CONNECTIONS News – 03/16/2014

Connecting man to man to God
For week of March 16, 2014
Issue 502

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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Know now then that the LORD your God is the only true God! He is the faithful God, who keeps the covenant and proves loyal to everyone who loves him and keeps his commands—even to the thousandth generation!
– Deuteronomy 7:9 (CEB)

We aren’t only called to *share* the gospel. We are called to *show* the gospel.”
– James E. Biles, Sr.

by Will Willimon
Lent is that time when we all-too-worldly ones learn and relearn the great scandal that lies at the heart of the Christian faith — Christ came to save sinners, only sinners.

Much of the time we get away with the fiction that we are, after all, down deep, rather nice people who have no need of salvation. We know we may not be the best people in the world, but we are not the worst. We are making spiritual progress, lifting ourselves (by ourselves) out of the muck and mire of what once was called “sin.”

And then comes the church smearing ashes upon our foreheads, forcing us to our knees in confession, teaching us to say, “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy upon us sinners.”

That’s not something many of us want the church to do anymore…. Read this in full at

by Clare De Graaf
I get asked this question a lot: How do you evangelize? Meaning, how do you start conversations with non-Christians that will hopefully lead to spiritual things?” Carefully and thoughtfully is my short answer.

Christians have a bad reputation of dumping the whole truckload on total strangers or new friends in “Christianese,” language that we understand but means something different to others. Therefore, the first thing I need to say is – go slow. Build a relationship with people. Be transparent. Share your failures. Talk about the people you value. Build trust. Show them that you’re a different kind of Christian than they expect.

Once you’ve built a relationship, I’d intentionally think about making some pre-decisions about a series of statements or questions you could use to engage the spiritually indifferent in faith conversations. Here are a few that others and I have used;

1. “Have you ever wondered why in the world you were born? What’s the purpose of life on this planet in general, but more importantly, why do you and I exist?” …. Read this in full at

God leaves us here because He has a mission for us to fulfill. We aren’t here by accident; neither are we here simply to enjoy the good things life has to offer. We are here because God put us here, and He has a sovereign purpose in keeping us here. It’s true for us as individuals, and it’s true for His body, the Church, in all of its fullness. As Jesus prayed just before His arrest and trial, ‘I am not praying that You take them out of the world. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.’ (John 17:15,18)”
– Billy Graham

by Haven Today
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

Reading this proverb is like looking at ourselves in a mirror and seeing how much we do on our own without the slightest concern for God’s will. As Christians we want God’s will to be done in the general areas of our lives. But when was the last time we stopped our whirlwind of activities and thought about His will in specific areas? I must admit this is a struggle for me.

Usually we pursue a course of action and later ask God to bless and confirm it. We naturally assume that if it seems right to us, surely God must agree. Solomon’s words teach us that this may not be the case. Unless our hearts are in tune with Him, our decisions run the risk of colliding with God’s will.

Perhaps the hardest things for us are seeking the mind of God before we act and obeying His leading. It pains us to surrender our wills to His. How ironic that is since Jesus Himself willingly surrendered His will to the Father, all for His great love for you and me. He who gave His heart and soul for us will weigh our hearts today.

A yet-to-be-named Bible museum owned by Hobby Lobby’s Green family moved one step closer to its anticipated 2017 opening in Washington, DC, with the hiring of two top-level management executives.

The Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit organization that will oversee the museum, hired David Trobisch as director of the museum’s collections and Steve Bickley as vice president of marketing, finance, and administration, according to a March 6 news release.

The museum, which will focus on the story, history and impact of the Bible, will be located in a reconstructed 400,000-square-foot space that formerly was the Washington Design Center, just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

Housed in the museum will be a collection of 40,000 ancient biblical texts and artifacts, including one of the world’s largest private collections of Dead Sea Scrolls and the earliest surviving New Testament texts in Jesus’ household language…. Read this in full at

by David Briggs
About half of Americans read the Bible on their own, and four in five people who read it as part of their personal lives open it at least once a month.

And far and away the No. 1 reason they pick up Scripture is for personal prayer and devotion.

A major new study on American Bible reading may disappoint the culture warriors in politics and the media who tend to see religion in terms of its perceived impact on issues from same-sex marriages to federal budget battles.

Instead, the just-released study on “The Bible in American Life” offers insights into how, why and when Americans read the Bible outside of worship.

People have spiritual questions,” said Arthur Farnsley II, a lead researcher and associate director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which conducted the study. “They look for meaning in their life.” …. Read this in full at

by Christopher A. Hall
Over the past 35 years or so, evangelical interest in the classical spiritual disciplines has grown exponentially, thanks to the groundbreaking work of writers like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Henri Nouwen. We increasingly understand, as Nouwen expressed it, that the spiritual life “involves human effort,” a disciplined embrace of such concrete means of grace as prayer, silence, worship, simplicity, and service to others.

