CONNECTIONS News – 07/14/2013

Connecting man to man to God
For week of July 14, 2013
Issue 467

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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LORD God, you created heaven and earth by your great power and outstretched arm; nothing is too hard for you!”
– Jeremiah 32:17 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
Complain as little as possible of your wrongs, for, as a general rule you may be sure that complaining is sin: [because] self-love always magnifies our injuries.”
– Francois de Sales (1567-1622), Introduction to the Devout Life [1609], London: Rivingtons, 1876, III.iii, p. 139

     WHY VIEWING PORN MOCKS THE GOSPEL
by Tim Challies
There is an inescapable consequence to the fact that human beings bear the image of God: There is nothing God values more than human beings.

Bearing God’s image is an extraordinary privilege and brings with it extraordinary worth.

Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?” If you were to accumulate the wealth of Bill Gates and add to it the wealth of Solomon, you would barely be scratching the surface of the value of a soul, of a person. Wealth will fade. It will rust and decay and be lost. People are eternal. When all of that wealth is gone, the soul will live on.

God says there is nothing in all creation that he values more than human beings. And if this is true, there can be nothing more abhorrent to God than the desecration of human beings…. Read this in full at
http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/168743-why-viewing-porn-mocks-the-gospel.html

     HOW TO “LOSE” GRACEFULLY
by Clare De Graaf
A few weeks ago, I was trying my best to persuade a group of Christian leaders of my church to take a course of action that I believed strongly in. Of course, I believed I was right! But, I lost. And, I don’t always like losing. (But, that’s another blog for another day.) It wasn’t a moral or spiritual issue, but it still stung when the majority saw it differently.

I now had a choice to make. I could accept the decision gracefully or go on believing that I was right and be frustrated with those who saw it differently. Sound familiar?

A wise elder once told me, “Clare, when the train is leaving the station, you have two choices. You can either wave it goodbye, or shake your fist at it. Meaning that we have choices how we “lose” – gracefully or angrily.

So, in the church how do we learn to lose gracefully? …. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2013/07/08/how-to-lose-gracefully/

     LOVING YOUR PRODIGAL UNTIL HE OR SHE COMES HOME
by Kelly Arabie
Shattered. Your dreams of your children growing up to be godly Christians now lay like splinters of glass on the marble floor.

Mom, I’m gay,” your son announces. Your daughter reveals, “Dad, I’ve moved in with my boyfriend.”

These words take your breath away. Your adult child is running not only from God, but from you as well. The deception of sexual sin strikes your family with a resounding crack and the fragments pierce your own heart.

A family portrait with your son and his partner isn’t quite what you had expected to frame and hang in the family room. The missing figure of your daughter, who has moved cross-country with her live-in boyfriend, leaves a wound that no Christian platitude can mend.

You need solid, scriptural principles as a foundation for relating to your adult children. Here are 3 biblical beacons to provide some guidance…. Read this in full at
http://www.insight.org/library/articles/parenting/prodigal-child.html?t=Parenting

     8 THINGS I WISH JESUS HAD NEVER SAID
by Eddie Becker
It’s the commandments. It’s His treatment of the ones I deem unlovable in my own mind. It’s the drawn out parables used to teach lessons that cut to the very core of my heart and soul. It’s the not only difficult sayings of Jesus, it’s the ones that frustrate us, that confound us and convict us.

As I struggle through the red letters of my NIV Study Bible, I see numerous statements from Jesus that perplex me. To be blunt, there are several things I wish He had never said. For example: That I’m blessed when I’m persecuted for my beliefs…. Read this in full at
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/8-things-i-wish-jesus-had-never-said

     PASTOR GOES UNDERCOVER AS HOMELESS MAN FOR WEEK
A pastor telling his or her congregation to love others and look out for the welfare of those less fortunate is not a major sermon. It’s said every Sunday from the pulpit by preachers, pastors and ministers all across America. But has it been said so often that people have quit listening or tuned out the message of “living like Jesus?”

