CONNECTIONS News – 01/12/2014

Connecting man to man to God
For week of January 12, 2014
Issue 493

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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Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
– Matthew 6:19-21 (CEB)

CONSIDER
God’s work was never intended to be stationary, but always advancing.”
– HudsonTaylor

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INCREASES IN COUNTRIES LABELLED AS ‘FAILED’
For the 12th consecutive year the hermit communist country of North Korea remains the world’s most restrictive nation in which to practice Christianity, according to the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List (WWL) (http://www.worldwatchlist.us/). However, a major trend which the WWL tracked in 2013 was a marked increase in persecution for Christian communities in states that are commonly regarded as “failed.” A failed country is defined “as a weak state where social and political structures have collapsed to the point where government has little or no control.”

The top 10 countries where Christians faced the most pressure and violence in the 2013 reporting period of the 2014 WWL are: North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen…. Read this in full at
http://www.opendoorsusa.org/press/2014/January/Persecution-of-Christians-Increases

WHAT ROLE ARE YOU AUDITIONING FOR?
by Clare De Graaf
I was having coffee a few weeks ago with a mid-30’s, very successful businessman who considers himself a Christian. (I don’t know him well enough to know if that’s true, but he thinks he is.) But, I could see he was trying hard to impress me. So, toward the end of our time I asked him this question, “What role are you auditioning for?”

He was unsure what I meant so I went on to explain that we’re all auditioning for the part we hope to play in life. When I was a teenager I wanted to be rich. So, I watched how rich people dress, how they ate, how they carried themselves with confidence. I began acting like them and auditioning for the role I wanted.

Even though I came to faith more than 35 years ago, the truth is I’m still doing that. I’m still trying to impress people with how spiritual, clever, funny or self-confident I am. I still want to fit in and be admired by my friends and, paradoxically, I also want to be known as a fully devoted follower of Jesus. And every honest Christian I know lives this double-minded life. We’re all auditioning to impress someone or some group besides God…. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2014/01/06/what-role-are-you-auditioning-for/

BIBLE SUMMARY: SEE THE BIG PICTURE OF THE BIBLE
by Chris Juby
The first time I read the Bible cover-to-cover I was amazed by what I found. I was also amazed by what I thought I would find but didn’t.

The experience had such a big impact on me that I made reading cover-to-cover my regular habit. At one chapter per day it takes three years and three months to read the whole Bible. That’s a pretty major undertaking, but it’s absolutely worth it!

When I started for the fourth time in August 2010, I took on an extra challenge to help keep me focused. I decided to write summaries of each chapter and post them to Twitter…. Read this in full at
http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2014/01/bible-summary-see-the-big-picture-of-the-bible/

7 TIPS TO READ THE BIBLE THROUGH IN ONE YEAR
by Ron Edmondson
Are you up for a challenge? How about reading the Bible through this year?

I’ve heard so many people who would love to read the Bible through in a year, but never completed the task. It’s nearly impossible for the pastor to preach through all of it, so you are going to miss something unless you study on your own, but most believers haven’t read all the Bible. Some of the best nuggets of truth I discovered on my own, reading through the Bible in a year.

Here are 7 tips for reading the Bible through in a year:
1. Pray.
Ask God to give you the motivation and strength to accomplish this goal. You can’t read the Bible like any other book. You need God’s Spirit to help you…. Read this in full at
http://www.faithvillage.com/article/faffc72a291f47c89cff49d95ddd5019/7_tips_to_read_the_bible_through_in_one_year

I’M BAD AT READING THE BIBLE
by Bryan Dupuis
At a Bible study, we were talking about a particular passage, when somehow the conversation drifted to reading the Bible. While the initial shock of her words kept things quiet for a moment, the more this person went on to explain previous attempts at reading the Bible, constant “failures,” and a whole list of reasons they were not “good” at it, the room was soon buzzing with feedback from others who also sucked at reading the Bible.

Every summer at church camp, usually at the Thursday night service, I walked forward and “re-dedicated” my life to Jesus. I was sent home with sound advice: “Be sure to read your Bible every day, pray, and keep going to church. With little more than that we jump in to the journey only to discover the Bible is quite long, and old, and confusing, and our attention spans are short, we are tired, and way too busy. What starts as a walk of grace becomes “The Green Mile of faith” — full of struggle, shame, and regret.

I’d like to offer a few alternatives to our regular approach to the Bible, and some suggestions on how to begin again…. Read this in full at
http://www.faithvillage.com/article/8eca4e5f4fd44111a08cca06df7dd90e/i_suck_at_reading_the_bible

WHAT BIBLE TRANSLATION SHOULD I USE?
by Jr. Forasteros
A couple of years ago, I taught a “How to Read Your Bible” class at my church. The first week, I intended to cover the various Bible translations briefly. But, when I brought up the differences between KJV and NIV and The Message, the class spent nearly an hour asking questions and sharing their frustration at not being able to connect to the impenetrable language of some of the more popular Bible translations.

