For week of August 19, 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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“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.”
– Titus 2:11-14 (CEB)
“How can you expect God to speak in that gentle and inward voice which melts the soul, when you are making so much noise with your rapid reflections? Be silent, and God will speak again.”
– Francois Fenelon
RELIGIOSITY DECLINES WORLDWIDE; ATHEISM ON THE RISE
A new global survey on faith and atheism reveals that a crisis of faith in Ireland may be much worse than previously thought.
According to the released by WIN-Gallup International http://www.wingia.com/ (not related to Gallup Inc., Washington DC), the traditionally Catholic country has seen one of the steepest drops worldwide in religiosity.
The poll — which was based on interviews with more than 50,000 people from 57 countries — asked participants, “irrespective of whether they attended a place of worship, if they considered themselves to be religious, not religious, or an atheist.”
In Ireland, only 47% of those polled say they consider themselves religious — a 22-point drop from the 69% recorded in a similar poll conducted in 2005. In addition, 10% self-identify as atheist.
The only country that registered a steeper decline in religiosity is Vietnam, which saw a 23-point drop from 53% to 30%…. Read this in full at
OBAMA AT IFTAR DINNER: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS FOREMOST FREEDOM
While hosting his fourth Iftar dinner August 10 at the White House, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the freedom of religion and the right to worship as the foremost freedom in America.
“It’s enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution – the law of the land, always and forever. It beats in our heart – in the soul of the people who know that our liberty and our equality is endowed by our Creator,” Obama said.
His speech comes just after the Mitt Romney presidential campaign released an ad saying that Obama is threatening religious freedom in the country…. Read this in full at
CHRISTIANITY TODAY INVESTIGATES INFLUENTIAL EVANGELICAL FIGURE DAVID JANG
The National Association of Evangelicals is studying the theology of a potential buyer of Glorieta Conference Center to guide staff leaders and trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources in deciding whether to sell the 2,100-acre property near Santa Fe, N.M., to Olivet University, according to ABP News. The study is a “primary condition” regarding the sale of the property to the San Francisco university, whose founder, Korean pastor David Jang, has become an increasingly influential figure in Asian and now American evangelicalism.
Jang and his followers have also founded media outlets — including The Christian Post — and are key influencers in the World Evangelical Alliance, but according to an investigative report by Christianity Today, many say Jang leads a group that has encouraged the belief that he is the “Second Coming Christ.”
Christianity Today reported on both sides of conflicting allegations that Jang’s teachings are influenced by Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and that many of his followers secretly believe he is a messianic figure completing Jesus’ earthly mission.
Olivet’s president, Bill Wagner, doesn’t believe the allegations against Jang, but LifeWay officials said in response to the Christianity Today report: “We have been aware of concerns about Olivet University and its movement for some time. Those concerns are precisely why we engaged the National Association of Evangelicals to conduct a thorough review of their theological views to determine compatibility with ours.”
The review is expected to be completed this fall, and will then be reviewed by LifeWay’s leadership and trustees.
RESOLVING DISPUTES USING BINDING ARBITRATION
by Clare De Graaf
If you’ve ever been involved with another person in a business, partnership, lease, a loan, or joint investment, it always starts out with great hope and expectations. Everyone is good willed, excited and optimistic. This is going to be great!
However, here are two truths about these business relationships that every person, especially Christians need to consider:
1. Every joint venture will end. Either it will end in death, dissolution, sale, or disagreement. But, it will end. And most investors have no written plan for dealing with those inevitabilities.
2. Almost every venture will encounter unforeseen, serious difficulties for which no written provision for a resolution has been made. That’s fertile soil for most personal lawsuits.
So, before you enter into any joint venture, or if you’re in one presently but have not yet encountered these difficulties, a wise person will plan now for how they’ll resolve them, if and when they occur. Binding arbitration is my preferred method. It’s essentially a plan for dealing with serious, specific disputes that can’t realistically be foreseen…. Read this in full at
POLL: CHURCHGOERS STRUGGLE IN SHARING THEIR FAITH
When it comes to discipleship, those who regularly attend church struggle with sharing Christ with non-Christians, according to recent study of church going American Protestants.
The study conducted by LifeWay Research found that 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.
These distressing results came from an extensive discipleship research project focused on measuring spiritual maturity in individuals. Overall, LifeWay Research found eight biblical attributes consistently evident in the lives of maturing believers. Of those eight, “Sharing Christ” has the lowest average score among Protestant church attendees…. Read this in full at
THE ONLY COMPLETE REALIST
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.