Gordon T. Smith, president and professor of systematic theology at Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta, applauds these developments within a tradition that, in its early years, had focused largely on evangelism and conversion. But what, he asks, is the underlying purpose of the spiritual disciplines? Why pray, worship, fast, or lead a simple life? In Called to Be Saints: An Invitation to Christian Maturity (IVP Academic), Smith offers an answer: We do these things to grow as believers, to become ever more holy…. Read this in full at

by Michael Warden
Against the flesh, the traitor within, a warrior uses discipline. We have a two-dimensional version of this now, which we call a ‘quiet time.’ But most [people] have a hard time sustaining any sort of devotional life because it has no vital connection to recovering and protecting their strength; it feels about as important as flossing.

But if you saw your life as a great battle and you knew you needed time with God for your very survival, you would do it.” — John Eldredge

I’ve been doing a quiet time pretty much every day since I was 16. I’ve got stacks as tall as I am of journals and Bible study notebooks I have filled. The Bibles I’ve used over the years each look like a graffiti war zone of ink colors and highlighters and notes in the margins. I’ve got a bookcase full of study tools (now made irrelevant by the Internet), and files full of study methods, prayer methods, journal methods. I’m all about the methods. I’ve even published books on methods for studying specific parts of the Bible.

For the most part, this daily practice has been good for me. As far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. In fact, it never really has…. Read this in full at

by Dan Wooding
Messages from Estillyen” is unlike any novel available on the market today. In it, author William Jefferson addresses God’s messaging of redemption throughout the ages, from a vantage point that drives fresh perspective to the very marrow of human worth.

According to a news release from A. Larry Ross Communications (, “Messages from Estillyen” received a coveted starred review from BlueInk Reviews, which says in part, “The author’s writing is skilled, poetic, and reminiscent of the classical period.

This is a book to savor, not to gulp,” BlueInk contends. “The novel will appeal to readers who appreciate British wit, the skill of a true wordsmith, and the challenge of metaphysical introspection. Christian readers will be especially delighted by the creative way the author brings the Bible to life.” …. Read this in full at

by Alex Chediak
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

As our teens grow up and head out to college, one of our most pressing concerns is about their faith. We’ve heard about the party scene, the atheistic professors, the pressure to fit in and make new friends. Maybe we’ve known a student who has lost the way. It’s only natural to wonder, Will our teens’ faith be strong enough to withstand the tests of college?

God has placed us in the lives of our children to be their primary spiritual influence. The good news is that—believe it or not—our influence is profound and long-lasting. God saves people through their hearing the gospel (see Romans 10:14). The Scriptures are able to make our children “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Raising teens to have an accurate understanding of the biblical message is often what God uses to bring them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. An August 2013 Focus on the Family study found that among those who came from a home where a vibrant faith was taught and practiced, and who had a very strong Christian faith as children, almost nine out of ten (89 percent) remained practicing Christians into adulthood…. Read this in full at

Regard Christ as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it.
– 1 Peter 3:15 (CEB)

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
– Andre Gide

The Fellowship of Companies for Christ International (FCCI) will host its 35th annual Global Business Leaders Conference on September 21-25 at the Ritz-Carlton, 4735 Amelia Island Parkway. With the theme Run to Win, the event will feature a mix of keynote addresses, breakout sessions, praise and worship, prayer, networking opportunities, meals, resource center and free time for business leaders and their spouses to enjoy the beautiful Gulf coast. Over 700 business leaders from around the world are expected to participate…. Read this in full at

by Mark Galli
Peter Randolph, a slave in Prince George County, Virginia, until he was freed in 1847, described the secret prayer meetings he had attended as a slave. “Not being allowed to hold meetings on the plantation,” he wrote, “the slaves assemble in the swamp, out of reach of the patrols. They have an understanding among themselves as to the time and place. … This is often done by the first one arriving breaking boughs from the trees and bending them in the direction of the selected spot.

“After arriving and greeting one another, men and women sat in groups together. Then there was “preaching … by the brethren, then praying and singing all around until they generally feel quite happy.”

The speaker rises “and talks very slowly, until feeling the spirit, he grows excited, and in a short time there fall to the ground 20 or 30 men and women under its influence.

“The slave forgets all his sufferings,” Randolph summed up, “except to remind others of the trials during the past week, exclaiming, ‘Thank God, I shall not live here always!'” …. Read this in full at

by Michael Cieply
Some years ago, when I was producing films at Columbia Pictures, I learned up close how hard it was to make Hollywood get religion. It was in the mid-1990s, and a good writer, earlier nominated for an Oscar, had an earnest modern-day Christ story about a damaged man in Los Angeles who might or might not be the Messiah. “The Greatest Story Ever Told” meets “Falling Down,” more or less.

We tried it out on Columbia executives, but four minutes into the pitch the studio’s production president ran out to take calls. A remaining vice president nodded off in his seat. “At least I’ve got an anecdote,” the writer muttered.

