CONNECTIONS – 12/11/2011

For week of December 11, 2011
Issue 386

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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“Since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.”
Colossians 1:9-10 (CEB)

CONSIDER
“We live charmed lives if we are living in the center of God’s will. All the attacks that Satan can hurl against us are not only powerless to harm us, but are turned into blessing on the way.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

SPIRITUAL MENTORING TIPS
by Clare De Graaf
What kinds of conversations do you have with those you mentor? I get asked that question a lot. So, I thought it would be helpful for you if I passed on stories of honest conversations I’ve had with the men I’ve mentored to help them flesh out just what it means to follow Jesus in real life. Perhaps you’ll want to pass on these stories and ideas to those you mentor, or to your children or grandchildren. Some of these ideas you’ll realize quickly, God meant for you.

Here’s my disclaimer; I’m going to lie. Some of my stories are composites of multiple conversations I’ve had and in all of them I’ve changed names and facts to protect confidentiality. However, the content of each story is absolutely true.

Last week I had dinner with Paul, a very successful young entrepreneur. He’s amazing! He’s energetic and whip smart. Paul grew up in a wonderful Christian home, respects his parents and believes everything they do about the Bible. Paul says he loves God and I believe him, but he also LOVES the deal! When I told him there was a time in my life that my business was my god, he understood immediately. I think I’ve pretty much buried my idol, but I think he’s still trying to keep his in one hand and God in the other…. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2011/12/06/spiritual-mentoring-tips/

OBAMA DELIVERS VERY CHRISTIAN MESSAGE AT CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING
President Barack Obama delivered an unusually stark Christian message at the White House Christmas tree lighting Dec. 1, saying Christ’s message “lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans.”

“More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep,” Obama said at the tree lighting ceremony, a longstanding White House tradition.

“But this was not just any child,” Obama continued. “Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us.”

Obama has been more public and specific about his religious beliefs since polls last year showed that only a minority of Americans know he is Christian. Last Easter, Obama got unusually specific about his beliefs on Christ’s resurrection at a White House prayer breakfast…. Read this in full at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/01/obama-delivers-very-christian-message-at-christmas-tree-lighting/

WHY WE NEED THE INCARNATION
by Michael Horton
A passenger on a recent plane trip happily divulged his spiritual views. Raised in a conservative religious home, he proudly dismissed traditional Christianity, with its radical claims about Jesus of Nazareth, because it substitutes dogma for reason, he said. Fifteen minutes later, he became an apologist for a sacred cosmos, with tarot cards and astrology. But of course, he said, these were true just for him.

The encounter epitomized what we have all experienced in a culture that identifies reason with naturalism and faith with feeling. And it comes from a deeper problem: the attempt to “climb to heaven” on the rungs of reason, morality, and experience. The “search for the sacred” is what happens when our God-centered nature is taken captive by sin. Religion and spirituality are all about what we feel and think deep within our precious, delightful, individual souls. The true God calls us outdoors into a history that sweeps us into its wake. Yet we prefer to sit inside our own souls and minds, stewing in our own juices…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/december/why-we-need-jesus.html

MORE
In a sermon based on Isaiah 61, William Willimon says: “We tend, if left to our own devices, toward reductionism. Here in academia, we ought to be exploring possibilities, enriching our sense of what is not known, cultivating wonder. Alas, if left to our own devices, we reduce the cosmos to the Periodic Table. We explain human history by reducing it to two or three factors, the six causes of the Civil War, the main reason for the Great Depression, 30 true-false statements explaining the 18th Century. In our better moments, when delivered from our own devices, when the modern analytic gives way to the eternal poetic, we know there is always more.

“When life is reduced to technique, six easy steps toward sure success, flattened to a series of problems to be solved, we become numbed, anesthetized against either real pain or true pleasure. The body adjusts, in the absence of expectation, to its cage. Occasionally, someone manages to hit a nerve and we, twitching slightly in discomfort, suspect there may be more.

