CONNECTIONS – 12/20/09

For week of December 20, 2009
Issue 283

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 Lord lives! Blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation.”
2 Samuel 22:47

CONSIDER
“Out of the will of God there is no such thing as success; in the will of God there is no such thing as failure.”
David Amstutz

ORAL ROBERTS, EVANGELIST, DIES AT 91
Oral Roberts, the evangelist who rose from humble tent revivals to found a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university bearing his name, died Dec. 15. He was 91.

Roberts died of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif., according to his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. The evangelist was hospitalized after a fall Dec. 12. He had survived two heart attacks in the 1990s and a broken hip in 2006.

Roberts was a pioneer on two fronts — he helped bring spirit-filled charismatic Christianity into the mainstream and took his trademark revivals to television, a new frontier for religion.

Evangelist Billy Graham remembered his longtime friend kindly. “Oral Roberts was a man of God, and a great friend in ministry. I loved him as a brother. We had many quiet conversations over the years. I invited Oral to speak at one of our early international conferences on evangelism held in Berlin in the 1960s,” Graham said. “Just three weeks ago, I was privileged to talk to Oral over the telephone. During the short conversation, he said to me that he was near the end of his life’s journey. I look forward to the day that I will see Oral and [his wife] Evelyn Roberts again in Heaven — our eternal home.” A public memorial service to honor evangelist Oral Roberts, founder of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (OREA) and Oral Roberts University (ORU), has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Central Time, Monday, Dec. 21 at ORU…. Read this in full at
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/12/15/us/AP-US-Obit-OralRoberts.html?_r=1&hp

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2009/12/reports_oral_roberts_has_died.html?sc=nl&cc=brk-20091215-1603

http://charismamag.com/index.php/news/25705

http://www.oralrobertsnews.com/

WHY THE ORAL ROBERTS OBITUARIES ARE WRONG
The “faith-healer” (who hated the term) may have done much to mainstream Pentecostalism, but he was no architect of the Prosperity Gospel.

What was Oral Roberts’s main legacy? How important a figure was he? Oral Roberts University president Mark Rutland told Christianity Today that he and Billy Graham “were the two preeminent luminaries of the 20th century.”

Preeminent historian of Pentecostalism Grant Wacker, author of Heaven Below, largely agrees. “Other than Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr., and maybe Jerry Falwell, it would be hard to name a different religious leader of more importance,” he told USA Today. “In the middle of the 20th century, he took faith healing and Pentecostalism away from a frowzy backwoods image and gave it an upbeat face.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/decemberweb-only/151-34.0.html

JOHN LENNON’S BORN-AGAIN PHASE
“Can He love me?” the former Beatle asked Oral Roberts. “I want out of hell.”
And excerpt from Steve Turner’s The Gospel According to the Beatles includes the correspondence between John Lennon and Oral Roberts and what happened next…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/januaryweb-only/001-22.0.html

JOURNALISTS VOTE OBAMA’S CAIRO SPEECH #1 RELIGION STORY OF 2009
For the second year in a row, activities of Barack Obama topped the list of religion stories for 2009, according to a survey of more than 100 religion journalists. The president’s June speech — in which he pledged a new beginning in Muslim-US relations during a visit to Cairo — was voted the No. 1 religion story of the year.

The speech at Cairo University last spring was widely viewed as a contrast to the approach of previous administrations. During his talk, Obama invoked the Qur’an, Talmud, and the Bible while declaring that America was not at war with Islam.

The No. 2 religion story was health care reform and the role of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and other faith groups played in shaping the debate.

Rick Warren, the California megachurch pastor who gained attention with his presidential Inauguration Day invocation and comments in the aftermath of Prop. 8, was named 2009 Religion Newsmaker of the Year. Warren also continues to have a major effect in Africa through AIDS relief and other humanitarian activities.

Other top ranking stories were
3. Because Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, was considered a devout Muslim, the role of that faith in terrorism again comes under review; some fear a backlash.