Rev. Willie Lyle, newly-appointed pastor of Sango United Methodist Church, has delivered sermons over the years that challenged congregations to demonstrate the gospel of Christ. However, that is not what he decided to do on Sunday, June 23, his first day as Sango’s new pastor. He did something different. Preaching the gospel of Christ was part of his sermon, but this time he spoke from an entirely different point of view.

Three days after receiving the news in April of his appointment as Sango’s pastor, he was awakened by a dream at 2 am. This dream was different from any in the past. In this dream, God told Willie to do something very specific, and God promised Willie if he would do this, then He would provide for Willie and protect him.

There was a problem. What God asked Willie to do was not something Willie wanted to do, and he had no interest in doing it. It was clearly out of his comfort zone…. Read this in full at
http://www.wbir.com/news/article/279666/2/Tenn-pastor-goes-undercover-as-homeless-man-for-week

     THE MAGAZINE THAT FUELED LIBERAL PROTESTANTISM’S BRIEF ASCENDANCY IN AMERICAN CULTURE
by Barton Swaim
The first known use of the word “mainline” to describe the largest Protestant denominations and distinguish them from their growing evangelical and fundamentalist counterparts appeared in the New York Times in 1960 — at the very moment when mainline Protestantism began its rapid decline. You don’t call something “mainline” or “mainstream” unless its supremacy is being disputed (think of the “mainstream media”). And the supremacy of older, more socially prestigious churches within American Protestantism was being directly disputed in the mid-1950s. It’s impossible to speak with precision about what constituted mainline Christianity, but in general the mainline churches de-emphasized doctrinal differences; were Northern and Midwestern rather than Southern; promoted social causes rather than personal conversion or repentance; and virtually always took the liberal line in politics. By 1960, liberal Protestantism enjoyed almost nothing of the authority that had seemed unassailable 15 years earlier.

In the book “The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline,” Elesha Coffman charts the half-century ascendancy of liberal Protestantism in American society from its beginnings in northern seminaries at the turn of the 20th century to its brief triumphant moment immediately after World War II, when it had no effective rival. She does this through the lens of the magazine that, in the absence of any formal governing body, was effectively this strand of Protestantism’s voice and conscience: the Christian Century…. Read this in full at
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324328204578569253573107528.html (refresh the page)

     WAS THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION A JUST WAR?
by Eric Patterson
Was the American Revolution a just war? As we celebrate our independence, it is worth evaluating the justification for the conflict that gave birth to these United States.

Classical just war theory is a Christian paradigm that over the past two millennia has become the basis for the [secular] laws of armed conflict. Christian thinkers, most notably Ambrose and Augustine in the third century, followed later by Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, and others argued that political authorities have a moral obligation to, in Augustine’s formulation: right past wrongs, punish offending nations or states, or to restore what was seized unjustly. In other words, those entrusted with “the sword” had a duty, rooted in New Testament passages such as Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, to promote order and justice.

Just War thinking denies that “all is fair in love in war.” Rather, from a Christian perspective, political order is a moral good, an approximation of God’s order, and thus politics have ethical content. Thus, a war in self-defense of the community or to prevent further bloodshed is clearly just because it is the practical, political expression of Christ’s injunction to love one’s neighbor…. Read this in full at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/07/04/was-the-american-revolution-a-just-war/

     READING HABITS IN A DIGITAL WORLD
Christians have long earned their reputation as “people of the Book,” but now in the midst of the digital revolution, their books — and the Good Book itself — are taking on a very different shape.

From the printed page to smartphone and laptop screens to e-reader tablets, the reading choices for consumers today are diversifying.

The YouVersion Bible app serves as an excellent example. The free Scripture-reading app is fast-approaching 100 million downloads since its launch just 5 years ago — an encouraging sign in an age when biblical literacy is of Christian concern. Yet the digital download of Scripture is not a direct trade for the printed word. Considering the fact that the average American home contains multiple Bibles, it’s likely that most digital Bible users also own physical copies of the Bible…. Read this in full at
https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/617-reading-habits-in-a-digital-world

