CONNECTIONS – 11/08/09

For week of November 8, 2009
Issue 277

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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The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are
and righteous altogether.
Psalm 19:7-9

“We begin, sometimes without realizing it, to worship things, to relate to them as persons. And in the process, we inevitably relate to other persons as if they were things.” Edward J. Farrell, Gathering the Fragments

Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson will end his 32-year stint as the voice of the conservative Christian ministry at the end of February, the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit announced Friday.

Focus on the Family’s board and the 73-year-old Dobson, the folksy family therapist who evolved into a key frontman for the religious right, have agreed to a parting of the ways, ministry spokesman Gary Schneeberger said.

Dobson’s February exit from the airwaves probably doesn’t spell his demise as an icon with political clout, experts say. And it isn’t known whether his departure will help or hurt the ministry’s efforts to attract new and younger families as listeners, readers and donors.

Focus on the Family could not say Friday who would replace Dobson as host of its flagship radio show, which has an estimated 1.5 million listeners…. Read this in full at

In the traditional church calendar, “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day” stand out in the month of November, set apart to remember the saints of the church and the souls of those who departed this world. It is fitting that the modern church has set apart the month of November to remember and pray for the persecuted church, through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).

There are many countries in the world today where Christians are martyred for their faith. The world watched in horror the unbridled violence that was unleashed on Christians in Orissa state, India last year. There are other places in the world, such as North Korea, where acts of persecution take place, but we often don’t see or hear the full story. Brother Andrew of Open Doors once said, “Our heroes are not with us simply because they are in prison.”

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is a time set apart for us to remember thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord.

Pray for Zimbabwe

Religious freedom needs less talk and more action in Washington

Matrix: International Religious Liberty Advocates

List of Organizations

Lutheran World Federation leaders plan to apologize for their ancestors 16th-century persecution of Anabaptists, religious reformers whose successors include Mennonites and the Amish.

“We ask for forgiveness — from God and from our Mennonite sisters and brothers — for the harm that our forebears in the sixteenth century committed to Anabaptists,” says a statement adopted unanimously Oct. 26 by the LWF’s council.

The apology is now recommended for formal adoption by the highest LWF governing body, its assembly, meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, in July 2010.

Anabaptists, whose originally pejorative name means “re-baptizers”, stressed the need to baptize Christian believers, including those who had been baptized as infants. They were persecuted as heretics by both Protestants and Catholics, and many of them fled to America…. Read this in full at

Evangelist Billy Graham will celebrate his 91st birthday on Saturday, Nov. 7, and is looking forward to visits from several family members at his western North Carolina home to mark the occasion.

“I’ve experienced God’s gracious love in a personal way all these years,” Mr. Graham said, pausing to reflect on life’s blessings as he enters his tenth decade. “Today my heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for me, and for all the prayers from so many people over the years.”

Dr. Graham remains in good overall health with a strong heart and clear mind, while dealing with various age-related conditions — such as macular degeneration and hearing loss. He continues to exercise, including short walks at his mountain home every day, relying on a walker for balance…. Read this in full at

Notable quotes from Billy Graham

In the world of faith-based social networking, evangelical Christian leader Mark Oestreicher commanded a huge chunk of cyberspace.

Known as “Marko,” the technological hipster amassed 4,000 Facebook friends, 1,500 Twitter followers and 2,000 daily readers of his blog.

But then he decided he’d had enough—and unplugged from his online circle of friends.

“It’s not that I don’t think online connections are real. It’s just that they are perpetually superficial,” said Oestreicher, former longtime president of Youth Specialties, a company based in El Cajon, Calif., that specializes in youth pastor training materials and seminars.

In an age when many religious leaders embrace the latest technology and even “tweet” from the pulpit, some—like Oestreicher—are reassessing the potential negative impact of online overload.

“Unplugging has become essential to my spiritual journey and truly hearing God,” said Anne Jackson, an author, speaker, and volunteer pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tenn. “For me, all the noise can drown that out if I’m not careful.”

Jackson, author of the book “Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic,” maintains a church leadership blog at that draws 150,000 page views a month, by her estimate.
She has 6,700 Twitter followers. …. Read this in full at

by Mark Galli
It has been said to the point of boredom that we live in a narcissistic age, where we are wont to fixate on our needs, our wants, our wishes, and our hopes—at the expense of others and certainly at the expense of God. We do not like it when a teacher uses up the whole class time presenting her material, even if it is material from the Word of God. We want to be able to ask our questions about our concerns, otherwise we feel talked down to, or we feel the class is not relevant to our lives.

It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out. Don’t spend a lot of time in the Bible, we tell our preachers, but be sure to get to personal illustrations, examples from daily life, and most importantly, an application that we can use.

