Connecting man to man to God
For week of May 20, 2012
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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“May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice.”
– Romans 15:5-6 (CEB)
“We get our moral bearings by looking at God. We must begin with God. We are right when, and only when, we stand in a right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.”
– A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God , Christian Publications, 1982, p. 95
CHUCK COLSON HONORED AS ‘CHAMPION’ OF CHRISTIAN FAITH AT MEMORIAL SERVICE
The impact that evangelical leader and Prison Fellowship Ministries founder Charles W. “Chuck” Colson left on the lives of his family, friends, and the Christian world was celebrated during a public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral May 16.
Thousands, including politicians and notable Christian leaders, filled the pews of the historic church to pay tribute to Colson, who was remembered by loved ones as a dedicated “champion” of the Christian faith and an extraordinary man who glorified God in everything he did, whether it was through loving his family or sharing the love of Jesus to prisoners…. Read this in full at
Also see “Charles Colson: Defender of the Weak, Hugger of Lepers, Friend of Sinners, Christian Intellectual”
CANADIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS ISSUE LETTER ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released a 12-page Pastoral Letter on Freedom of Conscience and Religion (http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/Summary_of_the_pastoral_letter.pdf) May 14.
The letter is largely occasioned by the spread in our own country of an aggressive relativism that actively seeks to force its own view of truth on others. It attempts to relegate religious belief to the private sphere, and considers religion to be insignificant, alien or even destabilizing. Legitimate secularity is open to the engagement of religious beliefs and faith communities in public debate and civic life. Radical secularism, however, excludes religion from the public square. This disfigured view of the secular is becoming more militant in attempting to silence religious believers when their views contradict its own, particularly on issues of education, human life and the family. It is highly hostile to a truly democratic and pluralist society, in that it tolerates only its own voice and tries to silence all others…. Read this in full at
EX-COMMUNICATING A FRIEND
by Clare De Graaf
Ten years ago a group of us ex-communicated, or exercised Christian discipline, on a close friend.
Yes, you read that correctly! It came to our attention that a married Christian man who we’d all known for years, with whom we’ve been in Bible studies, vacationed, and even done ministry together, was apparently having an emotional affair with another woman. He (I’ll call him John) and his wife weren’t technically members of any church, although they faithfully attended church. Rather than let this problem fall through the “who’s responsibility is this?” crack, we, “the church” around them, stepped into his life. Here’s the story….
Wanting to respect this couple’s privacy, I’ll be purposely vague and brief on the details of this emotional infidelity. However it was clear to his wife and those who saw John with the other woman in public that something clearly inappropriate was going on. This was way more than a business relationship! …. Read this in full at
N.T. WRIGHT ASKS: HAVE WE GOTTEN HEAVEN ALL WRONG?
by John Murawski
The oft-cliched Christian notion of heaven — a blissful realm of harp-strumming angels — has remained a fixture of the faith for centuries. Even as arguments will go on as to who will or won’t be “saved,” surveys show that a vast majority Americans believe that after death their souls will ascend to some kind of celestial resting place.
But scholars on the right and left increasingly say that comforting belief in an afterlife has no basis in the Bible and would have sounded bizarre to Jesus and his early followers. Like modern curators patiently restoring an ancient fresco, scholars have plumbed the New Testament’s Jewish roots to challenge the pervasive cultural belief in an otherworldly paradise…. Read this in full at
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE MAKES A LOT OF SENSE IF…
by Michael Horton
Same-sex marriage makes sense if you assume that the individual is the center of the universe, that God — if he exists — is there to make us happy, and that our choices are not grounded in a nature created by God but in arbitrary self-construction. To the extent that this sort of “moralistic-therapeutic-deism” prevails in our churches, can we expect the world to think any differently? If we treat God as a product we sell to consumers for their self-improvement programs and make personal choice the trigger of salvation itself, then it may come as a big surprise (even contradiction) to the world when we tell them that truth (the way things are) trumps feelings and personal choice (what we want to make things to be)…. Read this in full at
WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN’S CALLING CARD?
“The Bible is little interested in equality. It aims much higher than that. From Genesis to Revelation, it calls us to this deeper, greater, tougher, sweeter thing: oneness. Oneness in our relationship with God. Oneness in our relationship with our spouse. Oneness with our relationships with other Christ-followers. Oneness in the church.
“Oneness beats equality every time, because equality demands sameness. To be equal to you, I have to be as smart and strong and kind and generous as you. But oneness presumes difference. To be one with you, I have to accept your gift of otherness. I can be weak where you’re strong, and vice versa. Oneness requires my life to complement yours. It calls us to complete one another.
