CONNECTIONS News – 04/13/2014

Connecting man to man to God
For week of April 13, 2014
Issue 506

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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If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life?
– Romans 5:10 (CEB)

CONSIDER
The more vigor you need, the more gentleness and kindness you must combine with it. All stiff, harsh goodness is contrary to Jesus.”
– Francois de Fenelon

THE STATE OF THE BIBLE: 6 TRENDS FOR 2014
The Bible has been making its way onto box office screens and home TV screens over the past year: from Noah to Son of God, people have been watching the Bible. But are they still reading the Bible? And do they still believe in the Bible?

Each year, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society on State of the Bible, a comprehensive study of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible. Asking a national representative sample of adults the same questions year after year allows us to track the country’s shifting perceptions of Scriptures.

This year’s research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible’s continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials…. Read this in full at
https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/664-the-state-of-the-bible-6-trends-for-2014

BIBLE READING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
by Robin Phillips
We are standing at a critical juncture in history, when the future of the printed word can no longer be taken for granted. It is appropriate therefore to ponder the implications the digital revolution might have for the Church’s reception of Scripture. What might be the future of the Bible’s role for the Church in a world where our communication technologies are changing so rapidly?

To explore this question, it may be helpful first to consider some of the effects of previous paradigm shifts in communication technologies. In the history of human literacy, the “book” has undergone four key transformations. These can be crudely sketched as follows.

According to the historian Frederick Kilgour, the first phase in the history of the “book” roughly spanned the years 2500 BC to AD 100, when men used a stylus to inscribe text onto clay tablets. The second phase of book-making technology began about 2000 b.c. and lasted to about AD 700, when a brush or pen was used to write on papyrus rolls. The years AD 100 to the present are the period of the codex, a term that has become almost synonymous with our term “book.” …. Read this in full at
http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=25-04-040-f

THE SAINT JOHN’S BIBLE: A WORK OF ART
In 1998, Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota, commissioned calligrapher Donald Jackson in Wales to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible; the first such Bible commissioned by a Benedictine abbey in more than 500 years. Using ancient traditional materials such as hand-ground pigments, Chinese stick ink, goose and turkey quills, and calf-skin vellum, the work of sacred art was 13 years in the making. The result is described as the calligrapher’s Sistine Chapel…. Read this in full at
http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2014/04/the-saint-johns-bible-a-work-of-art/

REMEMBER GOD
Remember what I have recommended to you, which is, to think often on God, by day, by night, and even in diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why then must God be neglected? Do not then forget Him; this is the glorious employment of a Christian; in a word, this is our profession.  If we do not know it we must learn it.”
– Brother Lawrence

ONE QUESTION EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES OFTEN
by Clare De Graaf
Would the people who know you best consider you a Christian or a follower of Jesus?”

I still remember the stunned look on Dave’s face when I asked him the question over breakfast ten years ago. To give him a chance to recover a bit, I took the time to clarify my question. “What I mean Dave is this: based on how you live and what you’re passionate about, would your wife, your children, co-workers and fishing buddies – would they consider you a Christian or a serious follower of Jesus? And by the way, you don’t have to answer that question to me today. I’m not your spiritual authority. But, Jesus already knows the answer. The question is, do you?”

I’d known Dave for a few years, but not well. He was forty something, husband and father of three, attended a conservative church in town, and was involved in a men’s Bible study – a typical Christian. Our kids went to school together and we’d talked a number of times at school functions, but not in depth.

His reason for wanting to meet that morning was to ask if I would spend some time with him to help figure out some moving parts in his life. His relationship with God was flat. The company he was working for was in turmoil. He and his wife were struggling. The usual mid-life stuff. I’ve mentored many men in our community, so it was no surprise that he would ask me to help him sort things out. But, obviously he hadn’t expected to be hit by this truck.

Dave’s first question after he’d regained his composure was, “What’s the difference between a Christian and a follower of Jesus?” A fair question, but I wanted to hear his answer first. So I asked him to take a crack at it…. Read this in full at
http://www.claredegraaf.com/2014/04/07/one-question-every-christian-should-ask-themselves-often/

USA DOESN’T RANK HIGH IN RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
The United States has often been described as a religiously diverse country, an image celebrated in forums ranging from scholarly work to a popular bumper sticker and even a recent Coca-Cola commercial during the Super Bowl. But, from a global perspective, the United States really is not all that religiously diverse, according to a new Pew Research Center study. In fact, 95% of the U.S. population is either Christian or religiously unaffiliated, while all other religions combined account for just 5% of Americans. As a result, the U.S. ranks 68th out of 232 countries and territories on our Religious Diversity Index.