It’s easy to see how this culture has profoundly reshaped the dynamics of preaching and teaching. All the demands have been placed on the shoulders of the preacher, so anxious are we to meet needs and stay relevant. No longer are listeners asked to listen humbly to the proclamation of God’s Word, in all its mystery and glory. To be sure, we want the preacher to begin with the Word — we’re Christians after all — but only as a starting point, and only as long as he moves on to things that really interest us…. Read this in full at

Monasteries stand in contrast to the prevailing culture. They stress community over competition, service over self-interest, and, in a world of Internet, cell phones and 24-hour talk, they value listening, and silence. Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly Correspondent Judy Valente visited the sisters at the Benedictine Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas to learn more about this chosen way of life…. Read this in full at

It’s the Holy Spirit that provides Pentecostals with the practice that sets their movement apart from all other evangelical Christian churches: speaking in tongues, or glossolalia. “The distinguishing feature of classical Pentecostalism is to say that unless you have spoken in tongues, you don’t have this baptism in spirit,” said Russell Spittler, emeritus professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

But during an hour of worship at First Assembly of God in the southernmost tip of Missouri’s Bootheel, no one audibly spoke in tongues, and elders in the Assemblies of God are worried about what a younger generation’s more practical theology might mean for the future of the practice.

Speaking in tongues is so central to the 3 million-member, Missouri-based Assemblies of God, that denominational leaders voted unanimously to reaffirm it as doctrine, at the church’s General Council meeting in August.

Reaffirmation of one of Pentecostalism’s central tenets was necessary, according to the resolution voted on at the meeting, because speaking in tongues “has come under certain scrutiny.” Glossolalia has become the church’s real battle of the generations…. Read this in full at

Here are some statements people commonly make when objecting to Christianity, and how you can respond:

* “That’s true for you, but not for me.” It doesn’t make sense to say that no belief is true for everyone, because by making that statement you’re claiming that your own viewpoint (relativism) is universally true — and thereby contradicting yourself. And simply living life depends on belief in truth of some kind; everyone must implicitly trust that certain things exist in order to survive.

* “So many people disagree — relativism must be true.” Just because it’s sometimes difficult to discern the truth doesn’t mean that truth doesn’t exist or can’t be discerned. The fact that people disagree doesn’t say anything about an issue’s truth or falsehood. Often, people don’t have full knowledge about the reality that exists.

* “What right do you have to convert others to your views?” If you’re trying to persuade me not to share my viewpoint, you’re trying to convert me to share your own view that people shouldn’t evangelize. Faith may be personal, but that doesn’t mean it’s private. Everyone naturally wants to share what they’re passionate about with others….. Read this in full at

by Lucy Neeley Adams
Try reading the book of Acts in the Bible and not getting excited about the growth of the early church. The disciples heard and obeyed the risen Christ when he commanded, “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” (Matthew 28:19)

Through that phenomenal growth, the Roman Catholic Church developed. It was the only official body of believers for hundreds of years. At times there was discord among the leaders. But when one 16th-century priest publically disagreed with some practices, it was a turning point in church history.

It happened during this time of the year. I believe the sound of a hammer was heard throughout the Christian world and it did not come from a construction site. It originated in the heart and soul of an angry Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517.

Luther took a bold and dangerous step as he nailed a paper to the door of a Cathedral in Wittenburg, Germany on which he had written 95 complaints against the only Christian community of his day — his own Church. It is known as the 95 Theses.

It went down in history as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The protests that were written that day for the public to see began the most dramatic reform within Christianity…. Read this in full at

It’s been a year and a half since Steven Curtis Chapman lost his youngest daughter, 5-year-old Maria Sue, to a tragic accident at the family’s Tennessee home. Maria’s death rocked her father’s world, causing Steven and his wife, Mary Beth, to question God and their faith, while also clinging to the hope of things to come. The grieving process brought Steven, like King David, to his knees, simultaneously shouting at God while also desperately grasping for hope. Chapman journaled the journey, which he likens to penning his own Psalms—and not surprisingly, many of them turned into songs, and now his first album since Maria’s passing, Beauty Will Rise.

Chapman spoke with Christianity Today about losing his daughter, the “black hole” of pain and despair, and the glimmers of life they’ve clung to through the last 18 months — including the opening of Maria’s Big House of Hope, a healing home in China for special needs children. The Chapmans had already adopted two Chinese girls before Maria, so returning to China over the summer to open Maria’s Big House was a bittersweet time to both mourn Maria yet again, but to celebrate her life and legacy…. Read this in full at

Study of Leaders Identifies Their Weaknesses
Effective leaders are expected to possess a variety of skills that produce measurable results. A new study from The Barna Group shows that most leaders are at their best when it comes to using existing resources –- and at their worst when it comes to developing needed resources.

