CONNECTIONS News – 02/03/2013

Connecting man to man to God
For week of February 3, 2013
Issue 445

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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We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand.
- Ephesians 6:12-13 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”
- Kimberly Johnson

     SURVEY FINDS NEARLY 3-IN-10 AMERICANS SAY GOD PLAYS A ROLE IN OUTCOMES OF SPORTS EVENTS
Even though only 3% of Americans identify as fans of the Baltimore Ravens (1%) or San Francisco 49ers (2%), 66% of Americans were expected to tune in to Super Bowl XLVII, including 42% who say they seldom or never watch sports, a new survey finds.

Nearly 3-in-10 (27%) Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins sports events, according to the January Religion and Politics Tracking Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute during the weekend of the National Football League conference championship games. A majority (53%) of Americans also agree that God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success, compared to 42% who disagree…. Read this in full at
http://pressreleases.religionnews.com/2013/01/29/on-eve-of-super-bowl-xlvii-survey-finds-nearly-3-in-10-americans-say-god-plays-a-role-in-outcomes-of-sports-events/

     JUST HOW MUCH IS SPORTS FANDOM LIKE RELIGION?
by Michael Serazio
The Super Bowl, professional sports’ highest holy day, is again upon us. As fans paint their faces and torsos, pile on licensed apparel, and quixotically arrange beer cans in the shape of team logos, the question must, again, be asked: Why exactly do we do this for our teams?

Why, in my own case, do I feel the need to sport a Chargers cap on fall Sundays sitting in front of the television when decades of futility, not to mention common sense, suggests it has little effect on outcome?

The answer — and the secret of fandom — might just be found in a context far removed from professional football…. Read this in full at
http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/01/just-how-much-is-sports-fandom-like-religion/272631/

     SUPER BOWL FAITH: A GLANCE AT TWO OF THE BELIEVERS INVOLVED IN THIS YEAR’S GAME
“God has brought me this far, He’s laid out a phenomenal path for me and I can’t do anything but thank Him.” –Colin Kaepernick

This Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will wrangle on the grid iron in Super Bowl XLVII.

The faith of a few members of the NFL has been increasingly highlighted in recent years, and it is certainly not lost on some of this year’s players.

Colin Kaepernick is the first. In fact, forget the eye-black-with-Scripture so significant when worn by Tim Tebow in his time as a Gator; 25-year-old Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers has plenty of it — in the form of tattoos on his arms.

Perhaps literally guilty of “wearing his heart on his sleeve,” Kaepernick seems to back up the tatt depictions of his Christianity with a personal devotion to the God he follows…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010148.htm

     RAY LEWIS’ PASTOR TALKS LINEBACKER’S CHRISTIAN WITNESS ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD
Baltimore Ravens linebacker and committed Christian Ray Lewis has been able to reach more people in one game than many preachers have been able to their entire lives, his pastor and close friend, Dr. Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, Md., told The Christian Post.

Although Lewis’ Christian faith may be news to some, he has always been religious. Relatives who recently spoke with Yahoo! Sports reporter Eric Adelson said Lewis’ grandmother, considered the “backbone” of his family, had always encouraged the 37-year-old Super Bowl XXXV MVP as a young boy to read the Bible and attend church…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/ray-lewis-pastor-talks-linebackers-christian-witness-on-the-football-field-89079/

     AT HALFTIME, A RELIGIOUS ALTERNATIVE TO BEYONCE
Super Bowl halftime shows often burn more vivid images into the American conscience than the most-watched football game of the year, and can claim millions more viewers.

They can also ignite controversy, as Janet Jackson did with her halftime “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004. Last year, performing with Madonna, British-born hip-hop star M.I.A. gave the finger to 114 million people.

Outraged by the raunchy behavior, or simply to capture some of the Super Bowl’s supersized audience, some religious programmers are now producing halftime shows of their own.

