CONNECTIONS News – 02/09/2014

Connecting man to man to God
For week of February 9, 2014
Issue 497

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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Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.
– Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (CEB)

A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time.”
– Samuel Johnson

Hundreds of thousands of people comprised an international audience to watch a debate between creationist Ken Ham and evolutionist Bill Nye, demonstrating a vibrant interest in origins in an era when many consider the topic settled science.

“The battle is really about authority. It’s more than just science or evolution or creation. It’s about who is the authority in this world, man or God?” Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, said Feb. 4 during a debate he hosted in Petersburg, Ky., with Nye, known on television as “The Science Guy.” The event was streamed live online.

“If you start with naturalism, then who decides right and wrong? Well, it’s subjective,” Ham said. Marriage becomes “whatever what you want it to be.” Euthanasia and abortion also become acceptable because “we’re all animals.”

“But if you start from God’s Word, there are moral absolutes. God decides right and wrong. Marriage: one man and one woman. Sanctity of life: we care for old people; they’re made in the image of God. Life begins at fertilization, so abortion is killing a human being,” Ham said, explaining how a person’s view of the origins of life impacts all of life…. Read this in full at

Religiousness across the US in 2013 remained similar to previous years. With 61% of its residents classified as very religious, Mississippi held on to its position as the most religious state, while Vermont, with 22% very religious residents, remained the least religious. The most religious states were in the South, except for Utah, while the least religious states were clustered in New England and the West…. Read this in full at

In 29 states, Protestants account for at least half of the population. That’s true for Catholics in only one state: Rhode Island.

That’s according to new Gallup data, based on surveys of more than 178,000 Americans last year, which show the share of each state that is Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, very religious or nonreligious.

The Washington Post has taken a look at the role geography plays in determining religiousness and at religious identification at the state and county level. It created six maps based on Gallup’s 2013 surveys. Here they are, with some key takeaways: …. Read this in full at

Facebook’s numbers are epic. More Americans check Facebook daily than read the Bible and it has more monthly users worldwide than most continents have people.

Facebook, which celebrated its 10th anniversary Feb. 4, says worldwide it has 757 million daily active users. Of those 19% are in the US and Canada, so that’s more than 143 million people checking Facebook daily.

The Bible used to be the go-to for statistics about reading, pre-digital age. A 2006 CBS News poll found 15% of US adults read the Bible or other religious texts daily. There are about 267 million adults in the US and Canada. That means about 40 million people reading the Bible daily…. Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
When the book, The Classic Treatment and Situation Ethics, hit the shelves decades ago, Christians went crazy. And rightly so! Its thesis was that some moral absolutes could be set aside in certain situations if love was best served. Others expanded on this idea to say the “rightness or wrongness” of a decision depends on the outcome. This new pragmatism became the new litmus test of ethics.

Before you shake your head in disgust at this philosophy, I think all of us Christians are guilty of some form of situational ethics. In fact, it’s a natural extension of consensual hypocrisy on which I’ve blogged the past few weeks. Here’s how it works, subtly in real life – in my life.

Years ago, I was driving with my son-in-law and two of our grandchildren. We were late for an event, so I was speeding. My 10 year old grandson said, “Papa you’re going really fast. Won’t you get a ticket?” While I was a bit embarrassed at being “caught”, I carefully explained why I was speeding – it was so we wouldn’t be late…. Read this in full at

by Mel Lawrenz
If you are among the billions (literally, billions) of people around the world who will watch at least some of the Olympics over the next two weeks, here are some biblical perspectives worth contemplating—and maybe sharing with other people.

1. Athletic competitions are an opportunity for us to contemplate the meaning of perseverance in life. The Apostle Paul (who would have known the reputation of the ancient Olympic games) said: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (2 Tim. 4:6-8). And “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” …. Read this in full at

by William Bagsby
Marc Ira Hooks, one of International Mission Board (IMB)’s main strategists for the Sochi Olympics and creator of Engage Sochi, sat down with me to share the story and vision for Engage Sochi and what to expect with this year’s Olympics.

Q: What is your official job title?
A: I am the Olympics event coordinator and co-director for Engage Sochi. My colleague, Earl Gillespie,* is the Sochi City Strategist and the other Co-Director of the project.

Q: What city in the US is Sochi most like?
A: It would have to be some place in California. Sochi’s considered the longest city in Europe. It’s about 90 miles long and it wraps along the coast of the Black Sea. But in places, it’s only a mile wide. And the other thing, you can literally stand on the beach with the Black Sea to your back and see snow-covered mountains right there…. Read this in full at

NFL fans know it’s nearly impossible to get through a football game without reference to God. Whether Tebowing on the sidelines, giving a shoutout on ESPN, or pointing to heaven after a touchdown, plenty of players recognize that God’s a part of the game.

Christians need to stop acting like that’s a bad thing, according to apologist and theologian William Lane Craig. He’s the one they should be praying to and thanking, says Craig, a professor at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology and author of Reasonable Faith.

