Connecting man to man to God
For week of June 9, 2013
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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“I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.”
– Ephesians 3:17-19 (CEB)
“Live near to God, and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities.”
– Robert Murray M’Cheyne
COMBATING THOSE PESKY THOUGHTS OF FAILURE
by Tom Harper
In the movie “Facing the Giants,” high school football coach Grant Taylor fell into depression. After six years, he didn’t post a single winning season. One night, Taylor sat on his living room floor. He wrote a single question at the top of a notepad: “What is the purpose of our team?”
The purpose, he discovered, was not to win. After all, his players couldn’t even remember who had won the state championship three years ago. Life was a much more important game. The duty of the team, Taylor concluded, was to honor God and train his players to become men of strength, character and valor.
Inspired by this renewed focus, Taylor decided that win or lose, his team would honor God and trust him with the results. The team started winning. The players rallied behind their coach’s new vision and noticed changes in him that led to positive changes in themselves.
The prophet Zechariah refocused his Jewish compatriots, too. While they had obeyed Haggai’s earlier exhortation to start rebuilding the temple, procrastination and defeatism again threatened to return as new opposition heated up…. Read this in full at
A WARNING ABOUT “BUTS”
by Clare De Graaf
Have you ever thought about the power of the simple word “but”?
Sometime ago, I met with a young married couple who were obviously having serious problems. One of those indicators was that almost every time either of them said anything, the other began their rebuttal with the word “but.” The buts were flying all over the place. We were getting nowhere and here’s why.
I’ve noticed, almost every time a person uses the word “but” in a conversation where tensions are running high, what the speaker is really communicating to the other person, whether they mean to or not, is this: “The importance of what I’m about to tell you is either my reason or excuse for not taking more seriously what you just told me.”
In ordinary conversation, we use the word “but” generally to introduce another opinion. Only rarely is the other person offended. However, when there is conflict, or when the other person is asking you to do something you really don’t want to do, the word “but” builds walls – not understanding. It almost always negates whatever statement came before it. It’s as close to a “No, I don’t believe you” as we can get…. Read this in full at
YOUR WORK IS YOUR MINISTRY
by Os Hillman
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15, NIV).
Imagine for a moment that Jesus has just completed His three years of training with the disciples. He has been crucified and is now commissioning the 12 to go into the world and disciple the nations. Now imagine Him also making this statement to them:
“Dear brothers, it is now time for you to share what you have learned from me. However, as you share with others, be sure that you keep what I taught you separate from your work life. The principles I have shared with you only apply in situations outside your work life. Do not make them fit into this context. The miracles you saw in Me can only be done in certain situations outside work life. Keep this in mind when thinking about praying for the sick or the lost. These truths will not work in the marketplace.”
Sound preposterous? It may, but this is the mindset of many in our world today—the spiritual does not mix with the everyday world of the workplace. “What happens on Monday has no relationship to what takes place on Sunday,” they say. These are the thoughts expressed so much in our day and time, although they are not expressed in such direct terms…. Read this in full at
YOUR CALLING IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK
by Karen E Yates
“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck. Your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling,” as Vincent Van Gogh once said.
How do we find what we are meant to do? This is the infamous and expansive search — the quest for our unique calling. This is the question that keeps us up at night, that makes forty-somethings leave their lives in search for something better, that keeps twenty-somethings from staying at a job for more than a year at a time, that causes many dates to never turn to wedding bells…. Read this in full at
THE POOR FOLK
by Billy Coffey
I ask Larry if he’s still watching over the poor folk every time I see him, and every time he says yes. He says yes and then offers me one of those nods that are accompanied by pursed lips. You know, the kind of expression that means it’s tough to look but you have to anyway. Someone’s got to watch over them, Larry says, and it might as well be him. Especially since he was poor once.
He’ll tell me he still watches over them from the same place, right across the river from the big building where they like to gather. Not a pretty sight—Larry will tell me that too, and always—but one worth watching nonetheless, if only for the education the sight provides. “There but for the grace of God,” he’ll say, and then he’ll nod and purse his lips again…. Read this in full at
FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: GOD’S GOLFERS
Forget hitting the greens — it’s the fairway to heaven which is on the minds of some of the world’s top golfers. From Augusta’s Amen Corner to an Amen on every corner, these golfers practice what they preach.
