CONNECTIONS NEWS – 01/30/2011

For week of January 30, 2011
Issue 341

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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“Teach us to number our dayst, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

CONSIDER
Unbelief puts our circumstance between us & God, but faith puts God between us & our circumstances.”
F.B. Meyer

POLL: CHURCHES ARE FANS OF FACEBOOK, SOCIAL MEDIA
Churches are turning increasingly to social networking tools as ministry aids and Facebook is by far the most popular tool, according to a new study by LifeWay Research.

The survey of 1,003 Protestant congregations was conducted in September and sponsored by LifeWay’s Digital Church partner, Fellowship Technologies. It found that 47% of churches actively use Facebook.

The second most popular way of networking is through the tools included in church management software packages, actively used by 20% of congregations. Three percent use MySpace, 2% a church-specific package like Cobblestone, Unifyer, or The City, and 1% use Ning. However, a full 40% of churches do not use any social networking tools…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34502

CHURCHES HAVE WEBSITES BUT MANY AREN’T UTILIZING THEM, LIFEWAY SURVEY FINDS
Though most churches have a website, there is a divide between congregations that use their sites only for one-way communication and those that maximize their online presence with interactive technology.

That is the finding of a new LifeWay Research study sponsored by Axletree Media, one of LifeWay’s partners in its Digital Church initiative designed to enhance delivery systems and keep up with the digital needs of the church.

The survey of 1,003 Protestant churches found that while 78% have a website, less than half of those congregations use their sites for interactive purposes like obtaining and distributing prayer requests (43%), registering people for events and activities (39%) and automating more church processes (30%)…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34503

SUPER BOWL XLV (45)
The game, to be played on Feb. 6, 2011, will pit the champions of the AFC and the NFC and will be held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_XLV

To commemorate the Super Bowl, the Census Bureau has compiled a collection of facts examining the demographics of the host city, as well as the cities represented by the contenders. See it at
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb11-ff05.html

PACKERS’ PICKETT APPEARS IN VIDEO FOR CHURCH PORN EVENT
Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett, who will be playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, will appear that same day in a video message showing his support for a nationwide church event dealing with porn. Pickett and his wife Jennifer, who sits on the board of directors for XXXchurch.com – a ministry which helps people struggling with porn and sexual addictions – are shown in a welcome video for National Porn Sunday that will be played in over 300 churches on five continents on Feb. 6…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110126/packers-pickett-appears-in-video-for-church-porn-event/

FIND OUT WHAT FIXED POINT HAS TO SAY AT THIS YEAR’S SUPER BOWL
Fixed Point Foundation is launching a new initiative called “LookUp 316” (http://lookup316.com/). Through this initiative a commercial will air in Alabama during this year’s Super Bowl on February 6th. This commercial won’t sell a product, it won’t advance a political cause, and it won’t promote an organization. Instead, it will simply encourage people to look up John 3:16 and consider its profound message of hope.

The project started several months ago with this thought: If you had thirty seconds to speak to millions of people, what would you say? Would you sell something? Offer social or political commentary? Or would you want to say something else? Fixed Point Foundation saw it as an opportunity to say something truly meaningful. The purpose of the LookUp 316 Super Bowl commercial is simply to deliver a message of hope…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/pressreleases/if_you_had_thirty_seconds_to_speak_to_millions_what_would_you_say_find_out_/

REDEMPTION VIA SUPER BOWL?
by Sarah Pulliam Bailey
The week I moved to the Green Bay area, the ushers at church handed us kitchen magnets listing the Packers schedules with a little plug for the men’s ministry. That was when I realized that sports and religion blend quite frequently here in cheese town.

A recent Wall Street Journal article about how Steelers is practically a religion in Pittsburgh could similarly apply to this city. Of course, we will be interested to see if religion angles come out in some of the inevitable profiles of key players.

On the Steelers’ side, we’ve talked before about coach Mike Tomlin’s Christian faith, safety Troy Polamalu’s Orthodox Christian faith, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s attempt to capture the team’s faith as a whole.

