Connections 05/31/09


For week of May 31, 2009
Issue 254

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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“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24

“This must be put bluntly: every man who has more than is necessary for his livelihood and that of his family, and for the normal development of his intelligence, is a thief and a robber. If he has too much, it means that others have too little.” Romain Rolland

by Philip Yancey
The Cross is the central image of Christianity, and gives us vivid proof that, in novelist Flannery O’Connor’s words, the world “has, for all its horror, been found by God to be worth dying for.” Yet theologians must somehow explain how Jesus’ death differs in essence from the death of any great leader. What made it necessary, and exactly how did it affect our relationship with God?

During Holy Week last year, I found myself reflecting not so much on the theoretical rationale for the Atonement as on its practical outworking. Three insights from that week:
(1) The Cross made possible a new intimacy with God.
(2) The Cross reveals the limits of human achievement.
(3) The Cross brings to light an unexpected quality of the Godhead: humility…. Read this in full at

Most Americans know at least one person who has had an abortion, and most of them say the person’s experience was a generally negative one, according to a new poll. Of the 68% who told polling company, inc./WomanTrend that they know someone who has had an abortion, 55% said the abortion was a negative experience while 33% said it was a positive experience.

Moreover, 53% said they believe abortion is “almost always a bad thing” for a woman while 13% said it was “almost always a good thing.” Twenty-one percent, meanwhile, said it was neither bad nor good and 13% said they do not know or refused to answer…. Read this in full at

by Michael Gerson
There is a book that everyone will be talking about — when it appears over a year from now. “American Grace: How Religion Is Reshaping Our Civic and Political Lives,” being written by Robert Putnam and David Campbell, is already creating a buzz. Putnam, the author of “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” is the preeminent academic expert on American civic life. Campbell is his rising heir. And the book they haven’t yet finished will make just about everyone constructively uncomfortable.

At a recent conference of journalists organized by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Putnam outlined the conclusions of “American Grace,” based on research still being sifted and refined. Against the expectations of hard-core secularists, Putnam asserts, “religious Americans are nicer, happier, and better citizens.” They are more generous with their time and money, not only in giving to religious causes but to secular ones. They join more voluntary associations, attend more public meetings, even let people cut in line in front of them more readily. Religious Americans are three to four times more socially engaged than the unaffiliated. Ned Flanders is a better neighbor.

Against the expectations of many religious believers, this dynamic has little to do with the content of belief. Theology is not the predictor of civic behavior; being part of a community is. People become social joiners and contributors when they have friends who pierce their isolation and invite their participation. And religious friends, says Putnam, are “more powerful, supercharged friends.”…. Read this in full at

A battle over the Bible is brewing in the halls of Congress, and political blogs are buzzing about a Southern Baptist congressman’s desire to designate 2010 as “The National Year of the Bible.”

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), a medical doctor and member of Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, Ga., introduced a resolution May 7 urging President Obama to issue a proclamation “calling upon citizens of all faiths to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture.”

Broun’s resolution, which has 15 co-sponsors, says the Bible “has profoundly influenced and shaped the United States and its great democratic form of government, as well as its rich spiritual heritage” and “unified, healed and strengthened” America’s people.

The resolution says “the Bible has had a profound impact in shaping America into a great nation.” It also states that “shared biblical beliefs” are what influenced the colonists to write about individual worth and inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution…. Read this in full and see the video at

by Mark Galli
I’ve heard the quote once too often. It’s time to set the record straight — about the quote, and about the gospel. Francis of Assisi is said to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough — that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.

The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age….

Why is it that we “remember” Francis as a wimp of a man who petted bunnies and never said a cross word, let alone much about the Cross?

I suspect we sentimentalize Francis — like we do many saints of ages past — because *we* live in a sentimental age. We want it to be true that we can be nice and sweet and all will be well. We hope against hope that we won’t have take the trouble to figure out how exactly to talk about the gospel—our unbelieving friends will “catch” the gospel once our lifestyle is infected with it.

“Preach the gospel; use words if necessary” goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets and Jesus and Paul put on preaching. Of course we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns. As blogger Justin Taylor recently put it, the Good News can no more be communicated by deeds than can the nightly news…. Read this in full at

Do you tweet during church? Isn’t it rude? David Loveless doesn’t think so. Loveless is lead pastor of Discovery Church, a nondenominational congregation that draws some 4,000 on Sundays to three locations in Orlando. The congregation has always thrived on the cutting edge, becoming among the first to embrace contemporary music and remove its steeple from its building. Now the congregation is tweeting — using 21st-century technology to discuss the gospel in 140-character cell-phone text updates sent via Twitter.

