Connections 04/05/09

For week of April 5, 2009
Issue 246

The Men’s Ministry 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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“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“There are only two kinds of men: the righteous, who believe themselves sinners; the rest, sinners who believe themselves righteous.”
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensees [1660]

by Paul Brand with Philip Yancey
Isaac Newton said, “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.” After 40 years as a surgeon specializing in hands, I am tempted to agree. Nothing in all nature rivals the hand’s combination of strength and agility, tolerance and sensitivity. We use our hands for the most wonderful activities: art, music, writing, healing, touching.

Some people go to concerts and athletic events to watch the performance; I go to watch hands. For me, a piano performance is a ballet of fingers—a glorious flourish of ligaments and joints, tendons, nerves, and muscles. I try to sit near the stage to watch the movements.

Unless you have tried to reproduce just one small twitch of the hand mechanically, you cannot fully appreciate its movements. Often I have stood before a group of medical students or surgeons to analyze the motion of one finger. I hold before them a dissected cadaver hand, with its trailing strands of sinew, and announce that I will move the tip of the little finger…. Read this in full at

The vast majority of parents hope their children grow up to live good lives but, for many, parental success does not include faith in God — even among parents who are evangelical Christians, according to a new study from LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources.

The national survey of 1,200 adults with children under 18 at home found the most common definitions of successful parenting include children having good values (25%), being happy adults (25%), finding success in life (22%), being a good person (19 percent), graduating from college (17%) and living independently (15%). Being godly or having faith in God is mentioned by 9 percent of respondents.

Parents who attend religious services weekly are particularly likely to emphasize faith in God, but only 24% of them identify that as a mark of parenting success, the research found…. Read this in full at

Baptist pastor David Erik Jones is interviewed on CNN about his addiction:

Free book download at

Responding to a recent survey showing that 15% of Americans express no religious connections, James Emery White deals with several key questions in his latest Serious Times commentary:

“First, what is happening? In what I consider an overlooked book, Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America, James Turner argues that unbelief is not something that has happened ‘to’ religion. Instead, he argues that religion has caused unbelief. ‘In trying to adapt their religious beliefs to socioeconomic change, to new moral challenges, to novel problems of knowledge, to the tightening standards of science, the defenders of God slowly strangled Him’ (p. xii). Specifically, many who believed decided ‘to deal with modernity by embracing it–to defuse modern threats to the traditional bases of belief by bringing God into line with modernity’ (p. 266). In so doing, they forgot that ‘God’s purposes were not supposed to be man’s…They forgot, in short, that their God was–as any God had to be to command belief over the long term–radically other than man…unbelief emerged because church leaders too often forgot the transcendence essential to any worthwhile God. They committed religion functionally to making the world better in human terms and intellectually to modes of knowing God fitted only for understanding this world’ (p. 267). Mark Silk, director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, seems to be in agreement with Turner’s thesis, noting that there is a ‘considerable softening of the edges in doctrine, politics and social values’ contributing to the rise of the ‘nones.’

“Second, what does this mean? It is not that unbelief is driving out belief, Turner adds, but that unbelief has become more readily available as an answer to the question, ‘What about God?’ (p. 262). Unbelief is becoming mainstreamed, as evidenced by Barack Obama’s recognition of people without faith, the first president to do so, in his inaugural address.

“Finally, what can be done? The most direct answer is that we must see America as a mission field. As an Episcopalian priest from South Carolina recently offered, ‘A couple came in to my office once with a yellow pad of their teenage son’s questions. One of them was: “What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?”‘

“Sociologist Peter Berger once quipped, ‘If India is the most religious country on our planet, and Sweden is the least religious, America is a land of Indians ruled by Swedes.’ What we must now realize is that we are increasingly simply a land of Swedes.”

An invitation from a family member or friend is the most effective way to get people to attend church, a new survey shows, casting doubt on several time-tested methods used by churches to attract new members.

The other approaches — from broadcast commercials to information packets left on doorknobs — are far less effective, LifeWay Research reports.

A majority of respondents (67%) said an invitation from a family member was either somewhat or very effective. Likewise, 63% said an invitation from a friend or neighbor was effective.

In contrast, just 33% said an invitation left on a door hanger would be effective, while 31 percent said door-to-door visits from a church or faith community member would be effective.

Ed Stetzer, director of the Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated LifeWay Research, said the research shows people are open to invitations to church — but they need to be personal.

“Unbelievers next door still need a simple, personal invitation to talk, to be in community and to church,” said Stetzer, whose researchers were commissioned to do the survey by the denomination’s North American Mission Board. “Clearly, relationships are important and work together with marketing.”