“The audience for this Advent text from Isaiah are the afflicted, the brokenhearted, the captives, those in prison and mourners. In short, your average December congregation. The people to whom these words are addressed are those who come to church out of a sometimes barely felt, sometimes fervently burning hope for more. The words also speak, though we know not how they will hear, to those who have stopped coming to church because they have given up hoping for anything else.”
http://www.preaching.com/sermons/11656962/

WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DATE AND ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS?
by J. Warner Wallace
So, exactly when was Jesus born? Every year, as the Christmas season approaches, many Christians ask the obvious questions related to the birth of Jesus. First, was Jesus actually born on December 25th? And second, if He wasn’t born on this date, why in the world do we celebrate it as if He was?

Well, the Bible is absolutely silent about the precise date on which Jesus was born, but a careful and somewhat forensic investigation of the scripture WILL give us a rough guideline related to the birth of Christ, and if nothing else, shed some light on whether or not December 25th has anything to do with Jesus’ true birthday…

To begin, we have to take a minute to understand the way that ancient Jews lived and raised sheep in order to understand when Jesus was born. Does that sound crazy? Well, hang with me here for a minute. It was the Jewish custom for shepherds to send out their sheep into the fields in the early spring at about the time of the Passover. They did not bring these sheep home until the first rains started in early to mid-fall…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2011/s11120014.htm

ADVENT
“Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent–that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: ‘On earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.’ Learn to wait, because he has promised to come. ‘I stand at the door…’ We however call to him: ‘Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!’”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), A Testament to Freedom: the essential writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly, F. Burton Nelson, eds., HarperCollins, 1995, p. 186

THE ADVENT WE HOPE FOR
by Debra Dean Murphy
Whenever I attend Catholic mass during Advent, as I did last weekend, I’m always struck by how it is simply assumed—how it’s a liturgical . . . no, an ontological given—that Christmas is nowhere yet in sight.
I realize that many Protestants are thought to envy Catholic liturgy and the facility with which it is “performed” by both priest and people (and I’ll admit to a little of this), but I happened to attend St. Brendan on the Second Sunday of Awkward (as the good-humored Father reminded the faithful): they were still struggling through the newly-mandated changes in the mass.

But they got, always get, Advent right — the scriptures and prayers, of course; the music, especially; and, just as important, the mood.

Why is it so hard for most non-Catholics to really embrace this season fully? We give it a wink and a nod, observing a kind of pseudo-Advent, even as our Christmas celebrations — ecclesial, civic, and familial, are in full-swing. I have complained about this so many times for so many years that I’m sick of myself on this one. I mean it. I gotta get over it. Mainline Methodists observing Advent for real, for keeps, for the duration? Never gonna happen…. Read this in full at
http://christiancentury.org/blogs/archive/2011-12/advent-we-hope

REMEMBERING SAINT NICHOLAS
by Chris Pick
December 6 marks the beginning of the Christmas season for many people around the world. In fact, many people celebrate Christmas on this day – the anniversary of the death of a well-known Saint, Bishop Nicholas (Which is why December 6th came to be regarded as St. Nicholas’ Feast Day).

There are of course many legends about Nicholas, and these legends have given birth to other stories and legends surrounding Nicholas or, as he is become known by countless children around the world, “Santa Claus.”

Many Christian parents struggle over the Christmas tradition of Santa Claus and whether or not they should share the Santa Claus legend with their own children – or even allow their own children to believe in such a mythical figure. In fact, some would argue that Santa Claus is a deliberate deception played on innocent children and created by the devil himself to take the focus off the true meaning of Christmas. And, if you arrange the letters of Santa around, you get the name “Satan!”

However, there is a way for parents to share the story of St. Nicholas with their children and, in doing so, point them to the true meaning of Christmas. And that is by sharing the story of St. Nicholas who modeled Jesus Christ. Everything he did pointed to Christ! …. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2011/s11120018.htm

THE REAL SAINT NICHOLAS
by Ted Olsen
December 6 marks Saint Nicholas Day, and I thought I’d mark the beginning of the Christmas season by telling the story of Santa Claus’s namesake. But before I do, I should remark that, historically speaking, there’s not much we really know about Nicholas. Though he’s one of the most popular saints in the Greek and Latin churches, his existence isn’t attested by any historical document. All we can say is that he was probably the bishop of Myra (near modern Finike, Turkey) sometime in the 300s.