And we might see further analysis of Ben Roethlisberger’s “redemption,” perhaps with comparisons to Michael Vick. Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault twice. No criminal charges were filed, and the league suspended him for four games earlier this season. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Vick served time in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring. Back in 2009, Terry asked whether Vick’s redemption was completely faith-free, and I’m curious how the divisive quarterback stories will play out. After all, he said after last night’s victory, “God is good.” It’s definitely worth considering whether a redemption story is a push for good PR, but specific details might help us sort this out…. Read this in full at
http://www.getreligion.org/2011/01/redemption-via-super-bowl/

REASON TO BE WHOLE-HEARTED
The early Christians in the first century were in uncharted territory when it came to standing strong for Christ. They were rejected by the religious leaders of their time because they preached that the long-awaited Messiah had come. Their activities were considered illegal by some of the governing authorities. They had little money for food to feed them, no technology to help them, no buildings to shelter them, no consultants to advise them, not even a New Testament to inspire and guide them. Yet they forged courageously into the Roman world and ‘spoke the word of God boldly’ (Acts 4:31).

We catch a glimpse of the apostle Paul’s all-out commitment in his farewell comments to the Ephesian elders. He tells about his upcoming trip to Jerusalem, how dangerous it is likely to become, and then says, ‘However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace’ (Acts 20:24).

Paul had no assurance that he would come out of his next mission all right. (In fact, he didn’t; he was taken into custody there in Jerusalem and spent most of his remaining years in chains.) … The authorities, whether religious or civil, really could not defeat Paul, because he didn’t care what happened to him personally; it was all about the will of God [see Phil. 1:22-24]. His devotion to Jesus consumed every part of his being.

The same could be said of others in that century and throughout church history. Wholehearted followers of God do not worry about their comfort level, their retirement, or their reputation among their peers. They seek only to stay on track with their Lord.”
Jim Cymbala (with Dean Merrill) in the book You Were Made for More

TOP 10 MOST-SEARCHED BIBLE VERSES: WHAT’S MISSING?
by Collin Hansen
After watching many National Football League games growing up, I finally grew curious enough to walk into my parents’ office and pick up the family Bible. It seemed every football broadcast included shots of someone standing in the end zone, behind and between the goal posts, holding up a simple sign: JOHN 3:16. I knew enough about the Bible to locate the Book of John in the New Testament. When I read John 3:16, I wasn’t impressed. Turns out the verse was familiar, thanks to Sunday school. I guess I expected to read some sort of decoded message that would unlock a valuable secret. In some sense that’s exactly what I read, but I didn’t yet have the eyes of faith to behold the beauty of what God has done in Jesus Christ.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that John 3:16 is the most-searched Bible verse, according to statistical analysis provided by the folks at Bible Gateway. They reviewed the behavior of some of the 8 million visitors who stop by their site each month, many of them chasing results provided by Google. I was intrigued to review the top 10 results, which I’ve listed in reverse order…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/Home/Christian%20Living%20Features/11644643/

Also see “The 100 most-read Bible verses at BibleGateway.com”
http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/?p=125

5 TRENDS TO WATCH FOR IN EVANGELICALISM: 2011-2020
by Trevin Wax
1. Chastened Expectations of Culture Change through Politics
2. Growth of Evangelical-Style Prosperity Teaching in South America and Africa
3. For evangelicals in North America, homosexuality will become a wedge issue that reveals the major cracks in our theological disunity.
4. We will tighten the belt for ourselves and (hopefully) recommit to world missions.
5. Polarization regarding Philosophy of Ministry
…. Read this in full at
http://trevinwax.com/2011/01/24/5-trends-to-watch-for-in-evangelicalism-2011-2020/

BELIEVE
It is not the distance of the earth from the sun, nor the sun’s withdrawing itself, that makes a dark and gloomy day; but the interposition of clouds and vaporous exhalations. Neither is thy soul beyond the reach of the promise, nor does God withdraw Himself; but the vapours of thy carnal, unbelieving heart do cloud thee.”
John Owen (1616-1683), Works of John Owen, v. VIII, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1851, Sermon IV, p. 237-238

IF GOD, WHY EVIL? – DR. NORMAN GEISLER TAKES ON CHRISTIANITY’S TOUGHEST QUESTIONS
The problem of evil is perhaps the most difficult question the Christian must face. If God is good and all-powerful, why is there suffering in the world? Can’t God put an end to murder, rape, and starvation? What about earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis? Why couldn’t a perfect God have made a perfect world?

