Connecting man to man to God
For week of March 31, 2013
The weekly newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
Our mission is to lead men to Jesus Christ and provide opportunity for Christian men to grow in their faith and minister to others.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
- MORE THAN HALF OF AMERICANS BELIEVE THE BIBLE HAS TOO LITTLE INFLUENCE IN SOCIETY, YET MANY SELDOM READ IT
- CATCHING UP WITH THE GLOBAL CHURCH
- THE SECRET TO LIVING BY FAITH
- NICODEMUS, THE MYSTERY MAN OF HOLY WEEK
- SEEING DEAD PEOPLE
- WHY DO MINISTRY MEN FALL INTO ADULTERY?
- BREAK IT DOWN AND MAKE IT PLAIN: REACHING OUT TO THE INCARCERATED
- JONI AND KEN TADA’S 30 YEAR MARRIAGE ENDURES QUADRIPLEGIA, BREAST CANCER, DEPRESSION AND CHRONIC PAIN
- FRIDAY NIGHT ARCHIVE REPLAY
- MUCH MORE . . .
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
– Isaiah 53: 3-5
“Faith is simply taking God at His word.”
– Unknown Author
MORE THAN HALF OF AMERICANS BELIEVE THE BIBLE HAS TOO LITTLE INFLUENCE IN SOCIETY, YET MANY SELDOM READ IT
A new report finds Americans overwhelmingly (77%) believe morals and values are declining in the US. The most-cited cause for the decline? A lack of Bible reading.
The findings are reported in American Bible Society’s annual State of the Bible survey. The report details Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in US homes, and more. As in previous years, the survey finds that the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America.
But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized – particularly when the data is examined by age group…. Read this in full at
IS GOD OUR FRIEND?
by Clare De Graaf
Frankly, I cringe a little every time I hear Christians singing, “I am a friend of God.”
It’s not that the Bible doesn’t use those words occasionally. Abraham and Moses were considered friends of God. (Gen. 15:6; Exodus 33:11) And, of course, Jesus was the friend of both sinners and the righteous. So, the idea of God being our friend is not unbiblical. I think it’s just unbalanced.
In our attempt to humanize God, there is the real danger of making him more like us than he is, or redefining our true relationship to him based on a few verses of scripture. And, how we think of God, directly affects our reverence of him. The right kind of fear of God is good for us.
For example; when I go to a friend for advice, I can take it or leave it. However, when I go to God and ignore his advice I do so at great danger to my soul and life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7….
Read this in full at
CATCHING UP WITH THE GLOBAL CHURCH
Patrick Johnstone is the author of Operation World, “the definitive prayer guide to every nation.” The resource has sold more than 2.5 million copies and is considered by many to be the most important missions resource in history. Johnstone, a former missionary, recently took on another writing project of equally impressive scope: The Future of the Global Church (IVP, 2012). The book includes data on global history, demographics, and religion. Read this interview with him:
Q: What are some surprising developments in Christianity globally?
A: The 1990s was the greatest harvest into the kingdom of God that the world has ever seen. Part of this is due to trends in demographics. The places where Christian faith has flourished have also been the places with the greatest population growth. Evangelical Christians went through a wilderness period from the 1920s until the 1960s. But now evangelicals are a leading expression of Christianity. I recently spoke at an Anglican clergy conference and said, “Do you realize that the Anglican Communion in 2050, if present trends continue, will be 84 percent African and almost entirely evangelical?” Arguments about homosexuality, women’s ministry, and other current hot issues in Anglicanism will hardly be relevant in 2050…. Read this in full at
THE SECRET TO LIVING BY FAITH
by Bill Blankschaen
We can discover the secret to living by faith when God calls us to let go but not let up.
It’s one of those oxymoronic things that God calls us to do, like give up in order to gain, or humble ourselves in order to be exalted. Over the last year, we’ve had to try learn this truth as God has pried our fingers back one by one, leaving us, as it were, living with our palm wide open. And on that open hand, He placed a flat sheet of paper, representing our calling. Then He told us to run. With all our might.