Researchers reported the following percentages of respondents thought these other modes of invitation were effective:
— letter in mailbox: 41%
— weekly religion section of a newspaper: 40%
— billboard or outdoor sign: 38%
— newspaper or magazine ad: 36%
— TV commercial: 34%
— radio commercial: 33%
— website listing or ad: 31%
— via e-mail message; 30%
— social networking site: 30%

The survey, conducted in December using an online panel, included a sample of more than 150,000 respondents and had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.

For 18 years, Haddon Robinson has taught preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary by having students give sermons and then reflect on feedback from fellow classmates, who act as a congregation du jour.

But as soon as this fall, students seeking insightful feedback will turn to “congregants” they’ve likely never met, including Robinson. Through a pilot online course, they’ll preach into the lenses of video cameras, upload sermons to the Web and seek feedback from afar via e-mail or online discussion forums.

“My hunch is that the quality of feedback is going to be quite good,” says Robinson, a professor of preaching at evangelical Gordon-Conwell. “Afterward, I think I could say to my colleagues who are teaching in other areas, `Look, this worked with (preaching), which is difficult to conceive of teaching on the Web. So you should be able to teach any other subject on the Web.“‘

Welcome to the experimental frontier of clergy training…. Read this in full at

Just before the end of the Bush administration last January, the US State Department redesignated 8 nations as “countries of particular concern” because of their religious freedom violations.

The independent US Commission on International Religious Freedom learned of the designations, which were authorized Jan. 16 under then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and announced them on March 27. The panel had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February to release the department’s latest list of designated countries.

The State Department responded by sending the commission Rice’s designations of Burma (also known as Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan as “countries of particular concern.” Those same countries were named in 2006…. Read this in full at

Hard times have fallen on the newspaper industry, and the Baptist journalism world isn’t being spared.

Recently the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention sent out a letter announcing it is ceasing publication of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Witness, a tabloid-sized paper with about 1,300 subscribers. It was published 10 times a year.

In the letter, quoted by the Deseret News, convention Executive Director Rob Lee said after several attempts to increase circulation and make the newspaper financially viable, Utah-Idaho Baptist leaders are seeking “alternative ways” to communicate with churches.

That puts the tiny paper in company of historic and respected newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor, whose printing presses fell silent March 27. The Boston-based Monitor, winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes, announced plans in October to eliminate its print edition, ending a 100-year run as a daily newspaper and making it the first national newspaper in the United States to move exclusively to a web-based operation.

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism says newspapers’ advertising revenues have fallen 23% in the last two years. Nearly one in every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 are now unemployed or working in different industries and media — and 2009 may be the worst year yet for newspapers and the people they employ.

At the same time, audience migration to the Internet is accelerating. One survey found the number of Americans who go online for news increased 19 percent in the last two years, and traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27 percent in 2008 alone…. Read this in full at

A new doctorate program at a conservative Baptist seminary will explore the life lessons of the Bible at a time when self-help spirituality is being popularized by celebrities like Oprah.

The spirituality doctorate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary arrives at a time when the cultural interest in spirituality — and disinterest in organized religion — is growing, said Michael Haykin, a church history professor in the seminary’s PhD program.

“The way the word (spirituality) is used broadly in our culture, it’s very eclectic and it can mean whatever a person wants it to mean,” Haykin said. “So we’re trying to ground it in a certain context.”

Scholars disagree on how to define the term. But it is widely used to refer to devotional practices of religion and the interior individual experiences of believers, according to the book “Christian Spirituality: An Introduction,” by Protestant scholar Alister E. McGrath.

Spirituality differs from a purely academic, objective or detached approach to religion, which focuses on identifying key religious beliefs and practices rather than delving into how people experience and practice their faith, McGrath wrote…. Read this in full at

In today’s society, more people connect through online social networks than by the telephone or in group settings. The I Church Network Team is using that platform to unite Christians, church, schools, and organizations with Its mission is three-fold:
* To provide a way for churches and organizations to communicate with members, donors, and other individuals. Members can learn about events or leave a prayer request.

* To give Christian organizations and businesses a site to sell their goods and services and collect donations and tithes.

* To provide jobs to those who help market the site to Christian organizations in their area.

Hobby Lobby Founder Says God Has Blessed Business
The founder and chief executive of an arts and crafts store that makes religion central to its mission says sales are up in the midst of a sour economy, and the company remains on pace to open up to 30 new stores this year.

David Green, founder of the Okalahoma-based Hobby Lobby chain of stores, attributed the continued growth to faith in God and the company’s commitment to operate according to biblical principles.

He also cited a hands-on approach to merchandising—not using scanning systems, for example—and empowering employees to make decisions for themselves as keys to the retailer’s success.

“Just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right,” Green told students at Samford University’s Brock School of Business.