In direct response to the Jackson breast-baring, Sky Angel, a national Christian television network, the next year offered a halftime alternative to Paul McCartney singing “Hey Jude,” with a special that included testimony from Christian athletes, as well as commentary about the Patriots-Eagles matchup…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/2013/01/30/at-halftime-a-religious-alternative-to-beyonce/

     DOWNLOADING TRUTH
by Clare De Graaf
Information technology people have a saying, “Garbage in – Garbage out”. That means you can’t expect good results from bad input. The inverse is also true. Good in – Good out. This principle holds true in the Christian life as well.

The “remind you” ministry of the Holy Spirit is one I find fascinating. Like a spiritual Google search, the Holy Spirit brings to mind truth we’ve read or memorized from scripture and actually helps interpret those truths for our use in real life circumstances. But, for that to work we first have to download biblical truth into our minds and hearts…. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2013/01/28/1784/

     TO TITHE OR NOT TO TITHE?
by Vicki Brown
The issue of tithing — traditionally understood as 10 percent — has perplexed churchgoers for years. Interpretation and denominational practice usually set the tone for givers, often with tension between giving as law or “old covenant” or as grace under the “new covenant” — both biblically based.

The principal topic of discussion at the morning session of the Southern Baptist Convention was the report of the committee on tithing.… The committee recommended the adoption of the tithing system, and that several state conventions, district associations, the pastors, churches and missionary societies educate the people up to paying systematically to God not less than one-tenth of their income,” The New York Times reported May 12, 1895…. Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/ministry/people/item/8128-to-tithe-or-not-to-tithe—that-is-the-question

     THE PROBLEM WITH LANCE ARMSTRONG’S RELIGION—AND HOW HUGH JACKMAN’S SILVER CANDLESTICKS CAN HELP
by Marcus Brotherton
Lance Armstrong once believed that since he didn’t have any big-time character flaws, then after he died he could stand boldly before the throne of an all-righteous and almighty God, (if there indeed was a God), and all would be okay between Lance and God.

So, according to Lance, what mattered most in God’s eyes was that Lance was a good guy. Hmm.

Let’s sift through that worldview a bit, and let’s do it in a format that’s longer than most of my regular blog posts, because I think a lot of people are struggling with similar aspects of this, although it’s articulated different ways, so I want to give it fair, closer treatment…. Read this in full at
http://www.marcusbrotherton.com/2013/01/the-problem-with-lance-armstrongs.html

     LIKE FLOWERS UPLIFTED TO THE SUN
Like summer seas that lave with silent tides a lonely shore, like whispering winds that stir the tops of forest trees, like a still small voice that calls us in the watches of the night, like a child’s hand that feels about a fast-closed door; gentle, unnoticed, and oft in vain; so is Thy coming unto us, O God.

Like ships storm-driven into port, like starving souls that seek the bread they once despised, like wanderers begging refuge from the whelming night, like prodigals that seek the father’s home when all is spent; yet welcomed at the open door, arms outstretched and kisses for our shame; so is our coming unto Thee, O God.

Like flowers uplifted to the sun, like trees that bend before the storm, like sleeping seas that mirror cloudless skies, like a harp to the hand, like an echo to a cry, like a song to the heart; for all our stubbornness, our failure and our sin; so would we have been to Thee, O God. Amen.”
- William Edwin Orchard (1877-1955), The Temple: a book of prayers, 3rd ed., New York, E. P. Dutton, 1918, p. 149

     STUDY SEEKS ‘POSITIVE AGENDA FOR AFFLUENCE’
by Vicki Brown
Ask a Christian whether God or money concerns determine how a church operates. Most likely, the response would be: “Of course, God does.”

But John L. and Sylvia Ronsvalle believe the answer may not be as clear-cut as most Christians assume. The couple cites an overall decline in giving to churches and the fact that most denominations and their affiliated congregations have failed to develop a specific “positive agenda for affluence” or a means to help U.S. citizens deal with affluence.