With a renowned reputation in both apologetics and theology, Dr. Norman Geisler carefully answers these tough questions in his new book If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think About the Question (http://j.mp/fyTbKl). Using step-by-step explanations and compelling examples, Dr. Geisler — whose books have sold over 1.5 million copies — approaches the subject in a clear and concise yet thorough and systematic way…. Read this in full at
http://christiannewswire.com/news/2877916005.html

Also see a complete video lecture by Dr. Geisler on the subject (22 minutes into the video)
http://www.rickwarren.com/mc/m/701F

VALENTINE’S DAY
Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

A MAN’S GUIDE TO VALENTINES DAY
by Pat Morley
Legend says that Valentine was imprisoned, where he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Just before his execution he wrote her a love letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”

The English popularized Valentine’s Day in the 1700s. Americans picked up on this and began exchanging handmade valentines. Printed Valentines first appeared in America around 1840. Valentine’s Day is the 2nd largest day for greeting cards (after Christmas), and women purchase 85% of all valentine cards (www.historychannel.com, retrieved December 10, 2003).

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers. My mom and dad were married on Valentine’s Day. My wife and I were married on the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day presents a perfect opportunity to invest in your marriage. Here’s a plan to make Valentine’s Day special for you and your wife. First, though, let’s review some reasons why it’s worth investing the effort…. Read this in full at
http://www.umof.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=17507&columnid=

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF LIFE?
I asked a group of Christians about this once: Christianity is about getting the most out of life. True or false?

Most people went for true. They hadn’t worked out how much I love trick questions. Maybe they were also thinking that it’s bad to waste God’s gifts, that Christianity enhances life, that kind of thing. But actually, it’s not the case.

Generally speaking, the Bible isn’t about getting the most out of anything. In fact, it is full of limits. It places many things out-of-bounds: stealing, murder and envy, for starters. When God’s people [were] farmers in the Promised Land, they were instructed to deliberately leave the edges of their fields unharvested. Why? So the poor wouldn’t be left with nothing. Don’t pursue whatever you want; don’t maximize your harvest. Why not? Because there’s a bigger picture than your individual fulfillment. Because there’s a God who will somehow make sure that there’s enough.

We tend to think of freedom as the absence of all containment (tell that to a goldfish!). We tend to think our happiness increases the more we keep our options open. But that can’t be right. For many people, what’s the happiest day of their life? A wedding. At a wedding you limit your options to one. You embrace limitation. But through that decision a whole world of faithful love opens up.

This is actually the way God longs to relate to people. Throughout history he can’t seem to last five minutes without making a covenant – a binding agreement – with someone. Noah gets a covenant; Abraham and Sarah get a covenant. So do Moses and all Israel. So does Aaron. Even Phinehas gets a covenant (Who? Exactly!). God seems to take delight in the power released by saying, ‘I choose you.’ Is this not mind-blowing? God – The Limitless One – freely accepts limits. The God for whom everything is possible makes choices and sticks by them. As with a marriage, God embraces limitation because of love. Because of you. And just like a wedding, he does it with joy.”
Revd. Mark Powley in the book Consumer Detox: Less Stuff, More Life

JUDGING OUR GOVERNMENT BY THE CONTENT OF OUR CHARACTER
by Heidi Unruh
Columnist David Brooks makes an important point about the impending debate over whether government is too big: “It will be largely beside the point.”

Reducing the size of government is not the key to getting us back on track, Brooks argues. “National destinies are not shaped by what percentage of G.D.P. federal spending consumes. They are shaped by the character and behavior of citizens. … The size of government doesn’t tell you what you need to know; the social and moral content of government action does.”

The crucial question, he writes, is this: “How does government influence how people live? … Does a given policy arouse energy, foster skills, spur social mobility and help people transform their lives?” To this list of criteria, I would add: Does a policy help empower those who are most vulnerable to live with sufficiency and dignity? Does it promote environmental sustainability alongside economic viability across an inclusive field of opportunity?

Brooks’ focus on “quality, not quantity” moves the argument about government onto more constructive ground, though I believe he defines “quality” too narrowly in terms of economic productivity. (I am also compelled to correct his statement that welfare reform, as an example of good government policy, “did the job” – this is only true if success is measured by numbers of beneficiaries working and leaving welfare, not by numbers of people actually leaving poverty through work. See this assessment.)

