CONNECTIONS News – 01/06/2013

Connecting man to man to God
For week of January 6, 2013
Issue 441

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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So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
– 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
Following Jesus simply means learning from Him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit.”
– John Ortberg

     URBANA MISSIONS CONFERENCE: 16,000 STUDENTS URGED TO LISTEN TO GOD’S CALLING
An estimated 16,000 Christian youth attended opening night of Urbana 2012, a triennial student missions conference, at Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis Dec. 27. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship organizers, who are hosting the event, hope that students will come to a decision about serving God locally or globally.

“Surrender your plans and allow God to surprise you. God’s invitation may be unexpected,” Tom Lin, who is the Urbana conference director and InterVarsity’s vice president, said from the stage. “You and I are called to share God’s Kingdom news not just for our campuses, not just for our cities, but also for the ends of the earth – the unfamiliar places, the unfamiliar cultures, and for unfamiliar friends…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/urbana-missions-conference-16000-students-urged-to-listen-to-gods-calling-87332/

     URBANA 2012: DAVID PLATT WARNS THAT CHRISTIANS HAVE ‘REDUCED JESUS TO PUNY SAVIOR’
Author and pastor David Platt gave an impassioned plea to thousands of mostly college-age students to commit their lives to Jesus Christ regardless of the cost to their lives while preaching during Urbana 2012, a triennial student missions conference. Platt warned that many Christians have reduced the eternal significance of Jesus.

“Jesus is the alpha and the omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is the first and the last. He is the final amen … Christ our Creator, our deliverer, our everlasting father, He is God,” said Platt from the stage inside the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis before an estimated 16,000. “Jesus is the very word of God made flesh … Jesus is all of these things and [yet] we have reduced Him to a poor, puny savior who is just begging for us to accept Him into our hearts.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.christianpost.com/news/urbana-2012-david-platt-warns-that-christians-have-reduced-jesus-to-puny-savior-87386/

     MORE THAN 4000 STUDENTS PLEDGE LIVES TO MISSION SERVICE AT URBANA 12 CONFERENCE
by Bill Bray
Some 4,224 students from US and Canadian colleges pledged themselves to long-term missionary service at the close of Urbana 12 on New Year’s Eve, twice as many as the last Student Missionary Conference in 2009. All the other measured outcomes of the conference broke records making this the most responsive student conference for foreign missions since the end of World War II.

This generation is soft-hearted and tender toward the Lord,” said Tom Lin, Urbana Director for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, “They are ready to make commitments and respond to global challenges.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010003.htm

     RESOLUTION #1: I WILL _________ DAILY
by Brett Clemmer, Vice President, Man in the Mirror
A typical Christian man’s New Year’s Resolution list might look like this:

This year I will…
* Read the whole Bible.
* Find an accountability partner.
* Love my wife better.
* Stick to a budget.

These are all good things to do. You should read the Bible and love your wife. Achieving these things by themselves might make you a nicer guy. You might stand a little straighter at church and be an encouragement to younger men who look up to you.

But we look at each other and make judgments based on what we see. God looks a little deeper:

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (The Lord, to Samuel, 1 Samuel 16:7)

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.” (Jesus, Luke 6:45)

God doesn’t want our behavior to change so that we may be more acceptable to Him. He wants your heart, and mine too. As we often say at Man in the Mirror, Christianity is not about behavior modification; it’s about heart transformation.

So how do we change at the heart level? It starts with Repentance: acknowledge your sin; mourn the grief it causes God; ask Him for forgiveness; celebrate the fact that your sin is paid for by Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf; apologize to anyone you have sinned against.

Will you sin again? Yes. Will it be the same sins? Sometimes, yes. Does this mean I haven’t repented correctly? No. It means you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Authentic repentance is about your relationship with God, not becoming a better man.

2013 New Year’s Resolution #1: I will repent daily.
http://www.maninthemirror.org

     GOD’S NEW YEAR RESOLUTION
by Rick Marschall
One of the great Sunday pages of the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz shows Linus walking outside while it is snowing. He looks up, he catches snowflakes on his hand… and goes wild when he sees that two are identical. He rushes to show them off, but before his sister Lucy, or Charlie Brown, or anyone else, can see them, the snowflakes have melted. Good grief.

