CONNECTIONS News – 03/23/2013

Connecting man to man to God
For week of March 23, 2014
Issue 503

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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Happy are those who trust in the LORD, who rely on the LORD. They will be like trees planted by the streams, whose roots reach down to the water. They won’t fear drought when it comes; their leaves will remain green. They won’t be stressed in the time of drought or fail to bear fruit.
– Jeremiah 17:7-8 (CEB)

CONSIDER
Our dependence upon God ought to be so entire and absolute that we should never think it necessary, in any kind of distress, to have recourse to human consolations.”
– Thomas a Kempis

N.T. WRIGHT ON WHY THE PSALMS MATTER
by Eddie Kaufholz
We all love the Psalms. They’re a beautiful, poetic expression of everything from praise to pain to joy.

But sometimes, we can dismiss the Psalms as only beautiful poetry, forgetting that they are meant to be prayed, sung and studied, not just glanced through. In his book The Case for the Psalms, leading new testament scholar N.T. Wright examines how the Psalms are more complex and important than we think. We sat down with him to talk about what the Psalms mean to him, our slant on the Bible and the importance of daily devotional time.

Q: Why make the case for Psalms?

A: Well, it surprises me that one need make a case for the Psalms, but in a great many contemporary churches, something very odd has happened, which is that many of the newer churches write their own worship songs—which is wonderful. I’m all in favor of people writing their own worship songs in every possible idiom—but they often simply forget the Psalms. You can go to many churches where if you attend week after week after week you will never ever sing or read the Psalms.

There’s something very peculiar about that because in pretty well every branch of the Christian tradition for 2,000 years, the Psalms have been the backbone of Christian worship. Certainly in all traditional denominations, but in many non-traditional ones, as well, it’s assumed that the Psalms are the heart of worship…. Read this in full at
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/nt-wright-why-psalms-matter

JESUS WEPT
by Anne Graham Lotz
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3

When have you thought, “Jesus just doesn’t care” or “If God really loved me, He would’ve prevented this circumstance I’m in”?

All these thoughts crowding your mind are like seeds sown by Satan. And if you’re not alert, those seeds will grow into weeds that choke out and strangle the truth — that God loves you, that your grief is His and your pain is His… that your tears are on His face

At the grave of Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (John 11:36). He wept for no other reason than that He loved Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary, and this precious family was weeping. He was entering into their suffering even as one day He would ask us to enter into His.

When your spirit is heavy, when your heart is broken, when your burdens seem unbearable — trust Him. Look to Him. Your tears are on His face!
http://www.faithgateway.com/jesus-wept/

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON JESUS, ‘THE FRIEND OF SINNERS’
by Jonathan Merritt
Many people know that the New Testament refers to Jesus as a “friend of sinners,” but what does that mean exactly? Apparently not what some Christians think it does.

In response to a twitter comment I made about Christian singer Natalie Grant walking out of The Grammys, Joe Carter, prominent Calvinist and director of communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission rhetorically asked, “Didn’t [Jesus] only welcome those seeking forgiveness?” He went on to agree with another that “The sinners Jesus partied with were already followers.”

Theological sirens blared inside my head as Carter doubled down on his assertion that Jesus wasn’t really a friend of sinners, but I assumed it was probably a fringe view I wouldn’t likely encounter again…. Read this in full at
http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/03/20/setting-record-straight-jesus-friend-sinners/

LOCAL LABYRINTHS ARE PLACES TO FIND YOURSELF
by Alia Wilson
A place of respite in the heart of Silicon Valley is hard to come by, unless you know where to look.

There are many places where a person can escape and take a moment for themselves to walk alone in thought or prayer.

Labyrinths have been linked to many cultures and have long been used as tools for meditation, centering and healing, and they come in many designs with lots of variations. But two main styles have been in contemporary use and can be found right here in Santa Clara Valley: the Cretan classical seven-circuit style and the Chartres’ style with 11 circuits.