Players from across the PGA Tour meet regularly at a Bible group, whose members include high-profile stars such as major champions Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Stewart Cink.
Each week, the group will study one particular verse, with some players such as Kevin Streelman taking that particular scripture and getting it printed onto a golf club.
For Streelman, who won his first big PGA Tour tournament at the Tampa Bay Challenge in March, his reawakening has come following a period of struggle in his personal life…. Read this in full at
ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY INITIATIVE TO BEGIN NATIONAL PUSH; NAMED ‘JOIN ONE MILLION MEN’
“We’re beginning a new sermon series that is scaring me to death,” pastor Jay Dennis said on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, from the pulpit of First Baptist Church at the Mall.
The series was titled “Sex and the Saint.” For six Sundays, Dennis addressed what God says in His Word about sex. His goal: to combat a “stronghold” in the congregation that destroys Christian families and harms teenagers, singles and even children — the stronghold of sexual sin.
Dennis candidly conceded to the congregation that he would be criticized and misunderstood, that he would receive angry letters and emails, and that he fully expected to find himself in a spiritual battle.
He indeed experienced a heavy spiritual attack on his physical health and, though he said he still has his critics, Dennis told Baptist Press, “The response was overwhelmingly positive and opened a door for our members to communicate their concerns about pornography use among Christian men.
“I am convinced that God’s people, for the most part, want clear, biblical teachings on sexual issues.”
That sermon series at the Lakeland, Fla., church, and other sermons Dennis has preached since, have laid the foundation for a nationwide movement: Join One Million Men (join1millionmen.org), to be introduced in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 11-12 annual meeting in Houston. The movement calls Christian men to commit to sexual purity and, specifically, to protect themselves and their families from the devastation caused by pornography.
In interviews with Baptist Press, Dennis recounted his journey and his resolve to expose and eradicate “the pink elephant in the pew.” …. Read this in full at
SINGING IS A FORGOTTEN — BUT ESSENTIAL — SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE
by Steven R. Guthrie
We eat because we are hungry; we sleep because we are tired. But there are many other things we do without a clear sense of why we do them. Each year I teach a course on theological aesthetics, and one of the questions I pose at the beginning of the semester is, “Why do human beings sing?”
Many answers are given: We sing to mark important occasions, to pass time while working, to simply enjoy ourselves. We could also give rationales based in history, sociology, psychology, or biology. But my students answer with a fair degree of unanimity. “We sing,” they say, “to express how we feel.”
In the fourth century, the church father Athanasius (293–376) articulated a different understanding of singing. It includes self-expression, but Athanasius believed singing is centrally a spiritual discipline — an important practice in Christian spiritual formation, and a means of growing in the life of faith…. Read this in full at
SECULARISM IS NOT INEVITABLE; FAITH AND FAMILY THE ‘DOUBLE HELIX OF SOCIETY,’ SAYS RESEARCHER
As science and technology continue to improve, is the decline of religion inevitable? By no means, says researcher and author Mary Eberstadt.
In her new book How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization, Eberstadt, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, tests the traditional understanding of secularization, and finds them wanting. “The going theories have come up short,” she said, addressing the Heritage Foundation May 30.
The growth of unbelief is neither inevitable nor monolithic, she argues. In her view, “faith and family are the combined double helix of society.” If the family gets stronger, the church will follow suit. On the other hand, “the obvious problems and declines in both institutions at the moment,” pose a deep problem…. Read this in full at
CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF BIBLE GATEWAY!
What did your life look like twenty years ago, in 1993? That was the year we all first gawked at the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and watched agents Mulder and Scully investigate aliens in The X-Files. Computing giant Intel was showing off its brand-new Pentium processor. If you were particularly tech-savvy, you might have been chatting with people around the world on Usenet, or maybe even browsing one of the several hundred new-fangled “web pages” that were starting to catch public notice.