4. Dr. Carl Tiller, regarded as the country’s leading abortion doctor, is gunned down while ushering in his Wichita Lutheran church. Scott Roeder, charged with his murder, is described as a man suffering from delusions and professing radical religious beliefs…. Read this in full at
http://www.rna.org/news/34061/Journalists-Vote-Obamas-Cairo-Speech-1-Religion-Story-of-2009.htm

TOP TEN RELIGIOUS LIBERTY STORIES OF 2009
1. New President brings change, but delays some tough decisions
2. Justice Souter replaced by Justice Sotomayor
3. Supreme Court hears Mojave cross case
4. US foreign affairs and the role of religion
5. Local governments under fire for prayers at meetings
6. Supreme Court’s Summum decision avoids direct church-state question
7. Muslim headscarves make headlines
8. Sikh community makes gains
9. Ten Commandments displays in Oklahoma
10. Christian-themed license plates in South Carolina declared unconstitutional…. Read this in full at
http://www.bjconline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3118&Itemid=134

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER IN 2010
Stewardship is the ordering of one’s life so that time, ability, possessions, and all of one’s personality are administered as belonging to God.

LEARNING GRACE
“We seek the grace of God, we press into it, but we also learn it. To learn something means more than mouthing the words ‘His grace is sufficient for me.’ To learn means to make choices, to practice over and over. If you are to know contentment — that quietness of heart growing out of supernatural grace that gladly submits to God in all circumstances — you must undergo the learning process.

“ God’s grace was certainly there for me, but He wasn’t going to force-feed me. It was up to me to make a series of tough choices. Was I going to let embarrassment over my food-smeared face dissuade me? Would I let disappointing failures overwhelm me? I’m convinced God gave me the strength to lift that spoon to my mouth. As a result, I did learn to feed myself, and today I manage a spoon quite well.

“ When Christ gives us strength to tackle a painful situation, gaining contentment doesn’t mean losing sorrow or saying good-bye to discomfort. You can be sorrowful yet always rejoicing. You can have nothing and yet possess everything. First Timothy 6:6 says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’ Yet the gain always comes through loss. The grace always comes through need. Don’t let anyone tell you that contentment comes easily. It is not passive. In fact, it is gritty determination. It has to be learned. And it requires grace from beyond this world.”
Joni Eareckson Tada, A Lifetime of Wisdom: Embracing the Way God Heals You

LESSONS FROM TIGER
by Kenneth S. Hemphill
Just a few short weeks ago the title, “lessons from Tiger” would have been understood as the chance of a lifetime to learn the golf swing from one of the greatest golfers to play the game. Any avid golfer would have jumped at the chance to learn from the best.

It’s hard to believe how quickly things change.

No doubt you’re growing as weary as I am of the ongoing “Tiger saga.” From the bizarre wreck in his driveway to the unraveling of his well-crafted persona, we thought, “Surely, things can’t get any worse.” But they did.

The Tiger story moved from sports news, to network news, to entertainment news, and finally to the tabloids. And it has spawned numerous internet and late-night routines at his expense. But, don’t forward any of the jokes to me. Knowing that “love refuses to rejoice in unrighteousness,” I can’t laugh at the tragedies that have been caused by his web of sin.

Instead, I’ve pledged to take a different approach, and I invite you to join me even as the drama continues to unfold.

PRAY FOR TIGER, ELIN AND THEIR TWO CHILDREN
I don’t know anything personally about their spiritual condition, but I’m praying that this event will provide the opportunity for this young couple to experience God’s amazing grace. I’m praying that God will place someone in their path who can share with them the only One with the power to forgive sin and grant a brand new start. I’m committed to pray that:
— their marriage will survive. God hates divorce.
— the children will be protected from the media circus that surrounds this couple.
— Tiger will become a better man as he goes through this process.

Over the years, I’ve watched as Tiger has transformed his swing and emerged a better golfer. In this instance, he won’t be able to bring the needed transformation simply by the exertion of will power. However, God is able to transform man completely and to bring good out of terrible tragedy.

LEARN FROM TIGER — ABOUT LIFE, NOT GOLF
Please know that I don’t offer any of these thoughts out of harshness in my heart, but in a spirit of “truth in love.” Even so, as I examined myself, I felt the sting of these spiritual truths.

(1) You reap what you sow.
(2) Sin is destructive.
(3) We can’t beat sin in our own strength…. Read this in full at
http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=31866

TIGER WOODS SAGA FAR FROM OVER
by R. Albert Mohler Jr.
The travail of Tiger Woods entered a new chapter as Accenture, a global consulting firm, severed all ties with the world’s most famous golfer. It is not likely to be the last.