Sunnyvale has several labyrinths that are open to anyone to explore…. Read this in full at
http://www.mercurynews.com/sunnyvale/ci_25331710/local-labyrinths-are-places-find-yourself

THE BRIDGE
To confess your sins to God is not to tell him anything he doesn’t already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the bridge.”
– Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Harper & Row, 1973, revised, HarperCollins, 1993, p. 15

SHOULD DIGITAL BIBLES BE USED IN INAUGURAL CEREMONIES? BIBLE GATEWAY VISITORS WEIGH IN
Nearly six out of every ten people (57%) say a digital Bible on a mobile device has no place whatsoever in political and judicial swearing-in ceremonies and that only a print Bible is acceptable. That’s according to Bible Gateway’s latest online poll, in which more than 5,000 people voted…. Read this in full at
http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2014/03/should-digital-bibles-be-used-in-inaugural-ceremonies-bible-gateway-visitors-weigh-in/

THE MOST POPULAR AND FASTEST GROWING BIBLE TRANSLATION ISN’T WHAT YOU THINK IT IS
by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
When Americans reach for their Bibles, more than half of them pick up a King James Version (KJV), according to a new study advised by respected historian Mark Noll.

The 55 percent who read the KJV easily outnumber the 19 percent who read the New International Version (NIV). And the percentages drop into the single digits for competitors such as the New Revised Standard Version, New America Bible, and the Living Bible.

So concludes “The Bible in American Life,” a lengthy report by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Funded by the Lilly Foundation, researchers asked questions on what David Briggs of the ARDA, which first reported the results, calls “two of the most highly respected data sources for American religion” — the General Social Survey and the National Congregations Study.

The numbers are surprising, given the strong sales of NIV translations in bookstores. The NIV has topped the CBA’s bestselling Bible translation list for decades, and continued to sell robustly in 2013…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/march/most-popular-and-fastest-growing-bible-translation-niv-kjv.html

PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES
by Clare De Graaf
Why do Bad things happen to “good” people?

Have you ever had a friend, family member or someone you’re mentoring, come to you and ask why a loving God has not “fixed” some problem in their life? In situations where the source of their troubles is obviously their own choices, I’ll often tell this story.

A construction worker sat down on a pile of lumber with his buddies to have lunch. One man opened his lunch box and slammed it closed in disgust. “Peanut butter sandwiches on Monday! Peanut butter sandwiches on Tuesday! Peanut butter sandwiches on Wednesday! I can’t take it anymore!”

Why don’t you ask your wife to make something different,” asked his friends. “Well that’s the problem, I make my own lunch.”

If I’m really honest with myself, a lot of the frustration in my life is self-imposed – my own doing. I leave late for a meeting, get caught in traffic, and am embarrassed, when I’m late. I speak to my wife disrespectfully and blame her for the resulting fight…. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2014/03/17/peanut-butter-sandwiches/

THE IMPORTANCE OF INTROSPECTION
We all know that too much introspection can be unhealthy, unhelpful and even damaging. But some is not only salutary, but necessary. Our Bible reading will often sober and abase us in this way. The word of God ruthlessly exposes our sin, selfishness, vanity and greed, and then challenges us to repent and to confess. One of the safest ways to do this is to take on our lips one of the penitential psalms, especially perhaps Psalm 51 (“Have mercy on me, O God”) or Psalm 130 (“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord”). It is a healthy discipline each evening to review the day briefly and call to mind our failures. Not to do so tends to make us slapdash about sin and encourages us to presume on God’s mercy, whereas to make a habit of doing so humbles and shames us, and increases our longing for greater holiness. There is nothing morbid about the confession of sins, so long as we go on to give thanks for the forgiveness of sins. It is fine to look inwards, so long as it leads us immediately to look outwards and upwards again.”
– John R. W. Stott (1921-2011), Basic Christianity, Nottingham, U.K.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008, third edition, p. 120-122

O FOR A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD
O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest:
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.
– William Cowper (1731-1800), included in The Works of William Cowper: his life, letters, and poems, New York: R. Carter & Brothers, 1851, p. 670