“In marriage, for example, who wants equality? ‘We’re even’ is hardly a motto for lifelong affection. Whereas oneness is intrinsically cooperative, equality is inherently competitive, a recipe for endless one-upmanship. Or worse: a recipe for disaster. Equality was the false dream of Marx and Lenin, an ideology so unworkable in real life that its architects created one of the deadliest and darkest social nightmares in history. On a more personal level, equality is what people strive for in a divorce: half the assets, half the money, half the time with the kids. The scales must be exactly even then. But in a thriving marriage, the husband can be good at cooking and the wife at house repairs, each serving the other, and the resulting oneness means they both eat well in a house well kept.
“Oneness, dwelling together in unity, is a good and pleasant thing in itself, much better than equality, and much, much better than animosity.
“Unity within the church is the heart of our appeal. Living reconciled lives with other believers validates our message to a fragmented, isolated, divided world. Unity among us vouchsafes our ambassadorial authority. It is our diplomatic calling card. Without it, the emperor – or ambassador – has no clothes.”
– Mark Buchanan in Your Church Is Too Safe: Why Following Christ Turns Everything Upside-Down
STUDY CHARTS IMPACT OF EAGLE SCOUTS
The Boys Scouts of America long have noted the conspicuous presence of Eagle Scouts among astronauts, military officers, top athletes, and high-ranking elected officials. But a nationwide scientific survey involving researchers from Baylor University provides the first empirical evidence that shows the positive impact Eagle Scouts have on society.
Compared to other American adult males, recipients of the Eagle Scout rank — Scouting’s highest award — demonstrate a greater belief in duty to God, service to others, and community engagement, research showed.
“There is no shortage or examples or anecdotal accounts that suggest Scouting produces better citizens, but now there is scientific evidence to confirm the prosocial benefits of Scouting or earning the rank of Eagle Scout,” said principal researcher Byron Johnson, co-director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion and director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior.
“The central question of this study was to determine if achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is associated with prosocial behavior and development of character that carries over into young adulthood and beyond.” …. Read this in full at
THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM
by Patrick Morley, PhD
Abraham is nothing if not a study in faith. He was called to leave everything familiar to him and settle in an unknown land. By faith he obeyed (Hebrews 11:8).
He was promised a son, yet was still childless 24 years later. By faith, he was enabled to become a father (Hebrews 11:11).
Then God tested him by asking him to sacrifice the one thing he most wanted to keep — the son he loved so much. By faith, he passed the test (Hebrews 11:17).
What is faith?
* Faith is believing God in the face of unbelievable circumstances.
* Faith is believing my Bible when it makes no sense, humanly speaking.
* Faith is relying upon the authority of Scripture over my own best thinking.
* Faith is letting the reality of the unseen rule over the unreality of the seen.
* Faith is subordinating the tumult I feel in my emotions to that previous decision I made in my will to trust Jesus.
* Faith is believing God will do every single thing He has promised, in its perfect time.
* Faith is not trusting God where He has not promised, but where He has.
* Faith is believing God will supply all my needs, and that in the chambers of His private counsel He has measured my need on the scales of mercy.
* Faith is continuing to believe, trust, and wait when the hot, scorching breath of adversity blows unrelenting across the landscape of my circumstances.
* Faith is not, not, not a leap into the dark; but a careful, reasoned step into the light, into Light, into The Light, into that glorious Light that sets us free, free at last, from bondage to sin, decay and death.
* “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
THE SERIOUS BUSINESS OF SIN
“Sin is sin, and we must not call it less than sin. It is not an act of love to explain sin away as a psychological determinism or sociological conditioning, for it is real and must be dealt with. Men need a Savior. Therefore, Christians in our generation must resist relativistic and deterministic thinking. If men are going to find a real solution to the problem of who they are, they must come to terms with the fact that they need a Savior because they are sinners in the presence of a holy God. Sin is serious business.”
– Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), No Little People, Downer Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1974, reprint, Crossway, 2003, p. 45
ANNOUNCING THE 2010 USA RELIGION CENSUS
The 2010 USA Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS), released May 1, 2012, is a county-by-county enumeration of religious bodies in the US. A quick overview is available here. It is an update of the 1952, 1971, 1980, 1990, and 2000 studies originally done by the National Council of Churches and the Glenmary Research Center. Since 1990, the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) has sponsored the studies.
Each participating religious body supplies the number of churches, full members, adherents, and attendees for each county. See “Data Collected” for more information. Our data collection office can assist any group with compiling their data to the county level…. Read this in full at
MOST AND LEAST RELIGIOUS CITIES IN AMERICA
A study measuring religious bodies in the United States called the, “2010 US Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS)” (http://rcms2010.org/) was recently released by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB). The most comprehensive study of its kind, it provides detailed county by county information on congregations, members, adherents and attendance for 236 different faiths groups. (The survey differentiates between specific denominations within the same tradition.)