     CHRISTIAN UNITY
The fundamental doctrines of our evangelical belief are… the full inspiration and ruling authority of Holy Scripture, with its consequences, the Divinity of Christ, the finality of His Atonement, and salvation through faith alone. These basic truths should be studied as set forth in the New Testament, that they may be asserted or defended whenever occasion requires. If this be done in a humble and Christian spirit, we shall in the long run be promoting the cause of Christian unity, which must ultimately find its basis in the truth which God has revealed.” G. T. Manley, Christian Unity, London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1945, p. 74

     RECORD NUMBER OF SINGLE DADS HEAD US HOUSEHOLDS
Single dads are on the rise in the United States, heading a record 8% of American households with kids, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

There were 2.6 million households led by a single father in 2011, a ninefold increase from 1960 when that number was fewer than 300,000, Pew found. This means that men now lead about a quarter of all single-parent families.

The trend underscores the decades-long decline of the two-married-parent model of the American family. Today, about two-thirds of US households with kids are led by a married couple, down from more than 9 in 10 in 1960…. Read this in full at
http://www.livescience.com/37918-record-number-of-single-dads.html

     HOLD A NEWBORN
by Waylan Owens
I first held my first grandson about three hours after he was born.

Adrian was a full term baby. At three hours, he was alert and followed sound, especially his mother’s voice. His eyes were clear, and his mind already appeared to be working feverishly to receive and to sort “data,” as we call it in these tech-dominated days.

I have many arguments in support of God’s creation and activity in this world, of the uniqueness and sanctity of human life, and of the way man’s view of it all is distorted by sin.

I remain unconvinced by the claims of those who say that man’s theories about things we cannot test are to be trusted, that God does not exist, and that a baby is a commodity for a parent or a doctor to choose to keep or to dispose of at will.

But none of that great wisdom and logic is even half as effective as the power of a newborn baby…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=40679

     DAVID’S DYING WORDS
by Paul Tripp
Think with me for a moment: if you were on your deathbed, with your children standing around you, what would you say? If you knew that you could no longer ward off death but had enough vitality to say a few final words, which words would you choose?

I can think of no better words than those recorded for us in 1 Kings 2:1-9. David is at the end of his 40-year reign, and his death is imminent. He brings his son Solomon, the future King of Israel, to his side and leaves him with words of wisdom.

I’ve broken down “David’s Dying Words” into 5 short commands…. Read this in full at
http://paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/davids-dying-words-1

     POPE FRANCIS DECRIES ‘GLOBALIZATION OF INDIFFERENCE’
In his first official trip outside Rome since his election, Pope Francis visited the tiny island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily July 8, hoping to show solidarity to African migrants who risk their lives trying to immigrate to Europe.

Set only 70 miles from Tunisia, the Italian island of Lampedusa is the first port of safety for the thousands of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers who risk their lives every summer trying to reach Europe on small, rickety boats.

Francis said the frequent news reports on the deaths of the people who were trying to make the crossing had been like “a thorn in the heart” for him, and called on society to overcome what he called “the globalization of indifference.”

We have become used to other people’s suffering, it doesn’t concern us, it doesn’t interest us, it’s none of our business,” he said in the homily…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/2013/07/08/pope-francis-decries-globalization-of-indifference/

     VERSE TO PONDER
I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 1:6 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
In the kingdom of God there are no other tasks than those of the present.”
– Karl Barth (1886-1968), from “Be Not Anxious!”, in Come Holy Spirit: Sermons, New York: Round Table Press, 1933, reprint, Mowbrays, 1978, p. 99

     REVIEW: ‘THE LONE RANGER’ REMAKE THRASHES CHRISTIANITY
by Jeffrey Weiss
Producers of the latest reboot of the “Superman” franchise famously marketed the movie to Christian audiences. Makers of the new “Lone Ranger” movie, not so much.
There’s a reason for that. If “Man of Steel” panders to Christians, in “The Lone Ranger,” Christians are portrayed as unattractive, ineffectual, hateful or flat-out hypocritically evil…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/2013/07/09/review-the-lone-ranger-remake-thrashes-christianity/

See also: “The Lone Ranger: Justice from Outside the Law”
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18073741#18074057

The Lone Ranger Creed
by Fran Striker
“I believe
That to have a friend, a man must be one.