Tiger Woods’ fall from public favor happened with breathtaking speed. In a matter of days, a minor vehicle accident in the middle of the night mushroomed into both private and public catastrophe. Even as Woods and his famously protective handlers sought to avoid or limit the controversy, the golfer’s eventual admission of marital infidelity has forever changed the way the public looks at the world’s most highly compensated athlete.

This story is far from over. Even as Tiger Woods has announced that he is taking an “indefinite” leave from professional golf in order to give priority to his wife and family, his future as both professional athlete and public figure is very much in question. Some believe that Woods will return to his exalted position after a necessary period of contrition and public withdrawal. Others suggest that, given the mental demands of professional golf, Woods will have a very difficult time returning to top form. And, what about Tiger Woods the brand? On these questions, time will tell. Nevertheless, the travail of Tiger Woods already provides lessons that are not to be missed.

Lesson One: Acts done in private can and will have public consequences.
Lesson Two: The public still believes that adultery is a big deal.
Lesson Three: A fall from public favor can happen in an instant…. Read this in full at
http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=31880

MANHATTAN CHURCH AIMS TO MOVE CHRISTIANS FROM CONSUMERS TO MINISTERS
Twenty years into ministry, Manhattan’s prominent Redeemer Presbyterian Church plans to transition into a movement.

That means no more customers. Everybody is going to reach out, minister, make sacrifices and own the vision, says Redeemer senior pastor Tim Keller.

The conservative evangelical congregation that draws some 5,000 people – many of whom are students and young professionals – celebrated its 20th anniversary in September. It was then that the church launched the ambitious RENEW Campaign, a 10-year plan that aims to move Redeemer out of the program- and staff-driven church it has unavoidably become as it grew and into a movement.

Keller admits the church that started on 87th Street in a rented Seventh Day Adventist facility has been greatly blessed over the past two decades. But as it has grown, big programs were being run from the center by a very small number of highly-skilled leaders and a larger percentage of congregants were becoming customers…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20091214/manhattan-church-aims-to-move-christians-from-consumers-to-ministers/index.html

ADVENT CONSPIRACY CHURCH GROUP FIGHTS CHRISTMAS SHOPPING
To a growing group of Christians, the focus on the commercial aspect of Christmas is the greatest threat to one of Christianity’s holiest days. “It’s the shopping, the going into debt, the worrying that ‘If I don’t spend enough money, someone will think I don’t love them,’ ” says Portland, Ore., pastor Rick McKinley. “Christians get all bent out of shape over the fact that someone didn’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ when I walked into the store. But why are we expecting the store to tell our story? That’s just ridiculous.”

McKinley is one of the leaders of an effort to do away with the frenzied activity and extravagant gift-giving of a commercial Christmas. Through a savvy viral video and marketing effort, the so-called Advent Conspiracy movement has exploded. Hundreds of churches on four continents and in at least 17 countries have signed up to participate. The Advent Conspiracy video has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, and the movement boasts nearly 45,000 fans on Facebook. Baseball superstar Albert Pujols is a supporter — he spoke at a church event in St. Louis, Mo., to endorse the effort…. Read this in full at
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1947590,00.html

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AS RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY
About two thirds of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, a new survey reveals. Meanwhile, 20% celebrate the event as a secular holiday, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Among those who celebrate Christmas, 72% say Jesus was born to a virgin and 81% believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to die for our sins.

Christians believe Christmas is one of the most important days of the year because it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, and those who celebrate Christmas overwhelmingly agree with the central tenets of the Christian faith associated with the holiday, the survey says.

While most Americans seem to affirm Christmas, a number of pastors believe Christians have lost the true meaning of the event…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20091217/majority-of-americans-celebrate-christmas-as-religious-holiday/index.html

ON CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS IN RUSSIA
Many Russians are only now re-learning Christmas: There was no official Christmas holiday in Russia between 1925 and 1992. Some traditional Christmas customs were unofficially shifted to New Years in order to increase their chances of survival, and only now are they being slowly transferred backwards (or forwards!) to Christmas. Its reintroduction is also greatly hampered by the fact that Christmas, the New Year and usually also Easter need to be celebrated twice. Lenin adopted the Western, Gregorian calendar (introduced in 1582) in 1918, but the Orthodox church continues to celebrate by the Julian one, which presently has December 25 falling on what the Western calendar regards as January 7. Presently, the Julian calendar (introduced in 45 B.C.) is 13 days behind the Gregorian one.