The new study treats all Christians as members of the same religion. The US has an enormous variety of Christian denominations, and if diversity within the world’s largest faith were taken into account, the United States likely would rank higher. But the study treats Christianity no differently than Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Judaism – all of which also have a lot of internal diversity, yet are considered as single religions in the study…. Read this in full at
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/04/u-s-doesnt-rank-high-in-religious-diversity/

MOST RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY INDEX BY COUNTRY
Singapore
Taiwan
Vietnam
Suriname
Guinea Bissau
Togo
Ivory Coast
South Korea
China
Hong Kong
…. Read this in full at
http://www.pewforum.org/2014/04/04/religious-diversity-index-scores-by-country/

NOAH’S CO-WRITER EXPLAINS THE FILM’S CONTROVERSIAL THEOLOGY
Even before it released into theaters, Darren Aronofsky’s take on the Bible’s story of Noah had been the subject of controversy in the Christian community. Along with accusations that the filmmakers were taking too many creative liberties with the original text, reviewers have debated the use of themes like Gnosticism, judgment, condemnation and even hidden symbolism in the big-screen version of the Old Testament story.

Relevant magazine recently had the opportunity to speak with screenwriter Ari Handel—who co-wrote the script with Aronofsky — to discuss audiences’ reaction to the film, some deeper biblical themes of the movie and the thinking behind Noah’s controversial theology…. Read this in full at
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/noah%E2%80%99s-co-writer-explains-film%E2%80%99s-controversial-theology

DID NOAH PREACH?
by Clark Bunch
I was reading Jon Bloom this morning at the Desiring God blog. The title of the post is The Folly of what Noah Preached and it compares the message preached by Noah to the New Testament sermons of which Paul said “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV) He draws a parallel between Noah’s sermon to repent and get on the ark and our sermon to repent and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In both cases judgment was announced and a plan of salvation offered.

Desiring God is one of the few blogs I read that does not allow readers to comment. So here is my comment: I can’t find evidence that Noah preached any such sermon…. Read this in full at
http://themasterstable.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/did-noah-preach/

OUR REALITY
King Philip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great, was a wise man. He ordered one of his servants to come to him every morning without fail, and, no matter what the king was doing, declare loudly, ‘Remember, Philip, that you must die.’”
– Author Unknown

NEW STUDY SAYS INTERNET COULD BE WHY AMERICANS ARE LOSING THEIR RELIGION
New research from Allen Downey, a computer scientist at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, shows a startling correlation between the rise of the Internet and the decline of religious affiliation in the United States.

According to MIT Technology Review, back in 1990 only eight percent of the US population did not have a religious affiliation. Twenty years later in 2010 that number was up to 18 percent. That is a jump of 25 million people. Americans seem to be losing their religion, and from Downey’s research we may have an answer…. Read this in full at
http://www.salon.com/2014/04/04/new_study_says_internet_could_be_why_americans_are_losing_their_religion/

PUT POPULAR BIBLICAL STORY OF WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY IN FOOTNOTE, SAYS THEOLOGY PROF
A Southern Baptist pastor and seminary professor says the story of Jesus forgiving a woman caught in adultery in the Gospel of John is not in the earliest texts, belongs in a footnote and should not be preached in pulpits.

James Hamilton, pastor of Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Bible translators should remove John 7:53–8:11 from the Gospel text and put it in a footnote the way that modern Bibles treat verses at the end of Mark about snake-handling.

The English Standard Version of the Bible sets the verses off in brackets with a footnote explaining they are not in some early manuscripts and appear in others in different contexts.

Hamilton, who has a PhD from Southern Seminary and taught previously at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s satellite campus in Houston, says translation committees should do pastors a favor and move both passages to footnotes…. Read this in full at
http://www.abpnews.com/faith/theology/item/28542-pastor-says-popular-bible-story-doesn-t-belong

10 WAYS WOODWORKING AFFIRMS YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE (PART 1)
by Wayne Stiles
My favorite Jewish carpenter other than Jesus is Norm Abram. I’m a weekend woodworker, and the hobby has done more than just save me money and provide a healthy diversion for my mind.

It’s more than sawdust and saw blades. For me, it’s also spiritual…. Read this in full at
http://www.waynestiles.com/10-ways-woodworking-affirms-your-spiritual-life-part-1/

WHAT?
A farmer walked into an attorney’s office wanting to file for a divorce.