BE A LETTER FROM GOD
You, too, are called to be an open letter, as Paul puts it, written by Christ’s own hand, showing those round about you what things Christ can do. We are to go into the world and so to live our ordinary lives that, all unconsciously to us, those among whom we move will look at us again, and will begin to say, You know I used to doubt if there was much in Christianity save talk. But I have revised my opinion. There’s So-and-so (that’s you, you understand), that is a man in whom the thing is obviously working out. He used to be so touchy, so opinionative, so mean and shabby in his views, so dully ordinary. Yet now, undoubtedly, the man has won to self-control and a large generous mind, and–yea, I know it’s a queer thing to say–but he has won to something more, something that somehow–though he never speaks about those things–makes you remember Jesus Christ!”
– A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), The Galilean Accent, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926, p. 28

THE WORK OF CHRISTIANS
The Company of Jesus is not people streaming to a shrine; and it is not people making up an audience for a speaker; it is laborers engaged in the harvesting task of reaching their perplexed and seeking brethren with something so vital that, if it is received, it will change their lives.”
– Elton Trueblood (1900-1994), The Company of the Committed, Harper, 1961, p. 45

VERSE TO PONDER
Like a newborn baby, desire the pure milk of the word. Nourished by it, you will grow into salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good.
– 1 Peter 2:2-3 (CEB)

CONSIDER
The Holy Spirit is the One who is poured out upon you like a healing balm- to sooth, to calm, and to comfort. He is the One who renews your strength, revives your spirit, refills your cup, restores your strength, and refreshes your spirit.”
– Roy Lessin

THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY IN 25 OBJECTS
by Tim Challies
I have long had a love of history and so often find in the past the wisdom that informs and addresses present difficulties. Each generation — even each generation of Christians — suffers from self-obsession, and as we move forward in time and progress, we do well to keep one eye on the past, to consider not only where we wish to go, but also from whence we have come. Christianity has a long and storied past that testifies constantly to God’s enduring grace. We ignore it at our peril.

Though so much of Christian history has passed away, though so many of its people and objects have been lost to time, a few precious relics remain. When we look at these objects with careful eye, when we consider them in their context, we see in them the history of the Christian faith. In this new series of articles I have chosen twenty-five of these objects and through them wish to explore the history of this faith we hold so dear, the history of what God is accomplishing in this world, whether through princes or peasants, whether through triumph or trial…. Read this in full at
http://www.challies.com/articles/the-history-of-christianity-in-25-objects-introduction

THE GOSPEL IS ROOTED
The gospel is not presented to mankind as an argument about religious principles. Nor is it offered as a philosophy of life. Christianity is a witness to certain facts–to events that have happened, to hopes that have been fulfilled, to realities that have been experienced, to a Person who has lived and died and been raised from the dead to reign for ever.”
– Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. (1913-1990), Far and Near

OPEN DOORS USA HONORS CHRISTIANITY TODAY MAGAZINE
Open Doors USA, an international Christian ministry which supports and strengthens persecuted Christians in almost 60 of the world’s most dangerous countries, has named Christianity Today (CT) magazine as the recipient of the sixth annual “Passion for the Persecuted” award.

The award is presented to a media organization which has established an on-going commitment to inform its audience about the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

Regarding the Open Doors award, Christianity Today CEO Harold B. Smith says, “We are deeply honored and humbled to receive such recognition. It speaks to our deep and ongoing commitment to telling the stories of the suffering church, to showcasing God’s miraculous moving in and through his faithful servants, and to lifting up the name of Christ for the encouragement of his church worldwide.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2014/s14030097.htm

PIETY FIRST
The way to begin a Christian life is not to study theology. Piety before theology. Right living will produce right thinking. Yet many men, when their consciences are aroused, run for catechisms, and commentaries, and systems. They do not mean to be shallow Christians. They intend to be thorough, if they enter upon the Christian life at all. Now, theologies are well in their place; but repentance and love must come before all other experiences. First a cure for your sin-sick soul, and then theologies.”
– Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), Life Thoughts: gathered from the extemporaneous discourses of Henry Ward Beecher, Edna Dean Proctor, ed., Sheldon, 1860, p. 2

MINISTERING TO NAZIS: NEW HISTORY TELLS ABOUT WORK OF A ST. LOUIS, MO CHAPLAIN
by Dale Singer
At age 50, Henry Gerecke decided he should leave his Lutheran ministry in St. Louis and enlist as a chaplain in the Army at the height of World War II, but he had no idea he would become part of an “experiment”: giving comfort to men charged with heinous crimes against humanity.