“A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means – the only complete realist.” C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan, 1952, reprint, HarperCollins, 2001, p. 142 See the book at http://cqod.com/b/r3203
EXCERPT FROM “THE POWER OF HABIT”
Creating small groups, however, isn’t enough. When Rick Warren asked people what they discussed in one another’s living rooms, he discovered they talked about the Bible and prayed together for ten minutes, and then spent the rest of the time discussing kids or gossiping. Warren’s goal, however, wasn’t just to help people make new friends. It was to build a community of the faithful, to encourage people to accept the lessons of Christ, and to make faith a focus of their lives. His small groups had created tight bonds, but without leadership, they weren’t much more than a coffee circle. They weren’t fulfilling his religious expectations.
Warren thought back to Donald McGavran, a controversial author focused on building churches in nations where most people hadn’t accepted Christ. McGavran’s philosophy said that if you teach people to live with Christian habits, they’ll act as Christians without requiring constant guidance and monitoring. Warren couldn’t lead every single small group in person; he couldn’t be there to make sure every conversation focused on Christ instead of the latest TV shows. But if he gave people new habits, he figured, he wouldn’t need to. When people gathered, their instincts would be to discuss the Bible, to pray together, to embody their faith.
So Warren created a series of curriculums, used in church classes and small group discussions, which were explicitly designed to teach parishioners new habits…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/august-web-only/how-rick-warren-harnessed-power-of-social-habits.html?paging=off (Excerpted from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.)
WATCH OUT FOR GREED
“In Tolstoy’s ‘Man and Dame Fortune,’ the hero is told he can have the right to all the land around which he can plow a furrow in a single day. The man started off with great vigor, and was going to encompass only that which he could easily care for. But as the day progressed, he desired more and more rights. He plowed and plowed, until at the end of the day he could in no possible way return to his original point of departure, but struggling to do so, he fell, the victim of a heart attack. The only right he secured was the right to 18 square feet of land in which to be buried.”
– Russell T. Loesch
5 LIFE-CHANGING SECRETS OF KINGDOM LIVING
by Seth Barnes
When I was younger and bored by sermons during church, I’d meditate on the paradoxes of the faith. While the preacher was droning on, I would write an essay about a particular paradox.
On the outside, it looked like I was just taking good sermon notes. But what I was really doing was exploring secrets of the kingdom. I have a group of guys that I disciple on Tuesdays. It’s the sort of thing we love to talk about. In fact, here are five conversations we might one day have about God’s secrets:
1. You were made to be dangerous and have to fight against comfort.
2. You have to leave on a journey to find your true self.
3. You have to be broken to discover how strong you are.
4. The world will hate you, but that’s okay.
5. You can hear God speak in the silence….. Read this in full at
THE NFL PLAYER WHO FOUND A NEW BOSS
by Mark Ellis and Chris Wilkinson
Ever since he could remember, excelling in sports was the most important thing in his life. Driven by the desire to match his father’s athletic prowess, an injury forced him to reexamine what he was living for.
“Sports was the god of my life,” admits Donnie Dee, president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). On one level, Donnie’s father set a very high bar of achievement for his son to match, with a gold medal win in the 1968 Olympics and an NBA career with the Pacers.
But there was another side to his father’s achievement. He was also an alcoholic, which led to a divorce between his parents when Donnie was in eighth grade. “I came from a fairly dysfunctional family,” Donnie says…. Read this in full at
THE PRODIGAL SON RETOLD
Feeling footloose, fancy-free and frisky, this feather-brained fellow finagled his fond father into forking over his fortune. Forthwith, he fled for foreign fields and frittered his farthings feasting fabulously with fair-weathered friends.
Finally, facing famine, and fleeced by his fellows in folly, he found himself a feed flinger in a filthy farmlot. He fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from the fodder fragments.
“Fooey! My father’s flunkies fare far fancier” the frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly, frankly facing fact.
Frustrated from failure and filled with forebodings, he fled for his family. Falling at his father’s feet, he floundered forlornly. “Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited further family favors.”
But the faithful father, forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged his flunkies to set forth the finest fatling and fix a feast.
The fugitive’s fault-finding frater, faithfully farming his father’s fields for free, frowned at this fickle forgiveness of formal falderal. His fury flashed, but fussing was futile.