That said, there are of course many legends about Nicholas, and since these have influenced people throughout history, and they likely illustrate something about the historical man, they are fair game for a publication, like ours, devoted to Christian history.

Supposedly, Nicholas was born to a wealthy family in Patara, Lycia. His parents died, and he inherited a considerable sum of money, but he kept none of it. In the most famous story about his life, he threw bags of gold through the windows of three girls about to be forced into lives of prostitution. At least that’s the most common version of the story; there are others, including an excessively grim one where the three girls are beheaded by an innkeeper and pickled in a tub of brine until Nicholas resurrects them…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/nick.html

Also see a recent facial reconstruction from Nicholas’ 1,600-year-old-skull at
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/12/24/yes-virginia-there-is-a-santa-claus-and-heres-what-he-look/

LET’S PUT ‘CHRIST’-MAS IN ITS PLACE
by Amy Sullivan
Instead of engaging in a battle to reclaim Christmas, I propose an alternative. Let’s take Christ out of Christmas. I know what you’re thinking: What about “the reason for the season”? But that’s precisely my point. Do Christians really want to think of the son of God as the reason for reduced-price waffle-makers and winter wonderland scenes at the local mall?…. Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2011-12-04/christmas-jesus-holiday-secular/51642322/1

ADVENT CONSPIRACY
The concept behind Advent Conspiracy (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/) is simple. It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

We like gifts. Our kids really like gifts. But consider this: America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason than obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? We’re asking people to consider buying ONE LESS GIFT this Christmas. Just one. Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced something nothing less than a miracle: They have been more available to celebrate Christ during the advent season. Watch the video at
http://www.youtube.com/user/theadventconspiracy

7 WAYS TO SPEND CHRISTMAS
by Jay Cooper, Ministry Matters
American consumers spent $451 billion on Christmas gifts last year.

I stood in the aisle at Toys ‘R’ Us and I cried my little eyes out. My mom had told me that I could pick out one toy, and I simply could not decide which one to choose. To be honest, I wanted all of ‘em, and the pressure of having to decide on just one was too much for me to bear. Needless to say, I acted like such a brat that day that I ended up leaving the store without any toys at all.

Why would a child have a meltdown like that in the middle of a toy store? I mean, I was just a kid – how had I already learned to be so dissatisfied with what I had? Who taught me that there was no such thing as enough, or that happiness and self-esteem could be found in places like malls? At such a young age, how would I already have been aware of the fact that Americans existed for just one reason: to collect more and better toys than the other kids? …. Read this in full at
http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/blog/entry/2099/7-ways-to-spend-christmas

THIS CHRISTMAS, GIVE A BIBLE
by Diana Davis
For our anniversary gift, I found a beautiful leather briefcase for my husband. The brand’s tagline was “Your kids will fight over it when you’re dead.” It was a great gift, but here’s a Christmas gift idea that’s much more valuable than that.

We all know someone who is not a Christian. Would you give that person the ultimate Christmas gift? God’s Word — the Bible — is a gift that can actually impact someone’s eternity! Here’s how: …. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=36731

THE CHRISTMAS BIBLE READING PLAN
Designed for personal or family reading times, these 25 New Testament readings highlight the birth of Jesus and the purpose for His coming. Related Old Testament passages are also featured.
http://www.christianity.com/christmas/11660944/

WHY DO WE SPEND MONEY ON HAPPINESS WE CAN’T AFFORD?
James A. Roberts was watching an ABC News Nightline episode on basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal recently when he heard about the size of the retired player’s Florida home: 70,000 square feet.

Even for a man who spends his time studying consumer behavior as a marketing professor at Baylor University, Roberts was stunned.

His latest book, Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy, tells the story of the American Dream gone awry by profligate materialism. The size of O’Neal’s home offered further proof.

To Roberts’ mind, what began as “Keeping up with the Joneses” has morphed into “Keeping up with the Gateses” (or, perhaps, the O’Neals).