What would have made that discovery special, of course, is that we are told that no two snowflakes are exactly alike; of the uncountable snowflakes that fall, or have fallen, their crystalline, geometric appearances are all unique.

This seems miraculous, when we think of it. It IS miraculous. There is no logical, structural, organizational reason it that it must be so, but it is. God could have made snowflakes standard-issue; or of two basic designs; or any finite number. But He chose Infinity for that category in nature – a unique way, to my way of thinking, to reveal Himself. A unique way, but not rare: there are many things in nature that are astonishing in their variety…. Read this in full at
http://www.mondayministry.com/blog/2012/12/30/looking-for-gods-new-year-resolution/

     MAKING GOD LOOK GOOD
by Clare De Graaf
If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, instead consider a New Life’s Resolution. Make it the purpose of your life to make God look good.

Years ago I signed up for a seminar on writing a personal mission statement. You know, those short paragraphs where you to try to summarize everything you want and God wants your life to be about. I found it tough trying to cram into three or four run-on sentences a lifetime of dreams for myself.

Then a friend introduced me to a phrase he’d heard Pastor John Piper use which captured perfectly the essence of God’s highest aspirations for me and mine for him. In an instant I knew it would become my new mission statement. (And I hope yours as well.) The purpose of my life is to make God look good…. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2012/12/31/making-god-look-good/

     DOES “WITNESSING” REALLY WORK?
by Bryan Roberts
I believe people aren’t fascinated by a list of their sins, they’re fascinated by a God who is willing to throw that list away. They already know they’re broken — they can feel that — they need someone to tell them they don’t have to be broken forever. They want to hear about acceptance and healing and fresh starts.

But more importantly, they want us to do more than talk about these things; they want to see us prove them. They want to see people who choose to act like the Christ they claim to follow…. Read this in full at
http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/164462-bryan-roberts-does-witnessing-really-work.html

     WHY ‘MERE CHRISTIANITY’ SHOULD HAVE BOMBED
by John G. Stackhouse Jr.
Sixty years ago, London publisher Geoffrey Bles first released a revision of three sets of radio talks by an Oxford literature don. The book was called Mere Christianity, and there was nothing “mere” about it. A somewhat disjointed set of C. S. Lewis’s views on a wide range of theological, philosophical, and ethical matters, the book became the most important and effective defense of the Christian faith in its century.
As Mere Christianity (henceforth “MC”) goes into its seventh decade of publishing success, rivaled still by no other apologetic, it’s worth taking a look at its unlikely success.

The first reason why MC should not have worked is rather basic: It doesn’t deliver what its title promises. It does not do even what John Stott’s classic Basic Christianity does — namely, outline at least the basics of evangelicalism’s understanding of the gospel. Given the title’s own promise and Lewis’s express intent of offering “mere Christianity,” we get something substantially less than that, as I think Puritan pastor Richard Baxter, from whom the phrase comes, would affirm…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/december/why-mere-christianity-should-have-bombed.html?paging=off

     STAR OF BETHLEHEM: THE ASTRONOMICAL EXPLANATIONS
It might seem churlish to dissect such an enduring image of Christmas as the star of Bethlehem, but a quiet astronomical debate has been bubbling away for decades. Could some real cosmic event have drawn “three wise men” on a journey to find a newborn king?

This debate requires one very big assumption – that the story of the star and the journey is true.

Prof David Hughes, an astronomer from the University of Sheffield, first published a review of the theories on the famous star in the 1970s…. Read this in full at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20730828

     10-SECOND RULE BOASTS LIFE-TRANSFORMING RESULTS BY FOLLOWING THE SIMPLE MESSAGE OF JESUS
Life-altering transformations can be accomplished in 10 seconds, writes accomplished mentor Clare DeGraaf in the new hardcover book, 10-Second Rule (Howard Books, 9781476702773, February 5, 2013). All that’s required for major change is following one simple rule: do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do, and do it within the next 10 seconds.