The technology emerged naturally here, as something parishioners brought with them to Sundays from the rest of their week. Loveless recognized it as a new way to communicate, and he began posing questions during his sermons and asking parishioners to “tweet” back by texting their responses. Those responses were then woven into his sermons, creating an instantaneous dialogue between pulpit and pew…. Read this in full at

Nearly 30 years after “The Jesus Film’s” debut, the ministry that created the most translated movie in history is working to develop more sophisticated tools to reach western and highly developed countries. “We are going to make probably more effort because we don’t have the equipment, tools and resources that are really speaking well to the first world and the media sophisticated, the US and Europe,” said Greg Gregoire, senior associate at The Jesus Film Project, to The Christian Post. “So we are going to spend a little more focus on developing tools that work there,” he said, noting countries and cities such as Berlin, Singapore, and Los Angeles.

Since “The Jesus Film” debuted in English on Oct. 19, 1979, it’s been translated into 1,055 languages and has been seen by more than 6 billion people from every country in the world. Out of the billions of people that have seen the film, there are a recorded 225 million that have indicated a decision for Christ…. Read this in full at

The actions of a group of German church members in 1934 to resist the Nazi regime still serve as a powerful model for churches today according to the General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

May 31 marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of a statement by the group that has come to be known as the “Barmen Declaration.” Clergy, theologians, and church members who disagreed with the leadership of the German church which was willing to follow the orders of the Reich government, gathered in the city of Barmen to prepare a declaration that said only the scriptures have authority over the church. Some of the founding members of the group paid for their adherence to its principles with their lives. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, was executed for his role in plotting to overthrow the Reich. Others met clandestinely to study and pray at great risk.

The Barmen Declaration, drafted by the Swiss Reformed church theologian Karl Barth, calls upon Christians to accept a list of six “confessions” in opposition to the growing influence of the government over senior church leaders.

“A ‘confession’ fixes what counts for a church in a particular context”, says theologian Peter Bukowski of the German Reformed Alliance. “It declares what the church believes, not individuals. By adopting a ‘confession’ of beliefs in reaction to a concrete situation the Confessing churches in Germany were saying in effect that if you couldn’t agree to this confession then you didn’t belong in that church.” …. Read this in full at

“Because it goes against human nature, forgiveness must be taught and practiced, as one would practice any difficult craft. “Forgiveness is not just an occasional act: it is a permanent attitude,” said Martin Luther King Jr. What greater gift could Christians give to the world than the forming of a culture that upholds grace and forgiveness?

“The Benedictines, for example, have a moving service of forgiveness and reconciliation. After giving instruction from the Bible, the leaders ask each one attending to identify issues that require forgiveness. Worshipers then submerge their hands in a large crystal bowl of water, “holding” the grievance in their cupped hands. As they pray for the grace to forgive, gradually their hands open to symbolically “release” the grievance. “Enacting a ceremony like this with one’s body,” says Bruce Demarest, a participant, “possesses more transforming power than merely uttering the words, ‘I forgive.'” What impact might it have if blacks and whites in South Africa—or in the United States of America—plunged their hands repeatedly into a common bowl of forgiveness?” from What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey

by Elizabeth Kendal
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body. (Hebrews 13:3)

* EGYPT, where Cairo’s garbage collectors (Arabic: ‘zabaleen’) — all indigenous Coptic Christians socially crippled by systematic religious discrimination — are fac ing increased hardship as a result of a government campaign to cull all Egypt’s pigs. Islam deems pigs ‘unclean’ and so pigs are kept and eaten only by Christians, particularly the zabaleen whose pigs consume the organic waste. Egypt’s Copts regard the cull as yet another example of persecution.

The pig cull continues with the authorities estimating it could take six months to complete. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protested the cruelty to the animals after footage emerged on Youtube showing pigs and piglets being beaten, kicked and stabbed to death, as well as doused with acid and buried alive. While the cruelty being meted out to the pigs is deplorable, the extreme hardship being forced on Cairo’s Coptic Christian communities is more so. People for the ethical treatment of people should be outraged. Pray for Egypt’s Christian Copts.

The Church’s responsibility to pray and care for the wounded, endangered and traumatized body of Christ will continue as long as conflict and persecution continue. ‘Is this not the fast that I choose [says the Lord] . . . to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?’ (Isaiah 58:7 ESV)

* INDIA, with a special RLPB on the results of the Indian elections. We praise God for another five years in which to challenge the wicked, dangerous and deceitful ideology of Hindutva. We pray it will not be wasted.

