CONNECTIONS NEWS – 01/16/2011

For week of January 16, 2011
Issue 339

The weekly newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
Our mission is to lead men to Jesus Christ and provide opportunity for Christian men to grow in their faith and minister to others.

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“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”
Psalm 34:14

CONSIDER
“The law is for the self-righteous, to humble their pride: the gospel is for the lost, to remove their despair.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), All of Grace, New York: R. Carter, 1886, p. 14

MORE CHURCHGOERS DITCH THEIR DENOMINATIONS
Denominations share theological, organizational and legal ties. They send out missionaries; build colleges, seminaries and hospitals; and fund pension plans for pastors. The past 40 years have been tough on them. Mainline Protestants such as Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists peaked in membership at the end of the 1960s. Last year, 21 of the top 25 denominations either lost members or remained stagnant, according to the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches. Some decline is because of aging church members and fewer babies, but some is due to losing members to nondenominational churches…. Read this in full at
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110101/NEWS01/101010318/More-churchgoers-ditch-their-denominations

REFLECTIONS ON SPIRITUAL MOMENTS AT STARBUCKS
by Bob Hyatt
For seven years now, as I have labored to plant, grow, and guide a church, Starbucks has been my office, my meeting space, my cafeteria, and my retreat. I’m there most work days, and I’m even there most days off to get some reading or writing time in away from the house. Yeah — if Starbucks disappeared, I’d notice.

At times Starbucks has been more than a coffee shop for me. Much more.

I was in my regular Starbucks the other morning before sunrise, trying to get a little quiet time before some guys I meet with arrived to talk about Jesus, their lives, what they are hearing from God, and what it looks like to respond. Normally I put headphones on so I can focus. But this morning it was quiet and the house music was better than just good. It was Christmas carols, actually, and not the “Santa Baby” kind — they were playing the great robust hymns we get to hear each year at this time that invite us to hail the Incarnate Deity in whom God and sinners find reconciliation. Sitting there reading the Scriptures and praying, the words of those songs filtered in and through me and lifted my soul to worship Jesus, the coming King.

As I listened and worshipped, I found myself reflecting on all the spiritually significant moments I’ve experienced in what I sometimes call St. Arbucks…. Read this in full at
http://www.outofur.com/archives/2011/01/on_holy_ground.html

WHAT’S ORDINARY ABOUT FAITHFULNESS?
“Take the stories of [three] average people in the Bible. These unremarkable people put what little they had at the disposal of the Savior, but the impact of their contributions exceeded those of any member of who’s who in [ministry] today.

“There was the teenage girl who was asked by God to offer up her womb. He just needed it for nine months. It almost cost her a fiancé. It surely cost her good reputation. But the world was in desperate need of a Savior, so this teenage girl with no social pedigree said yes and, in the process, became one of the most revered women in history.

“There was a boy with a meager lunch who handed it over to a man who had the recipe for the bread of life. His average offering was turned into a feast that guaranteed that none of the five thousand people around him went home hungry.

“Then there was the ordinary businessman who offered his own burial tomb — a man-made cave in the side of a hill — to a crucified Redeemer. That hole in the rock became the staging area for His transformation into the resurrection and the life. He can do the same with you in spite of how ‘ordinary’ your life seems to you.

“Ordinary people? There’s really no such thing. Each of us is created in the image of the God of the universe. Each of us carries the capacity to one day have all our ordinariness peeled away like a threadbare thrift store shirt, revealing the glorious perfection of what God intended us to be all along. In His eyes, there are no ordinary people.”
Dr. Tim Kimmel in his book In Praise of Plan B: Moving from “What Is” to “What Can Be,”

MILITARY CHAPLAINS ARE FAITH MISMATCH FOR PERSONNEL THEY SERVE
In the military, the chaplain serves as both a religious leader and a listener – ideally one who can assist military personnel of all faiths. A frequent refrain among chaplains is “chaplain to all, pastor to some.”

But according to Department of Defense data, the nation’s corps of chaplains leans heavily toward evangelical Christianity, failing to mirror the military it serves.

While just 3% of the military’s enlisted personnel and officers call themselves Southern Baptist, Pentecostal or a member of a denomination that’s part of the National Association of Evangelicals, 33% of chaplains in the military are members of one of those groups, according to Pentagon statistics.