If you’ve ever tried to do this before — and you should at least once in life – you’ll quickly find it to be an impossible task without some outside intervention. You might make a few halting steps with the paper in place, but as soon as you get any kind of momentum going — swoosh! The paper flies away and the ride comes to a complete halt.
We have discovered that God often asks us to do what is only possible if He does it through us. There’s no way we can run at full speed with His calling in our hand unless He keeps it there. To complicate things further, when I relax and allow my fingers to naturally curl in to clutch at the paper, my efforts only push it up and off my hand, sending it all into a dizzying spin that may or may not leave me with those blasted paper cuts…. Read this in full at
THE DAY BETWEEN
“As far as we know, there has only been one day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed Jesus was alive. On Saturday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples wake after not having slept for two days. The city that was screaming for blood the day before is quiet. Crowds have disbanded. Jesus is dead.
“This isn’t Sunday. This isn’t Friday. This is Saturday. The day after *this* but the day before *that*. The day after a prayer gets prayed but there is no answer on the way. The day after a soul gets crushed way down but there’s no promise of ever getting up off the mat. It’s a strange day, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light.
“Even in the Bible — outside of one detail about guards being posted to watch the tomb — we’re told nothing about Saturday. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened….
“After trouble hits you, after the agony of Friday, you call out to God. “Hear me! Listen to me! Respond to me! Do something! Say something! Rescue!” Nothing.
“An ancient homily spoke of this strange day: ‘What happened today on earth? There is a great silence — a great silence and stillness. A great silence because the king sleeps. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent as for a lost sheep.’ The Apostles’ Creed says Jesus descended in to hell. Somehow no suffering you go through is suffering Jesus will not endure in order to save you.
“The miracle of Sunday is that a dead man lives. The miracle of Saturday is that the eternal Son of God lies dead.
“So Jesus Christ defeats our great enemy death not by proclaiming his invincibility over it but by submitting himself to it. If you can find this Jesus in a grave, if you can find him in death, if you can find him in hell, where can you not find him? Where will he not turn up?”
– John Ortberg in Who Is This Man? (Zondervan, 2012)
In his book If I Should Die Before I Live, Joe Lomusio writes: “If I were to ask you to describe Easter without using any words, and you could only use punctuation marks, which punctuation mark would you choose to describe this Easter for yourself?
“Maybe this Easter is a comma for you. It makes you stop, pause, think and listen; but that’s about it. Perhaps today is a downer—a big bold period. You thought you’d feel excited, but instead it seems to be more of an empty ritual. You feel as if you’re not on the inside, but on the outside…an onlooker. It was this day when life became a period for Jesus’ disciples. He was dead. He was buried. An end to expectations.
“But wait—news of an empty tomb…the period is no longer a period, it’s a question mark. That’s worse than a period. Now they’re beginning to doubt. Where is He? They’re perplexed. The guards are gone; the stone is rolled away. He is not there. If not there, where? An angel speaks, ‘Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was in Galilee, saying the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and how He must be crucified, and the third day He must rise again?’
“Of course they remembered! The periods are gone. The question marks are removed. There is one massive exclamation point! That’s what Easter is all about…an exclamation of gratitude and of praise for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and for the salvation His victory over death brought to us.”
THE BEGINNING OF GLORY
“Easter is not the celebration of a past event. The alleluia is not for what was; Easter proclaims a beginning which has already decided the remotest future. The Resurrection means that the beginning of glory has already started.”
– Karl Rahner (1904-1984), Everyday Faith, Herder and Herder, 1968, p. 71
EASTER LEADS TO MISSION
by R. Randy Day
Easter celebrates God’s steady, undying love for the world and its people as revealed in Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world….” (John 3:16)
The symbols of Easter are the empty cross and the empty tomb—Golgotha and the garden of resurrection. In Scripture these are real places, places of encounter between God and humanity — first in pain, then in new life. They are experiences of redemption and promise.