According to a news release, readers will discover in this powerful book, a memorable, simple way to be attentive to the voice of God and courageously obedient to what they sense to be the next step Jesus wants them to take. Learning to hear to God’s voice and respond within 10 seconds will renew and energize Christians to express their faith in dynamic, life changing ways.

The 10 Second Rule relates stories of ordinary men and women who are living by The Rule and how it has shaped and transformed their lives. It also shares practical tips for discerning God’s will, recognizing his voice, and studying Scripture to understand what Jesus would do if he encountered the challenges of living in the 21st century.

Living by The Rule is a call to rediscover the revolutionary power of the simple message of Jesus — as he taught it — before religious Christianity tamed it…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12120116.htm

     THE 2013 CHRISTIANITY TODAY BOOK AWARDS
From an initial crop of 455 titles submitted by 68 publishers, Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) magazine selected for its 2013 Book Awards 10 winners and 9 notables that offer insights into the people, events, and ideas that shape evangelical life, thought, and mission.
* Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism by Alvin Plantinga (Oxford University Press)
* A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by G. K. Beale (Baker Academic)
* Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat (Free Press)
* Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman (InterVarsity Press)
* Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Timothy Keller (Zondervan)
* Evangellyfish: A Novel by Douglas Wilson (Canon Press)
* Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African by Lamin Sanneh (Eerdmans)
* Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation by Daniel Philpott (Oxford University Press)
* Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner (HarperOne)
* The Theology of Jonathan Edwards by Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott (Oxford University Press)…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/2013-book-awards.html

     BILLY GRAHAM’S RECORD GROWS AS ‘MOST ADMIRED MAN’ IN AMERICA
While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton once again top this year’s Gallup poll of whom Americans admire most, Billy Graham continues his record streak of appearances on the nation’s “Most Admired Man” list.

After Obama and Nelson Mandela (who ranked second), Graham tied for 3rd place alongside Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, and Pope Benedict XVI on Gallup’s 2012 list.

Gallup noted that the 94-year-old Graham “has been on the top 10 Most Admired list 56 times since 1955, more than any other man—although he has never been in first place.” Graham reached 2nd place four times, the last being in 1999. Ronald Reagan is next with 31 appearances on the top 10 list…. Read this in full at
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2012/12/billy-grahams-record-grows-as-most-admired-man-in-america.html

     FOR NON-PROFITS, ‘FISCAL CLIFF’ BILL WAS MIXED BAG
Churches, religious organizations and other nonprofits — and their donors — avoided the worst of the proposed restrictions on charitable deductions in the “fiscal cliff” legislation signed Jan. 2 by President Obama, but they did not escape fully unscathed.

The new law does not include a flat percentage cap on charitable giving, but it does reinstitute a limitation on itemized deductions for higher-income Americans. Congress approved, and the president quickly signed, the bill to avoid the expiration of tax cuts for most Americans, as well as automatic reductions of $55 billion each to defense and non-defense spending.

The measure includes what is known as the Pease limitation, which affects individuals with incomes of at least $250,000 and married couples filing taxes jointly with incomes of $300,000 or more. The limit reduces charitable and other itemized deductions by three percent of the amount by which adjusted gross income surpasses those thresholds…. Read this in full at
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39465

     VERSE TO PONDER
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.
– Titus 2:11-12 (CEB)

     CONSIDER
There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
– Blaise Pascal

     WHY YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS WON’T WORK
by Sungyak “John” Kim
It occurred to me recently that when people share their New Year’s resolutions, they tend to talk about things that point indirectly to their character: “I want to eat healthier … I want to pay off my debt … I want to read through the entire Bible … ” Our resolutions reflect our hopes of becoming a better “me.” Though they may seem to be mere matters of behavioral modification, the fact that we always fail to keep them seems to point to a deeper problem.

If you think about it, an admission of a character flaw is almost always built into a New Year’s resolution, then quickly explained away—”I know I should do this, but I have failed to do it this year. I want to set a new goal, try harder next year and succeed.”