The subtitle of the book “Mission at Nuremberg,” author Tim Townsend’s enlightening, highly readable account, gives a good idea of the book’s parallel threads: “An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis.”

The second part, of course, is a tale well-known and often told. But the first part will give new insights into the Germans on trial, their lives as they awaited their fate, and two American clergymen, one Lutheran and the other Catholic, who ministered to their spiritual needs.

How well they succeeded, in either comforting the Nazis on trial or saving their souls, is an open question…. Read this in full at
http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/reviews/ministering-to-nazis-new-history-tells-about-work-of-a/article_0b7f997b-7ad6-5f7b-bc85-38551bb5426e.html

PASTOR MARK DRISCOLL APOLOGIZES FOR MISSTEPS, QUITS SOCIAL MEDIA
by Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has written a letter to his congregation to explain recent controversies, including the marketing campaign intended to place the book, “Real Marriage,” on The New York Times best-seller list.

Driscoll has been an influential pastor within Reformed evangelical circles for several years, helping to found a church planting network called Acts 29. His own Mars Hill Church attracts some 14,000 people at 15 locations in five states each Sunday.

In recent months, however, reports have emerged that Driscoll plagiarized some of the material in his books. And earlier this month, World magazine reported that Driscoll hired a firm to buy copies of the book he penned with his wife, Grace, so that it would top the best-seller lists…. Read this in full at
http://www.religionnews.com/2014/03/17/pastor-mark-driscoll-apologizes-missteps-quits-social-media/

CONSIDER
If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

VERSE TO PONDER
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.
– Galatians 5:22-23

THIS WEEK’S HYMN: JESUS, GRANT THAT BALM AND HEALING
Words: Johann Heerman, 1644
Music: Johann B. König, 1738

Jesus, grant that balm and healing
In Thy holy wounds I find,
Every hour that I am feeling,
Pains of body and of mind.
Should some evil thought within
Tempt my treacherous heart to sin,
Show the peril, and from sinning
Keep me ere its first beginning.

Should some lust or sharp temptation
Prove too strong for flesh and blood,
Let me think upon Thy Passion,
And the breach is soon made good.
Or should Satan press me hard,
Let me then be on my guard,
Saying, “Christ for me was wounded,”
That the tempter flee confounded.

If the world my heart entices
On the broad and easy road
With its mirth and luring vices,
Let me think upon the load
Thou didst carry and endure
That I flee all thoughts impure,
Banishing each wild emotion,
Calm and blest in my devotion.

Every wound that pains or grieves me,
By Thy stripes, Lord, is made whole;
When I’m faint, Thy cross revives me,
Granting new life to my soul.
Yea, Thy comfort renders sweet
Every bitter cup I meet;
For Thy all atoning Passion
Has procured my soul’s salvation.

O my God, my Rock and Tower,
Grant that in Thy death I trust,
Knowing death has lost his power
Since Thou trodd’st him in the dust.
Savior, let Thine agony
Ever help and comfort me;
When I die, be my Protection,
Light and Life and Resurrection.

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/j/g/t/jgtbheal.htm

ON PRAYER
If anyone tells you that the life of prayer is one uninterrupted experience of being happy with Jesus, do not follow him. He is not a safe guide. Those who follow the Lamb know that there are stretches of darkness and loneliness and perplexity along the way, and they know that Jesus himself went that way.”
– Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), Journey Into Joy, Christian Literature Society, 1972, reprint, Wm. B. Errdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1973, p. 124

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

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http://www.GoGlobalDomains.com

SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES 
Tell us what sites you find enjoyable and why. 

Sign up for Lent email devotionals
http://www.biblegateway.com/lent-devotions

Beautiful photos with Scripture
http://twitter.com/helpthankswow

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.) 

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.  
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.net/  

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