His foresighted father figured, “Such filial fidelity is fine, but what forbids fervent festivities? The fugitive is found! Unfurl the flags! With fanfare flaring, let fun, frolic and frivolity flow freely, former failures forgotten and folly forsaken. Forgiveness forms a firm foundation for future fortitude.”
WHEN DESPAIR IS OUR ONLY SONG
by Eric C. Redmond
I received a phone call from a lady who had found my cell phone number via the Internet. She relayed that she has been experiencing great financial difficulty and relationship problems for close to a decade. She had hoped and prayed for breakthroughs and victories. She also had sought the Lord for more contentment and given much thanks for her difficulties. However, the pain now had become too much for her — too prolonged of a season. Her question to me was, “Is it true that it is God’s will for me to go through this trial?” I could hear her sobs as we were on the phone.
Her pain is not unique to believers. I have seen utter despair in the lives of people who have lost family members in sudden, tragic deaths; I encounter such hopelessness when fairy-tale marriages devolve into horror-story court proceedings. Almost inevitably, a believer experiencing the silence of God questions his own faith, or the goodness of the God who rules over such earthly evils.
At times of great hopelessness and despair, I like to direct people to Psalm 88. It is a song for a soul “full of troubles” (v.3) – the only psalm that does not contain a note of hope. It teaches the faithful at least three great truths about walking with the Lord through the most difficult times of life…. Read this in full at
6 WAYS TO GET PEOPLE BACK TO CHURCH
Get the word out on Facebook and Twitter. Order invitations and door hangers for members to use when they invite people back to church. These are two of the six ways people can invite family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to attend church on National Back to Church Sunday (http://backtochurch.com/) Sept. 16…. Read this in full at
[NOTE] I don’t agree with this premise of trying to impress people into coming to a building to worship. Just sharing a news item. FDC
SPIRITUAL LESSONS IN LONDON
by Tim Ellsworth
As the world turned its attention on the Olympics, London 2012 provided a number of memorable images that will endure for years.
The blinding speed of Usain Bolt. The triumphant smile of Gabby Douglas. A stadium of 80,000 British fans cheering madly for Mo Farrah and Jessica Ennis.
Oscar Pistorius blazing past on his prosthetic blades. Allyson Felix winning gold in the 200 meters after failing to do so in the previous two Olympics. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings claiming their third beach volleyball gold medal. Manteo Mitchell breaking his leg in the 4×400 relay and still finishing the race. And Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian ever, saying farewell.
These are the scenes that captured the heart of the world over the past two weeks. In the United States, the London Olympics became the second most-watched television event in history, behind only the Beijing Olympics four years ago…. Read this in full at
OSCAR PISTORIUS TEACHES US ENDURANCE
by Chris Lautsbaugh
Oscar Pistorius has captured the hearts of the world in the last few days. Oscar was born on November 22,1986, in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was born with a congenital absence of the fibula in both legs. When he was 11 months old, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles. We now know him as the “Blade Runner” and “the fastest man on no legs.”
As a church, what can we learn from this amazing story?…. Read this in full at
OLYMPIAN WHO WOULDN’T RUN ON SUNDAY SUBJECT OF PASTOR’S NEW FILM
Rev. Eric Eichinger just returned from the London 2012 Olympic games where the British were fondly recalling their last 400 meter champion, Eric Liddell.
“I wanted to see if the timing was right to tell the second half of Eric’s story,” says Eichinger. “We spoke with his family and friends, and all agree this is a story that needs to be told.”
Liddell was highlighted in the Academy Award-winning movie, “Chariots of Fire” in which he honored his Christian faith by refusing to run on Sunday. After winning Olympic gold in 1924, Liddell served as a missionary in China at tremendous personal sacrifice during World War II.
Production on the movie Absolute Surrender (http://absolutesurrendermovie.com/) is to begin next year…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“The LORD your God is merciful and compassionate. He won’t withdraw his presence from you if you return to him.”
– 2 Chronicles 30:9b (CEB)
“To be really truthful, we have to do more than stop lying. Really, most of the work is positively learning how to speak the whole truth in love.”
– Tim Stafford
FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT
by John Ortberg
Medieval theologians used to say we have two ways to speak about God: the via negative (what God is not: not limited in space, not limited in knowledge, not limited in power), and the via analogia (what God is like: like a fortress, like a father, like a rock, like a lover).
The way of analogy is perhaps the most important way we have tos peak of spiritual life. Often these analogies involve growth (“I am the vine, you are the branches”; “the fruit of the Spirit is…”). Others cluster around the notion that the church is like a body or a family.