That all men are created equal
and that everyone has within himself
the power to make this a better world.

That God put the firewood there
but that every man
must gather and light it himself.

In being prepared
physically, mentally, and morally
to fight when necessary
for that which is right.

That a man should make the most
of what equipment he has.

That ‘This government,
of the people, by the people
and for the people’
shall live always.

That men should live by
the rule of what is best
for the greatest number.

That sooner or later…
somewhere…somehow…
we must settle with the world
and make payment for what we have taken.

That all things change but truth,
and that truth alone, lives on forever.

In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.”
http://www.religionnews.com/2013/07/09/review-the-lone-ranger-remake-thrashes-christianity/

     GAIN RESPECT, GAIN FOLLOWERS
by The John Maxwell Company
Followers are attracted to people who are better leaders than themselves.” This concept seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Leaders want to follow those who are better leaders than themselves.

According to John Maxwell in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, when a group first comes together, leaders tend to focus on what is natural for them – leading. Eventually, people change direction to follow the strongest leaders. From there, people naturally align with and follow leaders stronger than themselves.

When people respect you as a person, they admire you. When they respect you as a friend, they love you. When they respect you as a leader, they follow you.”2

Each of us desires respect. And as leaders, each of us wants to be followed. Today, we are highlighting the top 6 ways that leaders gain others’ respect:…. Read this in full at
http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/gain-respect-gain-followers-6-ways-to-gain-others-respect

     BIBLE APP HITS 100 MILLION DOWNLOADS
As Christians and tech fans alike watched the YouVersion Bible App hit the 100 million downloads milestone recently, the pastor who came up with the idea of using technology to make the Bible more accessible on smart phones and tablets said he hopes it will surpass the popularity of other top rated apps in the field.

“We’re excited to see the Bible rising in the ranks, because it means God’s Word is becoming more widely known,” Pastor Bobby Gruenewald of LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma told The Christian Post. “One day we hope it would far exceed the popularity of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/bible-app-hits-100-million-downloads-innovative-pastor-hopes-it-surpasses-facebook-twitter-instagram-in-popularity-99624/

     OPPONENTS TO BOY SCOUTS POLICY TO LAUNCH ALTERNATIVE
A fledgling organization that opposed the Boys Scouts of America’s decision to accept openly gay Scouts announced July 9 it will launch an alternative group with a Christian worldview.

It’s our vision to be the premiere national character development organization for young men which produces godly and responsible husbands, fathers and citizens,” announced Rob Green, interim executive director of the as-yet-unnamed organization.

The organization’s membership policy will focus on sexual purity rather than sexual orientation,” Green said in a conference call with reporters…. Read this in full at
http://www.religiontoday.com/blog/opponents-to-boy-scouts-policy-launch-alternative.html

     BOY SCOUT OATH (OR PROMISE)
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

BOY SCOUT LAW
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.
http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/boyscouts.aspx

     EXALTING THE SACRED, WOOING THE SECULAR
Only three rock bands had albums that sold more than one million last year — the Black Keys, Mumford & Sons and a hard-rock outfit from Wisconsin with far less name recognition: Skillet

What makes Skillet unusual is not just that its sales numbers rival two of the biggest rock acts on the American charts, but also that this quartet is an unabashedly Christian band that has won over mainstream rock aficionados without alienating its religious fans.

That is a little bit of a trick,” said John Cooper, the 38-year-old frontman, bassist and songwriter. “I tend to write songs I believe in, that get my message across in the best way possible and leave it as nonthreatening as possible.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/arts/music/exalting-the-sacred-wooing-the-secular.html?_r=0

     TRANQUILITY
We must try to keep the mind in tranquility. For just as the eye which constantly shifts its gaze, now turning to the right or to the left, now incessantly peering up or down, cannot see distinctly what lies before it, but the sight must be fixed firmly on the object in view if one would make his vision of it clear; so too man’s mind when distracted by his countless worldly cares cannot focus itself distinctly on the truth.”
– St. Basil the Great (330?-379), Saint Basil, the Letters, tr. Roy Joseph Deferrari, Martin Rawson, Patrick McGuire, London: William Heinemann, 1950, p. 9

     SOLVING POVERTY IS ROCKET SCIENCE
by Richard Stearns
Most of us at one time or another have thrown a dollar bill into the cup of a homeless man standing on a street corner. We do it because we want to help even though we know that our dollar won’t really solve a problem that has much deeper causes. He’ll be on the street again tomorrow because we’ve just treated a symptom of his condition without really addressing the cause.