Alas, there’s the elephant in the room. Didn’t you say the same thing last year, and the year before? Perhaps this is a good indicator that we have a bigger problem on our hands than just not keeping our vows. The bigger problem is that we’re not very good at doing what we know is for our own good. This should reveal that, lurking subtly behind bad eating habits, persistent debt and slacking spirituality, are character flaws that are not essentially behavioral but existential. Our failures have less to do with what we do and more with who we are…. Read this in full at
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/why-your-new-years-resolutions-wont-work

     HOW TO FACE THE FUTURE WITHOUT FEAR
by Wayne Stiles
What if you could send scouts into your future, have them look around, and bring back a report of what awaits you? Would you be too fearful to face the future?

At Kadesh Barnea, Moses dispatched 12 spies to bring back a report of the land. When they returned, the men described the region just as God had promised they would find it: “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17; Numbers 13:27). The phrase meant that the land contained an abundance of wild vegetation (for herds) and flowers (for bees) — an appealing description to a nation of Hebrew shepherds.

But the land also revealed an intimidating problem. The spies saw “men of great size” there (Numbers 13:32) …. Read this in full at
http://www.faithvillage.com/article/f530e578c8c34a9db314d3cee087135c/how_to_face_the_future_without_fear?return=/

     AT ‘EVERY MAN’S BATTLE’ WORKSHOPS, MEN FIND PATH TO VICTORY OVER SEXUAL ADDICTION
by Mark Ellis
The secret shame of sexual addiction may be carefully hidden for years, but about 70 men gathered at this workshop are ready to bring their failings into the light and find healing in Christ.

We are a no-shame zone,” says Jason Martinkus, national speaker for Every Man’s Battle. “We are committed to not judging you, condemning you, or shaming you,” he tells the men gathered before him.

Living up to its title, the men in this room seem to be from every age, socio-economic and racial group. They all have something in common: highly destructive personal behavior that threatens their relationships at home and at work.

Reflecting the Apostle Paul’s plaintive cry in Romans chapter seven, they are here because they can’t stop doing the thing they don’t want to do. They need help and they know their only hope lies in Christ…. Read this in full at
http://blog.godreports.com/2012/12/at-every-mans-battle-workshops-men-find-path-to-victory-over-sexual-addiction/

     BUILDING CONGREGATIONS AROUND ART GALLERIES AND CAFES AS SPIRITUALITY WANES
According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who are not affiliated with any religion is on the rise, including a third of Americans under 30. Even so, nearly 80 percent of unaffiliated Americans say they believe in God, and close to half say they pray at least once a month.

The “spiritual but not religious” category is an important audience that evangelical leaders hope to reach in a culture that many believers call “post-Christian.”

So they arrange meetings in movie theaters, schools, warehouses and downtown entertainment districts. They house exercise studios and coffee shops to draw more traffic. Many have even cast aside the words “church” and “church service” in favor of terms like “spiritual communities” and “gatherings,” with services that do not stick to any script…. Read this in full at
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/us/new-churches-focus-on-building-a-community-life.html

     THE CLERIC BEHIND ‘LES MIS’
by Doris Donnelly
Fans of “Les Misérables” on film or stage may be surprised to know that not everyone in France was of good cheer when Victor Hugo published the book in 1862. The anticlerical set was especially offended by the pivotal role of the Bishop of Digne, who helped determine the course of the novel by resuscitating the soul of Jean Valjean.

As Hugo worked on the novel, his son Charles, then in his 20s, objected to the reverential treatment of the bishop. He argued to his father that the portrayal gave undeserved respect to a corrupt clergy, bestowing credibility on a Roman Catholic Church opposed to the democratic ideals that he and his father held. Charles instead proposed that the catalyst for Jean Valjean’s transformation be a lawyer or doctor or anyone else from a secular profession.