“With the Internet, we don’t have to compare ourselves with people living next door, we compare ourselves with the richest people in the world, and people aren’t going to be happy,” he said in a phone interview…. Read this in full at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-12-07/buy-happiness-james-roberts/51716302/1

VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT
“This, of course, is what religion is about: this adherence to God, this confident dependence on that which is unchanging. This is the more abundant life, which in its own particular language and own particular way, it calls us to live. Because it is our part in the one life in the whole universe of spirits, our share in the great drive towards Reality, the tendency of all life to seek God, Who made it for Himself, and now incites and guides it, we are already adapted to it, just as a fish is adapted to live in the sea. This view of our situation fills us with a certain awed and humble gladness. It delivers us from all niggling fuss about ourselves, prevents us from feeling self-important about our own little spiritual adventures; and yet makes them worth while as part of one great spiritual adventure.”
Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), The Spiritual Life, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1937, reprinted, Morehouse Publishing, 1985, p. 22-23

WITH CHILDREN, LOVE IS STILL SPELLED T-I-M-E
by Brad Whitt
“Love is not spelled T-H-I-N-G-S. Love is spelled T-I-M-E.” I don’t know when or where I first heard that, or even who said it, but that simple little statement has certainly stuck in my mind over the years. I understand it to say that true love isn’t shown by the stuff you give, but by the time spent in giving yourself.

As a pastor of a young, growing church and the father of a young, growing family, I’m often tempted to give a toy instead of giving my time. Instead of rolling around on the rug wrestling with Jack or having a princess tea party with Laura Kate, there is the tug to take a shortcut and give some thing instead of myself. The reason I sometimes face this temptation is because it’s easier and quicker, and many times after a busy day dealing with church folks or zoning officials or convention politics I just don’t feel like I have much left to give. That may not make me sound like a nominee for Father of the Year, but it’s the truth…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=36748

THE POWER OF THAT LONG AND BORING LOVE
“I recently had the honor of giving the invocation at [an] annual benefit. My friend [Gary], the founder of [the organization], shared the story of a thirteen-year-old girl who was miraculously rescued out of a brothel in the Philippines. It’s hard to hear about the horrors she endured, especially when you have a thirteen-year-old daughter. Then Gary showed a picture of her smiling face. Only God. He is the God who heals hearts and restores smiles.

“I’ll never forget the way Gary described it. He played a Sara Groves remix of Peter Gabriel’s song The Book of Love and pulled a line of lyrics from it. The melody is catchy, but the lyrics caught me. It may seem like a slam, but I think it’s a celebration of ‘long love.’ The longer you’ve been in love the more it will make sense.

“The book of love is long and boring…
It’s full of charts and facts and figures…
But I love it when you read to me.

“Gary then used the phrase from those lyrics — ‘long and boring’ — to describe the process of rescuing the young girl out of that brothel. It took fifty long and boring trips to a courthouse. It took 6,100 long and boring billable hours of filing and refiling paperwork, which of course, the young girl couldn’t pay a penny of. And who knows how many long and boring prayer circles were drawn around that brothel and around that girl.

“Praying through is long and boring, but it is the price you pay for miracles. And no matter how long and boring it is, you can’t put a price on a girl rescued from darkness and brought into the light. There is nothing boring about that, but very few of us are willing to love that long or pray that hard.

“The lawyers [knew] how to work like it depends on them, but they also know how to pray like it depends on God. This is a lethal combination when it comes to fighting injustice. If you’re willing to dream big and pray hard and think long, you might just bring kings to their knees and shut the mouths of lions.”
Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears

TIM TEBOW AN UNDERDOG FOR A TROUBLED TIME
by Jim Daly, president, Focus on the Family
He arrived at a time when the nation was fearful and fighting malaise, hungry for a hero to root for, eager to find hope amidst the dark clouds of uncertainty. Do you remember the story? It was 1938, smack in the middle of the Great Depression.

That the the hero was a three-year-old thoroughbred racehorse made no difference. After all, Americans enjoy rooting for the little guy, especially when that little guy is criticized and counted out by so-called experts.