According to the research, the specific behaviors that leaders do most poorly include:
* Negotiating agreements that maximize benefits at minimal cost
* Attracting new resources to the organization – especially human and financial capital
* Developing and implementing individualized developmental plans for emerging leaders
* Nurturing robust relationships with existing colleagues, demonstrating sufficient care and attention to their needs

The research also discovered that leaders sometimes perceive themselves to be more effective at specific aspects of leading than their performance suggests. A prime example relates to vision. While an overwhelming majority of leaders believes that they are very effective at using the organization’s vision as their chief decision-making filter, the study found that one of the greatest weaknesses of most leaders is relying on the vision to protect the organization from over-commitment. “Leaders tend to point to their vision as the reason to say ‘yes’ to opportunities,” explained George Barna. “But our research showed that there is much less willingness to use the vision as a reason to say ‘no’ to opportunities that are not in the best interests of the organization.”…. Read this in full at

Search me, O God, and know my
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in
and lead me in the way
Psalm 139:23-24

“It is no advantage to be near the light if the eyes are closed.” Augustine

Repentant for having spent a generation bowing at the altars of church growth and political power, concerned evangelicals gathered Oct. 13-15 to search the soul of their movement and find a new way forward.

That evangelicals, who compose a quarter of the American population, must refocus on shaping authentic disciples of Jesus Christ has always garnered wide support. But how to do that in a consumerist society with little appetite for self-denial is fueling internal debate.

The state of evangelicalism drew the scrutiny of intellectuals as 500 people attended a conference at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary on “renewing the evangelical mission.” Leading thinkers called fellow believers to repent for a host of sins, from reducing the Gospel to a right-wing political agenda to rendering God as a lenient father who merely wants “cuddle time with his kids.”

“We are seeing the very serious weakening of American faith, even among people who profess to be believers,” said Os Guinness, senior fellow of the EastWest Institute in New York and author of “The Case for Civility.” “Yet an awful lot of people haven’t really faced up to the true challenge and still think they can turn it around with things like political action.” …. Read this in full at

Carl Drews still remembers the first time he heard the “Hallelujah” chorus. His parents had taken him to see “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the movie about the life of Jesus with a soundtrack including the famous chorus from Handel’s “Messiah.” It made the little boy feel that heaven was a place “where you sing the `Hallelujah’ chorus forever and ever.”

Years later, on a Habit for Humanity project in Nicaragua, the longtime choir singer sang the stirring words from memory under the newly built roof of a house, banana trees swaying in the breeze, with two other volunteers on his work crew.

This December, Drews, a 49-year-old software engineer, will participate in the 27th annual “Messiah” sing-along in Boulder, Colo., one of hundreds of such events across the country in which an unrehearsed audience performs as the chorus in George Frideric Handel’s baroque masterpiece.

“It’s just really fun to be with people singing their hearts out,” Drews said a few weeks after rehearsals began in Boulder for the core group of singers who support the audience. “And I am a Christian so I am singing what I believe.”

But you don’t have to be a Christian to love “Messiah.” Tens of thousands of Americans from all different social and religious backgrounds will gather in churches, concert halls and living rooms beginning in mid-December to sing all or parts of the 2 1/2 hour oratorio…. Read this in full at

Religious institutions may be waning in the US but private religious practices like prayer are actually on the rise, a new University of Chicago report reveals.

While weekly attendees of religious services dropped from 32-to-26% of the population between 1983 and 2006, people praying daily rose from 54-to-59% in the same time period.

“There’s some weakening of traditional religious affiliation and practices such as attending religious services, but there’s a slight increase in belief in the afterlife and a slight increase in the frequency of … prayer,” said Tom Smith, author of “Religious Change around the World,” which was released Oct. 23…. Read this in full at

by Rusty Wright
It’s easy to see why this city is the focus of so much world attention. As my traveling companions — fellow journalists — and I meandered through Old Jerusalem, a group of Asian pilgrims snaked down the crowded Via Dolorosa carrying a cross. Hasidic Jews in traditional black suits and hats scurried by on foot or bicycle. Muslim calls to prayer reverberated.

Our Israeli guide joked that on some special holidays, he’s surprised that World War III hasn’t broken out on the Via Dolorosa (“Way of Suffering”) ( ). Hordes of Christian pilgrims, Jews preparing for the Sabbath, and Muslims traveling for Friday prayers all converge on the narrow streets.

Things felt peaceful this day. Busloads of tourists scoured religious landmarks — which are legion — and enjoyed food from street vendors and bistros. Smells of pastries, fish, veggies, and other roasted delights wafted through the air…. Read this in full at

by Sunday Agang
A seminary student told me a story that had been circulating in his church: A member of his congregation sold his wife’s life, so she died in an automobile accident. The church member remarried, but kept a room in his house where he allowed nobody, including his new wife. One day, he forgot to lock the door. His new wife snuck in and discovered the first wife’s corpse spitting new Nigerian money on the floor.