The pathways from the cross and the empty tomb always lead into Christian mission — into Christian witness and service in a world of need and uncertainty.
Mission is the focus of post-resurrection appearances by Jesus to his followers in the Gospels of Matthew and John and in the Book of Acts, which continues the Gospel of Luke:
* Make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)
* “Feed my lambs….tend my sheep” (John 21:15-17)
* Be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)
These passages give us mandates that stretch across the centuries and define the nature and purpose of The United Methodist Church today. From the very start, the Christian community was told by Jesus to look beyond itself — to be bearers of good news and loving service, to continue the ministry and mission of Jesus…everywhere…forever.
Jesus preached and taught, healed and fed, changed and forgave sinners, defended the oppressed, challenged oppressors, proclaimed peace, championed justice and mercy, and looked evil in the face and was not afraid. Our mission is to follow Him and witness to His example.
The pathways from Golgotha and the garden of resurrection lead into Christian mission. The strength to take the mission road comes from God whose grace and love can never be killed or reduced.
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen, indeed!
SAVED FROM SIN
“Christ will be Master of the heart, and sin must be mortified… If your life is unholy your heart is unchanged; and if your heart is unchanged you are an unsaved person. If the Saviour has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, He has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people not in their sins, but from them.”
– Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), Evening by Evening, New York: Sheldon and Company, 1869, p. 39
NICODEMUS, THE MYSTERY MAN OF HOLY WEEK
by Daniel Burke
He came to Jesus at night, sneaking off to see the man behind the miracles.
He was a powerful Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. He wasn’t supposed to mix with the motley lot that followed Jesus.
But Nicodemus had to know: Was the charismatic Galilean for real?
Jesus’ answers in the Gospel of John are among his most famous teachings: Nobody can see the kingdom of God unless they are “born again,” he told Nicodemus. And God so loved the world that he gave his only son to save it.
Those words remain widely cited — witness the legion of John 3:16 signs at sporting events — but the man they are spoken to, Nicodemus, remains somewhat of a mystery…. Read this in full at
TENEBRAE & TRUST
by Jayne Davis
Faith is choosing to believe in resurrection when you are in the tomb. To believe that God can change your situation, though you have neither the strength nor the know-how to roll the stone away. To dare to imagine God’s dream for your relationship, for your circumstance, for all of the daily and difficult tomb-like places in your life, even when you can’t fathom what that might look like; even, and especially, when darkness seems inevitable…. Read this in full at
SEEING DEAD PEOPLE
by Clay Morgan
An old friend of mine named Dave died recently. Cancer. He was my age, a great guy with a heart you could feel and a smile that made you believe.
Dave and I weren’t always close, just always connected. Every time we saw each other we would hug and smile and catch up on where we were heading in life. We were teenagers together in the same church and twenty-something college students together at the same university. We were also guys at some of the same parties, both of us uncomfortable in the shared knowledge of a God who knew we weren’t giving our best in those days.
Then some years passed, a few random encounters in between, and we were once again reconnected. We had both changed after going through our own personal apocalypses. His was much more severe, a tragic diagnosis that would ultimately prove inescapable. One beautiful summer morning we met up, and he was smiling. I wondered how sick he really was and if I might hurt him when we hugged. I asked him how he was doing. He told me God was good. Good. What is that anyway? We always talk about the good life. It used to mean something about money or status or at least a lot of people who thought we were cool. But a good God is not the same thing as a good life, to most people. And when someone who is dying tells you that God is good, you don’t forget it…. Read this in full at
FULLER SEMINARY PRESIDENT ON THE FRAGMENTATION AND FUTURE OF AMERICAN EVANGELICALISM
Read this interview with the new president of Fuller Theological Seminary, Mark Labberton:
Q: Some believe that the old evangelical coalition is fragmenting. Institutions founded many decades ago by the likes of Billy Graham and Harold John Ockenga — including Christianity Today, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Fuller Seminary — are sometimes regarded as the only institutions that might have the capacity to prevent the dissolution of American evangelicalism into warring tribes. Does Fuller have a role to play in helping the center hold?