Another insight from Brooks’ commentary is that both Democrats and Republicans (and Independents) have positive ideas to champion. We are not yet locked into a course of budget action that locks out good ideas – if we keep focused on the goals of Good Government and not the rhetoric of Small/Big Government.
https://evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/page.aspx?pid=379&srctid=1&erid=35288

Read David Brooks’ complete commentary at
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/opinion/04brooks.html?_r=2&ref=davidbrooks

CHURCH COLLECTION PLATES MAY GO EMPTY AS ELECTRONIC GIVING RISES
The tradition of passing the church plate might become a relic of the past, as a majority of Americans pay bills electronically and move away from using cash or writing checks. Despite concerns about commercializing something so personal, electronic giving to churches is growing.

At the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, about half of the 1,600 congregants who give regular donations do so electronically, up from 20% four years ago. “For some people, they’ll never change,” said its pastor, Monsignor John Enzler. “Other people find it’s a wonderful way to do their giving.”

Along with Catholic dioceses, religious organizations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have approved electronic giving as an option for their members…. Read this in full at
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110123/us_nm/us_churches_donations

FATHERS, TEACH YOUR CHILDREN
by Mark Ellis
The fourth chapter of Proverbs contains a beautiful picture of three generations of fathers passing along Godly wisdom to their sons: King Solomon taught his sons, and he remembered his father, King David who taught him at a tender age. Each was taken under wing by a loving father and given instruction to prepare him for manhood.
Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
3 For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
4 Then he taught me, and he said to me,
Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.

Proverbs is especially useful to prepare young men starting out in life, but we can apply it more broadly to any parent-child instruction – and to all of us who are adopted as children by the Father above, who freely offers us His wisdom and love.

Before his passing last year, Irving Kristol quoted the startling fact that “almost two-thirds of rapists, three-fourths of adolescent murderers, and three-fourths of long-term prison inmates were abandoned by their fathers. Another study revealed that 92% of prison inmates hated their fathers.

This is a grim picture. Something has gone terribly wrong. Why are there so many deadbeat dads? Why have so many young men and young women been wounded by the absence of a father – a father who’s been either physically or emotionally absent, perhaps both. Others have been deeply hurt by the presence of an abusive father…. Read this in full at
http://www.godreports.com/blog-view/1138

‘CALL ME JACOB’: JEWISH NAMES TOPS IN BABY DERBY
by Stephen Prothero
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the stranglehold Christians have on our current Congress. While 77.8% of American adults self-identify as Christians, 90.3% of our current representatives in the House and Senate affiliate with some form of Christianity. America looks a lot less Christian, however, if you turn your sights from the Congress to the crib. In fact, it looks like a Jewish nation.

According to data from the Social Security Administration website, Jacob (as in “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”) was the most popular name for boys born in the United States in 2009. In fact, it has been the most popular name for newborn boys since 1999…. Read this in full at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/27/call-me-jacob-jewish-names-tops-in-baby-derby/

STUDY: RISING RELIGIOUS TIDE IN CHINA OVERWHELMS ATHEIST DOCTRINE
by David Briggs
One of the last great efforts at state-sponsored atheism is a failure. And not just any kind of failure. China has enforced its anti-religion policy through decades of repression, coercion and persecution, but the lack of success is spectacular, according to a major new study.

No more than 15% of adults in the world’s most populous country are “real atheists.” 85% of the Chinese either hold some religious beliefs or practice some kind of religion, according to the Chinese Spiritual Life Survey.

Members of the Chinese Communist Party and Youth League are required to be atheists, yet 17 percent of them self-identified with a religion and 65 percent indicated they had engaged in religious practices in the last year, reported sociologist Fenggang Yang of Purdue University, a lead researcher in the project…. Read this in full at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-briggs/study-rising-religious-ti_b_811665.html

Q & A: BILLY GRAHAM ON AGING, REGRETS, AND EVANGELICALS
Interview by Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Even through he struggles with his hearing, sight, and other health issues in his ninth decade, Billy Graham continued to do what he’s done with every American President since Harry Truman. Last year, he met and prayed with President Obama and in December, he met again with former President George W. Bush. But if he could go back and do anything over again, he told Christianity Today, he would have steered clear of politics.