As president of World Vision, I see Christians taking a similar approach to helping the poor internationally. Out of obedience to Christ, churches rightly want to respond to the desperate needs of the billions who suffer in poverty around the world and so they often reach out by feeding the hungry, caring for orphans, sending medical teams or shipping in various supplies. And these things do help to relieve suffering, but at the end of the day the poor are still poor. It’s not much different than handing that dollar to the homeless man…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/july-web-only/solving-poverty-is-rocket-science.html?paging=off

     ARCHITECTURE REVIEW: FIRST BAPTIST OF DALLAS BUILDS A $130 MILLION CORPORATE BEHEMOTH
by Mark Lamster
A pool table. It’s the first big step on the road to degradation, if you’re inclined to the dire admonitions of The Music Man’s “Professor” Harold Hill. Trouble, with a capital T that rhymes with P that stands for … well, you know how it goes.

If you subscribe to The Music Man thesis, you will be alarmed at the sight of baize in a student lounge at First Baptist Church of Dallas, the deeply conservative ministry of pastor Robert Jeffress. A pool table is the least of it. Look around and you’ll find yourself in a devil’s playground, an urban-loft space with high ceilings and exposed ductwork, the kind of room you might find in a coffee bar with elaborately tattooed baristas pulling $5 espresso drinks.

The message is clear. First Baptist, which was founded in 1868 and hews to a fundamentalist reading of the Bible, is unafraid of the trappings of the modern world and the contemporary city. Indeed, it has embraced both emphatically and strategically, and that philosophy is given physical form in the reinvention of its sprawling downtown complex, at the cost of some $130 million…. Read this in full at
http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/columnists/mark-lamster/20130629-architecture-review-first-baptist-of-dallas-builds-a-130-million-corporate-behemoth.ece

     THE MYTH OF UNRELIGIOUS AMERICA
By Rodney Stark
Is America losing its faith in religion? The answer would seem to be yes, judging by polls and news stories lately. Gallup announced in May that 77% of Americans believe that religion is losing its “influence on American life.” Reporting online about the Gallup results, The Blaze said the poll “suggests that America’s slide toward secularism continues to gain steam.”

In March at the Faith Angle Forum in South Beach, Fla., a paper by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life was presented bearing the title “The Decline of Institutional Religion.” The presentation followed up on Pew research that gained wide publicity last fall indicating that the fastest-growing “religious” group in America is made up of those who say they have no religion…. Read this in full at
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324532004578360020102202976.html (refresh the page)

     INVISIBLE SINGLES
The pastor never seemed to mention unmarried persons in his sermons, so Kris Swiatocho started putting post-it notes on the pulpit before services that said: “Remember singles.”

When the pastor found out the source of the notes, he asked Swiatocho to cut it out. Instead, she began sitting in the front row, occasionally waving her arms during the sermon.

Her pastor finally got the message, and started including the experiences of singles from the pulpit. But unmarried persons still are largely invisible in many churches, says Swiatocho, director of The Singles Network Ministries.

If congregations do not integrate singles into the life of the church, and pastors do not address their issues from the pulpit, “We’re not going to feel welcome and we’re not going to come,” Swiatocho says. Many singles are already voting with their feet…. Read this in full at
http://www.pcusa.org/news/2013/7/8/invisible-singles/

     CHURCHES BOOST SECURITY AS VIOLENT INCIDENTS GROW
It is Sunday and 36-year-old Julie Robinson is keeping an eye on her children as they play and sing near the front of the sanctuary stage at Freedom Christian Center. The mother of four is not the only one watching. Quietly standing in the back of the hall is Jeffery Gilchriest.