Please pray for Christians in the remote, violence-wracked Hindutva stronghold of Kandhamal district, Orissa State. In the State Assembly poll (he ld at the same time as the Federal poll) Kandhamal district was won by the BJP, even though the BJP candidate is in prison for his part in the anti-Christian pogrom of September-October 2008. This indicates that Kandhamal’s displaced and vulnerable Christians are surrounded by a majority of highly radicalized, unrepentant Hindus who still strongly support the Hindutva agenda. Pray that the newly elected, professedly secular, centrist BJD government in Orissa will exercise its clear state-wide mandate to disempower Hindutva, ending the shameful and destructive communalism it engenders and the impunity it has long enjoyed. Pray that justice will flow (Amos 5:24) …. Read this in full at

At first, the idea of churches overlooking their elderly members seems hard to grasp. After all, surveys show that church-affiliated populations are older than the national population as a whole — and in many Protestant congregations, overwhelmingly so. Many churches do have plenty of classes and groups for older members.

Yet many churches have paid so much attention to attracting the young that they may be overlooking the needs of those in their midst, United Methodist blogger Missy Buchanan said. More than a quarter of United Methodists are 65 or older — compared with 16 percent of people nationally, according to a 2008 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey.

The numbers are similar, and sometimes higher, for other Protestant denominations, such as Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians. Twenty-three percent of such “mainline” Protestants are 65 or older, as are 19 percent of evangelical Protestants such as Baptists…. Read this in full at

“’When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow’ (Deuteronomy 24:21). It isn’t fair. It’s my vineyard, it’s my olive grove, it’s my field. Why should I let these people come onto my property and take what I’ve worked so hard to produce? That’s not fair.

“Exactly. Because being rescued from slavery in Egypt wasn’t fair. Liberation isn’t fair. Redemption isn’t fair. Grace isn’t fair. God isn’t fair. When we empower others, when we extend grace to others in their oppression — whatever that may look like — we find out about the grace that God has extended to us. from NOOMA Corner 023 with Rob Bell

The hope that all Christians will be able to celebrate Easter on the same day in the future was reaffirmed by an international ecumenical seminar organized by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, May 15.

The problem is just about as old as the church itself: As Christianity started to spread around the world, Christians came to differing results on when to commemorate Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, due to the different reports in the four Gospels on these events. Attempts to establish a common date for Easter began with the Council of Nicaea in the year 325. It established that the date of Easter would be the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. However, it did not fix the methods to be used to calculate the timing of the full moon or the vernal equinox.

Nowadays the Orthodox churches use the 21 March of the Julian calendar as the date of the equinox, while the churches of the Western tradition — that is the Protestant and Catholic churches — base their calculations on the Gregorian calendar. The resulting gap between the two Easter dates can be as much as five weeks.

All participants at the seminar in Lviv, which included Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant theologians from a variety of European countries, endorsed a compromise proposed at a World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation in Aleppo, Syria, in 1997. The proposal was to keep the Nicaea rule but calculate the equinox and full moon using the accurate astronomical data available today, rather than those used many years ago.

Participants at the seminar expressed the hope that the years 2010 and 2011, when the coincidence of the calendars will produce a common Easter date, would serve as a period during which all Christians would join their efforts “to make such coincidence not to be an exception but rather a rule” and prepare for an Easter date based on exact astronomical reckoning and celebrated by all Christians on April 8, 2012…. Read this in full at

Doug Mazza’s leadership has led Joni and Friends to be a workplace of excellence, recognized as a certified Best Christian Workplace. In particular, under Doug’s leadership Joni and Friends has flourished in respect to staff feeling that they are appreciated and their hard work is noticed. Selection as an outstanding leader is based on employee feedback from the Best Christian Workplace survey.

Doug Mazza’s distinguished career began in the automotive industry. Involved in leadership in Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and eventually Hyundai. Then, as a dedicated volunteer with a variety of non-profit organizations that meet human needs, Doug and his wife Lorraine made a life changing decision when he accepted the position of Executive Vice President of the International Christian Ministry Joni and Friends. This organization was founded by visionary, author, artist and quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada…. Read this in full at

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17

“We must never separate what God does for us from what God does in us.” Charles Gore

Virtually everything the first film offered we get more of in this sequel. More characters. More battles. More intensity. More slapstick. More monkeys. More history. More fun. I laughed out loud quite a lot during this movie. And I enjoyed the creative ways in which the filmmakers brought such a variety of museum exhibits to life — from that historically significant moment with the Tuskegee Airmen to Larry grabbing the old farmer’s pitchfork from Grant Wood’s classic painting, American Gothic.