But 1993 was also the year that a college student named Nick Hengeveld completed a little school project for a computer science class: Bible Gateway…. Read this in full at
THE INSANITY OF SIN
by Paul Tripp
“I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.” (Psalm 73:22)
The driven, watchful envy of a horizontal pleasure-oriented heart will drive you crazy. It will not only rob you of your satisfaction and joy, it will take your humanity from you. It will make you more of a brute than a friend. It will eat your heart and consume your soul.
You see, if you somehow fall into thinking that life is found in the pleasures and comforts of the physical; created people; things and experiences of this here and now world; then that is what you will live for. You won’t live for God. You won’t live for the good of others. You won’t be motivated by what is loving, good, true and wise. No, you will live for you, and whether you know it or not, everyday will be a hot personal pursuit of your private definition of pleasure. You will have you at the center of your will. You will be your own king, seeking the control over people and circumstances that is necessary to ensure that you will, in fact, get the things that you have set your heart on…. Read this in full at
THE PRODIGAL WITH 128,000 TWITTER FOLLOWERS
by Joel Oliphint
Sammy Rhodes is a campus minister with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at the University of South Carolina, but he’s best known by his Twitter handle, @prodigalsam. Though Rhodes, 32, spends much of his week meeting with students, preaching, and teaching, you won’t find RUF-related info on his Twitter feed. Instead, it’s a steady stream of hilarious, self-deprecating comedy that’s gained him a six-digit follower count, the kind reserved mostly for celebrities and news organizations: 128,000 and growing.
Joel Oliphint spoke with Rhodes by phone about his progression from gospel tweeter to comedy tweeter, his book project, and whether he really does spend most of his time thinking about pizza…. Read this in full at
HOW I KNOW DAVID AND JONATHAN WEREN’T GAY
by J. Lee Grady
A few weeks ago when I addressed the topic of homosexuality, a reader posted a comment on our forum suggesting that the biblical King David and his friend Jonathan were gay lovers. After a few other readers questioned this interpretation, another reader repeated the claim. “The Bible is clear that David and Jonathan were physical, sexual, gay male homosexual lovers,” this person wrote authoritatively — without citing a chapter and verse.
Most evangelical Christians would drop their jaws in bewilderment if confronted with such an odd theory. Even people with minimal knowledge of the Old Testament know that (1) David was married to Jonathan’s sister, Michal — and he had a few other wives, and (2) David’s biggest blunder was his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba — a woman he saw bathing on a rooftop. God was not happy about David’s lust or with his decision to have Bathsheba’s husband killed so he could hide his sin.
It is illogical to read homosexuality into the story of David and Jonathan because neither Jewish nor early Christian tradition ever endorses sex outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage. If you read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you will never see a depiction of a gay relationship, ever. Nor will you see homosexuality affirmed. You cannot get around the fact that the Bible says gay sex is flat-out wrong…. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“To you, LORD, belong greatness and power, honor, splendor, and majesty, because everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you. Yours, LORD, is the kingship, and you are honored as head of all.”
– 1 Chronicles 29:11 (CEB)
“God has set eternity in our heart, and man’s infinite capacity cannot be filled or satisfied with the things of time and sense.”
– F. B. Meyer
RETHINKING CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: AN INTERVIEW WITH THOM RAINER
by Jonathan Merritt
People are less frequently choosing to join churches as formal members, according to new research explored by Dr. Thom Rainer in his newest book I Am a Church Member. As president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, Rainer is the perfect person to investigate the reasons why church membership is on the decline and present a new model for churches and their people. He admits that his book presents an “idealized depiction of church membership,” but he points out the dangers of approaching the church and the Christian life with a “me first” attitude instead of an “others first” attitude.
Rainer is the author of 22 books, and holds a PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he worked for 12 years as the founding Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. Here we talk about the attitudes and concerns of today’s evangelicals toward church and church membership, particularly in light of recent church abuse scandals…. Read this in full at
CANCER DIAGNOSIS GIVES SECOND LIFE TO CARMAN’S MUSIC CAREER
When Christian music veteran Carman found out on Valentine’s Day that he had terminal cancer, he thought God just might be calling him home because he had nothing more to give.
