Connecting man to man to God
For week of June 16, 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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“Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork. One day gushes the news to the next, and one night informs another what needs to be known.”
– Psalm 19:1-2 (CEB)
“To become Christ-like is the only thing in the whole world worth caring for; the thing before which every ambition of man is folly and all lower achievement vain.”
– Henry Drummond
FOR FATHER’S ONLY!
by Clare De Graaf
Just this past month, I met with a father of two who made a series of sinful and stupid choices that, unless God intervenes, will cost him his marriage. I asked him if he had ever set some boundaries in his life. The puzzled look on his face told me he was clueless.
I’ve never met a godly man or woman yet who hasn’t made some intentional decisions about moral or relational temptations they were bound to face in the future. In The 10 Second Rule I call them “pre-decisions.” Some of those pre-decisions involved setting boundaries for relationships, work, or play that guard our hearts.
By the way, setting boundaries isn’t legalism. It’s only legalism if I tell you which ones you must adopt. When you prayerfully set your own boundaries, the Bible calls it wisdom…. Read this in full at
MOURNING A DAUGHTER’S SUICIDE
Distress and Melissa,” writes Frank Page, “were rarely very far away from each other.” Some sources of that distress, like cancer, were beyond her control, but sinful habits and destructive life choices also played a pivotal role. Distress and Melissa would remain entwined until Page’s daughter, one of three, committed suicide at age 32. After years of grief, Page, a longtime pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention president, has decided to tell his family’s story in Melissa: A Father’s Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide (B&H). Christianity Today associate editor Matt Reynolds spoke with Page about Melissa’s turbulent life, the aftermath of her suicide, and the challenge of shepherding other fragile families through seasons of darkness…. Read this in full at
by Lisa Miller
As anyone who follows baseball knows, Mariano Rivera has built his career on one pitch. A cut fastball, or “cutter,” it travels at 90 or 92 miles an hour, and then, a few feet before it reaches home plate, it moves half a foot off course, a trick of physics that looks like telekinesis. Rivera’s cutter is virtually unhittable, by consensus and by the numbers, but the wasteland of broken bats that litter the plate when he is on the mound is all the proof anyone needs. A Rivera inning has thus been compared to a horror movie: The excitement is sharpened, not dulled, by the fact that everyone — the players, the ticket holders, and Rivera himself — knows exactly what’s coming. Consistency and predictability may be the dullest of virtues, but in Rivera, the anchor reliever for a nearly two-decade Yankees dynasty who will retire at the end of this season at 43, consistency itself is manifest as a superpower.
Three months into his final season, Rivera’s hagiography is already being written. He has, for seventeen years, been the Yankees’ closer, the specialist who arrives in the ninth inning to protect a tight lead, and at this he is better than anyone else who has ever played the game. With 21 saves so far this season, he is pitching as well as he ever has, at an age when other ballplayers have long since withered, and after a long winter recovering from surgery for a torn ACL, an injury that cut short his 2012 season and has ruined many players much younger than he. His teammates speak of him as a giant, and they express gratitude for the privilege of merely being able to walk in the clubhouse where he has walked; atop the Yankees’ Olympus, populated by Ruth, DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Mantle, there’s already a name tag on Rivera’s throne. Sportswriters see him as a mystery, for while other closers have had brilliant seasons, even stretches of three or four, no one else has ever been as good for as long, not nearly. In trying to explain his unprecedented and ruthless two decades of dominance, they’ll cite Rivera’s natural athleticism and the simplicity of his mechanics and they’ll mention the advantages of having been tutored and coddled during his long career by the rich, paternalistic Yankees organization. Rivera acknowledges these things with gratitude — all true, he says. But in his view, his greatness has no earthly source.