Since his wife’s death nearly four years ago, he spends most of his time in his home in Montreat with around-the-clock care. Although he rarely appears in public, his son Franklin Graham said his father would like to preach again on video, but a date is not confirmed. Christianity Today magazine submitted brief questions for Billy Graham to his staff by e-mail for an update on his health and a reflection on his years in ministry.

Q: What advice would you give to people who are aging?
A: First, accept it as part of God’s plan for your life, and thank him every day for the gift of that day. We’ve come to look on old age as something to be dreaded—and it’s true that it isn’t easy. I can’t honestly say that I like being old—not being able to do most of the things I used to do, for example, and being more dependent on others, and facing physical challenges that I know will only get worse. Old age can be a lonely time also — children scattered, spouse and friends gone.

But God has a reason for keeping us here (even if we don’t always understand it), and we need to recover the Bible’s understanding of life and longevity as gifts from God — and therefore as something good. Several times the Bible mentions people who died “at a good old age” — an interesting phrase (emphasis added). So part of my advice is to learn to be content, and that only comes as we accept each day as a gift from God and commit it into his hands. Paul’s words are true at every stage of life, but especially as we grow older: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).

The other piece of advice I’d give is the other side of the coin, so to speak. It’s this: As we grow older we should focus not only on the present, but more and more on Heaven. This world, with all of its pains and sorrows and burdens, isn’t our final home. If we know Christ, we know we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4). I know it won’t be long before I’ll be going there, and I look forward to that day. Heaven gives us hope, and makes our present burdens easier to bear…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/januaryweb-only/qabillygraham.html?start=1

LONDON CAFÉ DOES MINISTRY THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS, ART, CLASSES
by Erin Dunigan
Departure may be many things but one thing it’s not is business as usual. Ministry business, that is. Run by the London City Mission in London’s East End, an area called the Docklands, Departure is a café/secondhand bookshop/art gallery — a welcoming place, in which you might find any sort of people, participating in any variety of activity.

Jesus calls us to be fishers of men,” said Adam Gage, Departure’s team leader. “But there are different kinds of bait.” In his native Northern Ireland, said Gage, fishermen use all different sorts of bait, with each type used to attract a different sort of fish, so to speak.

The East End of London is an interesting mix of people — long-term working class Britons referred to as “East Enders” have begun to mix with Bangladeshi immigrants with Muslim backgrounds. There are city workers, old money, new money and students. There is a scrap metal yard across the street. And, according to common wisdom (though not necessarily verifiable) there are more artists in the community per square yard than anywhere else in Europe…. Read this in full at
http://www.pcusa.org/news/2011/1/24/welcoming-departure/

POPE TO CATHOLICS ONLINE: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT HITS
Pope Benedict XVI told Catholic bloggers and Facebook and YouTube users Jan. 24 to be respectful of others when spreading the gospel online and not to see their ultimate goal as getting as many online hits as possible.

In his annual message for the church’s World Day of Social Communications, Benedict called for the faithful to adopt a “Christian style presence” online that is responsible, honest, and discreet.

“We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its ‘popularity’ or from the amount of attention it receives,” Benedict wrote. “The proclamation of the gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive.”…. Read this in full at
http://www.thechurchreport.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=siteContent.default&objectID=101742
and

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110124/lf_nm_life/us_pope_facebook

VERSE TO PONDER
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
2 Corinthians 5:17

CONSIDER
Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
Mother Teresa

THE MARK OF LOVE
Have you been “Marked” yet? The Mend Mark (http://www.mendmark.com/) is a mission, a movement, an entire revolution. It is a bracelet meant to remind its wearers of Christ’s love and sacrifice, and its message is the passion of its creator, Hunter Harrison.

The Mend Mark is a distinctive bracelet that is designed to reflect the scars and nail holes of Jesus. When worn, the band resembles the deep holes of the nail driven into the wrists of Jesus during his crucifixion.

By bringing the story of Jesus’ life and death to constant awareness by wearing a bracelet, Mend Mark is meant to powerfully remind wearers of the ultimate act of love Jesus made for all of humankind…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/STORIES/2011/s11010145.htm

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE WORLD CUP
by Michael Duduit
The World Cup is the most popular sporting event in the world, and even Americans showed significant interest [last year] – helped, no doubt, by the success of the US team, despite their ultimate disappointing finish.