“I’ve had so many harsh things happen to me over the last 12 years, it was almost a situation that made sense,” he said after he was given three to five years to live and no chance of being cured of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood that affects the bone marrow.
“I thought I could see this coming to a close,” Carman said in an interview. “I wasn’t really doing anything. I’ve had hardly any requests for concerts. I wasn’t recording. I wasn’t productive. The things I needed to do best, I wasn’t doing. I figured my time was up.”
Once one of the biggest names in Christian music who could sell 10 million albums and fill stadiums with his concerts, the man born as Carmelo Domenic Licciardello said he had been rejected by every Christian music label in the last 12 or 13 years and couldn’t even find a record company to distribute one of his CD projects for free…. Read this in full at
“The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. How, then, is the dying culture going to consider us? Jesus says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians.”
– Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), The Mark of the Christian, Inter-Varsity Press, 1976, p. 12
ZOMBIES A ‘SECULARIZED’ VIEW OF SALVATION
by Ken Camp
Dramas about zombie apocalypse, TV reality shows about survivalists, and speculation about end-times prophecy all grow from a desire for hope in the face of an uncertain future, said Joe Coker, lecturer in the religion department at Baylor University.
“People want to feel confidence about what is coming and how to prepare for it,” said Coker, who plans to teach a course on “The Zombie Apocalypse and American Christianity” in the spring 2014 semester at the Baptist-affiliated school in Waco, Texas.
“There is hope that we will survive and that good will overcome evil,” Coker said. “There is some savior — some source of hope for humanity — who will overcome terrible forces.”
While Christianity sees Christ as Savior, some segments of popular culture paint a picture of human-centered salvation based either on violence or scientific reason, he observed. And instead of focusing on faith in a Savior who conquers death to provide eternal life, elements of pop culture fixate on creatures that rise from the dead to destroy…. Read this in full at
‘DRAGON LEGENDS’ OPENS AT CREATION MUSEUM;
The Bible-based Creation Museum near Cincinnati has unveiled three new exhibits, including “Dragon Legends” about dragon folklore.
Dragon Legends highlights tales of dragons from around the world, including the Americas, Africa, Australia, China, Europe and the Middle East, according to the museum’s website, displaying the writings of ancient historians and armaments possibly used by dragon slayers. The Creation Museum says the tales are evidence that dinosaurs and humans lived together.
Completing the new displays, which opened Memorial Day weekend, are the high-tech insect display “Dr. Crawley’s Insectorium” and the “Verbum Domini” collection of Bibles and related artifacts from the famed Green Collection amassed by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green…. Read this in full at
CAN A CHRISTIAN WATCH ‘GAME OF THRONES’?
by David Gibson
Is there anything morally redeeming about “Game of Thrones”? Does the hit HBO series even have a moral vision?
The show is certainly entertaining, almost addictively so, and as “Games of Thrones” wraps up its third season on Sunday (June 9), the ratings reflect that popularity: a record of more than 5.5 million viewers have followed the ruthless struggles for power among the teeming clans of Westeros, the medieval-looking world created by fantasy novelist George R.R. Martin.
That success has also guaranteed that the show will be back for a fourth year of mayhem and passion, swords and sorcery, despite this season’s many violent endings. Or, as one tweet put it after the bloody penultimate episode: “Why doesn’t George R.R. Martin use twitter? Because he killed all 140 characters.” …. Read this in full at
WHY ARE THERE DIRTY STORIES IN THE BIBLE?
by Joel J. Miller
Anyone who’s read the Bible to children or come at it with some naivety knows it contains many tricky passages. Cough ~ Judah and Tamar ~ Cough. A reader who’s spent any time in the text has his or her own list of stories that are risqué, possibly even revolting. Why would the holy authors include these stories in the Bible?
Writing one of the very first Christian commentaries on Scripture, Hippolytus of Rome answered the question this way: …. Read this in full at
BELIEF IS THE LEAST PART OF FAITH
by T. M. Luhrmann
The role of belief in religion is greatly overstated, as anthropologists have long known. In 1912, Émile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern social science, argued that religion arose as a way for social groups to experience themselves as groups. He thought that when people experienced themselves in social groups they felt bigger than themselves, better, more alive — and that they identified that aliveness as something supernatural. Religious ideas arose to make sense of this experience of being part of something greater. Durkheim thought that belief was more like a flag than a philosophical position: You don’t go to church because you believe in God; rather, you believe in God because you go to church.