“Everything I have and everything I became is because of the strength of the Lord, and through him I have accomplished everything,” he tells me as we sit shoulder to shoulder in the Yankees dugout on a temperate, breezy spring day last month. “Not because of my strength. Only by his love, his mercy, and his strength.” It is the first of several conversations about God I have with Rivera, over several weeks, and in each meeting I find myself struck by how eager he is to put baseball aside and speak openly, and at length, about his faith. Even as Rivera denies that his talent belongs to him, I steal a look at his magic right arm. “You don’t own your gifts like a pair of jeans,” he says…. Read this in full at
LOVE & OBEDIENCE
“Always, love is a choice. You come up against scores of opportunities every day to love or not to love. You encounter hundreds of small chances to please your friends, delight your Lord, and encourage your family. That’s why love and obedience are intimately linked- you can’t have one without the other.”
– Joni Eareckson Tada
DO YOU WANT TO SIGN THE MANHATTAN DECLARATION?
Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, the Manhattan Declaration affirms:
1. The profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human life
2. Marriage as a union of one man and one woman
3. Religious liberty and the inherent freedom of human beings…. Read this in full at
MEDITATING ON GOD’S WORD
by Ken Puls
I love God’s Word and delight in its truth. Yet too often I find that after reading my Bible or hearing a sermon, the truth, so necessary to the wellbeing of my soul, can too easily slip away. The truth that had for a moment captured my attention and my affections can quietly fade amid the clutter and noise of the day.
One of the best ways to remedy this is to practice the spiritual discipline of meditating on God’s Word. It is a discipline that takes time and intention, but one that brings great benefit to the soul. We need to carve out time to lay hold of the truth of God’s Word…. Read this in full at
BREAKING THE EVANGELICAL MOLD AT A CHURCH WITH ETHNIC ROOTS
What’s really unexpected about Vox Veniae (http://voxveniae.com/) in East Austin, TX, to anyone who knows American Protestantism, is that what began as a church for Chinese-Americans quickly became multiracial. Last Sunday morning, whites were in the majority, and in addition to Asian-Americans, there were Latinos and African-Americans in the pews — or, rather, the metal folding chairs around the small stage where a six-piece band played before the pastor, the Rev. Gideon Tsang, delivered his sermon.
In a country that is growing more racially diverse, and in an evangelical movement that is becoming more politically diverse, Vox Veniae, which is Latin for “voice of forgiveness,” may be, as Jesus said, a sign of the times.
In 2011, Vox Veniae affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church, a large North American denomination founded in the 19th century by Swedish immigrants. This means that Vox Veniae is a multiracial church that began with Chinese roots and has recently acquired Swedish Lutheran roots…. Read this in full at
WHAT DID JESUS LOOK LIKE?
by Justin Taylor
The answer, of course, is that we don’t know.
We do know that Jesus was probably in his early 30s when he began his ministry and would not have had long hair (1 Cor. 11:14).
It’s fair to assume that Jesus had a beard, in light of first-century Jewish culture and tradition — though Scripture doesn’t say this explicitly. (Isaiah 50:6 says the suffering servant, ultimately exemplified in Jesus, has his beard plucked out, but the NT doesn’t cite this).
Isaiah’s messianic prophecy suggests that there was nothing unusually attractive about him (“he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him,” Isa. 53:2) — though it’s taking it too far to say that he was thereby unattractive or homely.
He was a Galilean Jew who spent a lot of time outdoors, so his skin tone would likely be a darker olive color, as is typical of those in Mediterranean countries…. Read this in full at
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Chuck Swindoll relates that during the reign of Oliver Cromwell, the British government began to run low on silver for coins. Lord Cromwell sent his men to the local cathedral to see if they could find any precious metal there. After investigating they reported: “The only silver we can find is in the statues of the saints standing in the corners,” to which the radical soldier and statesman of England replied: “Good! We’ll melt down the saints and put them in circulation!”
That brief but direct order indicates the essence of the practical goal of authentic Christianity—not rows of silver saints crammed into the corners of cathedrals, but melted saints circulating through the mainstream of humanity, where life transpires in the raw.
On campuses where students carve through the varnish of shallow answers.
In the shop where employees test the mettle of everyday Christianity.
At home with a house full of kids, where R&R means run and wrestle.
In the concrete battlegrounds of sales competition, seasonal conventions and sexual temptations, where hard-core assaults are made on internal character.