The pushback didn’t work. Not only did Hugo hold his ground, but he amplified the importance of Charles-François Bienvenue Myriel, affectionately known in the novel as Monseigneur Bienvenue (Bishop Welcome). The book’s first hundred pages or so are a detailed chronicle of Myriel’s exemplary life, showing that his intervention on behalf of Jean Valjean was part of a long track record and not a singular aberration. Apparently Hugo recognized no contradiction between his anticlericalism and the possibility — or certainty — that grace could be mediated by a just priest who was transparent to the divine and never betrayed the human…. Read this in full at
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324669104578204281398771420.html

     LES MISÉRABLES DIDN’T MAKE ME TOTALLY MISERABLE!
by Mike D’Virgilio
You see, I’m not a big fan of musicals. Yes, I guess you could say, I’ll admit it, I’m a musical hater. But it could be I’m getting soft in my old age. When I heard that a film was being made of the Broadway hit Les Misérables I yawned. But my daughter sure didn’t; she was ecstatic. And the wife thinks musicals are great too. Being a fan of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel I figured I’d join them to see what this musical adaptation was like and what all the hubbub was about; reading the mostly positive reviews actually made seeing it thinkable, which for me is saying a lot. You can read as many reviews as can stand (Rotten Tomatoes gives is a 71% on 162 — normal folks rated it at 86%, which I can imagine is quite high), so no need for one here, but I can give a regular musical hater guy’s impressions. And yes, lots of spoilers.

Briefly, the story is a powerful tale of oppression and redemption, with a backdrop of Catholic Christianity, without which such a story dare I say could not be made. The tale starts with Hugh Jackman, playing ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, being released from prison after 19 years for simply stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister. Understandable anger and bitterness consume him until he receives mercy and grace from a Catholic priest after being caught stealing some of the monastery’s silver. Especially stirring is his struggle (portrayed by Jackman in anguished fashion in front of a crucifix) against his current passion to hate, with the forgiveness he has been shown. He knows he must embrace that latter if his life is to mean anything…. Read this in full at
http://stkarnick.com/?p=23770

     GOLD, GOALS AND GOD’S WORD
by Tom Treseder
Without any debate, argument or discussion, I can categorically say,” the greatest sport of all time and in this present day is – Rowing.”

It was incredibly thrilling as a skinny, thirteen year old to sit in the stern of a racing eight and be propelled across glassy water at around 20 KPH. Then as I grew taller, heavier and stronger, I felt the excitement of ripping the blade through the water in unison with 7 others who were equally determined to gain a gold medal at the end of each 2000 meter race.

Coupled with the success came popularity, recognition by older people and a sense of achievement. Yet, in my less exciting moments there was an inner emptiness, a lostness, a vacuum and somehow I longed for that to be filled.

My legs had become fit and strong through the many hours of training yet, I’m sitting in church unable to stand. The minister had invited those willing to receive Christ as their Saviour to stand, walk to the front of the church and kneel at the communion rail. But I resisted, such a decision might cost me too much, my legs would not work. Then God gave me the strength to stand and walk and respond to His claim upon my life…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010006.htm

     ANNOUNCING THE NATIONAL PRAYER SERVICE FOR 40TH COMMEMORATION OF ROE V. WADE
The month of January marks 40 years since the Roe vs. Wade decision, and the national prayer service to mark the occasion has been announced. The National Memorial for the Pre-Born and Their Mothers and Fathers (http://nationalprayerservice.com) promises to be the largest interdenominational prayer service being held in conjunction with this commemoration.

A larger venue was chosen this year to accommodate what is anticipated will be the biggest turnout ever for the service.

“This prayer service always re-energize and re-focuses our pro-life movement,” said Father Frank Pavone, president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, which is organizing the event along with Priests for Life, the National Pro-Life Center on Capitol Hill, and Faith and Action. Fr. Pavone will deliver the sermon at the service.

The National Memorial will take place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Friday, January 25, at Constitution Hall, 1776 D St., NW (18th and D St.). This is the same day as this year’s March for Life, which will begin a few hours after the service…. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/8637271174.html

     GOOGLING THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
Tania Treiger pulls on her tight blue gloves and picks up her tweezers, preparing for the extraordinary job she has been hired to do. She is one of only five conservators in the entire world allowed to handle one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century. Treiger’s job is to help conserve and record the more than 2,000-year-old pieces of parchment that make up Dead Sea Scrolls.