In fact, you can argue that religious belief as we now conceptualize it is an entirely modern phenomenon. As the comparative religion scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith pointed out, when the King James Bible was printed in 1611, “to believe” meant something like “to hold dear.” Smith, who died in 2000, once wrote: “The affirmation ‘I believe in God’ used to mean: ‘Given the reality of God as a fact of the universe, I hereby pledge to Him my heart and soul. I committedly opt to live in loyalty to Him. I offer my life to be judged by Him, trusting His mercy.’ Today the statement may be taken by some as meaning: ‘Given the uncertainty as to whether there be a God or not, as a fact of modern life, I announce that my opinion is yes.’” …. Read this in full at
FLORIDA COURTHOUSE TO HAVE FIRST IN THE USA ATHEIST MONUMENT
A courthouse in Florida will soon be the site of what is hailed as the first atheist monument to be found on government property in the United States.
Bradford County Courthouse, which already has a Decalogue display just outside of its building, will have a large granite bench placed by the national organization the American Atheists in late June. Dave Muscato, public relations director for American Atheists, told The Christian Post that the atheist monument was part of a settlement made with Bradford County over having a Ten Commandments display at its courthouse…. Read this in full at
THINK ABOUT IT
“An atheist can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman.”
– Adrian Rogers
IN AFRICA, EVANGELICALS JOIN WAR AGAINST AIDS
In Africa, evangelical churches and other faith groups have joined the battle against AIDS and hunger, often with surprising success. In some ways, African evangelicals have been quicker to take on this battle than their American counterparts…. Read this in full at
BIBLE’S STRONG COMEBACK SURPRISES SECULAR NORWAY
It may sound like an unlikely No. 1 best-seller for any country, but in Norway — one of the most secular nations in an increasingly godless Europe — the runaway popularity of the Bible has caught the country by surprise. The Scriptures, in a new Norwegian language version, even outpaced “Fifty Shades of Grey” to become Norway’s best-selling book.
The sudden burst of interest in God’s word has also spread to the stage, with a six-hour play called “Bibelen,” Norwegian for “the Bible,” drawing 16,000 people in a three-month run that recently ended at one of Oslo’s most prominent theaters.
Officials of the Lutheran Church of Norway have stopped short of calling it a spiritual awakening, but they see the newfound interest in the Bible as proof that it still resonates in a country where only 1% of the 5 million residents regularly attends church…. Read this in full at
“We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as surely as we are made for time, and as responsible moral beings we must deal with both.”
– A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Knowledge of the Holy, Harper & Row, 196, p. 41
VERSE TO PONDER
“A sensitive answer turns back wrath, but an offensive word stirs up anger.”
– Proverbs 15:1 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: HOLY SPIRIT, HEAR US
Words: Josef Mohr, 1816; translated from German to English by Claudia F. Hernaman, 1893
Music: Friedrich Filitz, 1847
Holy Spirit, hear us
On this sacred day;
Come to us with blessing,
Come with us to stay.
Come as once Thou camest
To the faithful few
Jesus’ promise true.
Up to Heav’n ascending,
Our dear Lord has gone;
Yet His little children
Leaves He not alone.
To His blessèd promise
Now in faith we cling.
Comforter, most holy,
Spread o’er us Thy wing.
Lighten Thou our darkness,
Be Thyself our Light;
Strengthen Thou our weakness,
Spirit of all might.
Spirit of Adoption,
Make us overflow
With Thy sevenfold blessing
And in grace to grow.
Into Christ baptizèd
Grant that we may be
Day and night, dear Spirit,
Perfected by Thee!
>from NetHymnal at
“I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk about, when I lie down, and when I rise up. And the answers are always coming.”
– George Muller
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 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.]
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Satire: St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies about the Trinity
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The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.
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.
Contact Min. Frank Coleman, 773-410-1483, firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program.
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