CONNECTIONS – 10/02/2011

For week of October 2, 2011
Issue 376

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 me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Psalm 143:10

“We have real difficulty here because everyone thinks of changing the world, but where, oh where, are those who think of changing themselves?”
Richard Foster

Nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15, but why? A new research study released by the Barna Group points to six reasons as to why young people aren’t staying in their pews:
#1 – Churches seem overprotective.
#2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
#3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
#4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
#5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
#6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
…. Read this in full at

American congregations have grown less healthy in the last decade, with fewer people in the pews and aging memberships, according to a new Hartford Seminary study.

But there are also “pockets of vitality,” including an increase in minority congregations and a surge in election-related activities at evangelical congregations.

The findings coming from the new Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey are based on responses from more than 11,000 Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations in 2010 and more than 14,000 congregations in 2000.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the median worship attendance at a typical congregation decreased, from 130 to 108.

“It means we have a lot more smaller congregations,” said David Roozen, author of the report, “A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000-2010,” and director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research…. Read this in full at

by Bill Ellis
Throughout many countries, October has been known as “Pastor Appreciation Month” for many years. It is the one month when most churches learn more about their pastor and realize why that pastor should be deeply appreciated every day of the year as well as during this one special month…. Read this in full at
Also see:

[NOTE: My study of the scripture
does not support the “office” of Pastor. The above is added for
those that believe in it]

The World Series will begin Oct. 19

In a perfect blending of 21st-century advances with the cutting-edge technology of an earlier age, starting this week internet users can, for the first time, use Google search and scanning technology to examine five manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Google and the Israel Museum unveiled the project Sept. 26 in Jerusalem with the launch of a museum website that allows users to interact with the ancient texts in a way impossible just a few years ago.

“You have the capability with high-resolution definition to look at the scrolls in a comfortable setting – to enlarge them, to magnify them, to translate them into English and to search for words, phrases or verses that you want to find on your own,” said James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum. “It really allows for your own interactive research with the material.”

Made up of 30,000 fragments from 900 manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by many historians to be one of the most important archaeological finds ever made…. Read this in full at

by James Watt
I read an article on by Grant Corriveau titled “Does God Care About National Boundaries?” He believes it is inappropriate to pray for a national revival for Canada.

If this thought had been addressed to Oswald Chambers of My Utmost for His Highest fame, he would have responded with pleasure and excitement, “Exactly how do such articles on behalf of national revival for Canada distress you?” For Chambers, opposition to his concepts did not distress him, but rather brought an exhilarating challenge!

So in this same spirit, I see Grant’s uneasiness as an evidence of his sincerity, which demands a courteous and understanding response.

A while ago I again read The Covenant by James Michener, and how the Afrikaners used the Old Testament covenant as the basis of justifying their presence, goals and activity in South Africa. No doubt the majority of Evangelical believers would acknowledge that their application of these Scriptures on the basis of their understanding of covenant was misplaced.

But could we not see that perhaps the understanding of the New Covenant in Europe could also be misplaced by covenant believers of the past centuries – when promises to Israel in both Old and New Covenant have been taken from Israel and applied to the Church – in what is termed “Replacement Theology?” …. Read this in full at

“We spend much of our time focused on what we consider to be the ideal type of work. But what if our occupation is less about what we want and more about what we’re being asked to do? What if our work is more of a calling?

“[Our] calling emerges out of a context of close family friendship. In fact, the greatest vision comes out of great relationships. This calling is not simply about a job description. This is about understanding our essence to fulfill our destiny. Remember that when God revealed his plans to Moses, to free the thousands from slavery in Egypt, Moses responded by asking God, ‘Who am I?’ And God said to him, ‘You’re with me’ [see Exodus 3:11]. That was all that mattered. It wasn’t the specific tasks that God was asking Moses to do that mattered most of all (though those were important). What was most important was that Moses grasped that he was with God, in God. That he was part of the family. Whatever would come, God had his back.

“Our job description is equally simple. Be with the Father. Follow his lead. What matters most is not the specific job we do; it’s whether we are following Jesus and doing the Father’s will. All of our work is sacred work. The excellence of all our work speaks to who he is. And the extraordinary spirit of our work emerges anyplace we serve.”
Dave Gibbons in Xealots: Defying the Gravity of Normality

Francis Chan, the popular author of “Crazy Love” and “Forgotten God” who has waded into the controversy surrounding eternal punishment, says the conclusions of a book he has written make him sick.

With “Erasing Hell,” co-written by Eternity Bible College associate professor Preston Sprinkle and published by David C. Cook, Chan engages the theological firestorm that has been brewing for months over the ideas of controversial pastor Rob Bell.