Of metropolitan areas with population greater than a million, the researchers found Salt Lake City to be the most religious city with close to 74% identifying as a religious adherent. The researchers found the greater area of Portland, OR-WA to be the least religious city with about 32% identifying as a religious adherent.
The researchers define adherents to be those with an affiliation to a congregation including children, members and attendees who are not members, and believe that the adherent measure is the most complete and comparable across religious groups. As the chart below shows, more than 54% of adherents were from metropolitan areas with population of a million and above…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts.”
– James 3:17-18 (CEB)
“The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.”
– William Blake (1757-1827), The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, University of California Press, 2008, p. 201
HOW GOD USES MY LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE FOR GOOD
by Ed Dobson
I love Christianity Today’s new documentary film about breast-cancer survivor Kim Newlen. Even though I have never had cancer, have never had surgery to remove a tumor, and have never undergone chemotherapy, it spoke to me.
When I was diagnosed with ALS in 2000, doctors gave me two to five years to live. And most of it would be in the disabled condition. They don’t know what causes ALS, a disease where the electrical signals from the brain fail to reach the muscle, and the muscle begins to die. It’s not a pleasant disease.
The theme of “Bolder as I Got Balder” is, of course, boldness. It appears that Newlen gets bolder as her cancer progresses. I’ve noticed the same thing in my life. Almost every week I meet with someone who has been recently diagnosed with ALS. When I meet with them I simply ask questions. I try to listen as much as possible. Toward the end of our conversation, I tell my own story. I always begin with what happened in Northern Ireland when I was 11 years old, when I got down on my knees by my bed one night and invited Jesus to be my Savior and my Lord. Before I was diagnosed with ALS when I met with someone going through a tough time, I don’t know that I ever referred to my own journey. But now I’ve gotten bolder…. Read this in full at
GOD’S MARVELOUS GIFT
“O what a melting consideration is this! That out of His agony comes our victory; out of His condemnation, our justification; out of His pain, our ease; out of His stripes, our healing; out of His gall and vinegar, our honey; out of His curse, our blessing; out of His crown of thorns, our crown of glory; out of His death, our life: if He could not be released, it was that you might. If Pilate gave sentence against Him, it was that the great God might never give sentence against you. If he yielded that it should be with Christ as they required, it was that it might be with our souls as well as we can desire. And therefore, thanks be to God for His unspeakable gifts.”
– John Flavel (1628-1691), Serm. XXIV from The Fountain of Life , in The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel, v. I, Paisley: A. Weir and A. McLean, 1770, p. 331
GOSPEL FRAGMENT TANTALIZES EXPERTS
by Gordon Govier
Early copies of the Gospel of Mark are not as common as the other three gospels. The reason: 90 percent of Mark is in the Gospel of Matthew, so few early scribes copied it, says Daniel Wallace, founder of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and New Testament Studies professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
But in February, Wallace announced during a debate that not only has a new fragment of Mark’s gospel been discovered in Egypt, but it is the oldest portion of the New Testament now known. He claimed the fragment dates to the first century, within decades of the time of Christ.
Speculation about the fragment’s whereabouts has centered on the Green Collection: tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts bought over the past three years by the owners of Hobby Lobby. In December, collection director Scott Carroll issued a tantalizing message on his Twitter account: “For over 100 years the earliest known text of the New Testament has been the so-call[ed] John Rylands Papyrus. Not any more. Stay tuned …” A publicist for the Green Collection denied that it owns the Mark fragment…. Read this in full at
WHAT IS THE BIBLE FOR?
by Peter J. Leithart
Evangelicals like to quote Paul’s letter to Timothy: “All Scripture is God-breathed, and profitable for teaching, correction, training in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped for every good work.” Paul affirms that God is the author of the written text, a sine qua non of Evangelicalism. Paul also stresses the usefulness of Scripture, an equally favored Evangelical theme.
When we look closely at the Bible though, things get dicey. The Bible rarely lives up to our ordinary standards of practicality. Page after page is given over to genealogical lists of obscure people whose only role is to be a human bridge between famous ancestors and notorious descendants. A third of Exodus is nothing but verbal blueprints for building the tabernacle and the first quarter of Leviticus contains detailed regulations concerning sacrifice. Two lengthy chapters of Leviticus diagnose the varieties of skin disease that cause impurity. It seems so tedious, and even when the Bible holds our interest, it doesn’t seem very useful. Stories of plagues, exodus, and wars of utter destruction make for juicy reading, but how do they help one become virtuous? Why can’t the Bible be more relevant? …. Read this in full at
WHAT MAURICE SENDAK CAN TEACH THE CHURCH
by Russell Moore
Maurice Sendak, who just died, doesn’t seem, at first glance, to have much to teach Christians. After all, he was an atheist with a cynical outlook and a foul mouth. But underneath all of that, I think, Sendak saw something of the fallen glory of the universe we followers of Jesus sometimes ignore.