The Australian newsletter Sitepoint Tribune offers some leadership lessons from the World Cup: “The players and teams that are there in South Africa are the best in their sport. They don’t just happen to have talent; they also work hard to improve. Here are just some of the traits you’ll find being displayed on and off the grass.

* Perseverance
These people don’t give up. They’ve reached that position because they’ve battled through many obstacles and shown amazing perseverance.

* Teamwork
Because there are 11 people on a field, they all know the value of teamwork. As well as being great individually, they work hard on being a cohesive team.

* Constant education
These players kept on improving even when they’d made the big league. They constantly train and refine, spending years learning what works and what doesn’t…. Read this in full at
http://www.michaelduduit.info/leadership-lessons-from-the-world-cup/

A WORLD WITHOUT STEVE JOBS – THE GOSPEL OF A SECULAR AGE
by Andy Crouch
Steve Jobs’s medical leave of absence is the top story in today’s newspapers. The Wall Street Journal says his brief and poignant memo raises “uncertainty over his health and the future of the world’s most valuable technology company.” These two questions – Jobs’s health and Apple’s health – are the focus of almost all the coverage today.

But I’m interested in the health of our culture, and what will happen to it when (not if) Steve Jobs departs the stage for the last time.

As remarkable as Steve Jobs is in countless ways – as a designer, an innovator, a (ruthless and demanding) leader – his most singular quality has been his ability to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope. Nothing exemplifies that ability more than Apple’s early logo, which slapped a rainbow on the very archetype of human fallenness and failure – the bitten fruit – and made it a sign of promise and progress.

In the 2000s, when much about the wider world was causing Americans intense anxiety, the one thing that got inarguably better, much better, was our personal technology. In October 2001, with the World Trade Center still smoldering and the Internet financial bubble burst, Apple introduced the iPod. In January 2010, in the depths of the Great Recession, the very month where unemployment breached 10% for the first time in a generation, Apple introduced the iPad…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110121/a-world-without-steve-jobs/

REV. GREG SELTZ NAMED THE NEW SPEAKER OF THE LUTHERAN HOUR
Lutheran Hour Ministries announces that the Rev. Gregory P. Seltz of Orange, California, will become the eighth Speaker of The Lutheran Hour® radio program. The Lutheran Hour, which first aired in 1930, is the world’s longest-running Christian-outreach radio broadcast; its first Speaker, the Rev. Dr. Walter A. Maier, is considered a pioneer in 20th-century Christian mass media.

Seltz succeeds to The Lutheran Hour’s microphone following the Rev. Dr. Ken Klaus, who served as Speaker from 2002 until his retirement from full-time duties at the end of the 2010 calendar year. Seltz will officially begin his ministry with Lutheran Hour Ministries on a part-time basis Feb. 1 and will become full time on or before June 1…. Read this in full at
http://www.lhm.org/newsroom/enewsstory.asp?ArticleID=16561

TRUE ENTERTAINMENT
Ten movies are in the running for the Best 2010 Movie for Mature Audiences, the executive producers of the 19th Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry announced January 21, 2011. The awards ceremony will be held Feb. 18 at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Universal City, near Hollywood, Calif.

According to a news release from Dr. Tom Snyder at Movieguide®, the 10 nominees, in alphabetical order with major distributor, are:
“Alice in Wonderland” – Disney
“The Book of Eli” – Warner Bros.
“Get Low” – Sony Pictures Classics
“Iron Man 2” – Paramount
“The King’s Speech” – Weinstein Co.
“Letters to Juliet” – Summit
“Mao’s Last Dancer” – Samuel Goldwyn Films
“The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” – Disney
“Secretariat” – Disney
“True Grit” – Warner Bros.
…. Read this in full at
http://www.movieguide.org/articles/main/true-entertainment-ten-movies-vie-for-best-movie-for-mature-audiences-at-19th-annual-faith-a-values-awards-gala-feb-18.html