Bell, outgoing pastor of the nondenominational Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., discards major tenets of historical Christianity in his book, “Love Wins,” including the necessity of professing faith in Christ in this life and the doctrines of eternal heaven and hell…. Read this in full at

Rob Bell has decided to leave Mars Hill Church, the Grandville, Michigan, megachurch he and his wife founded 12 years ago, to focus on a broader audience, the church announced today.
Flickering Pixels author Shane Hipps will take over for Bell during spring 2012 after Bell finishes his series on Acts in December.

Rob Bell told Mars Hill Sept. 25 that he will leave for Los Angeles to follow a “calling to share God’s love” in new ways, WZZM reports from Grand Rapids. He will move with his family to California to continue writing books and speaking on national and international tours, but he will not start a new church, he said…. Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
Have you noticed that no one sins anymore? We now have issues. But I sinned/issued spectacularly (again) and I sensed this impression of God that I needed to share it with you.

I gossiped about another person. Gossip isn’t a lie – it’s truth inappropriately told. Nevertheless, the Bible calls it sin (II Cor. 12:20). I simply had no reason to pass on certain information about a private conversation I had with this person, other than to impress the small group, with whom I was teleconferencing. I made him to appear lazy and me clever – another sin, slander. (I Peter 2:1)

The root cause of my sin was/is pride, and it’s the spring board for the sin of gossip and slander. If you dig deep enough, you too will find that when you sin, there’s often another, more private sin at the root. It’s that root sin you and I have to get at, to have any chance at all “of getting on top” of our sin problem. The place to begin is repentance. I believe the Bible teaches there are four elements to true repentance: …. Read this in full at

America is in what evangelical leader Chuck Colson is calling an “ethical mess” and it’s time for Christians and the rest of the population to start “doing the right thing.”

Tens of thousands of Christians from across the country tuned in to a live webcast Sept. 24 to witness the launch of the “Doing the Right Thing” movement ( The grassroots movement is being led by Colson, who believes an ethics revolution is “desperately needed.”

Unfortunately, Christians and the majority of the American population have been afraid to speak up and have allowed the “cultural elite” to force them into silence, Colson said.

“The vast majority of people just listen to what a small group that run the culture talk about – the elite,” the founder of Prison Fellowship said. “I think we’re intimidated,” he commented.

But, he stressed, “there is time to get a movement of people … who aren’t willing to sit in the spiral of silence but want to speak out and want to make a difference around them.” …. Read this in full at

How did the Bible, which has changed millions of lives in China in recent years, reach this communist nation, and how was it translated, published and distributed? A month-long exhibition launched Sept. 28 in Washington DC answers these questions.

The exhibition titled, “The Word is the Truth: The Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Protestant Church in China,” was inaugurated at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in Washington D.C. Wednesday, and covering the event was China’s official news agency, Xinhua.

In a recorded message, former US President Jimmy Carter addressed the 300 international and American Christian leaders at the event’s opening ceremony. The exhibition, he was quoted as saying, “not only helps us better understand the evolution of Christianity in China but also the development of Chinese society.” …. Read this in full at

by Meg Korpi and Rusty Wright
The movie Courageous begins as a fast-paced police drama with plenty of heart-pounding action, and a spine-tingling surprise within the first three minutes. Good-natured banter and comic mishaps had us laughing, but the movie quickly reveals an introspective side that portends more than levity and brave guys in uniforms chasing bad guys in do-rags.

Indeed, Courageous tells a grounded, human story that focuses on the crucial role of fathers. It intertwines action, humor, pathos, male bonding, a couple of insightful women, and five complex main characters to portray ordinary men evolving into modern-day heroes who find the call to valor in their everyday lives…. Read this in full at

“‘It’s everything!’ I exclaimed. ‘It’s people at the kids’ school, it’s my job… Life is throwing me nothing but curveballs.’ I took a breath and tried to calm myself as I explained further.

“‘I don’t need to hit a home run. I could use just a basic single to right. But I can’t get any decent pitches. There’s nothing normal coming my way … Life’s throwin’ me nothing but junk in the dirt!’ I was ranting, but I let her in for just a second.

“‘Then take the walk.’ Gina’s voice was clear and firm. And startling. ‘What?’ It didn’t register. ‘Take the walk. Stop swinging wildly at the junk. Just take the walk. Get to first base and see what happens next.’

“I sat in my chair thinking for a long time. As I thought, I realized Gina was right. I needed to adjust my perspective. Life had been throwing me garbage. Curveballs. Pitches in the dirt. Instead of flailing away trying to make contact, instead of arguing with the umpire or trying to force something unnatural — something perhaps from my former life — I quite simply needed to relax a bit and let some pitches go by. I started looking at the annoyances in my life and tried to see them differently.

