Connecting man to man to God
For week of September 21, 2014
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.
Today’s issue is going out to over 2,169 weekly subscribers. Thank you in advance for forwarding this issue to friends, family and associates! To have a friend start their own Free subscription to CONNECTIONS, please have them visit: http://www.pathoflifeministries.net/page33.html
Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. James 3:13
“Faith has been reduced to a comfortable system of beliefs about God instead of an uncomfortable encounter with God.”
– Mike Yaconelli
WHY CAN’T MEN BE FRIENDS?
by Wesley Hill
In January 1944, several months after he had been imprisoned by the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to his friend Eberhard Bethge. In it, he reflected on what their relationship meant to each of them. Bonhoeffer wrote that, in contrast to marriage and kinship, friendship “has no generally recognized rights, and therefore depends entirely on its own inherent quality.”
As he penned those lines, Bonhoeffer must have had his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, in mind. With Maria, Bonhoeffer knew where he stood. They were pledged to be married, and all their family and acquaintances recognized their love and were prepared to witness their wedding ceremony, provided Bonhoeffer was released. With Eberhard, on the other hand, Bonhoeffer admitted there wasn’t a similarly public recognition. That led to a question: What were Eberhard and Dietrich to one another, and how might their love be preserved and sustained?…. Read this in full at
CHURCH IS MORE INFORMAL, LIKE SOCIETY, STUDY FINDS
Religious institutions often see themselves as countercultural — outposts in an increasingly secular society that challenge the culture with views and practices that are no longer mainstream.
But inevitably, culture seeps in, affecting how clergy and laypeople dress and pray and behave toward one another.
A new study — the latest version of a regularly conducted survey of American congregations — finds that houses of worship, like the broader culture, are becoming increasingly informal, and increasingly open to gay men and lesbians. More and more Americans worship in congregations where drums are played, words or images are projected on screens, and praise is expressed via upstretched hands. And more and more congregations, although still a minority, allow gays to hold volunteer positions as leaders…. Read this in full at
READING THE BIBLE WITH EASTERN EYES: AN INTERVIEW WITH KENT DOBSON
One of the great challenges in reading the Bible is the massive gap — chronological and cultural — between the Bible’s original audiences and modern readers. Is it possible for a modern Bible reader to appreciate the mindset of the Bible’s ancient Jewish and Christian authors and readers? How would that affect our experience of Scripture today?
Those are questions that Kent Dobson seeks to address in the newly-released NIV First-Century Study Bible (Zondervan, 2014). Dobson, teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI, has written a huge number of historical notes, word studies, and articles for this new Bible. Bible Gateway interviewed Rev. Dobson about the new Bible…. Read this in full at
HOBBY LOBBY’S STEVE GREEN HAS BIG PLANS FOR HIS BIBLE MUSEUM IN WASHINGTON
by Michelle Boorstein
Steve Green is standing in the basement of the eight-story Bible museum he’s building in Washington. Plans for the $800 million project are coming together nicely: the ballroom modeled after Versailles, the Disney-quality holograms, the soaring digital entryway with religious images projected on the ceiling, the restaurant serving biblically-themed meals.
But one detail is bothering Green, and there’s nothing he can do about it. The building, he says, is not quite close enough to the National Mall. It’s just two blocks away, and from the roof it feels as though you can take a running leap onto the U.S. Capitol. Still, if it could just be a little closer. Green knows how much location matters.
“One thing I learned in our real estate office is, sometimes being a block down the street can mean a lot in terms of sales,” he says. “The Mall is where there are a lot of visitors. It’s not as visible to the Mall as we’d like, but it’s close.” …. Read this in full at
TEST YOUR BIBLE KNOWLEDGE
So, how well do you know the Bible? To accompany our story on the new Bible museum being built in Washington, we asked the Rev. Melody Knowles, vice president of academic affairs and an associate professor of the Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, to put together a quiz for us. Just pray you don’t get any of these wrong…. Read this in full at
FACEBOOK FINDS BIBLE, C. S. LEWIS HAVE AFFECTED MANY USERS
by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way,” a recent Facebook meme directed. “Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”
The social network’s data science team then gathered more than 130,000 status updates from its users (mostly American women in their late 30s) to sort out the books mentioned most.