CT’s Kate Shellnutt spoke with Craig about prayer, providence, and pigskin…. Read this in full at

by Mark Ellis
At the 62nd annual US prayer breakfast Feb. 6, President Barack Obama confirmed his faith in Christ and took a strong stand for religious freedom around the world, encouraging prayers for imprisoned pastors in Iran and North Korea.

The First Lady and Vice-President Biden attended the traditional gathering held at the Washington Hilton, along with foreign dignitaries such as President Martelly from Haiti and President Nishani from Albania. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) co-chaired this year’s breakfast.

Bethany Hamilton, the evangelical surfer who tragically lost an arm in a shark attack, read the story of the Good Samaritan from the Book of Luke and the well-known Scripture from Ephesians about how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…. Read this in full at

by Michael Duduit

The groundhog saw his shadow, and now we all suffer from six more weeks of winter. It’s a shame the critter didn’t live in my town — it was so overcast that day there were no shadows to be seen.

What about you? Are you casting a shadow—a shadow of influence that touches those around you? As we preach the Word clearly and boldly, as we minister faithfully in Christ’s name, we cast a shadow of gospel witness that impacts those in our immediate vicinity, and often some we never may know until eternity. Likewise, when we fail to be faithful to our calling, our shadows can lead some away from the gospel.

Think about the shadow you’ll cast this week.

The Bible is the Word of God: supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in valor, infinite in scope, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, inspired in totality. Read it through, write it down, pray it in, work it out, and then pass it on. Truly it is the Word of God. It brings into man the personality of God; it changes the man until he becomes the epistle of God. It transforms his mind, changes his character, takes him on from grace to grace, and gives him an inheritance in the Spirit. God comes in, dwells in, walks in, talks through, and sups with him.”
– Smith Wigglesworth

by Andy Rau
What does it mean to be “Bible-minded”? That term has seen a lot of use recently in discussions of American Bible Society’s survey of America’s most “Bible-minded” cities. (Bible Gateway responded to the survey by running its own analyses of the top Bible-reading cities in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia.)

But what does that term mean? In your opinion, is a “Bible-minded” person someone who…
* …thinks about the Bible a lot?
* …believes that the Bible is God’s Word?
* …believes that the Bible is scientifically and/or historically accurate?
* …obeys Biblical laws and instructions?
* …is a Christian?
* …belongs to a specific Christian denomination, a particular political party, or other group?
* …reads the Bible obsessively?
* …tries to base their actions and lifestyle on certain principles found in the Bible?
* …some, all, or none of the above?

You can probably supply many more possible definitions of the term, but the point is: it’s not immediately obvious what it means to be “Bible-minded.” Because it had to stick to one definition of the term for its survey, American Bible Society chose to define “Bible-minded” as referring to someone who reads the Bible regularly and believes in the Bible’s accuracy.

When Bible Gateway ran its companion studies, it looked at the frequency of visits to online Bibles. Some stories reporting on the survey gave the term a different slant, equating “Bible-mindedness” with “godliness.” These different definitions might be interesting or even useful, but none paint a completely satisfying picture of “Bible-mindedness.” …. Read this in full at

God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.
– 1 Corinthians 2:9(CEB)

Pray for a strong and lively sense of sin; the greater the sense of sin, the less sin.”
– Samuel Rutherford

Focused ministries to athletes and artists were launched in a special ceremony that was held during InterVarsity’s National Staff Conference in St. Louis, January 7-11, 2014. Both ministries have been growing steadily from small beginnings and have spread to campuses across the country in the three years since InterVarsity’s last staff conference.

Athletes InterVarsity is directed by Maghan Perez, who came on staff with InterVarsity after her career as a Division I Ice Hockey and Lacrosse athlete at the University of New Hampshire. Athletes InterVarsity desires to see the whole athletic community reached: teams, coaches, athletes, trainers, and support staff…. Read this in full at

by Carolyn Thompson
You’ve heard of flash mobs? Behold the Mass mob.

Playing off the idea of using social media to summon crowds for parties or mischief, mobs of Buffalo-area Roman Catholics have been filling pews and lifting spirits at some of the city’s original, now often sparsely attended, churches.

It works this way: On a given Sunday, participants attend Mass en masse at a church they’ve picked in an online vote and promoted through Facebook and Twitter. Visitors experience the architecture, heritage and spirit of the aging houses of worship and the churches once again see the numbers they were built for, along with a helpful bump in donations when the collection baskets are passed…. Read this in full at

by Rick Marschall
I recently have re-read “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan (or re-re-re-read, actually forgetting the number of times I have read it). It is the most remarkable of books, once held to be the most printed book in the English language after the Bible. Despite our culture’s sudden and virtually total disassociation from it, that record might still hold.

Bunyan’s book is an allegory: the journey through life of the everyman hero, Mr Christian. It once was required reading in schools, beside the Bible — yes, in bygone times — but also for its masterful allusions, exquisite language, and impressive construction. The hero’s name, and those of myriad characters (Valiant-for-Truth; Worldly-Wiseman), were not crudely conceived of an impoverished imagination but to be clear about metaphors and symbols. Bunyan was teaching a lesson.