WHY UNIVERSITY SCIENTISTS DO NOT DISCUSS RELIGION
by Elaine Howard Ecklund, PhD
There is strong evidence that religion is resurging among students on America’s top university campuses. Yet, a large number of academic scientists firmly feel that they should not discuss religion in their classrooms. I have spent the last five years surveying nearly 1,700 natural and social scientists working at elite U.S. universities — talking with 275 of them in-depth — in an effort to understand their religious beliefs and practices, or lack thereof. As I traveled the country, I asked scientists about the role of religion within the university. Many scientists believe that religion has no legitimate place in the modern American academy; 54% mentioned the dangers that religion could bring to universities (and in particular to science) when it goes wrong. About 36% of scientists I talked with said they have a model of university life that does not allow any positive role for religious people, institutions and ideas. And they have few models for how scientists (with or without faith) might sustain productive interaction with or respond to religious people and ideas. In their models of the university, such people and ideas exist primarily as a threat to science…. Read this in full at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elaine-howard-ecklund-phd/when-university-scientist_b_811658.html

IN EGYPT, IT’S ‘C’ FOR CHRISTIAN AND ‘M’ FOR MUSLIM
by M. Lynx Qualey
From kindergarten Egyptian citizens are branded as Christians or Muslims – a practice that many feel deepens divisions

I arrived in Egypt in 2001, having given up my job as a US-based journalist. I wanted to do something away from the world’s daily troubles, something practical, and so I took on the task of educating well-heeled kindergarteners in Cairo. This went on for two exhausting years.

In my first week as a teacher, I was given a list of my pupils. Each had a letter in the column beside his or her name, either a C or an M. Nada and Daniel and Sara were Cs. Other students – I believe the rest of them – were Ms.

I didn’t pay much attention to this, except perhaps to the novelty of it. Perhaps I assumed that these letters were meant to increase teacher sensitivity around the holidays. I certainly didn’t see it as a fundamental division in a country growing more and more divided along criss-crossing fault lines of suburban and urban, Muslim and Christian, private- and government-school educated…. Read this in full at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jan/24/egypt-christian-muslim-religious-sectarianism

ANTI-CHRISTIAN POGROMS SWEEP MIDDLE EAST
by Martin Peretz
No group right now may be suffering more in the Middle East than Christians. Recently the Times’ John Leland and his colleague Duraid Adnan wrote about how “the last Christian man in town,” Habbaniya Cece, Iraq, “goes to church to clean the building and to remember the past.” But this is not the only town which a whole variety of Christian sects have deserted. The lone Christian man may be a touching symbol, and I don’t mean to be cynical about this. But Iraq is being drained of its Christians the way a soldier who’s been shot has his blood slowly drained from his body.

The anti-Christian impulse has now translated into what is really a wave of pogroms, not less brutal than those that assaulted the Jews at the cusp of the 20th century in the Ukraine and in Russia. Even the European Union, weak though it is, has raised a timid protest against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. So not only in Iraq, but also in Iran , Nigeria ,”Palestine,” Egypt…. Read this in full at
http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-spine/82068/christians-in-the-middle-east

Also see “Iranian Christians Suffer for Christ”
http://www.assistnews.net/STORIES/2011/s11010151.htm

BELIEVERS IN EVERY AGE WORRY ABOUT THE COLLAPSE OF THE FAITH
by Jennifer Powell McNutt
If I were to write about the burdens of the preacher as I have experienced them and as I know them,” declared Martin Luther, “I would scare everybody off.”

A glance at 21st-century headlines about religion and the church would not have made Luther feel any better than he did in the 16th. We live in a context of ominous bulletins about the value and place of religion in society. Many people still believe in the classic secularization theory, that modernity inevitably entails the steady decline of religion.

With magazines like Newsweek announcing “The End of Christian America,” it is easy to give in to fear and the perception of decline. Not only can worries like that become self-fulfilling, more often than not, they also blind one to the enduring nature of the visible church in our world.

It would be hard to find a century when the church and clergy have not faced challenges in ministry and concerns about decline. Just counting the number of historical studies detailing the “crisis” and “anxiety” of ages past suggests these labels are too worn-out to be descriptive anymore…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/january/29.44.html

N. KOREA DEEMED ‘MOST DANGEROUS FOR CHRISTIANS’
For the third year running, North Korea was ranked the world’s worst persecutor of Christians, according to a report that was examined by the Council of Europe. Hundreds of Christians were arrested in North Korea in 2010, with some killed and others sent to concentration camps, according to the report by Protestant evangelical group Open Doors International (ODI). Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia ranked just below Pyongyang in the 50-nation ranking of violence perpetrated against Christian communities, according to Open Door’s latest World Watch list.