Many of the fragments are smaller than a bottle cap, and Treiger is taking painstaking measures to preserve the tiny pieces of history by laying each one under a camera to be photographed. The work she and many others are doing now is making it possible for anyone around the world with access to the Internet to see and study the scrolls…. Read this in full at
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/31/googling-the-dead-sea-scrolls/

     2,750-YEAR-OLD TEMPLE DISCOVERED IN ISRAEL
A 2,750-year-old temple along with a “cache of sacred artifacts” has been discovered near Jerusalem, according to Fox News.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery will provide rare insight into religious practices at the time.

The temple was unveiled at an archaeological site known as Tel Motza located west of Jerusalem.

Artifacts include pottery figurines, fragments of chalices, and decorated pedestals. The items “indicate the site was the stomping ground of a ritual cult,” Fox News reports.

The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple. The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time,” excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz said in a statement…. Read this in full at
http://myfox8.com/2012/12/28/2750-year-old-temple-discovered-in-israel/

     FATHERS VANISH IN USA AS SINGLE MOTHERHOOD CONTINUES TO RISE
In every US state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million US children, or one in three, currently live without a father — compared to 1960, when just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers. And in an America awash in crime, poverty, drugs and other problems, Vincent DiCaro of the National Fatherhood Institute ultimately points to absent fathers: “[People] look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ But what we do is ask, ‘Why does that child need help in the first place?’ And the answer is often because [the child lacks] a responsible and involved father.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/25/fathers-disappear-from-households-across-america/

     THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF WATER AND THE WORD
by Jerry Wiles
The story of The Woman at the Well, recorded in John, chapter 4, is central to the vision and mission of Living Water International. Some of our organizational goals are that all of our staff, affiliates and partners learn and be able to tell this story, and that everyone who benefits from the clean water solutions has the opportunity to receive and experience the Living Water of Jesus, which alone satisfies the deepest thirst.

In most places in the world, it’s the women and children who are carrying water every day from a water source to their home or village. Many will spend several hours daily carrying 30 to 40 pounds of water on their heads, which is a major cause of health problems.

The story of The Woman at the Well is amazing in the way it can be used to connect with people, find common ground and result in life-changing conversations. This story was recently told at a new water well, and a woman who was passing by overheard part of the story. It captured her attention; she turned around and went back to hear more. As a result, she responded to the message of the gospel and received Christ. She was transformed by the “Living Water” that Jesus talked about. …. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010012.htm

     CHRISTIANITY ‘CLOSE TO EXTINCTION’ IN THE MIDDLE EAST
According to a new study by the think tank Civitas, Christianity faces being wiped out in the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of Christians — with militant Islam the primary reason for the oppression. The report, entitled “Christianophobia,” warns that Christians suffer greater hostility around the world than any other religious group, and asserts that politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It also claims that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism.” Study author Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, wrote: “Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood. The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9762745/Christianity-close-to-extinction-in-Middle-East.html

     OPEN DOORS TO RELEASE 2013 WORST PERSECUTORS LIST JAN. 8 AT DC PRESS CONFERENCE
Open Doors will release its 2013 World Watch List of 50 countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 during a press conference in Washington, DC.

“The annual World Watch List has raised awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians for many years,” says Open Doors USA interim President/CEO Steve Ridgway. “It is important to get this information out to the public so it can look beyond the headlines and be a voice for those who are often voiceless in places such as North Korea, Syria and Somalia. Even on Christmas Eve in northern Nigeria, suspected Islamic extremists killed a reported 12 Christian worshippers and even more after Christmas.”

For the past 10 years, the hermit communist country of North Korea has topped the list. Last year Afghanistan was No. 2, followed by Saudi Arabia. Rounding out the top 10 were Somalia, Iran, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan…. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/7195071176.html

     TOP INDIGENOUS MISSION TRENDS OF 2012
by Bill Bray
When writing a “Year in Review” piece on a topic like the top ten trends in the indigenous missions movement, there are two temptations. The first is to just count headlines and try to summarize 2012 through what dominated the news coverage. The other is to forget the headline count and give your own take as a journalist who has been on the scene all year.