J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series topped the list of influential books, with more than 20% of examined users naming the series. But the Bible placed No. 6, listed by more than 7% of those answering the meme. And C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia placed No. 10, with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe itself placing No. 19…. Read this in full at
“How hard is it for God to get your attention? Do you regularly practice turning aside in your day? That is, taking a moment to listen to God – because God, through the Holy Spirit, really is speaking, because we know, every place is filled with the presence of God. There is not an inch of space, not a moment of time, that God does not inhabit.”
– John Ortberg
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JEALOUSY AND ENVY IN THE BIBLE?
by Jack Wellman
Is there any difference between envy and jealousy in the Bible? If so, what are the differences between the two?
Jealously has been described as a “green-eyed monster of envy” but is jealousy really envy? When a friend of mine noticed that another man was giving too much attention to his wife he became a little jealous. His jealously came to the surface when he saw that this man appeared to be flirting with his wife. When he talked to his wife about it, she said that she had repeatedly told him that she was happily married but he didn’t refrain from his overly attentive behavior toward her. When she finally told him that her husband had noticed, only then did he back away. Was this man flirting with her? Was her husband justified in becoming jealous? Was it sin for this man to become jealous of his wife?
God is also jealous but it’s not exactly the same as human jealousy because God’s jealous for the right reasons…. Read this in full at
WHY GOD DOESN’T CARE IF YOU’RE HAPPY
by Joseph Mattera
It is evident there are many in the body of Christ who attempt to integrate their Christian faith with the pursuit of happiness. Some have even gone so far as to have a theology of happiness, in which they obey or disobey Scripture based on what gives them the most happiness. Several years ago a prominent pastor in New York City divorced his wife and married someone else in his church because, he said, “God wants me happy!”
Ultimately, If God’s highest purpose for us is our personal happiness then He wouldn’t have put us on the earth since Jesus said we would have tribulation in this world (John 16:33).
As believers, our value system should not be based on a temporal paradigm (view) of materialism and earthly significance but on an eternal paradigm based on faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many in the church succumb to the temporal view because it takes a walk of faith to continually surrender our desires to a God we can’t see, feel, or touch physically…. Read this in full at
MY STRUGGLE WITH ANXIETY AND FEAR NO LONGER DEFINES ME
by David Trig
I am convinced we need to rebrand the way we talk about anxiety. We need to stop using the term “mental health” and start using different ways to discuss this topic.
Instead of words such as unstable and weak, we could use words such as intuitive, creative, and productive when describing people who deal with fear and anxiety. I am one of the over 18 million Americans who deal with fear, anxiety, and issues of mental health.
When I get anxious I feel it in my shoulders. My breathing gets shallow and I get what my therapist calls “brain lock.” During these times, I seem to be in a state of both rational and irrational consciousness. I know what’s going around me yet I’m telling myself messages that make no sense.
“You’re going to die. You’re not going make it. You’re going to lose it all.” …. Read this in full at
PASSING ON THE DISCIPLINES OF TRUE WORSHIP TO YOUR CHILDREN?
by Clare De Graaf
I recently met with a frustrated father of teenagers. Most Sundays, it was like pulling teeth to get their kids to go to church. So, I asked him if he’d ever sat down and taught his children how to worship?
“Oh sure! I’ve told them how important it is that we worship God, that’s why we go to church,” he answered. “That’s not exactly what I meant,” I said. “Have you taught them how to worship, when they go to church?” Two things were obvious to me; he hadn’t taught his children and he himself was unsure what it meant to truly worship when in church.
So, here are some practical ideas you can pass on to children, grandchildren, or those you spiritually mentor…. Read this in full at
HOW TO NOT DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THE WRONG REASONS
by Patrick Morley
In the secret world of hidden motives, no temptation is more devious than to do good works to win respect, admiration, to make a name for myself, to be somebody, to gain acceptance and approval. You might say, “What’s wrong with that?” The problem is that we make compromises when respect is more important than truth, when public opinion is more important than facts, and when being right is more important than loving our neighbor.