As a consequence of the Soviet era, New Years – the Gregorian, world-wide one – remains the biggest celebration of the year. December 25 is not an official holiday in Russia and most Russian celebration occurs between January 1 and 14. It is said that the Russia economy grinds to a halt between the days of the New Years and the “Old New Years” celebrations (January 1 to 14)…. Read this in full at
http://www.baptist.org.ru/news/english/2161

VERSE TO PONDER
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

CONSIDER
“Anxiety in human life is what squeaking and grinding are in machinery that is not oiled. In life, trust is the oil.”
Henry Ward Beecher

YOUTHWORKS!, INC. ACQUIRES YOUTH SPECIALTIES
On December 16, 2009, YouthWorks!, Inc. completed the acquisition of Youth Specialties (YS) from Zondervan. YouthWorks’ purchase includes the entire YS brand and the events division; however, the publishing division will continue to operate under Zondervan.

The acquisition blends the ministry of YouthWorks — a multi-denominational family of ministries that plans and implements life-changing, Christ-centered missions trips and ministry experiences — with the complementary work of YS — the international leader in training and equipping youth pastors and youth ministry leaders.

This move realigns YS under the umbrella of the youth ministry-minded organization of YouthWorks, which honors the legacy of the YS founders, positions YS for new success and significantly expands the reach of the YouthWorks family of ministries. YouthWorks currently operates in more than 80 U.S. cities and Canada and has served more than 400,000 participants through 10,000 churches. YS serves more than 10,000 churches and 100,000 youth ministry workers worldwide.

“Both YouthWorks and Youth Specialties were founded to serve the Church by serving youth,” said YouthWorks founder and President Paul Bertelson. “We are excited about the complementary aspects each offers and believe the acquisition will enhance both ministries.”

For more information on the acquisition visit
http://www.youthworks.com/ys.asp

YES
“Even an atheistic heart like mine couldn’t run from this truth. When God made me, He left His mark deep inside. His fingerprints covered my soul no wonder His truth resonated within me. I simply couldn’t deny it. There was just one word I knew must be uttered in response to the God of the universe, pausing in this moment just for me. ‘Yes.’

Wrapped in that yes was the acknowledgment that God did exist, that He loved me, and that I wanted Him — not a religion — in my life in a way I’d never had before. I wanted so much more with God. It would take me many years to completely define and understand everything that yes meant. But the initial yes was a step toward God. A step out of the darkness that blinded me. A step toward the light of truth. A step toward my true identity that wouldn’t shift or fall apart under life’s strains. A step toward becoming ‘Lysa, a fulfilled child of the one true God.’

Interestingly enough, the rest of that verse shook my soul to attention: ‘Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:12-13). The words ‘I will listen to you’ and ‘you will find me’ made God seem so personal, so touchable, so interested in a relationship with me. Me? The child of a father who didn’t want me or love me is loved and wanted by the mightiest of kings, the Lord of all lords, the God of the universe, my heavenly Father!”
Lysa Terkeurst, Becoming More

MULTI-SITE CHURCHES: A NEW VARIETY OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
Susan Hong stops Pastor Tim Keller as he dashes up the steps of a Baptist church on a hectic corner of Broadway and West 79th Street.

She heard him preach at 10:30 am on the Upper East Side. Now she has brought friends to hear him at the West Side 5 pm service. He briefly greets her, then slips into the service just before his sermon.

In 45 minutes, before the final hymn, Keller’s gone — off to deliver the same sermon, “The Gospel Changes Everything,” on the East Side.

Then, again, Keller, founder and senior pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, will dash back to West 79th Street for his fourth service of the day at three leased locations.

It’s not the traditional American mom-and-pop church, where the same pastor counsels parishioners, visits when they’re ill or marries or buries them.

Keller’s service-hopping — he usually preaches to three-fourths of the 5,500 people who attend Redeemer services — reflects a new model for worship spreading rapidly across the U.S. church landscape: multisite churches.

This form of high-efficiency evangelism allows thousands of worshipers to hear the same message from a lead pastor or a member of his team, in person or by video at three, five, even a dozen or more locations. Meanwhile, others take over the one-to-one side of ministry — counseling, ceremonies and small-group guidance.