When I gave the class permission not to use the King James Version, a spontaneous revival nearly broke out.

That night was a big reminder for me that most of us find the Bible to be as intimidating as it is important. We want to read it, to engage, to be formed by it, but the Bible is a collection of stories, poems, law code, history, letters and more written 2,000+ years ago by foreign cultures in other languages.

Unfortunately, the English translations we use can be an additional barrier, particularly for Evangelicals. The generation above me was probably raised on the King James Version (or, in an especially liberal denomination, the New King James). Translated into the King’s English in 1611, anyone who’s ever read the KJV knows the language is as beautiful as it is confusing and archaic (nonetheless, I still have the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, and a few other passages memorized in King James English)…. Read this in full at
http://www.faithvillage.com/article/ae1365f45a504b0b81ee3213a1928f06/what_bible_translation_should_i_use

MY FAV BIBLE APP, SO FAR
by Stephen M. Miller
I was bummed when the Bible study software I had used for over a decade got bought out by a company that — as far as I was concerned — took the software in the direction of stinky cheese.

I was used to that software, and it was important to my writing. I used it mainly for just two things:
* Compare Bible translations side by side
* Look up Bible verses by searching a key word or phrase

Goodbye stinky cheese software, crippled by my Windows 8 update and doomed by the software company’s refusal to offer any support for the software I updated just two years ago.

I’m getting my Bible study help for free now. One word: BibleGateway.com. Winner of the 2013 Christian New Media Award. This is not a paid ad. It’s the heads up of an appreciative writer of easy-reading Bible reference books…. Read this in full at
http://stephenmillerbooks.com/2013/12/my-fav-bible-app-so-far/

NASB AND TWO SPANISH BIBLES ADDED TO BIBLE GATEWAY’S VERSE OF THE DAY
Bible Gateway’s daily Verse of the Day email is now available in 3 new Bible translations: …. Read this in full at
http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2014/01/nasb-and-two-spanish-bibles-added-to-our-verse-of-the-day/

VERSE TO PONDER
Imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.
– Ephesians 5:1-2 (CEB)

CONSIDER
Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship, Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 38

WANT A HAPPY FAMILY? TELL YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
by Bruce Feiler
I hit the breaking point as a parent a few years ago. It was the week of my extended family’s annual gathering in August. My parents were aging; my wife and I were straining under the chaos of young children; my sister was bracing to prepare her preteens for bullying, sex and cyberstalking.

Sure enough, one night all the tensions boiled over. At dinner, I noticed my nephew texting under the table. I knew I shouldn’t say anything, but I asked him to stop.

Ka-boom! My sister snapped at me to not discipline her child. My dad pointed out that my girls were the ones balancing spoons on their noses. My mom said none of the grandchildren had manners. Within minutes, everyone had fled to separate corners…. Read this in full at
http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2014/01/tell-your-family-history-guest-post-by-bruce-feiler/

PRAYER IN A POSTMODERN WORLD
by Alex Joyner
In the recently released Hollywood movie Gravity, some of the most poignant moments are of people floating in space talking into the void in the hope they will be heard. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock portray astronauts who are set adrift when the space shuttle on which they are working is disabled by flying debris. Having lost communication with ground control but unsure if they might still be heard, they begin to narrate their every move. With each transmission they report to “Houston in the blind.”

Later, Bullock’s character intercepts a radio signal from Earth, and though she can’t understand all that is being said, she pleads with the staticky voice to pray for her. “I’d pray for myself, but I’ve never prayed,” she says. “Nobody ever taught me how.” The viewer can hear her feeling of despair and disconnection from God in those words.

Although the movie has its fair share of action and suspense, it might also be seen as a meditation on prayer in the postmodern world. While more and more people in the United States report they have no religious affiliation, many still turn instinctively to prayer at times of crisis. (According to a 2008 Pew Forum report, only about 30% of the unaffiliated said they believed there was no God.) How does the practice of prayer speak to the deep longings of our age, and how can faith communities support and encourage prayer? …. Read this in full at
http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/4477/prayer-in-a-postmodern-world

DARE TO DREAM!
by Mike Slaughter
How many times have you heard yourself saying, “Someday I’m going to….”? Fill in the blank.

Sound familiar? I believe that “someday” is the enemy to the gift of today. “Someday” is daydreaming. Before Jesus Christ transformed my life, I did a whole lot of daydreaming. I used to sit in school, stare out the window, and daydream hour after hour. I had the grades to prove it. But daydreaming and God-dreaming are not the same thing. Daydreaming is putting off today what you dream of for tomorrow. God-dreaming means putting feet to faith…. Read this in full at
http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/4449/dare-to-dream

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE START OF A NEW YEAR
by Don Whitney
Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year? …. Read this in full at
http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/spiritual-growth/ten-questions-to-ask-at-the-start-of-a-new-year-11643580.html

7 SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO START THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT
by Greg Atkinson
Most people make new year resolutions like joining a gym, going on a diet, etc. I’d like to share 7 simple things you can do to get your new year started off right.