On the hospital bed, where reality never takes a nap.
In the office, where diligence and honesty are forever on the scaffold.
On the team where patience and self-control are checked out.
The cost factor of being a saint occurs on Monday, Tuesday and throughout the week. That’s when we’re “melted down and put in circulation.”
Sunday religion may seem sufficient, but it isn’t. Pity the person who counts on it to get him or her through.
– Dallas Seminary Daily Devotional, 5-30-06
READING THE BIBLE NARCISSISTICALLY
by Tullian Tchividjian
We often read the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us: our improvement, our life, our triumph, our victory, our faith, our holiness, our godliness. We treat it like a book of timeless principles that will give us our best life now if we simply apply those principles. We treat it, in other words, like it’s a heaven-sent self-help manual.
But by looking at the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us, we totally miss the point – like the two on the road to Emmaus. As Luke 24 shows, it’s possible to read the Bible, study the Bible, and memorize large portions of the Bible, while missing the whole point of the Bible. It’s entirely possible, in other words, to read the stories and miss the Story. In fact, unless we go to the Bible to see Jesus and his work for us, even our devout Bible reading can become fuel for our own narcissistic self-improvement plans, the place we go for the help we need to “conquer today’s challenges and take control of our lives.” …. Read this in full at
5 LESSONS FROM THE STUPIDEST MAN IN THE BIBLE
by J. Lee Grady
Who is the most brainless man in the Bible? We could make a long list of losers: Adam, Cain, Esau, Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, Judas or Simon the Sorcerer. I love the fact that people’s mistakes aren’t whitewashed in the Scriptures. Even the holiest guys blew it (Peter comes to mind), but fortunately many of them found forgiveness and a second chance. That gives me hope every time I make a dumb mistake.
But there’s one guy who’s stupidity puts him in a class by himself — partly because he never even realized how spiritually clueless he was. When I was speaking to a group of leaders last week in Puerto Rico, I used Nabal as an example of how men shouldn’t act.
If we want to be good husbands and fathers, and if we want to disciple other men to do the same, we should take a cue from this Old Testament geezer whose name literally means “fool.” Here are five reasons I put Nabal in the “stupid” category…. Read this in full at
DESPITE CENSUS DECLINE, BRITISH EVANGELICALS ARE SURPRISINGLY OPTIMISTIC
Despite recent reports that Christianity is “declining 50% faster than previously thought” in the United Kingdom, a major survey suggests that British evangelicals are quite optimistic about the future.
Census data released in May reveal that the number of Britons who identify as Christian decreased by 4.3 million people between 2001 and 2011 — falling 11.5%. Yet a new survey from the Evangelical Alliance of the United Kingdom (EAUK) on church life finds that 7 in 10 British evangelicals expect their local churches to grow over the next 20 years, and nearly half say their churches are already “noticeably growing.” …. Read this in full at
VERSE TO PONDER
“Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other.”
– Colossians 3:13 (CEB)
“Father, strip away from me whatever is blocking people’s view of You in my life.”
– Tim Walter
THE EXPECTATIONS AND IDOLATRY OF CHRISTIAN CELEBRITY CULTURE
by Ted Kluck
I admit it felt weird writing a book about Robert Griffin III just weeks into his rookie season with the Washington Redskins. At this point, nobody knows how God will use success, failure, and other circumstances to shape this professional, professing Christian football star. As John Piper once said in a sermon, “Living heroes are important, but they might cease to be heroes before they die.” That’s to say, the jury is still out on Griffin and, to be fair, all of us.
A scant three years ago, when Griffin was still playing college football at Baylor University, we may have thought the same things about then-hero Tim Tebow. Amazingly, we’re already living in a post-Tebow NFL. Back then, everything Tebow touched turned to gold. Heisman winner. National champion. First-round draft choice. Author. Spokesman for everything.