But ODI did note some improvements, including in Mauritania, and China, which dropped several notches to 13th and 16th places, respectively. In China, “there were fewer arrests, thanks doubtlessly to the economic overture,” said Michel Varton, president of the Strasbourg-based Open Doors France. The report was examined on the sidelines of a parliamentary debate at the 47-member Council of Europe on violence perpetrated against Christians in Near and Middle Eastern nations.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iOH601WiB73jT7Jv5yPTAp9_BgTw?docId=CNG.95111380dfbe35f8a08d6124c5e915e8.cc1

STATEMENT BY WORLD VISION ON RULING BY THE US COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
World Vision applauds the Jan. 25 action by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, upholding our legally protected practice of hiring people who share the same faith.

The court rejected a petition to re-hear a case involving three former employees terminated in 2007 because, after several years working for the Christian humanitarian organization, they no longer agreed with World Vision U.S.’s statement of faith. The court ruled 2-1 last August that World Vision qualifies as a religious organization under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, thereby, upholding the terminations. We hope today’s action by the court settles this dispute.

Our Christian faith has been the foundation of our work since the organization was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ.

Regardless of any further legal proceedings, World Vision will continue to vigorously defend our organization’s freedom to hire employees who share our faith, as do other religious organizations, whether Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, or Christian.”
http://www.worldvision.org/

THE NFL AND THE CONCUSSION CRISIS
by Ben McGrath
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., is the name for a condition that is believed to result from major collisions — or from the accumulation of subconcussions that are nowhere near as noticeable, including those incurred in football practice. It was first diagnosed, in 2002, in the brain of the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster, who died of a heart attack after living out of his truck for a time. It was next diagnosed in one of Webster’s old teammates on the Steelers’ offensive line, Terry Long, who killed himself by drinking antifreeze. Long overlapped, at the end of his career, with Justin Strzelczyk, who was also found to have C.T.E. after he crashed, fatally, into a tanker truck, while driving the wrong way down the New York Thruway…. Read this in full at
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/01/31/110131fa_fact_mcgrath

TRAVEL PREPAREDNESS
The federal government has issued a travel warning due to the cold weather. They suggest that anyone traveling in the current blizzard conditions should make sure they carry the following:
– Shovel
– Blankets or sleeping bag
– Extra clothing including hat and gloves
– 24 hours worth of food
– De-icer
– Rock salt
– Flashlight with spare batteries
– Road flares or reflective triangles
– Full spare gas can
– First aid kit
– Booster cables
I looked like an idiot on the bus this morning.
http://www.mikeysFunnies.com

CONSIDER
“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Elie Wiesel

VERSE TO PONDER
“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits…”
Psalm 103:1-2

THIS WEEK’S HYMN: BREAK, NEWBORN YEAR
Words: Thomas H. Gill, 1855
Music: Arthur Cottman, 1872

Break, newborn year, on glad eyes break,
Melodious voices move;
On, rolling time; thou canst not make
The Father cease to love.

The parted year had wingèd feet;
The Savior still doth stay;
The new year comes; but Spirit sweet,
Thou goest not away.

Our hearts in tears may oft run o’er;
But Lord, Thy smile still beams;
Our sins are swelling evermore,
But pardoning grace still streams.

Lord, from this year more service win,
More glory, more delight:
O make its hours less sad with sin,
Its days with Thee more bright.

Then we may bless its precious things
If earthly cheer should come,
Or gladsome mount on angel wings
If Thou wouldst take us home.

O golden then the hours must be;
The year must needs be sweet;
Yes, Lord, with happy melody
Thine opening grace we greet.

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/b/r/e/breaknby.htm

ON PRAYER
Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.”
C. S. Lewis

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

Read “Persecution Watch: The State of Persecution Around the World from ASSIST News”
http://www.assistnews.net/STORIES/2011/s11010141.htm

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 us to add you to our prayer chain 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.

20 questions that could change your life
http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/01/26/o.questions.change.your.life/index.html?hpt=T2

Cool photo
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benheine/4770218308/sizes/l/

A Father Who Creatively Captures His Kids (20 photos)
http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/a-father-who-creatively

Sports Spectrum
http://www.sportsspectrum.com/

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.)

My oven has a “Stop Time” button on it. It probably means “Stop Timer” but I don’t touch it just in case.
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 in Chicago, IL.
Visit our website at: http://www.pathoflifeministries.net/

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

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