1. Go on some sort of fast – Priorities and focus are more important at the start of a new year than resolutions that quickly fall by the wayside. You need to participate in some sort of fast from something you love to place your focus on God and make Him your priority. I’ve done short fasts, extended fasts, Daniel Fasts, movie and TV fasts and most recently a technology fast. Since it’s not healthy for me not to eat due to some medicine I take, I recently fasted one month (30 days) from social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+… you name it) and all things technological. I was shocked to see how dependent (in a bad way) that I had become on them. Getting away from technology for a month allowed me to spend more time in Scripture, prayer and with my family. It also gave me a healthy perspective on social media. I found myself wanting to post the silliest things that had no business being on Facebook. When I returned to social media, I had a new purpose and perspective and started using my social media platforms the right way. For some of you, it may be easier to go 30 days without eating than without social media. If that is the case, you have a problem and an intervention is needed. I’m kidding. Sort of…. Read this in full at
http://christianmediamagazine.com/cmm/7_simple_things_you_can_do_to_start_the_new_year_off_right

CHRISTIAN COMPUTING MAGAZINE CELEBRATES ITS 25TH BIRTHDAY
Twenty five years ago, Steve Hewitt served as a pastor in central Missouri when he published the first issue of Christian Computing Magazine (CCMag) January, 1989. At that time, there was no Internet, Windows, Google, and those early years were spent with the goal of convincing churches that a computer could and should be a vital tool for ministry! Many pastors prior to 1989 had even preached that the “computer” would be the anti-Christ! …. Read this in full at
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/3247673448.html

LEARNING TO LOVE LEVITICUS
by Christopher J. H. Wright
Perhaps the fact that it is catalogued under “Humor and Entertainment” should tell us how to rightly appreciate A. J. Jacobs’s best-selling 2007 book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. In the course of a fascinating year, Jacobs tries to obey literally the 700-plus commands he finds in the Bible—including stoning an adulterer, offering an animal sacrifice, and upholding all the jots and tittles of the Old Testament law. Clearly, taking the Bible literally does not always mean taking it seriously.

More recently, Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans undertook her own experiment in “living biblically” by following for a year all the Bible’s passages about women’s behavior. A Year of Biblical Womanhood is Evans’s subversive way of revealing that no one—not even the most conservative Christian—takes the whole Bible literally, and that to do so is both impossible and silly.

Both books, while unfortunately mocking in their own ways, nonetheless underscore some persistent misunderstandings about the Bible: …. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/july-august/learning-to-love-leviticus.html?paging=off

Read Leviticus:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+1

CONSIDER
Nothing else but this seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only the instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes towards us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us.”
– Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911), Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, London: F. E. Longley, 1876, p. 93

VERSE TO PONDER
Wash! Be clean! Remove your ugly deeds from my sight. Put an end to such evil; learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.
– Isaiah 1:16-17 (CEB)

THIS WEEK’S HYMN: AS WITH GLADNESS MEN OF OLD
Words: William C. Dix, 1860
Music: Konrad Kocher, 1838

As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led by Thee!

As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to Thy lowly bed,
There to bend the knee before
Thee whom heaven and earth adore,
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy-seat!

As they offered gifts most rare
At Thy cradle, rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King!

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And when earthly things are past.
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down.
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!

>from Lutheran-Hymnal.com at
http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh127.htm

ON PRAYER
Oftentimes when we come to God in prayer, we do not feel like praying. What shall one do in such a case? cease praying until he does feel like it? Not at all. When we feel least like praying is the time when we most need to pray. We should wait quietly before God and tell Him how cold and prayerless our hearts are, and look up to Him and trust Him and expect Him to send the Holy Spirit to warm our hearts and draw them out in prayer. It will not be long before the glow of the Spirit’s presence will fill our hearts, and we will begin to pray with freedom, directness, earnestness and power. Many of the most blessed seasons of prayer I have ever known have begun with a feeling of utter deadness and prayerlessness; but in my helplessness and coldness I have cast myself upon God, and looked to Him to send His Holy Spirit to teach me to pray, and He has done it.”
– R. A. Torrey (1856-1928), How to Pray, Fleming H. Revell, 1900, p. 59-60

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. 

World’s Most Beautiful Trees Photography
http://onebigphoto.com/worlds-most-beautiful-trees-photography/

Tiny People And Gigantic Food
http://distractify.com/culture/arts/two-artists-imagined-a-world-of-tiny-people-and-gigantic-food-the-results-are-hilarious-and-very-very-impressive/

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.) 

A thief who stole a calendar got 12 months. 
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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