Megachurches with two or more locations under the same leadership made up 37% of US Protestant churches in 2008, up from 22% in 2000, according to a study by the Leadership Network and Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Hartford, Conn…. Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-12-17-1Amultichurches17_CV_N.htm?csp=DailyBriefing

CHURCHES EXPERIENCING CASH-FLOW PROBLEMS
As churches around the country wrap up their annual pledge drives and set their budgets for next year, they’re responding to the economic crisis in unprecedented ways.

Final figures for pledge drives aren’t in yet, but the Independent Sector, a group that tracks charitable and philanthropic causes, recommends that churches draw up two prospective budgets: one flat and one based on a 5% drop in revenue…. Read this in full at
http://www.startribune.com/local/79138892.html

DECLINE IN CONSERVATIVE CHURCHES
by Martin E. Marty
Religion-in-public news last week featured a Pew poll that demonstrated how many Americans mix faiths.  More on that in some other week. This week’s stories raise a screech question: Will there long be faiths to mix in America? “Faiths” here means bodies of believers, gathered in communities such as congregations. Has the United States begun to follow the overall pattern of decline in membership, attendance, activity, support, and visibility that is so patent in, say, Western Europe?

Forty years ago it was hard to find a seat at mass in Ireland or Quebec. Today it is harder to find mass-goers in countless parish churches. Now in America “Distance Early Warning” signals of decline almost across the board are becoming clouds on the horizon or cold winds already blowing. Yes, decline is selective: Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Assemblies of God, and the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee were “up” a bit or two bits in 2000, remaining the four exceptions in a field of scores of church bodies. Catholicism declined, but by less than 1%, bolstered as its ranks are by the continuing influx of Hispanics, who may make up one-third of the Roman flock. Claims that the conservative turn nurtured by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI would lead to revival are not realized…. Read this in full at
http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/publications/sightings/archive_2009/1214.shtml

COMMON PRAYERS CATALYST FOR UNCOMMON COMPASSION
When you say a little prayer for someone, new research suggests you may be changing your emotional relationship with that person.

The purported power of prayer has been the subject of much recent research, with studies of the benefits of being prayed for coming to conflicting conclusions. A newly published study turns the issue around, asking the intriguing question: How does praying for someone affect the person saying the prayers?

The answer seems to be: It makes them more forgiving, at least toward the person they are praying for. According to a paper just published in the journal Psychological Science, the person doing the praying feels increased levels of forgiveness toward the person being prayed for. And forgiveness, as the researchers note, is a vital element in maintaining close relationships…. Read this in full at
http://www.miller-mccune.com/news/common-prayers-catalyst-for-uncommon-compassion-1678

MEDICAL GROUP CEO QUITS AMA IN PROTEST
The head of the nation’s largest faith-based medical association has ended his membership in the American Medical Association.

“I can no longer associate with or support an organization that is unscientific, unprofessional and controlled by special interests,” David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, wrote in a letter to the AMA dated Dec. 14.

In a Dec. 16 news release, Stevens said he is advising others in the Christian group who belong to the AMA “to carefully consider” whether they also should terminate their AMA memberships.

In his letter to the AMA, Stevens cited the AMA’s pro-abortion advocacy and support of embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage and medical marijuana — and its negotiations with U.S. Senate leaders over Medicare reimbursement rates — as AMA policies “that contradict and undermine the positions of many physicians.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=31889&ref=BPNews-RSSFeed1216

ECONOMIC SQUEEZE PRODUCES A NEW KIND OF SEMINARIAN
When Newton, Mass. artist Paula Rendino needed fresh inspiration last year (2008), she sought her muse in an unlikely place: seminary.

Art school would have been “too boring,” Rendino explained. She yearned to bring fresh depth to her work by pondering spiritual themes. Now she does exactly that alongside dozens of ministers-in-training at Andover Newton Theological School.

“ In seminary, you’re looking at philosophy, ethics or poetry and taking the time to really think about something,” Rendino said. “That’s so important because we live in a time where everything is fast, people write in short sentences. (They) don’t take the time to think about things.”

As theological schools cope with intense financial stress, they’re getting a much-needed boost from unconventional students such as Rendino. Enrollments are rising in several corners of theological education as people with no interest in pulpit ministry come to regard the training as a powerful career enhancer…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/economic_squeeze_produces_a_new_kind_of_seminarian/

GOD DELIGHTS IN YOU
“I once returned from a publishing convention with almost two dozen Christian novels, eagerly anticipating the look on my oldest daughter’s face when I handed them over. I didn’t plan to read a single one myself, but parents will agree with me when I say that few things give a mom or dad more pleasure than seeing their kid truly enjoy something. My daughter Allison used to devour those novels like I salivate over a brand-new pair of running shoes.