The attorney asked, “May I help you?”

The farmer said, “Yea, I want to get one of those dayvorces.”

The attorney said, “Well, do you have any grounds?”

The farmer said, “Yea, I got about 140 acres.”

The attorney said, “No, you don’t understand, do you have a case?”

The farmer said, “No, I don’t have a Case, but I have a John Deere.”

The attorney said, “No, you don’t understand. I mean do you have a grudge?”

The farmer said, “Yea, I got a grudge. That’s where I park my John Deere.”

The attorney said, “No sir, I mean do you have a suit?”

The farmer said, “Yes sir, I got a suit. I wear it to church on Sundays.”

The exasperated attorney said, “Well, sir, does your wife beat you up or anything?”

The farmer said, “No sir, we both get up about 4:30.”

Finally, the attorney says, “Okay, let me put it this way. WHY DO YOU WANT A DIVORCE?”

And the farmer says, “Well, I can never have a meaningful conversation with her.”
http://www.mikeysFunnies.com

VERSE TO PONDER
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.
– Galatians 2:20 (CEB)

CONSIDER
Real spiritual capacity requires at least as much concentration and training as learning to play a musical instrument. Nobody has ever drifted into a genuine Christian experience.”
– William T. Ham, “Candles of the Lord”, in Spiritual Renewal through Personal Groups, John L. Casteel, ed., NY: Association Press, 1957, p. 171

20 OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL EVANGELICALS IN AMERICA
by Thom Rainer
I conducted an informal survey of over 30 persons, simply asking them to name the most influential evangelicals in America today. Though my choice of the respondents was subjective, I do have confidence that the men and women who gave me these names are very knowledgeable about the evangelical scene in the United States.

The respondents represent a cross section of denominational and non-denominational churches and entities. From my perspective, those I surveyed are clearly evangelicals themselves. Among the criteria I gave them, I included the following:
* Limit the responses to Americans.
* The names must represent living persons.
* Name at least eight persons.
* Only include evangelicals. I did not define “evangelical.”
* Think “influential” rather than just those with whom you agree.

The problem with any list such as this one is the names you omit. Many well-known evangelicals did not make this top twenty list. I realize that another list done by another person would likely yield some different names. Here, then, are 20 of the most influential evangelicals listed in alphabetical order…. Read this in full at
http://thomrainer.com/2014/03/31/twenty-influential-evangelicals-america/

TOP 300 CHRISTIAN BLOGS FOR MINISTRY
by Kent Shaffer
There are thousands of ministry blogs to read, but do you ever wonder which ones everyone else is reading? I do, which is why I have compiled a list of the world’s most read Christian faith blogs.

Keep in mind, this list isn’t an endorsement of the blogs but rather an objective list. There is a broad scope of perspectives included, so be spiritually discerning about what you read and compare it against what the Bible says…. Read this in full at
http://churchrelevance.com/resources/top-church-blogs/

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE TURN (FOR REAL) TO GOD
by Amy Julia Becker
Repent sounds like such a religious word, like street preachers shouting, like moralists wagging fingers. But I learned a long time ago that the literal translation of “repent” is to turn around. “Hey, buddy, you’re headed in the wrong direction”—that sounds like a helpful, kind word, not a scathing correction. I think it’s this type of encouraging word that Jesus himself offers when he begins his ministry with a proclamation: “The kingdom of God is among you. Repent, and believe the good news.”

If to repent is to turn around, to turn towards God and start walking with God instead of on my own away from God, then confession is a starting point on the road to the kingdom. Confession is the starting point on the road to the kingdom…. Read this in full at
http://www.christianitytoday.com/amyjuliabecker/2014/april/what-happens-when-we-turn-for-real-to-god.html

DO EVANGELICALS GIVE GOD’S VIOLENCE A PASS?
by Brandon Withrow
Do you have to believe in God to be a moral person? According to a new study by Pew’s Global Attitudes Project, 53% of Americans say yes. The ironic fact of the Bible, however, is that it is full of individuals who believe in God, who act immorally and violently, and whose God appears to bless their actions. Many Christians today are critical of the violence they see in other religions — especially Islam — but there’s an inescapable cognitive dissonance if you are appalled by the violence done in the name of one religion but not by the violence done in the name of your own.