Here’s a prayer that can help…
Father, forgive me. I want to make a difference in the world. In my inner man I want to make this difference for you. But when I do good I find that evil is right there with me. In the moment of execution, I find myself doing good to win applause, to earn approval, to please men, to gain recognition, to receive honor and, therefore, I rob you of the glory. This is different than enjoying honest appreciation for my efforts. I do appreciate appreciation. But I also know myself. The motives of my heart are selfish. It fills me with godly sorrow, and I repent. However, by confronting myself honestly, and by the power of your Holy Spirit teaching me all things, I do have the victory. Thanks be to You through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
CHURCHES FACING A RETHINK IN HOW THEY ENGAGE AGING BOOMERS
by Vicki Brown
Many churches rely on retirees as volunteers to keep some programs and activities vital and growing. Some congregations turn to mature adults for the basics — answering phones, stuffing envelopes and other office or maintenance duties — to help hold down administrative costs.
But as the Baby Boomer generation retires, church leaders who hope to continue to tap into retiree time and resources may need to rethink the ministries they ask mature adults to take on.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 “Volunteering in the US” report indicates volunteerism among 45- to 64-year-olds declined in the previous two years. What forces may be driving that trend, and what can congregations do to attract volunteers?
The generation preceding the Boomers — the Builders — tended to commit to an organization or group, such as church or a civic club, noted Amy Hanson, an expert on aging and Boomers…. Read this in full at
by Rick Marschall
I want to tell you about one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met. His name is Stan Cottrell. He is a runner. But to say that is sort of like saying Rembrandt could draw, or Shakespeare wrote stuff. Stan has run all his life, all over the world. He has run in dozens of countries; he has earned certificates and keys to dozens of cities around the world; he is in the Guinness Book of World Records; he has been welcomed by most of the world’s famous leaders of the past generation.
I didn’t know his name, but Stan has been on magazine covers, on many TV programs, and had his picture taken with presidents, prime ministers, and even dictators. His list of achievements and recognitions seem almost as long as, well, the Great Wall of China, which Stan has run atop many times.
But Stan Cottrell is not an Olympic runner. He seldom runs in the famous marathons. Stan has set records for time, especially long distance runs — very long distances, like across entire nations — but those races are not his forte. He is an endurance runner…. Read this in full at
GOD IS LOVE
“Somehow, somewhere, I know that God loves me, even though I do not feel that love as I can feel a human embrace, even though I do not hear a voice as I hear human words…God is greater than my senses, greater than my thoughts, greater than my heart. I do believe that He touches me in places that are unknown even to myself.”
– Henri J. M. Nouwen
8 GREAT DEBATES OF BIBLE PROPHECY: AN INTERVIEW WITH RON RHODES
Escalating tensions in the Middle East have sparked renewed interest in last-days Bible prophecy. With fierce fighting reported in the news every day and unsuccessful attempts at brokering a lasting peace agreement, many are asking if this is the beginning of the end. Questions about biblical eschatology — theology regarding the end times — continue to build.
Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes about his book, The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy: Understanding the Ongoing Controversies (Harvest House Publishers, 2014)…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them.
– 1 John 4:16 (CEB)
“The beauty of the world is Christ’s tender smile for us coming through matter.”
– Simone Weil (1909-1943), Waiting for God, Emma Craufurd, tr., Putnam, 1951, p. 164-165
INTERVARSITY CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP FACES PERSECUTION AT 23 UNIVERSITIES
A well-established international Christian student group is being denied recognition at almost two dozen California college campuses because it requires leaders to adhere to Christian beliefs, effectively closing its leadership ranks to non-Christians and gays.
California State University, which has 23 campuses, is “de-recognizing” local chapters of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical Christian group with 860 chapters in the United States. The university system says InterVarsity’s leadership policy conflicts with its state-mandated nondiscrimination policy requiring membership and leadership in all official student groups be open to all.