A: The best of evangelicalism has been centered in Jesus Christ and Trinitarian orthodoxy, not in evangelicalism itself as a movement or a theology. In other words, evangelicalism is not or should not be about evangelicalism. It’s about Christ. Fuller has been a center of evangelicalism because it’s tried to hold onto that living center — a center that we believe is really the center of reality. Fuller must hold onto that. Everything else has to be worked out from there.
Whether that becomes a rallying point that re-galvanizes something like a more cultural or institutional expression of evangelicalism is another question. I don’t pretend to have any easy answer. But Fuller certainly wants to hold up that center, the hope of the living Christ, and to call all people to make their response to that…. Read this in full at
CONNECTED CHRISTIAN RESISTANCE
by Douglas Wilson
Because we live in a universe, created by the one true God, this means that everything is connected. Every subject is related. Every move the government makes is connected to something else. Congress passes a law and three months later, in Brazil, a butterfly flaps its wings.
What we need is for God to give us the grace of being able to see this. We need to see all the connections — and we need to do this without becoming conspiracybots. We need to see all the connections — not as plot points in the grand conspiracy, but rather as the threads in a tightly-woven tapestry. We need for God to give us seers, who see the world whole and entire…. Read this in full at
The bulk of professed Christians are used to speak of man as of a being, who, naturally pure, and inclined to all virtue, is sometimes, almost involuntarily, drawn out of the right course, or is overpowered by the violence of temptation.
Far different is the humiliating language of Christianity. From it we learn that man is an apostate creature, fallen from his high original, degraded in his nature, and depraved in his faculties: indisposed to good, and disposed to evil; prone to vice — it is natural and easy to him; disinclined to virtue — it is difficult and laborious; he is tainted with sin, not slightly and superficially, but radically and to the very core.”
– William Wilberforce (1759-1833), A Practical View, Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1829, p. 85-86
WHY DO MINISTRY MEN FALL INTO ADULTERY?
by Katie Persinger
A lot of people ask why it seems common for men of faith to fall into adultery.
While I don’t fully know the answer, I believe many pastors and other Christian men are at a higher risk for moral failure because they do not know how to have healthy relationships with women who are not their wives.
With a lack of understanding of how to have healthy relationships, the result is either no relationship at all or an unhealthy one that leads to emotional or physical barriers being crossed. I believe there’s a middle ground to be found.
Paul gives some of the only biblical instruction on platonic relationships to Timothy: “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2)…. Read this in full at
BREAK IT DOWN AND MAKE IT PLAIN: REACHING OUT TO THE INCARCERATED
by Dan Wooding
During his recently completed 40+ years of pastoral and prison ministry, the Rev. Roy W. Johnsen of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has witnessed a dramatic range of needs, situations and personalities requiring the deft touch of care, support — and sometimes confrontation.
In his recently-released book, “Break It Down and Make It Plain: Proclaiming Freedom to Prisoners,” Johnsen shares the cumulative wisdom of his varied ministries, and shows how biblical truths can and must be applied where human wholeness and self-worth are at stake.
Published by AuthorHouse, the narrative encompasses a dramatic journey revealing real-life transformations of both the haves and have-nots of society, but especially of those laid low through imprisonment…. Read this in full at
MISSOURI MAYOR TO INSTALL NATIONAL MOTTO ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ INSIDE CITY BUILDINGS
City buildings in St. Peters, Mo., will begin displaying the national motto “In God We Trust” in April – a decision alarming to atheists who believe the motto is unconstitutional.
Inspired by similar efforts throughout the nation, St. Peters, Mo., Mayor Len Pagano and members of the Board of Aldermen had voted (five voting yes and three absent) on Jan. 10 to approve the display.