Seabiscuit was a three-year-old horse from Kentucky. Analysts thought him too small and too wobbly to be a real contender and his performance in his first few races seemed to confirm the corporate consensus. But something clicked, or better yet, somebody gave the horse a chance. In time he didn’t just win, but was declared the best horse in America. He lifted people’s spirits and helped to remind them that with heart and hard work good things can happen…. Read this in full at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/tim-tebow-an-underdog-for-a-troubled-time/2011/12/02/gIQAp3dnKO_blog.html

HOW ARE YOU PERCEIVED?
“Unsaintly saints are the tragedy of Christianity. People of the world usually pass through the circle of disciples to reach Christ, and if they find those disciples severe and sharp-tongued they can hardly be blamed if they sigh and turn away from Him… The low state of religion in our day is largely due to the lack of public confidence in religious people.”
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), Of God and Men, Harrisburg, Penn.: Christian Publications, Inc., 1960, p. 85

BIGGER ROLES FOR CHAPLAINS ON PATIENT MEDICAL TEAMS
Hospital chaplains have long been a source of comfort and succor for patients facing daunting illness.

Chaplains are seeking bigger roles in hospitals and in some cases joining the medical-care team, as new research shows positive spiritual guidance and discussion can help improve a patient’s medical outcome.

Some hospitals are giving patients questionnaires upon admittance to identify who may benefit most from chaplain referrals.

Chaplains, of course, may still pray with patients regardless of denomination, help families make difficult end-of-life decisions or simply offer a sympathetic ear…. Read this in full at
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204826704577074462494881428.html

MAN IN THE MIRROR HIRING 330 AREA DIRECTORS
Man in the Mirror, the pioneering ministry to men started 25 years ago by bestselling author Dr. Patrick Morley, is looking to hire 330 full-time area directors.

A national casting call has been launched at www.mimareadirectors.org in cooperation with Young Life, Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru), Compass — Finances God’s Way, and The Navigators to recruit candidates throughout the U.S. Those who fit the bill will help thousands of churches throughout the country to disciple 1,000,000 men by 2015 — and 10,000,000 men by the end of 2020.

“For several years, we’ve been working hard to offer men a viable career path in men’s ministry,” Morley explains. “This is our attempt at putting boots on the ground to consult, train and equip churches to be more effective at discipling their guys.”

With many companies and organizations shuttering or cutting back in the wake of America’s economic crisis, Morley and his team hope this new opportunity will appeal to a wide range of professionals who are surrendered to Christ, love the church, are passionate about reaching men with the Gospel, and have a deep commitment to discipleship…. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/9915718252.html

VERSE TO PONDER
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light….The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:1-5, 14 (CEB)

CONSIDER
“Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

LEARNING TO READ THE GOSPEL AGAIN
by Anthony D. Baker
A few months ago, a graduate student in practical theology asked Stanley Hauerwas for his perspective on new church movements, especially emergent church movements. Disarming and epigrammatic as ever, the man whom Time once called “America’s Best Theologian” replied, “The future of the church is not found in things like this; the future is doing the same thing Sunday after Sunday.”

This may seem dismissive. The student certainly took it that way, and indicated as much on his blog. I want to suggest, though, that Hauerwas was essentially right. But first I would point to a legitimate layer of anxiety that underlies the student’s frustration.

The anxiety, briefly, is that the Christian faith is broken. We all know of statistics on the decline of mainline Christianity. To focus on the particular branch where I worship: The Episcopal Church, according to its own publications, lost a third of its membership between 1965 and 2009. A recent article on a Roman Catholic website claims that “within the next 3 to 5 years more than 2,000 churches across the country will be forced to close, merge or be sold.” Sociologists of religion (both the professional and armchair variety) continue to debate the causes of this notable decline. In a recent paper, David Hollinger, president of the Organization of American Historians, makes a persuasive case for two key factors within mainline denominations: dramatically declining birthrates, and a failure in what he calls the “acculturation” of their children…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/article_print.html?id=94465

BEING COMFORTABLE IN THE PRESENCE OF MYSTERY
by Krista Tippet
When I first picked up Mario Livio’s book, Is God a Mathematician?, I knew I wanted to speak with him. Given that title, it is perhaps surprising to learn that he is not himself a religious man. But in his science, he is working on frontiers of discovery where questions far outpace answers — exploring the nature of neutron stars, white dwarfs, dark energy, the search for intelligent life in other galaxies.