InterVarsity, active in the United States since 1947, has been challenged on more than 40 college campuses, but CSU, with 447,000 students, is the largest to ban it so far. Other schools that have challenged InterVarsity include Vanderbilt University, Rollins College and Tufts University…. Read this in full at
CHRISTIANITY IS NOT GOING AWAY IN NEW YORK CITY
by Mark Tooley
A recent Barna study confirms other data showing increased church attendance over the last decade in ostensibly secular New York City, including increased numbers of “born-again” believers. The findings defy not only stereotypes about “godless” New Yorkers but also illustrate that, despite all the talk about secularizing America, church participation has remained remarkably unchanged nationally for most of 80 years.
The much-ballyhooed religiously unaffiliated number about 15-20% of Americans (some of whom still report attending religious services and most of whom still profess belief in God). About 75-80% of Americans say they are Christian, with Jews the next largest religious group, numbering under 2%.
Yet “Christendom” is reputedly over according to many Christian conservatives, who’ve declared America post-Christian. Some have heralded this reputedly new secular age as an opportunity for the church to recover its prophetic witness…. Read this in full at
7 ESSENTIAL WAYS TO BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY LIFE
by Josh Weidmann
One of my greatest struggles is balancing time between work and family. Every day this is under attack as the demands of the urgent things in my life try to eclipse the important. In order to ensure that I am staying balanced, below I have listed seven disciplines I maintain regularly.
#1 — I only have meetings during set blocks of time (Monday 1-5, Tuesday 9-12, Wednesday 9-1, Thursday 1-5). This allows me to have other blocks of time so that I can actually do my work during work hours instead of having to take it home…. Read this in full at
TODAY IS A GIFT
“Much as we wish, not one of us can bring back yesterday or shape tomorrow. Only today is ours, and it will not be ours for long, and once it is gone it will never in all time be ours again. Thou only knowest what it holds in store for us, yet even we know someting of what it will hold. The chance to speak the truth, to show mercy, to ease another’s burden. The chance to resist evil, to remember all the good times and good people of our past, to be brave, to be strong, to be glad.”
– Frederick Buechner
U2’S BONO ONCE WROTE A POEM FOR BILLY GRAHAM: ‘THE JOURNEY FROM FATHER TO FRIEND’
by Antonia Blumberg
Billy Graham has had many high-profile friends over the years, and among them is U2 frontman and international rockstar Bono.
Bono is open about his Christian faith, frequently speaking on the importance of God in his life and incorporating spiritually-theme lyrics into his songs. And based on a poem the singer wrote to Billy Graham back in 2002, it seems the American evangelical leader has played an important role in Bono’s life.
The hand-written poem, which is on display at the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina, refers to “the voice of a preacher/loudly soft on my tears” which was the “lyric voice that gave my life/A Rhyme/a meaning that wasn’t there before.”
Bono composed the poem in 2002 after visiting Billy and Ruth Graham at their home in western North Carolina. Several years later he teamed up with pop singer Pat Boone and other musicians to record “Thank You Billy Graham” as a tribute to the preacher…. Read and watch this in full at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/15/bono-billy-graham_n_5803978.html
This November, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will release a new film and message from Billy Graham. The My Hope production — titled Heaven — will spearhead the ministry’s 2014 outreach. Tune in to new Billy Graham TV Special to get an exclusive look at the forthcoming film…. Watch the trailer at
SEEKING GOD THROUGH WORSHIP — AND JAZZ
by Jeff Brumley
For centuries, Baptist and other churches have sought encounters with the divine through music. The quest has led to everything from organs and hymns to guitars, drum sets and praise bands.
Now there are those hoping the search leads churches to jazz, suggesting that the musical form is a natural fit in sanctuaries and other sacred settings. They contend that its spontaneity in some ways reflects the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Jazz, like God, offers worshipers a plan that leaves room for individual expression and experience.
“Jesus — God — sings a melody for us, but there is not one way to follow that melody,” says April Stace Vega, a former Baptist pastor who performs in Washington-based jazz and world fusion bands, often in church settings. “God actually likes a diversity of voices, so we don’t have to play exactly the same all the time.” …. Read this in full at
SIGNS YOU MAY BE ADDICTED TO BUSYNESS
by Brady Boyd
Five years into my marriage, my wife met me at the door with her bags packed.