“When I heard this idea at the National League of Cities conference, I thought what a great way of showing patriotism,” Pagano said. “I have found that it’s something the community at large thinks is the right thing to do, and we are leading the way by being the first city in St. Charles County to display ‘In God We Trust’ in city buildings.” …. Read this in full at
JONI AND KEN TADA’S 30 YEAR MARRIAGE ENDURES QUADRIPLEGIA, BREAST CANCER, DEPRESSION AND CHRONIC PAIN
by Dan Wooding
What a journey Joni and Ken Tada have shared together. When Ken married wheel-chair bound Joni in 1982, he expected some “for worse” in their marriage, but knew that God had brought them together for a reason. After chronic pain came along, followed by severe depression, then breast cancer, they struggled a bit in their relationship, but soon learned secret to the “for better.” Now, for the first time, the Tadas share their inspiring love story in their new book, “Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story,” which is releasing in April from Zondervan.
“Joni & Ken” shows the true story between and man and a woman who know the reality of “in sickness and in health.” While Ken thought he knew what he was getting into, marrying a woman who had lived with quadriplegia since a diving accident at age 17, he soon became overwhelmed by the never-ending responsibility of caring for a disabled spouse…. Read this in full at
JESUS, THE PROPHET OF NUDGE
by Mark D. W. Edington
Jesus is a master of the indirect approach, and rarely chooses the path of direct confrontation. The gospel accounts are replete with examples of the people around Jesus trying to get him to buy into an ideologically polarized debate: whether or not to pay taxes, whether or not to permit divorce, even whether or not to support capital punishment.
Instead, he employs a decidedly oblique approach–a nudge strategy. Even when he’s on trial for his life, he tries to use an indirect approach to establish his position gently rather than bombastically. (“You are a king, then?” asks Pilate. “You have said so,” comes the reply.)
In these cases and others Jesus doesn’t take the bait…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.
– 1 John 1:9 (CEB)
“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”
– G. K. Chesterton
LEADERSHIP AXIOMS FROM BILL HYBELS
* Motivate people by setting realistic goals.
* Assess if you are part of the problem.
* Want to take big hills? Make bold moves.
* Ask for input to improve the organization.
* Go for it – this is your one and only life.
* What do you believe in, to the very core of your being?
* If you lead, you must read…. Read this in full at
WHY SO SERIOUS?
by Jim Powell
Sometimes I think we’re too serious. Perhaps it’s because we are so focused on helping people that we don’t have time or energy for laughter and a little bit of fun. Perhaps it’s because we’ve come to equate seriousness with deep spirituality … after all, when was the last time you saw a piece of artwork that showed Jesus smiling? Or perhaps we have an unspoken theology that doesn’t say anything about the enjoyment of life?
C.S. Lewis once said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
I agree, but too often I lose sight of that. When I do, it’s important to remind myself of all the Scriptures have to say about enjoying the life God has given us.
Here are just a few points to remind us that it doesn’t always have to be serious to be spiritual…. Read this in full at
THE TRUE TEACHER
“[Experience] is the only thing that teaches us the articles of our creed in a way worth learning them. Every one of us carries professed beliefs, which lie there inoperative, bedridden, in the hospital and dormitory of our souls, until some great necessity or sudden circumstance comes that flings a beam of light upon them, and then they start and waken. We do not know the use of the sword until we are in battle. Until the shipwreck comes, no man puts on the lifebelt in his cabin. Every one of us has large tracts of Christian truth which we think we most surely believe, but which need experience to quicken them, and need us to grow up into the possession of them. Of all our teachers who turn beliefs assented to into beliefs really believed none is so mighty as sorrow; for that makes a man lay a firm hold on the deep things of God’s Word.”
– Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), The Holy of Holies, London: Alexander & Shepheard, 1890, p. 361-362
INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF ‘THE SHACK’
William Paul Young has touched a nerve—if sales of millions of books is any sign. Like his sleeper best-selling novel, The Shack, his new book, Cross Roads (FaithWords), covers God, the human condition, and the process of transformation — though a fair amount of teaching finds its way into the story. It’s teaching that many Christians have found liberating, and many other Christians have rejected. Given the genre of writing, it’s understandable that some readers are left confused about what Young really believes. Christianity Today editor Mark Galli decided to find out…. Read this in full at
DENZEL WASHINGTON ON THE BIBLE AND THE DANGERS OF SUCCESS
Actor Denzel Washington’s charisma remains undimmed. It has helped win him two Oscars — for 1989’s Glory and 2001’s Training Day — and made him rich; he earned $20 million for his February release Safe House. He remains unique among stars in his proven ability to open films, whether action or drama. Not even peers Tom Cruise and Will Smith have shown such range and consistency at the box office.