But the retailer’s business plan also includes mainstays that are far different from its peers. Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sundays and close at 8 p.m. during the week to give employees more time with their families.

The Oklahoma City-based chain has grown from a $600 start-up in 1972 to 417 stores in 33 states today. This year, annual sales for Hobby Lobby and its subsidiaries hit $2 billion.

So far this year, Green said same-store sales are up 5 percent over last year, and the company plans to open 25 to 30 additional stores.

“It’s God’s blessings,” Green said. “And with that blessing, he inspires us to continue to be better merchants.”

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.”
Isaiah 53:3-4

“The soul, like the body, lives by what it feeds on.”
Josiah Holland

American Protestant churchgoers remain generous during difficult economic times, and their churches have increased their ministry to the needy, new research shows. Despite the country being in an official recession for the past year, giving in 2008 was up an average of 4% over 2007, according to a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors by LifeWay Research.

“While many sectors of the economy have taken a clear step back in the last year, Protestant churches have held their own,” said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research. Still, more than half of pastors interviewed say that the current economy is negatively impacting their churches, but only 7% of Protestant pastors say the economy is “very negatively” impacting their churches. Thirty percent of pastors say the economy has had no impact on their churches…. Read this in full at

Dipping his bicycle tires in the Pacific Ocean at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, California, 56-year-old California pastor Randy Gardner will begin his Biking for Bibles cross-country bicycle trip on Monday, April 20, 2009. The ride combines two of Gardner’s passions: cycling and supporting the Bible translation and outreach ministries of International Bible Society (IBS).

The trip commemorates the 200th anniversary of International Bible Society, an affiliate of IBS-STL Global. Gardner hopes to raise awareness of and funds for IBS’s mission to provide Scripture resources to people worldwide who need the life-changing message of God’s love and mercy.

IBS traces its history to an evening in December 1809, when a group of men met in a home located in lower Manhattan to launch the New York Bible Society, later renamed International Bible Society. Nearly 200 years later, on Friday, May 29, 2009, Gardner will end his trip in this same area of Manhattan, along the historic waterfront of Battery Park…. More information at

Pistol Pete Maravich is remembered by most sports fans for his floppy socks, shaggy hair, showmanship and unprecedented scoring records.

But Maravich, who died of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 40, no doubt would want to be remembered more for something else — his Christian faith. By his own admission, the Pistol spent most of his life idolizing basketball, but in his final years, he accepted Christ and wasn’t shy about telling everyone.

Maravich’s faith is back in the spotlight with the release of an inspirational edition of the popular 1991 movie “The Pistol” (rated G), which tells the story of Maravich’s exploits as a boy. Among the bonus footage on the inspirational edition — which is available at Christian stores — is a 50-minute personal testimony that Maravich gave to a group of inner-city kids just over two years before he died.

The DVD testimony serves as sort of a mini-autobiography of his life: how he slept with a basketball until he was 13 year old, how he ran from God as a collegian and pro and how his life turned around when he became a Christian.

“The amazing thing about his Christianity — and I’ve never seen this with anybody else — is that it was almost like a switch had flipped inside him and he became very mature,” Marshall Terrill, who co-authored the 422-page, 2006 biography “Maravich,” told Baptist Press. “It was such a fast transition. He knew the Bible inside and out — it almost seemed like he knew it instantly…. He started quoting Scripture and memorizing Scripture. His transformation was amazing.”

Maravich holds what basketball experts consider “untouchable” records — records that likely won’t ever be broken. During his final three years at Louisiana State University (freshmen were ineligible back then) he averaged an NCAA-record 44.2 points per game, which is nearly 10 points ahead of the No. 2 scorer of all time, Austin Carr (34.6 ppg.). Even more incredible, Maravich set the record before the introduction of the 3-point shot. Shot charts from his games show he would have made between seven and eight 3-pointers per game — meaning he would have averaged more than 50 points per game…. Read this in full at

In the middle of the “weakest spending environment that the U.S. economy has faced in 17 years,” Wycliffe Bible Translators is pressing ahead with a billion-dollar Bible translation and humanitarian aid effort that will help the Easter story travel faster to ALL the world’s language groups. With plans to start a Bible translation program in the remaining one-third of the world’s language groups that still need one by 2025, Wycliffe will recruit 3,000 additional personnel. The organization is well on its way this Easter to circling the globe (see image at with scripture translation programs and the surprising and significant humanitarian benefits of literacy.

Even in the plummeting economy, Wycliffe received the largest single donation in its history last fall and earmarked it for its Last Languages Campaign, an effort to bring some 200 million people first-time access to literacy, life-saving health information and Bible translation over the next 16 years. Wycliffe understands that providing critical community development — literacy, the establishment of water purification systems, AIDS education, human rights and community empowerment — often starts in the strangest place: with Bible translation and the language development that is foundational to it.