He wrote “The Pilgrim’s Progress” while he himself presumably was being taught a lesson. The Englishman Bunyan, who lived 1628 – 1688, had been a poor tradesman of relatively loose morals, but was converted to Christianity when he heard the voice of God. Like Martin Luther more than a century previous in Germany, he became conscious of his sinful nature, and grew to faith in fear of God. He was moved spontaneously to preach, and attracted a following. But at that time, in England, it was forbidden to preach unless ordained by the Crown’s church…. Read this in full at

In the not-so distant past, institutions were trusted and valued as important parts of a functioning society—from government, corporations and schools to marriage and even organized religion. Yet trust in institutions is quickly giving way to a nation of cynics. New Barna research reports that Americans are ranking their confidence in institutions at abysmal levels. And this institutional skepticism comprises a significant backdrop for the major faith and culture trends of 2014.

This cultural attitude of institutional distrust has not arisen out of nowhere, of course. Public mistrust—generated by a spectrum of events from Watergate to the financial crisis—has been mounting for decades. During 2013 alone, citizens lamented the failure of their leaders and institutions. From the government shutdown to Pope Francis’ public callout of the Vatican bank to the whistleblowing of the NSA to the problematic rollout of Obamacare, Americans were reminded again and again that institutions apparently have a habit of breaking promises. The Associated Press even went so far as to call 2013 “The Year of Dysfunction, Discord, and Distrust.”

Still, while tens of millions of adults are questioning the value of institutions, there is also a growing countertrend revealed in new Barna data: increasing resolve among many Americans to advocate for these institutions. This erosion of public trust — as well as the countertrend of supporters of those institutions — underscores three of the major trends that Barna Group has included in the newly released Barna FRAMES project…. Read this in full at

by Helen Carter
The Church of England has announced a project to trial holding conversations about death in an informal setting.

The Archbishops’ Council’s Rev Dr Sandra Millar said the idea was about “being there for those who have questions about death”, which was one of the “most fundamental things that the Church does”.

Grave Talk will be trialled in parishes in Staffordshire until the end of February and welcome people of “all faiths and those with none” to a cafe-style setting.

Outside the church though, non-religious Death Cafes have been held across England for three years…. Read this in full at

by Michael Jensen
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…” Is this the most famous denial in modern history? President Bill Clinton’s failure to confess to his sexual liaison with White House intern Monica Lewinsky is, even now, squirm-worthy to watch if you conjure it up from the depths of YouTube.

Clinton had – and still has – a capacity to elicit sympathy from an observer, so that you can’t help feeling despite yourself that this warm and friendly Southerner was only doing what any of us would have done in the same situation. And seeing him wriggle like a worm on the end of a hook makes you wonder just for a moment perhaps: What if it were me? After all, we have all done things of which we are ashamed, even if it didn’t involve pawing young interns in the Oval Office. If I were asked about my secrets in front of a thousand hungry journalists with snapping cameras and sharpened pencils, I would probably (if I am honest) deny all too. Wouldn’t you? …. Read this in full at

All created things are living in the Hand of God. The senses see only the action of the creatures; but faith sees in everything the action of God.”
– Jean-Pierre de Caussade

I will sing of your strength! In the morning I will shout out loud about your faithful love because you have been my stronghold, my shelter when I was distraught.
– Psalm 59:16 (CEB)

Words: The Psalter, 1912
Music: William B. Bradbury, 1863

With grateful heart my thanks I bring,
Before the great Thy praise I sing;
I worship in Thy holy place
And praise Thee for Thy truth and grace;
For truth and grace together shine
In Thy most holy Word divine,
In Thy most holy Word divine.

I cried to Thee and Thou didst save,
Thy Word of grace new courage gave;
The kings of earth shall thank Thee, Lord,
For they have heard Thy wondrous Word;
Yea, they shall come with songs of praise,
For great and glorious are Thy ways,
For great and glorious are Thy ways.

O Lord, enthroned in glory bright,
Thou reignest in the heavenly height;
The proud in vain Thy favor seek,
But Thou hast mercy for the meek;
Through trouble though my pathway be,
Thou wilt retrieve and strengthen me,
Thou wilt retrieve and strengthen me.

Thou wilt stretch forth Thy mighty arm
To save me when my foes alarm;
The work Thou hast for me begun
Shall by Thy grace be fully done;
Forever mercy dwells with Thee;
O Lord, my Maker, think on me,
O Lord, my Maker, think on me.

>from NetHymnal at

Prayer is striking the winning blow at the concealed enemy.”
– Samuel Gordon


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!

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

Better Jobs
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Business Growth
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.]

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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.) 

The trouble with opportunity is that it’s always more recognizable going than coming.  
Frank Coleman, Editor

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, if you’d like to participate in a men’s discipleship program. 
Path Of Life Ministries is located in Chicago, IL.
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