Sendak’s most famous work, of course, is his children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. It’s about a boy named Max, who is sent to his room for telling his mother he’ll eat her up. My sons love this story. Whenever I read it, they start shifting around in their seats as they hear about his room becoming a forest, about his encountering scary, teeth-baring “wild things.”
My boys aren’t unusual. I loved that story as much as they did, when I was their age. And when I talk to people about my age, I find that this book struck, and strikes, a particular resonance with at least two generations of American children, no matter what their racial, social, economic, or religious backgrounds…. Read this in full at
NEARLY HALF OF ONLINE USERS USE INTERNET FOR RELIGION
Almost half of all American adults who are online are using the Internet for religious purposes, according to a new study from Grey Matter Research (http://greymatterresearch.com/) in Phoenix, Ariz. The research shows a variety of ways online Americans use the Internet for spiritual purposes:
* 19% have, in the past six months, visited the website of a church or other place of worship they are currently attending
* During that same time frame, another 17% have visited the website of a church or place of worship they were not attending
* 19% have visited a website designed to provide religious instruction or learning during the last six months…. Read this in full at
ZONDERVAN UPDATES YOUTUBE CHANNEL WITH FREE BIBLE STUDY VIDEOS AND AUDIO FIRST CHAPTERS
Zondervan has announced a new YouTube channel where readers have access to almost 100 video-based Bible study sessions from Christian thought leaders including New York Times best-selling authors Tim Keller and Lysa TerKeurst. In addition, users will also be able to browse more than 150 audio book first chapters and share these via media sites including Facebook and Twitter. Zondervan is one of the first publishers to offer sample audio of books through YouTube, and eventually will offer the first chapter of their complete library of over 1100 audio books…. Read this in full at
RICHARD MOUW, EVANGELICAL LEADER, SAYS ENGAGING MORMONS ISN’T JUST ABOUT BEING NICE
Richard Mouw never intended to start a riot within the evangelical community by saying his fellow believers had “sinned against Mormonism.” But that’s exactly what happened.
Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., had been meeting regularly with Latter-day Saint scholars before he gave a seven-minute introduction of Ravi Zacharias, an evangelical speaker who addressed a packed audience in the Mormon Tabernacle in November 2004.
“We’ve often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of members of the LDS faith,” Mouw said that night. “It’s a terrible thing to bear false witness.” The impact was immediate…. Read this in full at
FOR SCHOOLS OF THEOLOGY, IT’S TIME TO BEND TRADITION
by Katherine M. Douglass and Jason Bruner
Much talk and energy have been devoted lately to discerning the “future of the seminary” in North America. That future is uncertain, with many theological institutions facing financial difficulties and steadily declining enrollments. The larger challenge, however, may be cultural. If seminaries hope to survive, they will have to adapt to a changing world.
Two years ago, David Sebastian, dean of the School of Theology at Anderson University, reported five trends shaping the future of theological education in North America. They are: a widening chasm between Christian churches and seminaries; increasing numbers of seminary students who have not grown up in the church; a growing awareness that seminary education is inaccessible for many potential seminary students; an increased questioning of whether seminary is really worth the financial costs; and forthcoming population shifts that will affect the ability of seminaries to prepare culturally competent leaders for the 21st century…. Read this in full at
WHY INTER-FAITH UNDERSTANDING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER IN LEADERSHIP
by Tony Blair
The Alpha Leadership conference that recently took place in London is a reminder that despite all the negative news about religion, a different face of faith is visible and real the world over. The Alpha course on leadership, which was begun under Nicky Gumbel of the Holy Trinity Church in London, has been taken by 18 million people world-wide and is all about spreading a gospel of compassion and service to others. A similar message is given out from the remarkable Rick Warren’s church in Southern California where his congregation now numbers in excess of 100,000 people and his global reach extends to every nation on earth.
But such work is not confined to the Christian religion. There are extraordinary Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist organisations that do great work and show selfless sacrifice in some of the poorest and most forgotten parts of the world. 40% of the healthcare in Africa is delivered by Faith groups, notably the Catholic Church…. Read this in full at
“If nothing in this world satisfies me, perhaps it is because I was made for another world.”
– C. S. Lewis
VERSE TO PONDER
“God isn’t unjust so that he forgets your efforts and the love you have shown for his name’s sake when you served and continue to serve God’s holy people.”
– Hebrews 6:10 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: I SURRENDER ALL
Words: Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896
Music: Winfield S. Weeden, 1896
All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!
>from NetHymnal at
“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” Reinhold Niebuhr
PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
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!
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Estates & inheritances
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).
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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.
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