More than 1,000 faith leaders and activists are expected to descend on Washington this month in what planners say is one of largest and most diverse coalitions ever to fight against domestic and global poverty.

Jim Wallis, president and founders of Sojourners, a lead sponsor the Mobilization to End Poverty initiative scheduled April 26-29, said Christians of all stripes have been coming together for some time around the issue of reducing poverty.

Other sponsors of the mobilization are World Vision, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the ONE campaign, Oxfam, Wesley Theological Seminary, Convoy of Hope, and National Ministries of the American Baptist Churches USA.

The goals, with 21 quantifiable targets measured by 60 indicators, are to, by 2015:
— Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
— Achieve universal primary education.
— Promote gender equality and empower women.
— Reduce child mortality.
— Improve maternal health.
— Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
— Ensure environmental sustainability
— Develop a Global Partnership for Development.

POVERTY: A TIME FOR SHARING, an interfaith religion special, will be broadcast Sunday, April 26 on the CBS Television Network. Check your local station for exact time.

Half of humanity lives on less than $2 a day. A billion people worldwide cannot read or write. Poor children die in great numbers from preventable diseases. Global poverty and its killing effect is on the rise despite ongoing efforts by governments, the United Nations, and Non-Governmental Organizations, including religious groups.

Poverty in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and how American religions serve the poor is the subject of POVERTY: A TIME FOR SHARING Americans of Faith Confront World Poverty, which will cite the work of Protestant, Catholic, and Mennonite Christians, Jews and Muslims — all sharing a common thread of responding to immediate need and empowering indigenous peoples so they can control their own lives…. Read this in full at

Tulsa, Oklahoma, long a global hub of Pentecostalism, is hosting an international study to look at what has become the fastest-growing arm of the Christian faith.

Some 640 million adherents worldwide, across many denominations, practice Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity, with its emphasis on miracles, healing and speaking in tongues.

The Commission on Holy Spirit Empowerment in the 21st Century is sponsored by Oral Roberts University. It will culminate with a gathering of leaders and scholars from around the world April 8-10, 2010, in Tulsa.

ORU is not the only university taking a look at the explosion of charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity, which has become the dominant form of the faith in much of the world and, according to one poll, is embraced by more than one out of three Americans across denominational lines.

The University of Southern California is establishing a Pentecostal and charismatic research center in Los Angeles, birthplace of the Pentecostal movement more than 100 years ago. That program will be launched with a $6.9 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation…. Read this in full at

MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) will dedicate in a public ceremony May 2 its first KODIAK 100, the first of the next-generation bush planes to be produced under a visionary arrangement between the ministry and the manufacturer, Quest Aircraft Co. of Sandpoint, Idaho.

MAF is a faith-based, nonprofit ministry that serves missions and isolated people around the world with aviation, communications and learning technologies.

The plane will go on a multi-city tour this summer, prior to being ferried to Papua, Indonesia, the aircraft’s destination of service…. Read this in full at

Check out the MAF page for my personal friend Amber Desist. Drop her a line and let her know how much you appreciate their ministry

Phil Vischer, the madcap mind that brought you VeggieTales, talks like a man who’s been, well, reborn. After surviving the bankruptcy and sale of a Christian entertainment empire that came to include Bible-based feature films, morning cartoon shows and children’s videos, Vischer has invented JellyTellly, a website where a few felt puppets do the work of a crowd of vegetables. But if JellyTelly goes as Vischer plans, it won’t be just an outlet for moral Muppets; it will foster a new crop of Christian filmmakers like him, while, as he says, “raising a new generation of Christian kids.”

Q: What did you bring to JellyTelly from VeggieTales?
A: As people can see, JellyTelly has the same mix of humor, to draw them in, and teaching. What people can’t see is the relationships I have thanks to VeggieTales. the favors I’m calling in from all over the world. That’s the only way this can work on this budget. I’m even calling mission families and asking them to send us video of their kids. They do because they know VeggieTales, they trust us…. Read this interview in full at

“Don’t worry about tomorrow. God is already there.”

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:5-6

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life””
Jonathan Edwards quotes (American theologian, philosopher of British American Puritanism, stimulator of the religious revivial “Great Awakening”, 1703-1758)


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!

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

Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
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 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.]

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

Book your next vacation with us!

Books, Music & More!

Get your domain name here!

Let me show you how to earn money as you travel!
It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.

Archaeological Study Bible Easter website Easter

Evangelical News

Faith Like Potatoes movie


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

(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.)

How come stars are “in” a movie, but they’re “on” TV?
Min. 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, if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program.

Path Of Life Ministries is located at 6459 S. Campbell Ave. Chicago, IL 60629.
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