But perhaps the most intriguing and controversial images cluster around the notion of the life of the soul as spiritual warfare. Why was this picture of spiritual reality invoked by the writers of Scripture, and what does it mean for the way we do ministry? …. Read this in full at
OHIO TOWN READY TO WELCOME JESUS STATUE WITH OPEN ARMS
Sometime in late September, a statue of Jesus will loom about 63 feet above Interstate 75 at Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio (see photo at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lux_Mundi,_the_sculpture_of_Jesus_at_Solid_Rock_Church.jpg).
This statue is replacing the iconic sculpture nicknamed “Touchdown Jesus” — a waist-up, butter-cream-colored replica with arms raised high — that burned to the ground after a lightning strike in June 2010.
The new piece will represent a full-length Jesus with arms outstretched as if beckoning people to him.
It already has a nickname, too, according to sculptor Tom Tsuchiya, although its official title is LuxMundi, which is Latin for “Light of the World.”
“It’s ‘Hug Me Jesus,’ ” Tsuchiya said Thursday. “Some blogger called it that, and I loved it. That’s what it’s all about — a let’s-all-be-friends message. Love one another.” …. Read this in full at
Also see “Panama statue of Virgin Mary to rise taller than Statue of Liberty”
“WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?” GOOD QUESTION (AND CHANCES ARE YOU ARE WRONG)
by Peter Enns
The question “what is the gospel?” is a big topic nowadays. No, they are not trying to make something simple into something complicated to confuse people needlessly. Rather, the common Christian way of answering the question misses a lot of what the New Testament says about the gospel. Which, if true, is a big problem.
Blogger David Williams points out that “gospel” as it is commonly understood, at least among conservative Protestants, is tied to issues that were big during the Reformation. Martin Luther and others were struggling with the question of how we are made right before God, or as we might put it today, “how do you get saved?”
To make a long and complicated story short and simple, Luther argued that we are justified before God by faith alone, not by works. As we might put it today, “good deeds don’t get you to heaven.” Luther got that idea from the New Testament, especially Paul’s letters–or better, how Luther understood Paul’s letters given the kinds of questions he was asking, but I digress…. Read this in full at
WHEN WILL EMERGENTS STOP HATING CHURCH?
by Ben Witherington
One of the things I have grown weary of in the last decade or so, is anti-ecclesial rhetoric. What I mean by this is the pitting of the ‘church’ over against Jesus, or ‘the established church’ over against more ‘organic’ models of Christianity (e.g. house churches, and the like). I suppose we all from time to time look for something or someone to blame our problems on, and the Christian church has become something of a punching bag, even for a goodly number of devout Christians. Sometimes this is because they have joined the ‘I’m spiritual, not religious’ movement, or the ‘I love Jesus, but the church…. not so much’ band wagon. Some of this frankly is caused by a profound misunderstanding of the word church/ ekklesia. Perhaps then, it would be wise to start this post with some basic definitions.
The church is the corporate people of God assembled for worship, fellowship, and service. It is not a building, it is not an institution, it is not an organization. Any church that is even moderately successful certainly needs a regular place to meet, needs some organization, needs some structure, but the ekklesia as defined in the NT is not these things. I would stress the church needs structure, needs buildings, needs organization, but it should not be identified with them. It is precisely when the buildings, structures, and organizations or institutions of the church become overly-sacralized that they become difficult if not impossible to change. That’s what I call Christians developing an ‘edifice’ complex…. Read this in full at
THE TRUE HEART OF THE FATHER
by Matt Chandler
I’ve never seen anybody watch their [learning-to-walk-child] go step, step, step, fall, and then say out loud, “Man, this kid is an idiot. Are you serious? Just three steps? Man, I can get the dog to walk two or three steps. Honey, this must be from your side of the family, because my side of the family is full of walkers. This must be some sort of genetic, shallow gene pool on your side of things.”
No father does that. Every father rejoices in the steps of his child. The father celebrates the steps of his child. I think what we have here is a picture of God celebrating us walking. So we step, step, step, and fall, and heaven applauds. At what? At the obedience of taking those three steps. The Father in heaven is crying, “He’s walking!” “She’s doing it!” And maybe the Accuser’s saying, “No, he only took a couple of steps. That’s nothing.”