With a few exceptions that have generally skewed toward humor or horror — the God comedy “Bruce Almighty,” the angel romance “Michael” and the exorcism film “The Rite” come to mind — it has been that way for decades. Major studios suddenly get distracted when anyone suggests tackling serious religious subjects…. Read this in full at

* Number of hate groups jumped dramatically since President Obama took office but this year marks a slight drop from 1,007 in 2012 to 939 in 2013
* California has the most with 77 groups followed by Florida with 58 and Texas with 57
* Hawaii is the only state without a single known hate group…. Read this in full at

by Adam Graber
The week before Christmas 2013, GQ magazine published an interview with Duck Dynasty’s patriarch, Phil Robertson. When asked to define “sin,” he disrupted the season’s alleged peace with his go-to example: the gay lifestyle. The Internet, in the spirit of the season, lit up like a Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, Robertson went to the bank: A week after the expose, sales for Robertson’s already best-selling book, Happy, Happy, Happy spiked by more than 80% in Christian retail stores. Christians across the country, some out of curiosity and some out of support, drove to their nearest retailer or clicked to their favorite website and purchased the book…. Read this in full at

“God is here, God is here,” croons Singapore church official Sun Ho as she struts across a neon-lit stage and thousands of people in the congregation pump their hands and sing along.

Kong Hee, the church’s founding pastor and Sun Ho’s husband, then takes the stage. In keeping with the electrifying mood, he invites his followers to speak “in tongues” and a pulsing murmur echoes through the auditorium of 8,000 people.

During the service, ushers hand out envelopes for donations, which consume at least a tenth of the salaries of most church members, going to fund different ministries, mission trips and special events.

Welcome to one of Asia’s most profitable churches: Singapore’s City Harvest…. Read this in full at

by Jesse Carey
Last week, 33 individuals who were attempting to establish an underground church were sentenced to death. The missionary who was assisting them has been imprisoned for months, and his fate, like all of those he has come in contact with, is still perilously undetermined.

Officially, their crimes are related to “attempting to overthrow” the regime of dictator Kim Jong-un. But in North Korea, where the lines between state-allegiance and cult-like devotion to government leaders is so blurry that it may no longer exist, the crimes of being a Christian and opposing the regime are one and the same.

If the government goes through with the executions, the 33 people will be joining a growing group of martyrs who have paid a price for their faith that’s almost completely unknown in most parts of the West. They represent a dramatic divide within the Church—in the very same Body of Christ, there are those who daily risk death for their faith and those whose biggest daily risk is taking it for granted…. Read this in full at

by Antoine Audo
Today, the first Sunday of Lent, will see churches crowded across the globe. But here in Syria, where St Paul found his faith, many churches stand empty, targets for bombardment and desecration. Aleppo, where I have been bishop for 25 years, is devastated. We have become accustomed to the daily dose of death and destruction, but living in such uncertainty and fear exhausts the body and the mind.

We hear the thunder of bombs and the rattle of gunfire, but we don’t always know what is happening. It’s hard to describe how chaotic, terrifying and psychologically difficult it is when you have no idea what will happen next, or where the next rocket will fall. Many Christians cope with the tension by being fatalistic: that whatever happens is God’s will…. Read this in full at

When you serve God, you are using God’s money to accomplish His wishes. But when you serve money, you are using God’s money to accomplish your wishes.”
– Bruce Wilkinson

God is the one who saved and called us with a holy calling. This wasn’t based on what we have done, but it was based on his own purpose and grace that he gave us in Christ Jesus before time began.
– 2 Timothy 1:9 (CEB)

Words: Unknown author, pre-13th Century; translated from Latin to English by John W. Hewett, 1859
Music: Christopher Tye, 1533; arranged by William Daman, 1591

Jesu, our Lenten fast of Thee
We duteous learn to keep,
A healing time, by Thy decree,
For all Thy wounded sheep.

A time in which towards paradise,
Once lost by carnal sense,
The souls redeemed by Thee may rise
Through chastening abstinence.

Now with Thy Church be present, Lord,
In all Thy saving grace,
And hear us as with one accord
Mourning, we seek Thy face.

Most Merciful, forgive the past,
The sins which we deplore;
Thy sheltering arms around us cast,
That we may sin no more.

To Thee our sacrifice we bring
Of Lenten fast and prayer,
Till, cleansed by Thee, our God and King,
Thy Paschal joy we share.

Grant this, O Father, through Thy Son,
And through the Spirit blest,
Who art with Them forever One,
Eternally confessed.

>from NetHymnal at

The secret prayer chamber is a bloody battleground. Here violent and decisive battles are fought out. Here the fate of souls for time and eternity is determined, in quietude and solitude. To pray is to open one’s heart to Jesus.”
– O. Hallesby (1879-1961), Prayer, London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1943, reprint, Augsburg Fortress Books, 1975, 1994, p. 98


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 dead batteries were given out free of charge.  
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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