Some of his money has gone to aid the causes he believes in — including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, on whose board he serves, after it supported the young Denzel during a troubled adolescence, and the Pentecostal West Angeles Church of God in Christ (located in south L.A. and also attended by prominent African-Americans including Magic Johnson), to which he donated $2.5 million in 1995.
Although he doesn’t read much, he studies the Bible daily and says he has just been pondering Psalm 56, with its plea: “Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; the fighting daily oppresseth me.” …. Read this in full at
SOCHI OLYMPICS: OUTREACH PLANNING IN GEAR
Excitement is mounting in the Olympic host city of Sochi, Russia, where the countdown clock in the central square displays fewer than 365 days until the Opening Ceremonies of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games.
In February, Russian dignitaries and Olympic officials celebrated the one-year mark in the recently completed Bolshoy Ice Dome in nearby Adler. Several thousand Sochi residents gathered to watch the countdown at one of the live Olympic viewing sites in their city’s downtown area along the coast of the Black Sea.
Olympic officials and Sochi residents were not the only ones in the area watching as the clock clicked down to the one-year mark. Southern Baptists from Oklahoma and Georgia joined International Mission Board missionaries in the city as preparations for Olympic ministry continue…. Read this in full at
WORLD VISION WORKS TO END GLOBAL WATER CRISIS WITH INNOVATIVE MANUAL PUMP
World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization, has been working for nearly three decades to bring clean water to the most remote areas of the world, and with the invention of a manual, smaller plastic pump, the relief organization is hoping to expand its clean water outreach even farther.
The pump, according to Randy Strash, World Vision’s water, sanitation, and hygiene strategist, consists of a small, plastic PVC pipe and PVC fittings which costs only $25 to assemble, compared to $700 to $800 for standard stainless steel pumps previously used in many parts of the world.
Although the pump’s plastic composition seems flimsy, it will actually last five to seven years without any need for maintenance, according to Strash…. Read this in full at
NEW NUMBERS: SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACT ON YOUTH — MORE TEENS EMBRACING SOCIAL MEDIA TO FIGHT HUNGER
With the 30 Hour Famine (http://www.30hourfamine.org/) national event less than forty days away, World Vision is encouraged by new statistics showing a big jump in the number of teens signing up to participate in the April 26 th – 27th event. The charity says one of the reasons is an emphasis this year on social media outreach. Last April, 30 Hour Famine (30HF) reported more than 3,200* groups signing up to do 30HF. This year, more than 3,500 have signed up, an almost eight (7.8) percent jump. This year, almost a quarter million teens will fast to fight global hunger. 30HF is the world’s largest teen hunger awareness campaign. Since 30HF began in 1992, teens have raised more than $150 million to fight global hunger. The United Nations says in 1992, 40,000 children died from hunger and preventable causes. Today it’s 19,000, still too high but proof that efforts like 30HF are helping…. Read this in full at
RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE NEW RELIGION FOR MANY
For many people holy days such as Easter and Passover have become simply holidays — celebrations with loved ones. But many see spiritual value in these gatherings.
“Relationships have replaced religion for many Millennials,” says Esther Fleece, who spent three years specializing in outreach to young adult Christians for the evangelical group Focus on the Family…. Read this in full at
COMMISSION SOUNDS ALARM ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY THREATS
The US Commission on Civil Rights is best known for its work fighting racial discrimination. But Commissioner Pete Kirsanow has become so worried about religious discrimination that he called for a special hearing of the commission.