In spite of economic setbacks, the United States remains an affluent country, the couple maintains, but its citizens and institutions sometimes aren’t certain how to use wealth responsibly…. Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/ministry/congregations/item/8129-does-god-or-money-shape-a-church’s-ministry?

     REDEFINING SUCCESS
by Becky Garrison
I’ve lost count of the recent conversations I’ve had with friends who’ve found themselves adrift these days. How do we define ourselves when we can no longer look to a career that provided us with both financial security and a sense of identity? While no one product can provide a cure all for an ailing economy, Dr. Linda Seger’s book The Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success helped me refocus my priorities.

In this book, Seger notes how a successful career seems to need certain elements. First and foremost, we start with a basic question. Am I using my God-given talents in a way that contributes to the well being of others in ways that adds value and goodness to the world? Seger places spirituality into this equation, which she defines as a sense of connectedness with God through one’s work…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/moi/specialfeatures/redefining-success.html?utm_source=men-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=11795099&utm_content=150861093&utm_campaign=2013

     6 LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM BILL HYBELS
by Tom Harper
Though first published in 2008, Bill Hybels’ Leadership Axioms is my new favorite leadership book. I walked away with 6 fresh lessons that I needed to hear.
1. Cast vision as a picture, not a goal….
2. Script your difficult conversations….
3. Prioritize your work in six-week increments….
4. Begin management meetings with emotional check-ins….
5. Get the right people around the table….
6. Define who’s driving meetings…. Read this in full at
http://www.churchcentral.com/blog/9737/6-leadership-lessons-from-Bill-Hybels

     JESUS IN THE BOARDROOM: BIZ SCHOOL LAUNCHES BLOG ON FAITH AND BUSINESS
Biola University Crowell School of Business’ new blog, “Business. Ministry. Life” (http://crowell.biola.edu/blog/), is a collaborative platform where professors inspire and educate through sharing best business practices. For the past 12 years, the Crowell School of Business has educated and motivated students in the field of business. Now, the professors are teaching beyond the typical classroom to a broader audience in the digital classroom format of a blog.

“When I worked in industry, I would have highly valued a place where I could get good, biblical perspectives on the challenges I was facing daily,” said David Bourgeois, director of innovation and associate professor of information systems at Biola.

By integrating faith and best business practices, the professors hope to encourage businessmen and women in their respective fields, no matter their experience…. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/859571370.html

     AUDITION TO RECORD READING THE BIBLE
When audio Bible ministry Faith Comes by Hearing (http://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/) first started recording Audio Bibles in multiple languages, two or three recordings a year was considered a success.

With advancements in recording equipment, production was pushed to 10-15 annual Audio New Testaments. As digital technology met with increased funding, the ministry made substantial progress and now releases 90 to 100 new recordings every year.

FCBH has now taken the next step in recording technology and is introducing Virtual Recording (http://www.virtualrecording.com/), which can potentially handle hundreds of recording projects simultaneously. The new system opens up participation in Scripture recording to anyone with a computer, microphone, and Internet connection…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010131.htm

     BLIND TO OUR BLINDNESS
by Paul Tripp
Do you really know yourself as well as you think you do? I ended my last article asking you to consider the critical, progressive warning of Hebrews 3:12-13, paraphrased as, “See to it that none of you has an evil-unbelieving-falling away-hardened heart.” It is a picture of what sin does if undetected, unexposed, and unforsaken. The process of heart hardening begins long before that hardness becomes obvious.

It all begins with giving way to sin. Because I am a believer, and the heart of stone has been taken out of me and replaced with a heart of flesh, my conscience bothers me when I sin. This is the beautiful, convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. When my conscience is activated and bothered, I must make one of two choices. The first and best choice is to admit that what I have done is wrong and place myself once again under the justifying mercies of Christ, receiving his forgiveness. Or I can erect some system of self-atonement that essentially argues for the rightness of what I’ve done. I am making myself feel good about what God says is not good. I am participating in my own spiritual blindness. Everyone still living with sin is a skilled self-swindler…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/blind-to-our-blindness-88959/