“ I couldn’t wait to get the books into her hands. Watch a young mom play with her baby. Most mothers become enthralled when they first get their babies to laugh. They can’t help themselves; they’ll spend a half hour trying to elicit one last giggle, because the sound of a child learning to giggle feels absolutely intoxicating. It’s life with a capital L.

“ All of this merely reflects the heavenly Parent above us all. As our true and perfect Father, God delights in our delight. Isaiah 62:4-5 reads, ‘The Lord will take delight in you…; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.’
Gary Thomas, Pure Pleasure

MOST AMERICAN PASTORS VIEW ISLAM AS ‘DANGEROUS’
Two-thirds of Protestant pastors believe Islam is a dangerous religion, according to survey results released by LifeWay Research in December. The survey, however, did not explore the issues behind their concern.

While opinions vary widely based on factors such as denominational affiliation and political ideology, the survey of more than 1,000 Protestant pastors found 45 percent strongly agree with the statement “I believe Islam is a dangerous religion,” and 21 percent agree somewhat.

Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, said American Protestant pastors’ agreement that Islam is dangerous could speak to various issues, however, “in one sense, Protestant pastors are a competing religion, so we should not be completely surprised by their concerns about Islam.”

Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research, said LifeWay Research decided to ask the question after European headlines used the phrase “dangerous religion” to describe results drawn from a 2008 study across 21 European countries that found an “overwhelming majority” of people believe immigration from predominantly Muslim countries poses a threat to Europeans’ traditional way of life.

“It appears that Protestant pastors in America are overwhelmingly willing to use that phrase and cite Islam as a ‘dangerous religion,'” McConnell said…. Read this in full at
http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=31882

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FAVORITE THEOLOGIAN?
Although President Obama did not mention 20th-century Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr by name during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, many commentators noticed connections between the speech’s themes and Neibuhrian philosophy.

For an overview of the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, see the transcript from the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle Conference in May 2009 for a discussion of Neibuhr’s unique view of Christianity, which continues to influence American politics and international affairs…. Read this in full at
http://pewforum.org/events/?EventID=219#4

RICHARD CIZIK DISCUSSES HIS WORK AT CLIMATE SUMMIT
Rev. Richard Cizik attended the Climate Summit in Copenhagen. In an interview with Odyssey Networks, he describes what he hopes will come of his visit.
http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2009/12/richard-cizik-discusses-his-wo.php

FIRST BURIAL SHROUD CARBON DATED TO TIME OF CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION FOUND IN CAVES NEAR JERUSALEM
Archaeologists have discovered the first known burial shroud in Jerusalem from the time of Christ’s crucifixion — and say it casts serious doubt on the claimed authenticity of the Turin Shroud. Ancient shrouds from the period have been found before in the Holy Land, but never in Jerusalem.

Researchers say the weave and design of the shroud discovered in a burial cave near Jerusalem’s Old City are completely different to the Turin Shroud…. Read this in full at
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1236161/First-burial-shroud-carbon-dated-time-Christs-crucifixion-caves-near-Jerusalem.html

SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT AMONG RESTRICTIVE ON RELIGION: STUDY
US allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt are among 10 mostly Muslim nations whose governments impose the most curbs on religion, according to a report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Afghanistan’s government also ranked poorly, highlighting a potentially sensitive diplomatic flashpoint as President Barack Obama sends more US troops to the Central Asian country to quell a growing insurgency.

The Pew report says nearly 70% of the world’s 6.8 billion people who live in countries that have severe restrictions on religion.

The report ranked countries by two measures: government restrictions on religion and restrictions from violence or intimidation by private individuals or groups. Saudi Arabia was the only country to rank “very high” in both measures.