“There, I think, is a perception among many people — not just people in the faith-based community — that government has been encroaching on expression of religious beliefs,” Kirsanow said…. Read this in full at
CHINA CRACKS DOWN ON HOUSE CHURCHES
ChinaAid reported in February the Chinese government’s plan to eradicate all unofficial Protestant churches across the country. Now, that plan appears to have been set in motion.
“The ruling Chinese Communist Party’s ideological agency in Jiaozhou city called on township Party committees and neighborhood panels to investigate fully all unofficial venues of worship on their territory,” according to a report from Radio Free Asia…. Read this in full at
THE MONEY MAN BEHIND ATHEISM’S ACTIVISM
Todd Stiefel is far from a household name, and the odds he gets recognized on a street corner, even in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, are small.
For Stiefel, a slim, scruffy ex-Catholic, his public persona is his wallet and activism. Through the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the 38-year-old has made an indelible impact on the nation’s fastest-growing “religious” group: the nonbelievers. Most of the highest-profile atheists campaigns – flashy billboards in high-traffic areas, news-making efforts to get atheists to come out of the closet, and boisterous rallies – are funded by his fortune.
Stiefel isn’t shy about his far-reaching goals…. Read this in full at
NEARLY HALF OF ALL FIRST BIRTHS IN AMERICA OUT OF WEDLOCK, STUDY FINDS
The age at which men and women in America marry is now at historic heights, and as a result the number of children born out of wedlock has also increased, according to a new study by a group of family researchers, who have found that 48 percent of all first births are happening outside of marriage.
On average, women are marrying at age 27 and men at 29 — and the average age is still climbing due to economic and cultural reasons. At the same time, the age at which women have children is also increasing, but not nearly as quickly, according to the report released last week by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and collaborators. For women as a whole, the median age of first birth, 25.7, now falls before the median age of first marriage, 26.5. The report called the phenomenon “The Great Crossover.” By age 25, 44% of women have given birth, while only 38% have married.
“The biggest downside to delayed marriage in America is that many young adults are now putting the baby carriage before marriage,” said co-author and National Marriage Project director Bradford Wilcox. “What they often don’t realize is that children born outside of marriage are significantly more likely to be exposed to a revolving cast of caretakers and the social, emotional and financial fallout associated with family instability and single parenthood.” …. Read this in full at
BELGIUM LEGISLATURE CONSIDERS EUTHANASIA FOR MINORS
Belgian lawmakers are considering whether to expand legalized euthanasia to include children 18 years of age or younger. Euthanasia is already being practiced on minors, an expert told legislators. “We all know it,” and physicians “need a legal framework,” said Dominique Biarent, who oversees the intensive care unit at Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital in Brussels. Pro-life blogger Wesley Smith criticized Biarent’s call for legal guidelines. “Euthanasia guidelines are worse than meaningless, they are pretense,” Smith wrote. “They exist to give the illusion of control. But once people come [to] fully accept the premise of euthanasia — killing as a remedy for suffering — it’s Katy bar the door.” Belgium became the second country to legalize euthanasia in 2002; The Netherlands preceded it…. Read this in full at
“If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – nothing else matters.”
– Jaroslav Pelikan
VERSE TO PONDER
The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 6:23 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: THE DAY OF RESURRECTION
Words: John of Damascus (675-749); translated from Greek to English by John M. Neale, 1862
Music: Henry T. Smart, 1835
The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal, from earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over, with hymns of victory.
Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light;
And listening to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.
Now let the heavens be joyful! Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end.
>from NetHymnal at
Listen to “SON OR SLAVE”
Are you a “son” or a “slave?”
It’s hard to tell in this world today.
Christians have been given freedom in Christ, however, our lives are driven by a performanced based mentality.
Let’s drop the shackles once and for all!
“Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.”
– Mother Teresa
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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SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.
Holy Week Devotionals from Willow Creek Community Church
Peggy’s Place: Easter Links
Amazing Sand Sculptures
Astronaut’s stunning views of Earth
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.)
Never trade luck for skill.
Frank Coleman, Editor
Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, firstname.lastname@example.org 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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