     OHIO CIGAR SHOP HOSTS REGULAR BIBLE STUDY
A smoke shop in Rock River, Ohio regularly welcomes cigar enthusiasts with an interest in the Bible for a somewhat unorthodox study group. Local Lutheran pastor Eric Van Scyoc hosts a Bible study twice a month in a back room in the store, where listeners enjoy a smoke, learn about the Word, and fellowship together. It’s even referred to as the “Smokin’ Bible Study” by Van Scyoc’s congregation…. Read this in full at
http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/165129-ohio-cigar-shop-hosts-regular-bible-study.html

     HE IS OUR SOURCE
He is the Source.
Of everything.
Strength for your day.
Wisdom for your task.
Comfort for your soul.
Grace for your battle.
Provision for each need.
Understanding for each failure.
Assistance for every encounter.
- Jack Hayford

     HUDSON TAYLOR’S STRUGGLE WITH ABIDING
by Mark Ellis
Perhaps no missionary since the Apostle Paul had such an enormous impact on such a vast geographic area. During his 51 years in China, Hudson Taylor led thousands to Christ, recruited hundreds of missionaries to join him in the task, and established 125 schools.

Yet one of the most elemental principles in the Scripture – abiding – presented in the 15th chapter of John, caused a major struggle for the spiritual titan.

For years I longed to abide, but I thought of it as a very high attainment to which I was unequal, involving spiritual heights to scale for which I did not have the needed strength,” he admitted…. Read this in full at
http://blog.godreports.com/2013/01/hudson-taylors-struggle-with-abiding/

     SUMMARY OF URBANA 12
On the day after Urbana 12, InterVarsity’s Student Missions Conference, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay declared January 1, 2013, as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Day in St. Louis. The Proclamation, presented to Urbana 12 Director Tom Lin and Urbana 12 Operations Director Rob Knight, extended thanks and appreciation to InterVarsity for choosing St. Louis to host Urbana 06, Urbana 09, and Urbana 12.

The ultimate success of Urbana 12 will be recorded in heaven, but Tom Lin offered these benchmark figures:
* 16,000+ total attendance
* 32,000 Caregiver Kits assembled to distribute to AIDS Caregivers in three African countries.
* $800,000+ given in the Urbana 12 offering (donations are still coming in)…. Read this in full at
http://www.intervarsity.org/news/urbana-blessings-st-louis
VIDEO: http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=4d6caa4df34e247bebcb5fb4e&id=271eab4d0e&e=5a37ad6753

     MILLENNIALS AT WORSHIP SERVICES ARE FEW BUT PASSIONATE
Among young believers, those who actually attend worship services weekly or at least once a month are even more scarce. Fewer than 10% of young adults regularly attend worship services.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research agency, analyzed Protestant trends from 1972 to 2010 in data collected by the General Social Survey, a biannual survey from the National Opinion Research Center.

When he looked at young adults ages 23 to 35 — an age group that is often away from their parents’ influence and the cocoon of college — he found that during those 38 years:
* Mainline Protestant numbers dove from 24% to 6% and their worship attendance slid from more than 4% to less than 2%…. Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/22/religion-millennial-church/1770519/

     ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN ONLY BECAUSE OF FAMILY?
by Robin Schumacher
A common charge atheists make against Christianity, as well as the fact that the Christian faith is the top worldview on the planet where numbers are concerned, is that many or most of those who profess to be Christians are only doing so because they were raised in a Christian household. The thought is, if those same people were raised in a Muslim or atheist home, they’d sport that particular belief system, with the conclusion being that it isn’t the validity of Christianity that’s made so many Christians, but it’s just a cultural thing instead. True or false? …. Read this in full at
http://blogs.christianpost.com/confident-christian/are-you-a-christian-only-because-of-family-14352/