And the disparity could soon widen. Data from the Air Force indicate that 87% of those seeking to become chaplains are enrolled at evangelical divinity schools…. Read this in full at
http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/article_19c66ee6-82b8-59f7-b3d5-fd3cc05bc538.html

FEW MILLENIALS INTERESTED IN RELIGION, STUDY FINDS
Millenials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are not anti-Christian or anti-religion, but they are, in general, just not interested in religion, says a new book based on a survey of members of this generation.

An apathetic attitude toward religious and spiritual matters is common among members of this generation, according to The Millennials by Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Research, and his son Jess, a Millenial born in 1985. Members of this generation are likely to care less about spiritual matters than those from previous generations, the Rainers wrote.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of this generation rarely or never attend religious services, according to the survey conducted by LifeWay on 1,200 Millenials. And spiritual matters was ranked sixth, below friends and education, in a list based on an open-ended question on what is important to respondents…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110112/few-millenials-interested-in-religion-study-finds/

CHOICE BOOKS’ FAITH-BASED PAPERBACKS BRING READERS INTO THE FOLD
Simon Schrock recalls visiting Dulles International Airport with his daughter many years ago and being shocked to see Playboy magazines sold at one of its newsstands.

“She pointed at Playboy and said, ‘Oh, Daddy, look there,'” said Schrock, 74. “I said, ‘I’m concerned where this is going. What’s it doing to the nation? What’s it doing to young people?'”

So Schrock got involved. In 1968, the journeyman carpenter and part-time Anabaptist preacher persuaded a newsstand at National Airport to add 10 Christian titles to its racks. By the 1970s, he was selling 600 books every two weeks, he said.

By the 1980s, he’d helped found Choice Books, a Harrisonburg, Va.-based company that describes itself as a distributor of “inspirational, wholesome and family-oriented reading materials.” Today, with eight offices stretching from the Great Lakes to the Gulf states and Northern Virginia, the company sells about 8,000 books a day, Schrock said — more than 5 million books a year through more than 10,000 kiosks at highway rest stops, drugstores, department stores and airports.

In a struggling book industry, faith-based books are a thriving, billion-dollar business, distributors said…. Read this in full at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/07/AR2011010706797.html

WHEN UNCLOTHED IS UNFITTING: THOUGHTS ON SELLING WITH SEX
by John Piper
Jonathan Edwards once said that godly people can, as it were, smell the depravity of an act before they can explain why it evil. There is a spiritual sense that something is amiss. It does not fit in a world permeated with God.

Ephesians 5:3 says that some things “are not fitting” among saints.” “Fitting-ness” is not always easy to justify with arguments. You discern it before you can defend it. That’s good, because we have to make hundreds of choices every day with no time for extended reflection.

But from time to time we need to pause and give rational, biblical expression why something is not fitting. Some years ago I came to that point when, week after week, a local newspaper put scantily clad women on the second page of Section A in order to sell underclothes. I wrote a letter to the paper with nine reasons why they should stop using this kind of advertising.

Perhaps my reflections will help you deal with the hundreds of abuses of God’s good gift of sexuality in our culture. Here is what I wrote…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/devotionals/desiringgod/1463037/

COMPASS DIRECT NEWS’ TOP 10 STORIES OF 2010
1 – Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law Leads to Murder, Death Penalty for the Innocent
2 – Christians Increasingly Targeted in Iraq
3 – Afghan Christian Accused of ‘Apostasy’ Faces Death Sentence…. Read this in full at
http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/pakistan/31102/

RICK WARREN, DR. OZ TO PARTNER ON HEALTH PLAN
Pledging to lose 90 pounds in 2011, Pastor Rick Warren hosted three renowned health experts at Saddleback Church to help launch a 52-week church-wide fitness plan.

Dr. Daniel Amen, a bestselling author and clinical professor of psychiatry at UC Irvine, Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in metabolism, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the Dr. Oz Show and cardiac surgeon, will help Warren kick off the Daniel Plan (http://Danielplan.com) – based on Daniel:1, in which the prophet Daniel opts for healthy foods instead of rich indulgences.