As dozens of congregants lift their hands in prayer, preparing for the week’s message from the pulpit, Gilchriest’s eyes are alert, darting across the spacious worship hall. A white, coiled microphone wire ripples from his ear to help him communicate with ushers and plainclothes security personnel. Their mission: Protecting the flock by being ready for the worst…. Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/07/churches-boost-security-as-violent-incidents-grow/2495241/

     WRITTEN IN REALITY
If we believe that the Christian faith is written into the structure of reality, as well as in the pages of Scripture, then we will not only allow men to think freely but will urge them to do so. For the facts, wherever discovered, will bring men out to the same place–at the fact of Christ.”
– E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973), The Christ of the American Road, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1944, p. 91

     A LITTLE HISTORY, PLEASE
by Christopher P. Momany
Those of us committed to the church’s renewal should stop dismissing deep historical awareness as simplistic nostalgia for outmoded practices. Mindlessly repeating worn and ineffectual patterns of church life is not the same thing as learning, really learning, from the past. Some of today’s self-styled visionaries flirt with suggesting that a regard for history is laziness or resistance to change. Not so. Change will come, regardless. How we respond to change is the issue.

Forget the clichés. Perhaps those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, but this never impressed me as an adequate reason for looking back. In fact, many things would be worth repeating, at least the things that taught us courage and prophetic sensibility. Other things are better left behind. Either way, one must know the past to make this differentiation. I am amazed at the way our culture ignores or even ridicules truths that were not “invented” last night in Silicon Valley. Sadly, this arrogance is alive in the church, too. Do ecclesiastical savants truly believe that followers of Jesus should be more like the makers of a certain computer or the powerbrokers of some other corporate behemoth? It all seems so fickle, this casting about for direction. Not only is it uninspiring. It just might be unfaithful…. Read this in full at
http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/4022/a-little-history-please

     EVERYONE WANTS A REVOLUTION. NO ONE WANTS TO DO THE DISHES
by Tish Harrison Warren
I spent a little while in two different intentional Christian communities, hanging out with homeless teenagers, and going to a church called “Scum of the Earth” (really). I gave away a bunch of clothes, went barefoot, and wanted to be among the “least of these.” At a gathering of Christian communities, I slept in a cornfield and spent a week using composting toilets, learning to make my own cleaning supplies, and discussing Christian anarchy while listening to mewithoutyou. I went to Christian Community Development Association conferences, headed up a tutoring program for impoverished, immigrant children, and interned at some churches trying to bridge the gap between wealthier evangelicals and the poor. I was certainly not as radical as many Christian radicals — a lot of folks are doing more good than I could ever hope to and, besides, I’ve never had dreadlocks — but I did have some “ordinary radical” street cred.

Now, I’m a thirty-something with two kids living a more or less ordinary life. And what I’m slowly realizing is that, for me, being in the house all day with a baby and a two-year-old is a lot more scary and a lot harder than being in a war-torn African village. What I need courage for is the ordinary, the daily every-dayness of life. Caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home. Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on an average Wednesday morning or calling my mother back when I don’t feel like it…. Read this in full at
http://thewell.intervarsity.org/blog/courage-ordinary

     THREATS TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN EUROPE
by Roger Trigg
At the end of May, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (the final European Court of Appeal) rejected a request for referral to it of three contentious religious freedom cases from the United Kingdom. This means that the European Court’s initial less-than-friendly rulings on religious freedom still stand, and they will undoubtedly help erode respect for religious freedom throughout Europe.

The court, under the auspices of the Council of Europe, is distinct from the agencies of the European Union, and processes litigation from forty-seven countries, including Russia and Turkey. Over the years, the council’s Parliamentary Assembly has betrayed an endemic suspicion of religion, and following a tradition of French secularism, has tended to see religion as a threat to human freedom, instead of its possible basis…. Read this in full at
http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/06/10439/

     TO FIGHT RELIGIOUS MONUMENTS, ATHEISTS PLAN THEIR OWN SYMBOLS
Atheists unveiled the nation’s first public monument to secularism outside a county courthouse in Florida last week — a 1,500-pound gray granite bench engraved with quotations extolling the separation of church and state.