     ASPIRING TO HIGHER THOUGHT
No man tends to do a thing by his desire and endeavour unless it be previously known to him. Wherefore since man is directed by divine providence to a higher good than human frailty can attain in the present life, … it was necessary for his mind to be bidden to something higher than those things to which our reason can reach in the present life, so that he might learn to aspire, and by his endeavours to tend to something surpassing the whole state of the present life. And this is especially competent to the Christian religion, which alone promises goods spiritual and eternal: for which reason it proposes many things surpassing the thought of man.”
- Thomas Aquinas (1225?-1274), Summa Contra Gentiles [1264], Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1923, I.v, p. 9-10

     LENT 2013
Lent begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13
Lent ends Saturday, March 30

     VERSE TO PONDER
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
- James 4:10 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
Let us be the first to give a friendly sign; to nod first, smile first, speak first, and- if such a thing is necessary – forgive first.”
- Unknown

     REVIEW OF “AN EVANGELICAL MANIFESTO” PART 1
by Roger Olson
I am finally getting around to commenting publicly on “A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment,” otherwise known as “An Evangelical Manifesto,” published by a group of leading evangelical thinkers in 2008.

If you have not yet read any of it, please go to http://www.anevangelicalmanifesto.com. There you will find “An Introduction,” “An Executive Summary,” and the Manifesto itself.

This is not, of course, the first or only such statement about evangelical identity and commitment published by evangelical spokespersons (always self-appointed, of course, as there is no evangelical headquarters like the Catholic Vatican to issue such). Others, perhaps with different purposes, come to mind such as “The Chicago Call” and “The Gospel Celebration.” Three friends and I drafted one entitled “The Word Made Fresh: A Call for a Renewal of the Evangelical Spirit.” It was signed by about 110 evangelical scholars and leaders.

Whenever I read a declaration such as An Evangelical Manifesto I wonder first about its purpose. What motivated it? I look at the list of steering committee members and recognize some of them (I don’t know all of them) as what I would call “centrist evangelicals.” Indeed, the Manifesto makes a major point of criticizing both fundamentalism and liberalism. Some of its wording might be interpreted as implying criticism of progressive or postconservative evangelicals, but there is no explicit mention of them…. Read this in full at
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/01/review-of-an-evangelical-manifesto-part-1/

     REV. LILLIAN DANIEL ON “SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS”
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that nearly one in five — 20% of Americans — say they have no religious affiliation. Many of them are people who say they are “spiritual but not religious.” They may believe in God, but they do not want anything to do with organized religion. Meanwhile, books by prominent atheists have condemned religion in general and Christianity in particular. These criticisms have offended many religion leaders, among them the Reverend Lillian Daniel, who has a book out called “When ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Is Not Enough.”

At the First Congregational Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, an upscale suburb of Chicago, Lillian Daniel is the senior minister. She says she has had enough of outsiders who bash the church, and of church people who don’t protest. So she is pushing back herself — in a new book, in articles, and in sermons she preaches as a guest minister around the country.

At Howard University in Washington, DC recently, Daniel railed at writers and others who, she says, have blamed the church for many of the world’s biggest problems…. Read this in full at
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/january-25-2013/rev-lillian-daniel-on-spiritual-but-not-religious/14570/

     THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN BEING HAPPY
by Emily Esfahani Smith
Life, liberty, and the—actually, you might want to stop right there. An article in The Atlantic, “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” mines history and recent research to show the pursuit of happiness might be the biggest obstacle to finding it. But pursue meaning and you might be happier with the outcome…. Read this in full at
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/

     2012: THE YEAR OF THE OUTSPOKEN CHRISTIAN ATHLETE
Faith has always taken a front-row seat in the realm of professional sports. Pre-game prayers and post-game God-thanking have long been staples of Monday Night Football match-ups, Saturday afternoon baseball games, and primetime NBA showdowns. But 2012 witnessed the convergence of faith and sports on a whole new level. Superstars like Tim Tebow, Olympians Gabby Douglas and Lolo Jones, and underdogs like Jeremy Lin and Bubba Watson made more headlines for their faith than their game, confirming 2012 as the year when faith became more than a post-game platitude.