A celebrity-hungry evangelical fan base “made” Tebow by clamoring for anything Tebow-related: books, jerseys, photographs, autographs, documentaries, commercials, articles, game tickets, and conference tickets. We put Tebow on a very significant public pedestal because he stood for what we stood for, everything from a pro-life position to homeschooling to the actual gospel…. Read this in full at
STUDY REVEALS NEW INSIGHTS ON FAMILY BREAKDOWN
A new study by family scholars shows that US churches have paid little attention to the widespread experiences of those who grow up without married parents.
The report, “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?”, encourages faith leaders to be more engaged on the topic, both for the health of churches and the sake of young people. One-quarter of today’s young adults have parents who divorced, while a growing number of children are being raised by a parent or parents who never married.
How young adults approach questions of moral and spiritual meaning will influence broader trends in churches, the researchers suggest…. Read this in full at
by Tom Ehrich
The go-to number in American religion is “ASA” — average Sunday attendance. Or as an irreverent colleague put it, “Fannies in the pews.”
It’s a meaningless metric, but it’s easy. Open the doors on Sunday, wait for the stragglers, then dispatch ushers to count the house.
Entire methodologies for church development have been built around this number, as if fanny count dictated how a church should behave. Problem is, ASA isn’t a useful measure of quantity, and it says nothing about quality.
A much better quantitative measure would get at “touches,” that is, how many lives are being touched by contact with the faith community in its various Sunday, weekday, off-site and online ministries — and then, for a qualitative measure, asking how those lives are being transformed…. Read this in full at
WHO REMEMBERS THE CITY OF 1,001 CHURCHES?
by Philip Jenkins
In northeastern Turkey stand the ruins of what was once one of the world’s largest and most imposing cities. In the Middle Ages, Ani was the “City of 1,001 Churches,” the capital of Armenia’s mighty Bagratuni dynasty which held off both the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Arab Caliphate.
The Bagratid kingdom is long gone, like Ani itself, but Armenians survive. Although Armenia’s Christian past is little known in the West, it is an awe-inspiring tale of endurance in a profoundly hostile political and religious setting. So devastating have been some of these events that outsiders have repeatedly been tempted to write the obituary of Armenia, yet people, nation, and church continue.
Armenia today is a small nation of some 3.3 million people in a territory barely a quarter the size of Pennsylvania. Officially, it is also a new country, independent only since 1991. Such curt facts conceal a deep antiquity…. Read this in full at
WESTERN CIVILIZATION “ALREADY A WRECK FROM WITHIN”
by Rick Marschall
I recently visited an exhibition of biblical artifacts that, weeks later, still has me breathless. Properly, the traveling exhibition called “Passages” is an enormous presentation of ancient texts, original documents – letters from the early Church Fathers; even a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls – illuminated manuscripts, Torah scrolls, first printings of the Bibles of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Gutenberg, Calvin, and more.
One item particularly caught my attention: a letter – not a reproduction, you understand – from Martin Luther to a friend, written the night before his trial before in Worms, Germany. He thought it likely he would be convicted of heresy, surely then to be tortured and executed. So there were elements of a Last Will. But in a slight rehearsal, he wrote in strong words that were spoken the very next day – that before God and his conscience, he could not recant what he had written about the Bible and about corruption in the Church…. Read this in full at
WHY GOD’S OMNISCIENCE IS GOOD NEWS FOR US
by Mark Galli
My wife, Barbara, and I have been married for more than 30 years, and yet some corners of our inner lives remain dark to one another. We know a lot about each other — a lot. But we’re still learning how to reveal secrets. It’s still scary after all these years.
When we take a step back from marriage and think of other relationships, it becomes clear how much we hide from each other. Most of the time, we try to make a good impression: on the boss, the coworker, the neighbor, the stranger we hold the door for at the bank. We share various and sundry intimacies with friends, lovers, parents, children, and priests or pastors—but we do not tell everything to anyone. We hold back.
We hold back in wisdom. It’s probably not a good idea to tell coworkers of the opposite sex about your temptations to lust. It’s not wise for parents to tell their young children how they sometimes wish they hadn’t had children.