But the celebration is in the steps, even if there are still falls…. Read this in full at
MOVEMENT DAY TO TRANSFORM CITIES THROUGH THE GOSPEL
A powerful gospel leadership movement is coming to New York City on Thursday, September 27, 2012. Known as “Movement Day” (http://movementday.com/), this unique program is about “Leaders Changing Cities through Gospel Movements.” It connects ministry and city leaders in order to dynamically impact their city through the gospel. Movement Day seeks to gather city leaders to collaborate on best practices and models that can be replicated and adapted by leaders in major cities around the U.S. The vision is to see our cities, and ultimately our culture and the world, transformed with the gospel.
The Movement Day Congress will feature remarkable global leaders such as Richard Stearns of World Vision; Luis Palau of the Luis Palau Association; Ajith Fernando, formerly with Youth for Christ; and several others. This event promises to inspire and challenge leaders, churches and ministries to cultivate partnerships and share best practices to resolve some of the biggest issues facing cities…. Read this in full at
CATHOLIC VP VS. CATHOLIC VP
Catholic League (http://www.catholicleague.org/) president Bill Donohue comments on the two Catholic vice presidential candidates:
In many respects, the Catholic community today is divided into pro-life and social justice camps. That is unfortunate, and while this division can be overstated, it remains true that most Catholic activists sit in either one camp or the other; cross-over Catholics are a rare breed.
Paul Ryan represents the pro-life wing, and Joe Biden represents the social justice wing. Indeed, both exemplify the differences, and not just on the issue of abortion. For example, Ryan’s idea of freedom of choice commits him to supporting school vouchers; Biden’s notion of choice commits him to abortion rights. Ryan is opposed to reinventing the institution of marriage; Biden wants to expand marriage to include two people of the same sex…. Read this in full at
MY TAKE: CHRISTIANITY AND AYN RAND’S PHILOSOPHY ARE 2 DISTINCT RELIGIONS
by Stephen Prothero
Now that one of the Republican Party’s least ideological men (Mitt Romney) has christened one of the GOP’s most ideological men (Paul Ryan) as his running mate, Ayn Rand is back in the news.
Ryan, who used to give away Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” for Christmas, once described this Russian-born preacher of heroic individualism as “the reason I got into public service.” “There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism,” he told the pro-Rand Atlas Society in 2005, “than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.”
Ryan’s religious conservatism obviously distinguishes him from Rand, an atheist who despised efforts by Ronald Reagan and others to marry church and state. And recently Ryan has tried to distance himself from her…. Read this in full at
MAX LUCADO TELLS CHRISTIANS NOT TO ‘FREAK OUT’ AHEAD OF ELECTION; GOD IS IN CONTROL
Best-selling author Max Lucado is concerned about the direction of America. Violence is rampant, the economy is fragile and morality is in a “downward tailspin,” he said Aug. 12. But he isn’t panicking.
He feels other Christians have no reason to “freak out” either. As America prepares for a presidential election this November, Lucado has faith that God is in control.
“We have reason to be concerned but I would suggest to you in this message that we do not have reason to panic,” he said in a sermon at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. “We, the children of God, can stay peaceful because we know that no matter who inhabits the White House, we know that God still sits on His throne.” …. Read this in full at
“When Christ came into my life, I came about like a well-handled ship.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
VERSE TO PONDER
“Now his grace is revealed through the appearance of our savior, Christ Jesus. He destroyed death and brought life and immortality into clear focus through the good news.”
– 2 Timothy 1:10 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: AFFLICTED SAINT, TO CHRIST DRAW NEAR
Words: John Fawcett, 1782
Music: Lowell Mason, 1830
Afflicted saint, to Christ draw near—
Thy Savior’s gracious promise hear,
His faithful Word declares to thee,
That as thy days thy strength shall be.
Let not thy heart despond and say
“How shall I stand the trying day?”
He has engaged by firm decree,
That as thy days thy strength shall be.
Thy faith is weak, thy foes are strong,
And if the conflict should be long,
The Lord will make the tempter flee,
For as thy days thy strength shall be.
Should persecution rage and flame,
Still trust in thy Redeemer’s Name;
In fiery trials thou shalt see,
That as thy days thy strength shall be.
When called to bear thy weighty cross,
Or sore affliction, pain, or loss,
Or deep distress or poverty,
Still as thy days thy strength shall be.
>from NetHymnal at
“It is by no haphazard chance that in every age men have risen early to pray. The first thing that marks decline in spiritual life is our relationship to the early morning.”
– Oswald Chambers
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).
[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you’d like us to add you to our prayerchain to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness.
I’ll add your name to the list for the time you’ll be away.]
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Frank Coleman, Editor
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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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