Elisha Telena, a Neo-Pentecostal pastor in Jos, told me another story about witchcraft. He said he had discovered witches in his congregation. One member had come to him because her husband lay ill. According to Telena, she and her son pretended to be concerned about the man’s illness and wanted him “delivered.” But Telena told his congregation that while he was trying to deliver the sick man, God revealed to him that the woman and her son were the culprits. They had used witchcraft to bind him in the spirit world.

The fear of evil spiritual forces hovers like a cloud over African Christianity. Dealing with (and in) witchcraft isn’t foreign to the church. In fact, the Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria say, “Olorun ko ko aafo,” i.e., “God is not opposed to native remedies.” In times of crisis, even Christians may consult medicine men…. Read this in full at

by Richard N. Ostling
Not many years ago, evangelicals would have deemed substantive contact with Mormonism improbable. Yet since 2000, small scholarly teams of Mormons led by Brigham Young University professor Robert Millet and evangelical teams led by Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw have managed to hold 17 intense, closed-door dialogue sessions. The latest, held in mid-October at Wheaton College, centered on proselytism, a topic on which the two sides are intense rivals.

Millet said this is the only ongoing doctrinal dialogue with any outside religious group that occurs with the knowledge—though not yet public authorization, much less participation—of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ top leaders, whom Millet advises on ecumenical strategy…. Read this in full at

“Everyone must study his own nature. Some of you can sustain life with less food than others can, and therefore I desire that he who needs more nourishment shall not be obliged to equal others, but that every one shall give his body what it needs for being an efficient servant of the soul. For as we are obliged to be on our guard against superfluous food which injures body and soul alike, thus we must be on the watch against immoderate fasting, and this the more, because the Lord wants conversion and not victims.”
St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), in Saint Francis of Assisi: a biography, Johannes Jorgensen, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912, p. 103

When the Rev. Tom Eggebeen took over as interim pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church three years ago, he looked around and knew it needed a jump start.

Most of his worshippers, though devoted, were in their 60s, attendance had bottomed out and the once-vibrant church was fading as a community touchstone in its bustling neighborhood.

So Eggebeen came up with a hair-raising idea: He would turn God’s house into a doghouse by offering a 30-minute service complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats. He hopes it will reinvigorate the church’s connection with the community, provide solace to elderly members and, possibly, attract new worshippers who are as crazy about God as they are about their four-legged friends.

Before the first Canines at Covenant service last Sunday, Eggebeen said many Christians love their pets as much as human family members and grieve just as deeply when they suffer — but churches have been slow to recognize that love as the work of God…. Read this in full at

The Church of Scientology is going through a difficult season. Over the course of two days recently, a French court convicted the church of fraud and Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis’ resignation from the church over a litany of concerns was aired publicly. On one hand, it was just another bad press week for the embattled institution founded in 1953 by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

But for former Scientologists and scholars of the movement, the setbacks pose a greater challenge coming on the heels of defections of top-level Scientologists who lifted a veil of secrecy on the organization and alleged a culture of violence and control under Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige…. Read this in full at

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) will televise a 6-hour documentary series on the history of religious life in America. The series — “God in America” — produced by WGBH in Boston, will air in November 2010.

“In America, religion matters and in American history, religion has always mattered,” says promotional material for the year-from-now series. “The American story cannot be fully understood without understanding how religious ideas and spiritual experience shaped that history.”

The shows will cover 500 years of American religious history, from the arrival of Columbus to the 2008 election of Barack Obama as president.  It will track “the potent and complex interaction between religion and politics in the United Sates,” as well as “the key role religious ideas and spiritual experience have played in important social reform movements from abolition to the social gospel and civil rights.”

Included in “God in America” will be stories such as the native rebellion against Spanish colonizers and their priests; the mass spiritual upheavals of the Great Awakenings; the religious and spiritual dimensions of the Civil War; the high stakes debates in the courts and conflict in the streets over the meaning of religious liberty; and the intellectual and political struggles between the country’s secular and religious cultures…. Read this in full at

Counselor to new boy at camp: “We want you to be happy, so enjoy yourself here. If there’s something you want we haven’t got, I’ll show you how to get along without it.”

“Do all things without murmurings and disputing.”
Philippians 2:14

Grant to us, O Lord, to know that which is worth knowing, to love that which is worth loving, to praise that which pleaseth Thee most, to esteem that which is most precious unto Thee, and to dislike whatsoever is evil in Thine eyes. Grant us with true judgment to distinguish things that differ, and above all to search out and do what is well pleasing unto Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ [1418]


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.

Multiple Fluid Simulation

Matrix Ping Pong

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.)

Sometimes I think I’m diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
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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