Relevant magazine takes a look at the year’s biggest stories and what was written and said about or by these outspoken champions — for better or for worse — in this year of the Christian athlete…. Read this in full at
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/2012-year-outspoken-christian-athlete

     THE LOOSING FACE OF HUMANITY
by Brian Nixon
A human being is a marvelous creation. An average human has 206 bones, 650 muscles, trillions of cells, billions of nerves, a circulatory system, a digestive system, a nervous system, a brain to think, feel, and create, and hundreds of other functions to assist and keep the body in order and running.

Yet, a human is more than just the “matter” that makes up its body. Humans have thoughts, feelings, and are capable of worship. A simple analogy is to think of a human as trinitarian in its composition: mind (reflection, emotions, self-consciousness, and creative ability), body (our physical makeup, including the brain, but independent of its non-physical nature), and a soul (our nature that communes, seeks, or worships God).

Of course all three analogous components of a human interact and are interdependent with one another, but the analogy is helpful in aiding us with a general understanding that there is more to a person than just flesh and bones.

King David, in Psalm 8, asks, “What is man?” This is a great question. Many philosophers, thinkers, and religious leaders have attempted to answer this question, coming to different ideas concerning the nature of man…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010143.htm

     PASTOR DEFENDS CARRYING A PISTOL IN THE PULPIT ON SUNDAYS
While a national debate goes on about the prevalence of guns in this country, one pastor defends his packing a gun when preaching from the pulpit on Sundays.

Rev. Larry Dickey at First Baptist Church, Sunizona, AZ, about three hours east of Phoenix, shares his rationale on ChurchExecutive.com (http://churchexecutive.com/archives/pistol-packing-pastor): “I do so because there is a need for people to understand that we need to defend families and ourselves. We are not a nation that understands how important it is to be vigilant in safely handling a firearm in a defensive manner–with courts and other segments of our society thinking if we are unarmed we will be a safer people.”

Dickey has had a CCW permit for Arizona, Nevada and Utah, and the training that goes with carrying firearms. “I was in one of the first Law Enforcement Explorer posts in southern California in the 1960s,” he says. “I have a degree in police science, now called criminal justice, and have been an endorsed chaplain with my denomination for more than 25 years.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/5519471373.html

     CHURCH SECURITY AFTER SANDY HOOK
The Sandy Hook school massacre terrified parents and sparked a debate on gun control and school security. But it’s also led to some soul searching on church staffs worried about how to best protect worshipers and school children in their buildings.

For me it’s a reminder that these kinds of things can happen anywhere,” said Christopher Chapman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.

While violence in school is nothing new, incidents like the Connecticut shootings and the child sexual abuse case at Penn State University call ministers to revisit existing security measures and consider new ones, Chapman said.

But it’s not as easy as simply making a decision or writing a check — assuming the funds are available — to add security guards or cameras.

Often there is very little will to actually do anything,” he said. “Once you get away from the emotion, people start hemming and hawing — there’s a pretty small window of time to act.” But act they must, church security experts say…. Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/ministry/congregations/item/8170-church-security-after-sandy-hook

     VIDEO SERIES SHOWS WHY WE NEED TO KNOW US CHURCH HISTORY
Reviewed by Elesha Coffman
The video series People of Faith: Christianity in America (Vision Video) — produced by the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College (Illinois), with support from the Lilly Endowment — shows Christians engaged in public life during the European settlement, the founding of the nation, the Civil War, the 19th-century social reform movements, and the civil rights movement. Christian activity is portrayed as predominantly positive, though not entirely so. For example, the series points out that Christians made arguments both for and against slavery, and that Prohibition began as a public health crusade against a devastating social problem but quickly turned punitive and counterproductive. Subjects that Christians got mostly wrong, notably the treatment of Native Americans, are touched on lightly, if at all…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/december/this-american-christian-life.html

     CHRISTIAN HISTORY ‘MADE EASY’: SEEING ‘WHAT DRAWS US TOGETHER’
Professor Timothy Paul Jones acknowledges that plenty of people view the study of history as boring — full of drab facts and dates they’d rather forget.