But we also hold back in fear. What would he think if I told him how hateful I feel? Would she still speak to me if I admitted my addiction to pornography? Could I still work in the church if they knew how many doubts I have? …. Read this in full at
CHRISTIANS, THEIR MEDIA PORTRAYAL & MYTH
by Jesse Carey
Ira Glass is a great storyteller not because he’s looking for the “big stories,” but because he’s able to find the small ones.
Over the years, millions of listeners have gotten to know the public radio personality through his popular weekly radio show (and podcast) This American Life. The NPR program offers a mix of long-form journalism, radio documentaries, interviews and even occasional short stories. Though each week the show’s different stories, which are broken up into “acts,” are all loosely connected to a theme, This American Life can be a different, unique program week-to-week.
Glass says many groups in America feel the media covers them poorly, but Christians seem to get it “especially bad.” He says while making This American Life, he noticed many television shows and movies would depict Christians “as these hot-head, crazy people.” This depiction didn’t match his own experience with Christians he knew personally…. Read this in full at
MARK BURNETT REVEALS ‘THE BIBLE’ MOVIE WILL FOCUS ON JESUS; RELEASE SLATED FOR FALL 2013
Mark Burnett, creator of popular TV shows such as “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” “Survivor,” “The Voice” and most recently the 10-part miniseries “The Bible,” has revealed that the upcoming movie version of his biblical epic will be over 2 hours long and focus more on the story of Jesus Christ.
“It’s the most important story in the history of the world,” Burnett said at the “Produced By” conference on Sunday in Los Angeles, according to The Wrap. “It’s completely true…I know it’s true….because I feel it in me.”
Burnett, who co-produced the series along with his wife, Roma Downey, who also plays the role of Mary the Mother of Jesus, revealed that the new edited version of the Bible movie will be two hours and 13 minutes long, down from the original three hours. While the miniseries was a grand overview of the entire Holy Book, covering stories from the books of Genesis to Revelation, the new film will focus more closely on the New Testament and the story of Christ, potrayed by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado…. Read this in full at
AMERICA’S WORST CHARITIES
The worst charity in America operates from a metal warehouse behind a gas station in Holiday, Florida. Every year, Kids Wish Network raises millions of dollars in donations in the name of dying children and their families. Every year, it spends less than 3 cents on the dollar helping kids. Most of the rest gets diverted to enrich the charity’s operators and the for-profit companies Kids Wish hires to drum up donations.
In the past decade alone, Kids Wish has channeled nearly $110 million donated for sick children to its corporate solicitors. An additional $4.8 million has gone to pay the charity’s founder and his own consulting firms. No charity in the nation has siphoned more money away from the needy over a longer period of time.
But Kids Wish is not an isolated case, a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting has found. The 50 worst charities in America devote less than 4% of donations raised to direct cash aid. Some charities gave even less. Over a decade, one diabetes charity raised nearly $14 million and gave about $10,000 to patients. Six spent no cash at all on their cause…. Read this in full at
“Joy is the echo of God’s life within us.”
– Joseph Marmion
VERSE TO PONDER
“Before the mountains were born, before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world — from forever in the past to forever in the future, you are God; because in your perspective a thousand years are like yesterday past, like a short period during the night watch.”
– Psalm 90:2,4 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: JOY! BECAUSE THE CIRCLING YEAR
Words: Author unknown; translated from Latin to English by John Ellerton, 1871.
Music: John B. Dykes, 1874
Joy! because the circling year
Brings our day of blessings here;
Day when first the light divine
On the Church began to shine.
Like to quivering tongues of flame
Unto each the Spirit came,
Tongues, that earth might hear their call,
Fire, that love might burn in all.
So the wondrous works of God
Wondrously were spread abroad;
Every tribe’s familiar tone
Made the glorious marvel known.
Hardened scoffers vainly jeered;
Listening strangers heard and feared,
Knew the prophets’ word fulfilled,
Owned the work which God had willed.
Still Thy Spirit’s fullness, Lord,
On Thy waiting Church be poured;
Grant our burdened hearts release;
Grant us Thine abiding peace.
>from NetHymnal at
“Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings.”
– Phillips Brooks
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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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!
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