In vivid detail and with passionate articulation, he reinforces a sense that has come through in many of my conversations with scientists these past years. That is, in contrast to the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Western, cultural confidence that science was on the verge of explaining most everything, our cutting-edge, twenty-first-century discoveries are yielding ever more fantastic mysteries. The real science of the present, Mario Livio says, is far more interesting than science fiction could ever be.

For example, the fact that the universe is expanding rather than contracting is new knowledge. That has led to the discovery of what is called, for lack of precise understanding, “dark energy,” which is accelerating this expansion. This utterly unexplained substance is now thought to comprise something like 70 percent of the universe. Likewise, the Hubble telescope has helped humanity gain intricate new detail on the unimaginable vastness of the cosmos and the relative insignificance of the space we take up in it. At the same time — and this is one of Livio’s intriguing mysteries — this new knowledge and perspective also shine a new kind of light on the inordinate power of the human mind…. Read this in full and hear the interview at
http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/who-ordered-this/

USA WELL ON THE WAY TO CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION, CARDINAL SAYS
Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and now the head of the Vatican’s highest court, said the United States is “well on the way” to the persecution of Christians. Burke said he could envision a time when the church in America, would be accused of “engaging in illegal activity” just for preaching biblical doctrine.

Pope Benedict XVI also made a similar warning: The “seriousness of the challenges which the church in America … is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated. The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularized culture also affect the lives of believers.” Burke declared it a war, and added that it was “critical at this time that Christians stand up for the natural moral law.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.persecution.org/2011/12/01/catholic-cardinal-believes-the-u-s-is-well-on-the-way-to-christian-persecution/

INFOGRAPHIC: ANXIOUS TIMES FOR MIDDLE EAST CHRISTIANS
Christians in the region are worried about persecution in the wake of political unrest. See this graphic representation of Christians in the Middle East at
http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-BD676A_CHRIS_G_20111204185406.jpg
and the article “An ‘Arab Winter’ Chills Christians”
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203710704577053221510203422.html

FOR CHRISTIAN MEN: THE LESSONS OF HERMAN CAIN
by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
1. The Christian man must realize that credible accusations of sexual misconduct or immorality are fatal to credibility and ruinous to Christian witness.

2. The Christian man cannot dismiss any charge of sexual immorality as being a private matter of no public concern.

3. The Christian man must plan his life in order to assure moral accountability and protections.

4. The Christian man must depend upon his church, the congregation that is so essential to his Christian vitality and faithfulness, as a bulwark against sin.

5. A Christian man knows that his wife is his best defense against sexual immorality and sexual vulnerability – and his most important witness to character…. Read this in full at
http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/12/05/for-christian-men-the-lessons-of-herman-cain/

BABY BOOMERS HEADING BACK TO SEMINARY
At 51, Vincent Guest could well be the professor at a table filled with 20- and 30-year-olds. He is leading a lunchtime social justice meeting for seminarians at Theological College at Catholic University in Washington.

Forks clink on plates in the basement conference room as Guest opens the November meeting in prayer. “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” he says as he bows his head and clasps his hands.

Guest is not a visiting professor. He is a seminarian, just like the other younger men at the table.

But he is not alone in his age group. According to a decade-long study of enrollment by the Association of Theological Schools released in 2009, the fastest-growing group of seminarians include those older than 50. In 1995, baby boomers made up 12% of seminarians, while today they are 20%…. Read this in full at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/05/baby-boomers-heading-back-to-seminary/

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR
by Mark Ellis
The Book of Ecclesiastes contains a very important message: Life is ultimately meaningless without God. When you place God at the center of your life, you find meaning and purpose you never knew before.

Before I became a Christian I had no purpose other than to live for me, myself and I – the unholy trinity. I would never have guessed in my twenties or even my thirties that I would become a pastor and that my life’s great purpose today would be to advance Christian missions around the world.