I should have seen it coming. I had packed my life with jobs and positions and commitments out of my deep-seated need to be needed. I was too busy, and the gentle, calm woman I’d married five years prior had decided she would rather be single than be married and do life all alone.
“Pam,” I said, my voice low and my words slow, “if you will stay here tonight-if you will agree not to leave tonight-I will walk in tomorrow and resign.” The red rims around her eyes told me she’d been crying all afternoon. “No, you won’t,” she challenged. “You won’t.” I asked for 24 hours, to prove that I’d make good on my plan. And by that time the following day, I had resigned every last role.
That was one of the first times I realized I have a problem: I’m addicted to being busy…. Read this in full at
THE RISE OF BIBLICAL COUNSELING
by Kathryn Joyce
Biblical counseling is a major force among conservative American Protestants. It is so popular, and so widespread, that in 2005 the Southern Baptist Convention’s theological seminaries — the pastoral schools of the largest Protestant denomination in the country — announced a “wholesale change of emphasis” in favor of biblical counseling over an earlier “pastoral care” model that had drawn in part on the behavioral sciences.
But biblical counseling also faces serious difficulties. It has been confronted with mounting external criticisms and widening internal divisions, and the result, among its practitioners, is a looming crisis of principle. How Christians address this crisis will shape the mental health choices of millions of Americans…. Read this in full at
by Martin E. Marty
Never heard of Hillsong, the Australian Pentecostal megachurch? Readers of The New York Times have no excuse to be in the dark, thanks to the (Sept. 9) headlined story, “Megachurch with a Beat Lures a Young Flock.”
The Times’ main religion reporter, Michael Paulson, by concentrating on Hillsong Los Angeles, Hillsong’s first church-plant on the West Coast, gave a glimpse of the now world-wide initiative. Anything which attracts young people, “millennials” and all, to religion of any sort is likely to draw attention, given the easy-to-gain perception that the numbers who are serious about religion are declining in Western Europe and North America.
It’s too soon to assess the odds on the potential expansion, survival, and durability of Hillsong. Will it have its hour and then wane, as did “Mainline and Catholic Charismatic Movements,” “Jesus People,” and the like? Or will it live up to its promise, its pledges, and its advertisements?…. Read this in full at
CHRISTIANS IN EASTERN CHINA SCRAMBLE TO SAVE SYMBOL OF THEIR FAITH
At a gray church on the outskirts of Wenzhou in eastern China, Christians from across the county keep a nervous watch.
Some stand behind the iron gate; others sit just inside the church door. For more than two months they’ve waited, preparing themselves to protect the cross on top of their church.
“If I have to, I am going to hold it in my arms and protect it,” one elderly man says. “They have no right to tear it down, that is why we have to defend our church.”
Like many in China, it’s too risky for him to give his name.
Wenzhou is known as the “Jerusalem of China” and throughout this year the local Communist Party authorities have demolished scores of churches and forcibly removed more than 300 church crosses.
Chinese church leaders say it’s the worst anti-Christian crackdown in decades.
“What the government here is doing is so barbaric, they’re like bandits and we are furious with them,” says Chen Zhi’ai, a respected church leader in the Wenzhou area. “Today we’ve seen the fundamental symbol of our faith violated and it hurts us deep inside our hearts.” …. Read this in full at
“Thou wilt never be spiritually minded and godly unless thou art silent concerning other men’s matters and take full heed to thyself.”
– Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ , Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, II.v.2, p. 91
VERSE TO PONDER
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other.
– Philippians 2:1-2 (CEB
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: ALL CREATURES OF OUR GOD AND KING
Words: Francis of Assisi, circa 1225; translated to English by William H. Draper, 1919
Music: Peter von Brachel, 1623
All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.
Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.
And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.
Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
>from NetHymnal at
“The best reason to pray is that God is really there. In praying our unbelief starts to melt. God moves smack into the middle of even an ordinary day.”
– Emily Griffin
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 the church guys 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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Frank Coleman, Editor
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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
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