     WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL CLOSE TO GOD
by Jim Denison
Does God sometimes seem silent? Are there times when you need to know his will, but you can’t sense his leading?

I am currently reading through Isaiah in my personal Bible study. Isaiah 48 is addressed to Israel in Babylonian exile. Their temple has been destroyed, their homes razed, their people enslaved. Why has such calamity befallen God’s people?

In the midst of the chapter, I found a remarkable invitation from the King of Kings: “This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go'” (Isaiah 48:17). God wants to redeem us, teach us, and lead us…. Read this in full at
http://www.denisonforum.org/etcetera/399-when-you-dont-feel-close-to-god

     ‘ BEN-HUR’ REMAKE TO FOCUS MORE ON STORY OF CHRIST
“Ben-Hur,” one of the most popular biblical movies ever produced, is going to be remade by MGM studios, with sources saying the focus of the storyline will feature more heavily on Jesus Christ.

The 1959 movie, based on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, won 11 Oscars and is considered one of the most successful Christian movies ever made. The story focuses on the Jewish prince Ben-Hur who is forced to live for many years as a Roman slave, before he rises to power and meets Christ, witnessing a number of miracles along the way. The planned remake will reportedly be more faithful to Wallace’s novel and focus more on Jesus’ life, while at the same time interjecting Ben-Hur’s account…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/ben-hur-remake-to-focus-more-on-story-of-christ-88531/

     PERSPECTIVES ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION.
by Tina Ramirez
As you read this, two-thirds of the world’s population lives under governments that persecute individuals for their faith, with the situation worsening in many countries. Even the United States, long held as a bastion of religious freedom, was recently downgraded for having increased restrictions on religious freedom according to a September 2012 Pew Research Center study, “Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion.”

Through incremental steps, governments are intruding more and more into the space where people should be free to worship God. The new wave of persecution in many parts of the world — from China to Nigeria and beyond — did not begin with Christians as marginalized citizens, imprisoned and tortured for their beliefs. Indeed, in many of these countries, Christians at one point coexisted peacefully with their neighbors. Yet, like a frog in a pot of slowly warming water, religious persecution worldwide has escalated to egregious levels over time for a variety of reasons…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianleadershipalliance.org/?WorldView

     THE BIGGEST SHOW ON EARTH
by Ahmad Masood
The Maha Kumbh Mela, or the Grand Pitcher Festival, is one of the biggest gatherings of people on earth; it takes place every 12 years and goes on for 55 days, in one of four cities in India : Allahabad, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nashik.

I moved to India from Afghanistan last year and the Mela, as it is called, was one of the assignments I wanted to cover.

My memories of the word “Mela” come from the times when I used to watch lots of Bollywood movies. Some of these movies would show brothers separated during this massive, chaotic gathering at childhood and then re-united decades later as adults.

At the Mela, the challenge for me was to make a clear picture from masses of people assembled for the holy bath…. Read this in full and see photos at
http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2013/01/18/the-biggest-show-on-earth/

     CONSIDER
One of the best-kept secrets in Christianity is that God accepts us. True, He can’t stand our sinful acts, but He loves us. He doesn’t have us on performance-based acceptance; He has us on Jesus-based acceptance.”
– Billy Gillham

     VERSE TO PONDER
My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
– James 1:2-3 (CEB)

     THIS WEEK’S HYMN: O LORD, OUR FATHER, THANKS TO THEE
Words: Cyriacus Schneegass, 1597); translated from German to English by August Crull, 1880
Music: Martin Luther, 1524

Lord, our Father, thanks to Thee
In this new year we render,
For every evil had to flee
Before Thee, our Defender.
Our life was nourished, we were fed
With rich supplies of daily bread,
And peace reigned in our borders.

Lord Jesus Christ, our thanks to Thee
In this new year we render;
Thy reign hath kept Thy people free,
Hath shown Thy mercies tender.
Thou hast redeemed us with Thy blood,
Thou art our Joy, our only Good,
In life and death our Savior.

Lord Holy Ghost, our thanks to Thee
In this new year we render,
For Thou hast led our eyes to see
Thy truth in all its splendor
And thus enkindled from above
Within our hearts true faith and love
And other Christian virtues.

Our faithful God, we cry to Thee:
Still bless us with Thy favor,
Blot out all our iniquity,
And hide our sins forever.
Grant us a happy, good new year
And, when the hour of death draws near,
A peaceful, blest departure.

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/o/l/o/oloftthe.htm

     FRIDAY NIGHT ARCHIVE REPLAY – 01/25/2013
Listen to last Friday night’s (01/25/2013) Path Of Life fellowship gathering online broadcast on Blogtalk radio here:
RENDER TO CAESAR
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepath/2013/01/26/render-to-caesar

     ON PRAYER
Do not be troubled when you are dry, dull, unable to rouse yourself to any holy thoughts in prayer or communion–still less must you fancy that such prayers and communion are worthless. Self-love may pronounce them to be so, but God judges otherwise. He does not require us to have so absolute a control over our imagination as wholly to rule our thoughts. That is beyond our power, but it is within our power not to dwell upon distracting thoughts, to turn from them, to submit to spiritual advice. It is within our power to resist thoughts which militate against purity, faith or hope.” Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803), The Hidden Life of the Soul, London: Rivingtons, 1870, p. 44

     PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY 
http://christiansincrisis.net/

     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!

PERSONAL
Marital harmony
Family unity
Children saved
Faithful pastor
Spirit-filled church
Real friendships
Relatives redeemed
Educational benefits
Recreational time
Fulfilling career
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will

FINANCIAL
Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Benefits
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
Settlements
Estates & inheritances
Investment increase
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.]

     CLASSIFIEDS
Are you looking for something or do you have something to sell? Let me know and I’ll put it in this newsletter.

The Complete Gift Solution
http://www.FranksWorldOfGifts.com

Books, Music & More!
http://www.ChristianConnectionBooks.com

Get your domain name here!
http://www.GoGlobalDomains.com

     SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES 
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why. 

Peace With God
http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/

60 insane cloud formations from around the world
http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/60-insane-cloud-formations-from-around-the-world-pics/

Build-A-Robot
http://www.exopolis.com/holiday/2007/factory.html#

All links to websites are provided as a service, and do not imply endorsement by this ministry. 

(BTW: whenever the URLs in this newsletter are too long to turn into links on your e-mail program, just copy the entire URL (two lines or more) and paste it into a temporary email message. Then delete the return in the middle of it and copy it again. Then paste it into your web browser and hit enter.) 

A cop just knocked on my door and told me my dogs were chasing people on bikes. My dogs don’t even own bikes!
Frank Coleman, Editor
frank@frankcoleman.com

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, frank@frankcoleman.com if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program. 
Path Of Life Ministries is located in Chicago, IL.
Visit our website at: http://www.pathoflifeministries.org/  

Subscribe!
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Get Archives of all past issues here:
http://www.pathoflifeministries.net/connections/archives_all.html

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