And I’m sure that many of you have found a whole new purpose in life since you began to follow Jesus…. Read this in full at
http://blog.godreports.com/2011/12/spiritual-warfare-put-on-the-full-armor/

MAINLINE PROTESTANTS SEEK INTERNAL REFORMS, STIR ANGER
A list of the Episcopal Church’s 75 commissions, committees, agencies and boards spilled over eight PowerPoint slides during a recent presentation by its new chief operating officer, Bishop Stacy Sauls.

By his count, there are also nearly 50 departments and offices in the church’s New York headquarters, and 46 committees in its legislative body, the General Convention.

Sauls, who was hired by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in May, said that he has since learned there are even more offices “that I had never heard of before.”

“It has become just byzantine,” he said. “The governance structures have grown by accretion, without any strategic plan.” Nearly half of the denomination’s budget is spent on overhead, according to Sauls.

Meanwhile, Episcopal membership continues to drop, dipping below 2 million in the US for the first time in decades. Donations, too, are down. It is time for change, starting at the top, Sauls said…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/as_mainline_churches_try_to_reform_anger_sets_in/

TEXT MESSAGE DEVOTIONALS FROM NAVPRESS
NavPress Publishing Group, a division of The Navigators Ministry, announced today that it has partnered with Greater Texting (http://www.greatertexting.com/) in order to turn prayer cards, verses from The Message Bible, material from Pray! and Discipleship Journal magazine articles, and other NavPress discipleship resources into inspirational Christian text message subscriptions.

Greater Texting offers subscriptions of daily messages that are delivered directly to a mobile phone at a time selected by the subscriber. No launching an app or digging through an email inbox is required. Text Message Devotionals are great for anyone who owns a cell phone, but can be especially valuable to teens and young adults who are increasingly devoted to their cell phones and less and less to the Word of God…. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/475518414.html

PUBLIC INVITED TO COMMENT ON POLICY ISSUES INVOLVING CLERGY, CHURCHES AND OTHER NONPROFITS
The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, created to help resolve financial accountability issues with an eye toward self-regulation, has launched an online forum to seek public comment on regulatory and tax policy issues facing clergy, churches and other nonprofit groups.

The commission, formed by ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability), has added a public input page (https://religiouspolicycommission.org/PublicInput.aspx) to its website in order to seek input on issues related to political speech; “love offerings” paid to religious leaders; the clergy parsonage exclusion; and compensation of church leaders…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/pressreleases/public_invited_to_comment_on_issues_involving_clergy_churches_and_other_non/

CONSIDER
“The Christian life is a pilgrimage from earth to heaven, and our task is to take as many as possible with us as we make this journey.”
Warren Wiersbe

VERSE TO PONDER
“Bless the Lord God of Israel because he has come to help and has delivered his people. He has raised up a mighty Savior for us in his servant David’s house, just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago. Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.”
Luke 1:68-70 and 78-79 (CEB)

THIS WEEK’S HYMN: LO, HE COMES WITH CLOUDS DESCENDING
Words: John Cennick, 1752; republished & altered by Charles Wesley, 1758, and Martin Madan, 1760.
Music: 18th Century English melody

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate Him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!

Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!

Answer Thine own bride and Spirit,
Hasten, Lord, the general doom!
The new Heav’n and earth t’inherit,
Take Thy pining exiles home:
All creation, all creation, all creation,
Travails! groans! and bids Thee come!

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/l/h/lhecomes.htm

ON PRAYER
During this Advent, let your light of peace and love shine in our world. Give us eyes to see the signs of your presence in the world. Help us to prepare our lives and our homes to receive the One who said, “I am the light of the world.” Amen.

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 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.

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

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

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

Pastor David Kenney explains “heavenly hosts”
http://youtu.be/FcZp83irtWM

WorshipTogether.com
http://worshiptogether.com/

PearlTrees: collect, organize, discover, share the Web
http://www.pearltrees.com/

National “Do Not Call” Registration
https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx

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.)

No trees were harmed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Min. Frank Coleman, Editor
Rev.frank

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 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.org/

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