Counting headlines distorts everything because you end up with a picture based on catastrophes, disasters or a handful of sensational situations that always grab center stage; on the other hand, just giving my own insights would be too biased.

So, I’ve tried to find a middle way this year by polling top continental directors at Christian Aid Mission in Virginia and a handful of the 50 other American agencies that assist indigenous movements. Most are members of COSIM, the Consultation on the Support of Indigenous Missions…. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12120123.htm

     VATICAN CAN’T TAKE CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS
Vatican museums and shops have been unable to accept credit or debit card payments since Jan. 1, after the Bank of Italy prevented Deutsche Bank from providing the service due to concerns about financial oversight in the city-state, sources familiar with the matter told CNNMoney.

The world’s smallest state is home to the Pope and such popular tourist sites as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, attracting some 5 million visitors per year.

The Vatican has taken several steps in recent years to improve its record on banking supervision. But a report last year by Moneyval – an independent group of European experts – found it was still falling short of international standards to tackle money laundering and other financial crimes…. Read this in full at
http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/04/news/vatican-payments/index.html

     CONSIDER
When buttoning up his sweater, Mr. Rogers commented that his mother had taught him to start with the bottom button, saying, ‘If you start out right at the bottom, you come out right on top.’ That can be taken figuratively too.”
– Fred Rogers

     VERSE TO PONDER
Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart.
– Psalm 90:12 (CEB)

     THIS WEEK’S HYMN: STANDING AT THE PORTAL
Words: Frances R. Havergal, 1874
Music: Franz J. Haydn, 1775

Standing at the portal
Of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us,
Hushing every fear;
Spoken thru the silence
By our Savior’s voice,
Tender, strong and faithful,
Making us rejoice.

Refrain
Onward, then, and fear not,
Children of the day;
For His Word shall never,
Never pass away.

I, the Lord, am with thee,
Be thou not afraid;
I will help and strengthen
Be thou not dismayed.
Yea, I will uphold thee
With My own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen
In My sight to stand.”
Refrain

For the year before us,
O what rich supplies!
For the poor and needy
Living streams shall rise;
For the sad and sinful
Shall His grace abound;
For the faint and feeble
Perfect strength be found.
Refrain

He will never fail us,
He will not forsake;
For His eternal covenant
He will never break.
Resting on the promise,
What have we to fear?
God is all sufficient
For the coming year.
Refrain

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/s/t/standpor.htm

     FRIDAY NIGHT ARCHIVE REPLAY
Listen to Friday night’s Path Of Life fellowship gathering online broadcast on Blogtalk radio here:
ON SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND MATURITY
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepath/2013/01/05/on-spiritual-growth-and-maturity

     ON PRAYER
Let us cultivate the spirit of prayer which is even better than the habit of prayer. There may be seeming prayer where there is little devotion. We should begin to pray before we kneel down, and we should not cease when we rise up.”
– Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), The Treasury of David, v. I, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1883, p. 49

     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.

The Complete Gift Solution
http://www.FranksWorldOfGifts.com

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. 

Once-a-Day Bible Promises
http://www.biblegateway.com/newsletters/

Top 10 News Stories of 2012
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/top-10-news-stories-of-2012.html

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.) 

Are you sick of making the same resolutions year after year that you never keep? Why not promise to do something you can ACTUALLY accomplish? Here’s one: Gain weight. At least 30 pounds.
Frank Coleman, Editor
frank@frankcoleman.com

Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box! 

CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box! 

The CONNECTIONS Team offers a variety of activities for men to interact with other men on our journey of faith in Christ together. Large group, small group, and one-to-one events encourage relationship building and spiritual strengthening that result in maximizing the potential we all have in Christ. 
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, frank@frankcoleman.com if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program. 
Path Of Life Ministries is located in Chicago, IL.
Visit our website at: http://www.pathoflifeministries.org/  

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