“Ball one. I would let [my mother-in-law] do more for us. Yes, she did some things differently than we were used to, but the truth was, I could be clearer as to exactly how I wanted those things done. Perhaps we could find a middle ground.

“Ball two. My sister, Lynn, wanted to come and stay with us for several weeks… This would mean a change to our routines, a certain amount of lost privacy. But the kids loved their aunt and it would be nice to have the help.

“Ball three. The mommies at St. John. Those tireless, relentlessly helpful, and overly organized women I tried to avoid as I dropped my kids off at school… They weren’t trying to run my life or change my life. They were simply trying to help. I would begin to let them.

“Ball four. I would get my family to church on Sunday. I was ready to admit that, despite my natural tendency to resist group worship, I did feel refreshed when I came home from church at St. John… I was actually learning to recognize Bible verses and it felt good. I decided to wade into those waters a bit deeper.”
Michael & Gina Spehn in The Color of Rain: How Two Families Found Faith, Hope, & Love in the Midst of Tragedy (A True Story)

by Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family
We all know the old saying about falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. It’s a metaphor designed to explain that while free speech is protected in our country, speaking with reckless disregard for the truth and inciting panic is, at best, irresponsibly dangerous, and, at worst, beyond the covering of the First Amendment.

The phrase has its roots in a 1919 opinion by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, but there’s a version of it growing increasingly common today: Falsely yelling “hate” in a crowded public square.

A recent New York Times story chronicled how some individuals and organizations eager to see same-sex marriage legalized have stopped trying to win others to their point of view through reasoned argument and have turned, instead, to emotional epithets as their main rhetorical tool…. Read this in full at

by Melissa Kircher
Imagine a world without poetry, dance, song, comedy, film, architecture, painting, stories, symphonies, theater, or sculpture. Such a world would be bland. Art brings vibrance and beauty to our lives. Creativity is both a fully human and fully divine experience. It is an acknowledgement that something eternal and full of truth lies behind the temporal world in which we live. It focuses our eyes on the pain around us, the injustice in front of us, the joy abounding within us, and the pull we feel towards meaning and significance. Music moves us. Poetry connects us. Paintings shout at us. Dance energizes us. Art draws us back into the fold of humanity when we wander out full of pain, discouragement, and bitterness. It whispers, “You are not alone.”

In today’s society though, real art is slowly becoming less and less present. Our generation experiences art as a constant stream of marketing. Creativity is now harnessed to push product. When we only experience art in advertisements, websites, brands, and logos, we lose the invaluable ways that it helps us understand who we are and what life is all about…. Read this in full at

Lord says,] Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Isaiah 46:4

“Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), “Christian Apologetics”, in God in the Dock [1970], ed. Walter Hooper, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1994, p. 101

How do honesty, compassion, empathy, and other traits combine to create human character? That’s what the first grants from The Character Project, a three-year, multi-million dollar program at Wake Forest University, aim to discover as psychology scholars around the world attempt to decipher the mysteries of character.

Twelve grants totaling nearly $2 million have been awarded to researchers looking for new insights into character. Two Wake Forest psychology professors, William Fleeson and Michael Furr oversaw the review process and the selection of the winning research proposals from 128 applicants. The research will complement Fleeson’s and Furr’s pioneering work on the nature of personality traits.

“The question of what drives and determines moral behavior has occupied thinkers for thousands of years, originally in the field of philosophy and relatively recently in psychology,” Fleeson said. “This project will increase the amount of scholarly work by psychologists on individual differences in moral behavior and shed important light on moral character.” …. Read this in full at

by Austin Carty
Last night, while watching Survivor, I felt I was looking in a mirror. I had this same experience last season, too. Meanwhile, I would be shocked if it didn’t happen to me in a future season, as well. And, no, I don’t say this simply because I was once on the show and now, watching it years later, I find myself reliving the past. Instead, I am referring to the dizzying display of naiveté shown last night by Brandon Hantz (nephew of famous Survivor villain Russell Hantz).

Last night, Hantz suffered a veritable mental and emotional breakdown. Which is fine; having played the game before, I know firsthand how mentally and emotionally draining the contest can be. But this is not what makes me relate to young Hantz; rather, I relate to him because of why he suffered this breakdown: His faith. …. Read this in full at

“Many men think it no longer matters how they dress, but it most definitely does,” says Glen R. Sondag, a Chicago investment advisor. “Whether we like it or not, we are often judged by what the wear

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