Instead of making it feel derivative or cobbled together, this tale’s liberal appropriations of other films and TV shows actually seems to accentuate its good-natured ribbing style. Along for the ride are influences from National Treasure and Mission: Impossible, cribbed dialog from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Last of the Mohicans, and even a catchphrase from American Idol.

There are caveats, too, though. (Of course.) While there is definitely more of what makes a film a rollicking good popcorn flick, there are also a few more content concerns. We hear a couple more profanities than in the first film. Wink-wink sexual references are incrementally more frequent. And part of the plot revolves around a dark spiritual underworld filled with “armies of the damned.”

Those things still won’t be fatal flaws for most families. Most will see this film as a well-told and enjoyable story, one that encourages viewers to do what they love, with the people they love. And they’ll also notice that, just as in the first film, Battle of the Smithsonian once again helps us see why history is important…. Read this in full at

“Over time the Crypto-Christians [in Japan] confused their Christian beliefs and their Japanese [cultural] disguises. The result was the emergence of a hybrid religion no longer adhering to the doctrines of orthodox Christianity. When Europeans regained entrance to Japan in the nineteenth century, they were astonished to see communities of hidden Christians living in the hills around Nagasaki. This amazement waned, however, when they discovered the faith of these forgotten Christians was hardly Christianity.

“In our cultural quest for survival, driven by our fear of irrelevance, have evangelicals become Crypto-Christians? Have we clothed our faith with the forms of our American culture to the point that our Christianity has morphed into something entirely different — a folk religion altogether consumerist in spirit and content? By yielding its imagination to the forms around it, has the church, like ancient Israel, lost the ability to be an alternative people of God? Is Walter Brueggemann correct: ‘The contemporary American church is so largely enculturated to the American ethos of consumerism that it has little power to believe or to act’?” from The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity by Skye Jethani

When Pope Benedict XVI told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square in April that the Virgin Mary “silently followed her son Jesus to Calvary, taking part with great suffering in his sacrifice, thus cooperating in the mystery of redemption and becoming mother of all believers,” most listeners probably heard nothing remarkable in the statement. After all, devotion to Mary is a pervasive element of the Catholic faith, and one of the features that most clearly distinguishes it from Protestantism.

Yet for one group of devotees, Benedict’s statement was a milestone — a sign that he had moved one step closer to granting their wish for a new dogma on Mary’s contribution to human salvation…. Read this in full at

Shrinking mainline Protestant denominations are turning to marketing to help stem decades of membership losses and stay afloat. The United Methodist Church recently unveiled a $20 million rebranding effort aimed at attracting younger members to the large but diminishing Protestant group. The new ads will appear over the next four years as part of the denomination’s “Rethink Church” campaign. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has invested nearly $1.2 million over the past two years launching a similar branding effort based on the theme, “God’s Work, Our Hands.”

The denominations are trying to bounce back from losses that began in the mid-1960s. From 1990 to 2008 alone, mainline Protestants dropped from 18.7% to 12.9% of the population, according to the American Religious Identification Survey…. Read this in full at

Dangling from the sides of Chicago public buses in recent days: large signs bearing the slogan, “In the beginning, man created God.” Lo and behold, the atheist bus war that raged through London earlier this year has led to the opening of another front in America. The Chicago ads were purchased in May (for a total of $5,000) by the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign.

Despite Chicago’s abundance of trains, the Indiana group preferred to buy ads to appear on the outside of buses. “That way, cars can see them. People on the sidewalks can see them, as the buses go zipping by,” says Charlie Sitzes, 73, the group’s spokesman. Apart from the predictable blogosphere chatter, Chicago has largely greeted the ads with a quick, curious look and then a shrug. While the media attention has drawn donations to the group from across the country, there are no plans to extend the ads’ run beyond mid-June. “You don’t have to shake the believer tree too hard to get a discussion going,” Sitzes says, adding, “We’ve already won.” …. Read this in full at,8599,1901301,00.html

More than half of adult Americans report they have had a spiritual experience that changed their lives. Now, scientists from universities like Harvard, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins are using new technologies to analyze the brains of people who claim they have touched the spiritual — from Christians who speak in tongues to Buddhist monks to people who claim to have had near-death experiences. Hear what they have discovered in this controversial field, as the science of spirituality continues to evolve…. Read this in full at

Basis for happiness: something to do; someone to love; something to look forward to.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17

“Give us grace and strength to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends and soften to us our enemies. Give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death loyal and loving to one another.” Robert Louis Stevenson


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.

Christian Computing Magazine (current issue free pdf)

BuzzCal: The Ultimate Sports Calendar

Religion Facts

BBC Ancient History

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.)

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?
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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