The group American Atheists said it had decided to put up its own monument only after failing to force Bradford County to remove the six-ton statue of the Ten Commandments that a Christian group had put up nearby.

The atheist group has vowed to erect 50 more such monuments around the country on public sites where the Ten Commandments now stand alone. It says that an anonymous donor will foot that bill — the monument in Florida cost about $6,000 — and that it is hearing from atheists who are already offering to serve as plaintiffs in lawsuits if there is opposition and lead the charge in their communities…. Read this in full at
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/us/to-fight-religious-monuments-atheists-plan-their-own-symbols.html

     MODERN HYMN WRITERS AIM TO TAKE BACK SUNDAY
by Blake Farmer
There was a time when hymns were used primarily to drive home the message that came from the pulpit. But then came the praise songs.

Matt Redman’s song “Our God” is the most popular piece of music in Christian churches today. That’s according to charts that track congregational singing. But approaching the Top 10 is a retro hymn: “In Christ Alone,” co-written by Keith Getty.

Keith’s wife, Kristyn, sings the hymn, while he plays the piano in their home near Nashville’s Music Row. The couple came to town to write songs not for individual artists, but for what Keith Getty calls “the congregation.”

“Our goal is to write songs that teach the faith, where the congregation is the main thing, and everybody accompanies that,” he says…. Read this in full at
http://www.npr.org/2013/07/08/200013769/modern-hymn-writers-aim-to-take-back-sunday

     HYMN STORIES: JESUS, LOVER OF MY SOUL
by Tim Challies
I have written previously about Charles Wesley and his talented and prolific hymn writing. I also mentioned earlier in this series his involvement in bringing us “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” But I haven’t yet said anything about how he got into hymn writing.

Both Charles and his brother John—two of Susanna Wesley’s 19 children—were zealous for ministry when they finished their studies at Oxford University. Both were soon ordained as clergymen in the Church of England; and in 1735, both sailed to the new colony of Georgia, John as a missionary and Charles as a secretary to General Oglethorpe, who was then governor of the colony.

On that trip they encountered a group of Christians from Germany called Moravians, whose constant singing awakened in John an appreciation for what spiritual songs can do for the Christian life. It wasn’t until 1738, however, after returning to England, that both brothers were truly born again, at which point their ministry took on a whole new character and energy…. Read this in full at
http://www.challies.com/articles/hymn-stories-jesus-lover-of-my-soul

     CONSIDER
The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”
– Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), Orthodoxy, London, New York: John Lane Company, 1909, p. 175-176

     VERSE TO PONDER
Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.”
– Ephesians 3:20-21 (CEB)

     THIS WEEK’S HYMN: LORD, LET THY SPIRIT
Words: Valdimar Briem (1848-1930)
Music: Andreas P. Berggreen (1801-1880)

Lord, let Thy Spirit, from earthly passion weaning,
Lead me along Thy will’s all-holy way,
To find by faith, on Jesus’ bosom leaning,
Mid trial, doubt and need, in Him my stay.

Lord, let Thy Spirit, new love and life bestowing,
Create a holy heart my breast within;
That I, into my Savior’s likeness growing,
May bear His image through a world of sin.

Lord, let Thy Spirit, Thy Word’s deep wealth unsealing,
Lighten mine eyes with truth’s celestial fire;
In life, in death, the narrow path revealing,
Unto the Promised Land of our desire.

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

     ON PRAYER
Prayer in the Spirit is socially revolutionary because it prepares the way for the advance of the gospel in society, and the gospel carries with it new social values that contain the seeds for a new society based on the righteousness of the kingdom.”
– Donald G. Bloesch (1928-2010), The Struggle of Prayer, Harper & Row, 1980, p. 43

     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. 

ImageBearer conference
http://www.qideas.org/event/imagebearer/

10 Travel Tips To Keep You From Going Insane at the Airport
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/58059-10-travel-tips-to-keep-you-from-going-insane-at-the-airport.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 friend is someone who thinks you’re a good egg even though you might be slightly cracked.
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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