But Jones says it shouldn’t be that way, and he’s written a book about Christian history — now in the form of a small-group DVD curriculum — that recounts 2,000 years of Christian faith with fascinating stories he believes are as entertaining as a good fiction book. Sure, the facts and dates are there, but they’re not the focus.

Jones’ goal is to help Christians understand and appreciate their faith more by filling in that huge two millennia gap between the apostles and, say, Billy Graham.

The book and curriculum are titled, perhaps appropriately, “Christian History Made Easy” (Rose Publishing). It’s a 12-week session that has been used by churches, homeschoolers, and Christians schools. The curriculum intersperses a Jones lecture with animation, intended to make it more entertaining…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39609

     IN JERUSALEM, THE TEMPLE THAT JESUS VISITED
by Stephen Douglas Wilson
Viewing the remains of the Jewish Temple complex that Jesus visited on many occasions remains the favorite aspect of both trips I’ve made to Israel. After nearly 2,000 years, the Temple still inspires the many Jewish and Christian visitors to the old city of Jerusalem.

In the New Testament, the term “Temple” is used for both the sanctuary/shrine as well as for the whole Temple complex site that includes its many courts and retaining walls. The Temple that Jesus visited was started by King Herod beginning around 20-19 B.C. Under Herod, the sanctuary itself was completed in a year and a half, but construction on the various courts, gates and retaining walls continued on and off until just a few years before the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66.

In the early ministry of Jesus, the most recent terminus of construction to that point had occurred 46 years after Herod began the project, according to the biblical record in John 2:20. It was the third Jewish Temple built on the site. Solomon and Zerubbabel had earlier sponsored Temple complexes there, but the historian Josephus related that Herod even removed the foundation stones of the earlier Temples to construct his Temple (Antiquities of the Jews, 15,391; 15,421)…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39610

     INSIDE THE MIND OF C. S. LEWIS
by Jack Wellman
C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and his brilliant observations seem to boil down the intricacies of life to a seismically active approach to life. Some of the quotes that come from his plethora of literature are timeless. C. S. Lewis thought that life was no accident but was an intentional, purposeful event. In saying as much he wrote, “If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents-the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts-i.e. of materialism and astronomy-are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.” …. Read this in full at
http://blogs.christianpost.com/better-than-i-deserve/inside-the-mind-of-c-s-lewis-14284/

     EVANGELICALS WHO HAVE LEFT THE RIGHT
by Marcia Pally
Post-election reporting that 79% of white evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney got little attention in the news because most journalists thought it wasn’t news. Evangelical support for the GOP has been consistent; even Romney’s Mormonism didn’t put them off. So election analysis approached white evangelicals as it usually has: as religio-political lemmings, all voting Republican for all the same reasons.

Yet where there was once the appearance of a monovocal evangelicalism there is now robust polyphony—what theologian Scot McKnight calls “the biggest change in the evangelical movement at the end of the twentieth century, a new kind of Christian social conscience.” This deserves our attention because most politics does not happen at elections but in between, when policy is negotiated and implemented. Current shifts in evangelical activism have re-routed the flow of evangelical money, time, and energy, and are changing the demands on the US political system. This essay investigating the shift is based on seven years of field research in evangelical books, articles, newsletters, sermons, and blogs, and on interviews with evangelicals, ages 19 to 74, across geographic and demographic groups—from students in Illinois to retired firemen from Mississippi, from former bikers to professors and political consultants (see The New Evangelicals: Expanding The Vision Of The Common Good)…. Read this in full at
http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2013/01/15/evangelicals-who-have-left-the-right/

     POLL SHOWS A DOUBLE STANDARD ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Half of Americans worry that religious freedom in the US is at risk, and many say activist groups — particularly gays and lesbians — are trying to remove “traditional Christian values” from the public square.