The plan is part of Saddleback’s Decade of Destiny — the church’s sixth faith-raising plan to expand the ministry through building construction and services. Warren is including a personal growth plan over 10 years to equip parishioners to succeed in seven key areas: spiritual, physical, financial, relational, vocational, emotional, and mental… Read this in full at
http://www.ocregister.com/news/warren-283583-plan-church.html

BE ALERT
“The world’s opposition is strong and subtle. And behind these things stands the devil, bent on ‘taking men alive’ and keeping them prisoner. For the devil hates the gospel and uses all his strength and cunning to obstruct its progress, now by perverting it in the mouths of those who preach it, now by frightening them into silence through persecution or ridicule, now by persuading them to advance beyond it into some fancy novelty, now by making them so busy with defending the gospel that they have no time to proclaim it.”
John R. W. Stott (b. 1921), Guard the Gospel; the Message of 2 Timothy, Downers Grove, Ill., Inter Varsity Press, 1973, p. 126

PHILIP YANCEY: WHAT GOOD IS GOD?
Philip Yancey has been a leading evangelical journalist for more than 30 years, writing books such as Where Is God When It Hurts? SmallGroups.com had the chance to speak with Philip regarding his most recent book, What Good Is God?
Q: The book involves your personal interaction with some big events both in the U.S. and around the world, right?
A: Yes. The book covers 10 separate locations, with 2 chapters devoted to each location. For instance, I start off by describing the time I was supposed to speak at a meeting in Mumbai, India, as part of book tour. But that happened to be the night that terrorists attacked ten different sites and killed 175 people. The meeting was canceled, but a smaller group got together in a church nearby—shocked, grieving, upset people. And I was put in front of them and asked to address the question: How should we respond? Help us make sense of what’s going on.

And in less dramatic ways that happened ten different times at ten different locations. In the first chapter of each location I tell the story behind the story, and the second chapter contains what I actually said to the people who were gathered… Read this in full at
http://www.smallgroups.com/articles/2010/whatgoodgod1.html?tCode=F21CA9D41A&dCode=E54591F76F

COLLEGE KIDS FEELING PASSION FOR CONFERENCE
The Passion conference is more than just a huge gathering of college-age kids, organizers say. the recent Atlanta conference was a call for the next generation to make Jesus a focal point in their lives and to share that passion with others, they said.

“Church was never meant to be an island of self-indulgence, but a missional community of Jesus-followers so in love with Him that they can do nothing else but carry His name to the world,” pastor Louie Giglio said in an e-mail.

The event drew more than 22,000 students to the Georgia capital’s convention center and to Philips Arena. It was even more successful than Giglio had hoped for…. Read this in full at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/11/college-kids-feeling-passion-for-conference/

See also: “Francis Chan Shares Details of Asia Trip at Passion”
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110103/francis-chan-shares-details-of-asia-trip-at-passion/

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, NAZI GERMANY, AND US
by Eric Metaxas
In the first months of Nazi rule, many in the church were confused about how to respond to the sweeping changes. What can we learn from the way Dietrich Bonhoeffer courageously addressed them?…. Read this in full and watch the video at
http://www.christianity.com/Home/Christian%20Living%20Features/11643828/

MUSLIM-MAJORITY NATIONS MORE LIKELY TO DENY RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Few nations keep their vows when it comes to religious freedom. Churches are attacked on Christmas in India and Egypt. Religious believers in North Korea are tortured in prison camps. Hindus and Sikhs are harassed in Afghanistan.

“Despite routine constitutional promises to the contrary, religious freedoms are denied around the globe and violent persecution is pervasive,” Brian Grim of the Pew Research Center and Roger Finke of Pennsylvania State University report in a new book.

Yet even amid this widespread disregard for religious freedom, one group of countries stands out: Muslim-majority nations…. Read this in full and watch the video at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-briggs/muslimmajority-nations-mo_b_806431.html

‘GENERATION EX-CHRISTIAN’ UNCOVERS WHY PEOPLE LEAVE THE FAITH
Research and surveys show that many atheists, agnostics, and spiritual-seekers who lack religious affiliation are former Christians. But there was no research-based book that explained in depth why people were leaving, until Generation Ex-Christian.

The recently released book by Drew Dyck, editorial manager of the ministry team at Christianity Today International, breaks down “leavers” into six categories: postmodern leavers, recoilers, modern leavers, neo-pagans, rebels, and drifters. These categories were formed after Dyck interviewed nearly 100 people while researching for the book.

“I’m not a sociologist or statistician, but I knew as a journalist I could bring something to this issue by introducing people to some of the faces and the stories behind the statistics,” said Dyck to The Christian Post. “And just providing profiles of these, what I call ‘leavers,’ these 20-somethings and early-30s that have walked away from the faith. And then provide some kind of tips on how to engage them in meaningful conversations about God that will ultimately lead them back.”…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110106/generation-ex-christian-uncovers-why-people-leave-the-faith/

ARE YOU ART

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