The first index ranked 10 mostly Muslim countries as “very high”. It also included China and mostly Buddhist Burma (Myanmar)…. Read this in full at
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091216/lf_nm_life/us_religion_restrictions

TRENDS IN RELIGIOUS LIBERTY CALL FOR PRAYER
by Elizabeth Kendal
During the decade 1998-2008 America used its power and prosperity as leverage to influence religious liberty globally. This was through its International Freedom from Religious Persecution (IFRP) Act of 1998 that tied international religious liberty to US foreign policy. Religious liberty abusers could face sanctions (subject to political expediency) whilst those who made advances in religious liberty were rewarded. For a decade, dictators restrained their most belligerent anti-Christian elements and inclinations for the sake of US economic relations. Meanwhile, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIFR) — the independent religious freedom monitoring body created by the Act — was phenomenal in raising awareness of religious persecution. A negative consequence of this US advocacy was that the Church (particularly the Protestant Church) increasingly placed its faith and hope in political power.

Two events in late 2008 proved pivotal regarding religious liberty, with the trend that religious liberty is now in decline the world over. In August 2008, Georgia moved to impose its sovereignty over its rebel province of South Ossetia. When Russia responded to ‘protect Russian citizens’, the US support Georgia was expecting never came and US impotency — a consequence of being bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan — was exposed for all the world to see. Weeks later the US credit bubble burst, triggering a financial crisis with global ramifications. The two things the US had been using as leverage for international religious liberty — military and economic power — withered, virtually overnight…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2009/s09120106.htm

IMMEDIATE DOWNSIZING MEASURES EMPLOYED
Today’s global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” subsidiary:

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost-effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French.

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call-waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be more productive.

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. Their function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring, or a-mulching.

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congresspersons. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed congresspersons this year.

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney’s association seeking expansion to include the legal profession (“thirteen lawyers-a-suing”), action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the most efficient number.
http://www.mikeysFunnies.com

CONSIDER
“Satan does not do his most subtle work in the saloon, but in the sanctuary.”
Ralph Stoll

VERSE TO PONDER
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.””
Luke 1:46

THIS WEEK’S HYMN: ADVENT TELLS US, CHRIST IS NEAR
Words: A. Katherine Hankey (1834-1911)
Music: Johann Scheffler, 1657

Advent tells us, Christ is near:
Christmas tells us Christ is here!
In Epiphany we trace
All the glory of His grace.

Those three Sundays before Lent
Will prepare us to repent;
That in Lent we may begin
Earnestly to mourn for sin.

Holy Week and Easter, then,
Tell who died and rose again;
O that happy Easter day!
“Christ is risen indeed,” we say.

Yes, and Christ ascended, too,
To prepare a place for you;
So we give Him special praise,
After those great forty days.

Then, He sent the Holy Ghost,
On the day of Pentecost,
With us ever to abide:
Well may we keep Whitsuntide!

Last of all, we humbly sing
Glory to our God and King,
Glory to the One in three,
On the Feast of Trinity.

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/a/d/v/adventel.htm

ON PRAYER
We have taught our people to use prayer too much as a means of comfort. Not in the original and heroic sense of uplifting, inspiring, strengthening, but in the more modern and baser sense of soothing sorrow, dulling pain, and drying tears. The comfort of the cushion, not the comfort of the Cross.” G. A. Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929), The Hardest Part, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919, p. 111

PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
http://christiansincrisis.net/

DAILY BLESSING PACT
Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.

I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!

PERSONAL
Marital harmony
Family unity
Children saved
Faithful pastor
Spirit-filled church
Real friendships
Relatives redeemed
Educational benefits
Recreational time
Fulfilling career
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will

FINANCIAL
Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Benefits
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
Settlements
Estates & inheritances
Investment increase
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase

“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deut. 28:2).

[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you’d like 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.]

CLASSIFIEDS
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!
Http://www.ChristianConnectionTravel.com

Books, Music & More!
http://www.ChristianConnectionBooks.com

Get your domain name here!
http://www.GoGlobalDomains.com

Let me show you how to earn money as you travel!
http://www.earnGlobalVacations.com/
It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why.

Scroll Clock
http://toki-woki.net/p/scroll-clock/

Astronomy Picture of the Day
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html

Save the Words
http://savethewords.org/

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.)

The wages of sin is death. Repent before payday.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
Rev.frank@gmail.com

Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!

———-

CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!

———–

The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ.
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, frank@frankcoleman.com if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program.
Path Of Life Ministries is located at 6459 S. Campbell Ave. Chicago, IL 60629.
Visit our website at: http://www.pathoflifeministries.net/

———-

Subscribe!
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http://www.pathoflifeministries.net/connections/archives_all.html

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