The findings of a poll published Jan. 23, reveal a “double standard” among a significant portion of evangelicals on the question of religious liberty, said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, a California think tank that studies American religion and culture.

While these Christians are particularly concerned that religious freedoms are being eroded in this country, “they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture,” said Kinnamon.

They cannot have it both ways,” he said. “This does not mean putting Judeo-Christian values aside, but it will require a renegotiation of those values in the public square as America increasingly becomes a multi-faith nation.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/2013/01/23/poll-shows-a-double-standard-on-religious-liberty/

     RESEARCHERS RANK MOST, LEAST MEGACHURCH-ORIENTED CITIES IN US
A new study reveals which US cities have the highest and lowest concentration of megachurch attenders among the Christian population.

Only 10% of self-identified Christians in the United States attend megachurches – defined in the new Barna Group study as congregations of 1,000 people or more – though the concentration of megachurch attenders varies from city to city.

Las Vegas has the highest percentage of megachurch attenders, with 29% of Christians in the market attending these large churches. Baton Rouge, La., is second on the list (27%), and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (21%) is third.

Other cities situated at the top of the list include Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas (19%), Houston, Texas (19%), Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM (19%), and Orlando, Fla. (18%).

The three cities at the bottom of the list, with the lowest percentage of megachurch attenders among Christians in the market (1% each), were Salt Lake City, Utah, Toledo, Ohio, and Madison, Wis…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/researchers-rank-most-least-megachurch-oriented-cities-in-u-s-88913/

     CONSIDER
Attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.”
- William Carey

     VERSE TO PONDER
From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.
- Philippians 4:8 (CEB)

     THIS WEEK’S HYMN: THE OLD YEAR NOW HATH PASSED AWAY
Words: Johann Steuerlein, 1588; translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, 1863.
Music: Cantionale Germanicum, 1628

The old year now hath passed away;
We thank Thee, O our God, today
That Thou hast kept us through the year
When danger and distress were near.

We pray Thee, O eternal Son,
Who with the Father reign’st as One,
To guard and rule Thy Christendom
Through all the ages yet to come.

Take not Thy saving Word away,
Our souls’ true comfort, staff, and stay.
Abide with us and keep us free
From errors, following only Thee.

Oh, help us to forsake all sin,
A new and holier course begin!
Mark not what once was done amiss;
A happier, better year be this,

Wherein as Christians we may live
Or die in peace that Thou canst give,
To rise again when Thou shalt come
And enter Thine eternal home.

There shall we thank Thee and adore
With all the angels evermore.
Lord Jesus Christ, increase our faith
To praise Thy Name through life and death.

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/o/y/oyearnwp.htm

     FRIDAY NIGHT ARCHIVE REPLAY – 02/01/2013
Listen to last Friday night’s (02/01/2013) Path Of Life fellowship gathering online broadcast on Blogtalk radio here:
T
HE HUDDLED MASSES – SAVED BUT CLUELESS
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepath/2013/02/02/the-huddled-masses–saved-but-clueless

     ON PRAYER
Whatever particular object we may want to pray for, we have never prayed for it aright till we have prayed for it in the words and spirit of the Lord’s Prayer. That, I repeat, is not one prayer among many. It covers all legitimate Christian praying, and indeed the saying of it affords the best test whether our wants of the moment can become a prayer offered ‘in the name of Christ.’”
- Charles Gore (1853-1932), The Sermon on the Mount [1910], London: John Murray, 1905, p. 132

     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. 

The Table Podcasts from Dallas Theological Seminary
http://www.dts.edu/thetable/

Infographic: The Trustworthiness of Beards
http://thumbnails.visually.netdna-cdn.com/how-much-you-can-trust-a-bearded-man_50290a59bc960.jpg

Infographic: Kitchen Cheat Sheet
http://visual.ly/kitchen-cheat-sheet

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 good pun is its own reword.
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/  

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