It is hard to miss the passage where Moses slaughters 3,000 Israelites for worshipping a golden calf (Exodus 32) — a death toll comparable to September 11. Or the passage telling of Moses’ anger upon discovering that his army had spared enemy women and children (Numbers 31), later commanding them to kill the males and older women, but keep the virgin girls for themselves…. Read this in full at
http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/04/04/let-there-be-violence/31599

THE NEW CALVINISM
In some Southern Baptist churches there has been a revival of interest in Calvinism, the theology of the 16th-century reformer John Calvin, who also had a great influence on colonial America.

For some, Calvinism is divisive and unbiblical” says Southern Baptist pastor Daniel Montgomery of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, “We’ve seen that it unifies our efforts, it gives us an understanding that God is at work in this world. We don’t need to make things happen. We simply join God in what he’s doing.” …. See this video report in full at
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2014/04/03/april-4-2014-new-calvinism/22607/

BILLY GRAHAM’S SERMON MANUSCRIPTS AVAILABLE ONLINE
The original sermon manuscripts of Rev. Billy Graham are now available to the public worldwide via the Wheaton College website at wheaton.edu/grahamsermons. Rev. Graham, possibly the most familiar and well respected evangelist of the 20th century, is a 1943 graduate of Wheaton College.

Spanning 1941 to 2006, the typed manuscripts, underlined and marked with the evangelist’s handwritten notes, can be read, printed, downloaded, or even searched for specific words within the text. The collection includes 3,760 typescripts, plus a set of sermon transcripts made from audio recordings of Rev. Graham’s evangelistic crusades and events from 1949 to 2003…. Read this in full at
http://www.wheaton.edu/Media-Center/News/2014/04/Billy-Grahams-Sermon-Manuscripts-Available-Online

SEEING GOD IN THE STARS
by Christine A. Scheller
Dr. Jennifer Wiseman is an astronomer, author, and speaker. She has been seeing God in the stars ever since she was a child. As an undergraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, she co-discovered the comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff. As senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, she studies star-forming regions of our galaxy using radio, optical, and infrared telescopes. As director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she helps improve communication between scientists and faith communities. Dr. Wiseman talked to The High Calling about her personal views entwining science, faith, and discovery…. Read this in full at
http://www.thehighcalling.org/high-calling-astronomy#.UuamWFQo41I

READ YOUR BIBLE!
How many of you believe everything that you see on TV? What about everything that you read in the newspaper? What about everything that you read online? Because if it’s on the internet, that makes it true doesn’t it? How many of you believe what is written in the Bible?

What do you spend more time on – reading the Bible, or reading Facebook?

We believe that the Bible is true – we state that in our doctrines, right at the very beginning, our first doctrine: “We believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God and that they only constitute the divine rule of Christian Faith and practice.” We believe the scriptures to be true, we believe them to be the only source that can guide our faith and practice – yet how often do we read it? …. Read this in full at
http://benclapton.id.au/2014/01/26/read-your-bible/

THE CHANGING FACES OF PERSECUTION
In what countries are Christians persecuted today? Who is persecuting them? How has persecution changed over the past 100 years? What is likely to happen in the future? These and other questions will be examined in the context of the global persecution of Christians. Dr. Todd M. Johnson is Associate Professor of Global Christianity and Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, Massachusetts). He is co-author of The World’s Religions in Figures (Wiley-Blackwell) and the World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press) and co-editor of the Atlas of Global Christianity (Edinburgh University Press) …. Read this in full at
http://www.frc.org/eventregistration/the-changing-faces-of-persecution

Also see the Atlas of Global Christianity
http://atlasofglobalchristianity.org/

Center for the Study of Global Christianity
http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/Center-for-the-Study-of-Global-Christianity.cfm

CONSIDER
Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.”
– A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), Of God and Men, Harrisburg, Penn.: Christian Publications, Inc., 1960, p. 27

VERSE TO PONDER
This is how we know love: Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
– 1 John 3:16 (CEB)

THIS WEEK’S HYMN: LORD, WHO THROUGHOUT THESE FORTY DAYS
Words: Claudia F. Hernaman, 1873
Music: Day’s Psalter, 1563

Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins
And close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy passiontide,
Yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering over past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last.

>from NetHymnal at
http://nethymnal.org/htm/l/w/lwtt40da.htm

ON PRAYER
Prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of our recollection, the seat of mediation, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our tempest.”
– Jeremy Taylor

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. 

Beard transplants are trending
http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/topvideos/2014/03/29/dnt-beard-implant-trend.cbc.html

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.) 

I bet the creator of the artificial heart is pretty mad that we still use “sliced bread” as our basis for great inventions.  
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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