Monthly Archives: February 2012

The tyranny of enough

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Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside The Pew staff.

By Paul Hughes
Special to Inside The Pew

I think more was devised by the Devil, with America as his down line. Props to Satan: distribution has been dynamic and deep. Mephistopheles is nothing if not efficient.

More money?  You’re a go-getter, bootstrapping, entrepreneurial whiz-bang wunderkind; you’re going places man.  Also, we’re having a party and you’re invited.

More abs?  You’re sexy and desirable and doable. Evolutionally speaking you’re the kind accumulation of cells all the other stars-upon-thars Sneetches want to mate with.  Also, you’re cool.

More votes?  You win.  Also you’re right.

Mephistopheles is nothing if not persistent.

Of course it goes back to Eden.  Everything does and we all try.  Adam and Eve wanted more …  and they got it, too.  Mephistopheles is nothing if not consistent.

The Slanderer is always happy to sign us up — and those who know me know I bear in my body the evidence of one man’s inordinate desire for more. My friends, such things should not be.

Because the Bible is as the kids say all about contentment.  So much so that godliness doesn’t get to stand on its own: godliness with contentment is great gain.

Be ye satisfied with yo’ stuff.

Psalm 23 … ”I won’t lack nothin’.”

Matthew 6 … “Don’t look for this stuff.”

1 Timothy 6 … “If we get something, maybe even this stuff, we’re OK.”

And yet … not so — be not so swift to agree.  Search the scriptures and see if these things are so.  Too often as Christian speaks, be he pastor-writer or web logging apologist writer, he draws false dichotomies to prove this point of his.

Bad writer.  Bad, bad writer.

For God is an Othering God, and even immense wealth can’t threaten He who rides herd over mountain ranges.

Psalm 23 … “My flagons are full and flooding onto the floor.”

John 12 … “They had enough money for the embezzler, too.”

Philippians 4 … “I can handle all, and I can handle nothing.”

The idea, rather, is awareness of abundance: what the Bible calls peace.  The idea welcomes, nay seeks, God’s action in our life: what the Bible calls grace.

Or both.

[Seventeen epistolary greetings — 17! — call for this in Christian’s life.]

It is knowing, as the pastors say, not that God will keep saints from dying, but that even if we die He will keep us.

It is not about enough at all — and that is the problem. We’re jazzed to have more than enough, proud to have less than enough, and worry if we have enough.

That.

Is.

Not.

The.

Point.

Nearing the end of life, C.S.  Lewis said if the Lord let him keep writing, blessed be He.  If not …

Blessed be He.

 

Paul Hughes writes in Southern California. He edited Think and Live: Challenging Believers to Think and Thinkers to Believe and wrote Tebow: Throwing Stones. This post first appeared at www.Apologetics.com, revised for publication in Burning and Bleeding: Efforts on Faith and Culture. Follow @PoetAndPriest on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

‘Jesus. Family. Baseball:’ Friends honor Gary Carter

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By Will Patrick
Special to ASSIST News Service

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – In a humorous scene from “A League of Their Own,” the film about women’s professional baseball, the manager (played by Tom Hanks) is exasperated after one of his players breaks down in tears after he chews her out for a bad play. “There’s no crying in baseball,” he exclaims.

But there was crying – and laughter – Feb. 24 at Christ Fellowship church in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where family and friends paid

Gary Carter, left, Darryl Strawberry, and Keith Hernandez at Mets spring training in 1985.

tribute to baseball Hall of Fame catcher Gary “The Kid” Carter during a memorial service. Carter, who primarily played for the

Montreal Expos and New York Mets, died of brain cancer at 57.

Carter wasn’t always a favorite of opponents – and some teammates – during his playing career. His perpetual smile, enthusiasm for the game, and willingness to mix with reporters and fans earned him another less heart-warming nickname, “Camera.”

He took a pass on booze, drugs and the many women available to pro athletes, preferring to head home to his wife Sandy (his high school sweetheart) and their kids.

“I think a lot of people tried to look at him as being a phony because he smiled,” former teammate Darryl Strawberry told a New York TV station. “He was smiling because he was free.”

Yet once his playing days were over, even some former antagonists seemed to rethink their perspective. With the camera lights no longer focused on him, Carter didn’t change. He kept smiling. He raised thousands of dollars for charities, especially leukemia, the disease that claimed his mom’s life. And autism, which affects one of his grandchildren. His priorities didn’t change: Jesus. Family. Baseball.

Strawberry’s career, once seemingly headed for the Hall of Fame as well, derailed because of drugs. With baseball in the rear-view mirror, Carter pointed Strawberry to someone who could help him.

“Carter’s personality was he never tried to force his faith on anybody, but he would always encourage you that God loves you,” Strawberry told a reporter.

“Gary has helped so many people. He’s had a tremendous impact on my life and why my life has changed so much. He was one of the first ones to sit with my wife and tell her how proud he was of me, that I found my faith and I changed my life.”

Carter would probably be the first to say he himself fell short in many areas. But the scorecard of a life is best filled out by one’s family. Carter’s daughter Kimmy, who coaches softball at the same college where her dad was the baseball coach, gave a touching and transparent report in the Caring Bridge online journal devoted to her dad’s last days.

Filled with mundane activities, medical ups and downs, prayer requests, and many helpings of Scripture, she shows the picture of a man who truly valued faith and family, who obviously helped to shape his children’s lives even with those frequent absences due to his chosen profession.

At the service, his children shared memories of him, joking about his penchant for neatness. Some of baseball’s greats also paid tribute at Christ Fellowship, focusing as much on the man as the ballplayer.

Johnny Bench, another Hall of Fame catcher who was Carter’s hero, also spoke at the service.

“He idolized me,” Bench joked, then turned serious. “But as we sit here tonight, I feel inadequate with the things he accomplished – the family, the pastors, the friends, the respect – to think about that smile, to think about the person he was.”

Bert Blyleven, another Hall of Famer, seemed to sum up the sentiment in the room. “The way he lived his life,” Blyleven told a reporter, “is the way that everybody wants to live their life.”

 

Rescue mission members attacked in India red light district

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By Jacob Philip
Assistant Correspondent in India for ASSIST News Service

PUNE, INDIA (ANS) — Undercover rescuers from the Indian Rescue Mission (IRM), who had gone to rescue minor girls forced into prostitution inside one of the brothels of Pune, India, were thrashed by a gang Feb. 22.

According to organization sources, two of their undercover operatives were trying to trace two minor girls trafficked into one of the

A scene in the Pune red light district

brothels in the red light district of this city which is the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai.

It happened that a group of people, mostly women and hooligans, gathered on the ground floor of a brothel building and as soon as IRM team members reached the ground floor, the mob pounced on them and beat them up.

One of the attacked member, Mr. Kamble, said, “One boy punched me in the face, giving me a bloody nose.”

According to Kamble, the attackers called the police and tried to mislead them by branding the activists as “extortionists.”

Kamble told ANS, “After the police noticed that we were the victims who were manhandled by the mob, they asked us to lodge a complaint against the attackers.”

U K Yadav, the Sub-Inspector of the Faraskhana Police Station said, “The duo did not disclose their identity which led to the tension in the area. We have taken preventive action against Ghanashyam Dnyaneshwar Kulapalli (27) of Bhavani Peth who had allegedly beaten the staff member.”

Reacting to the episode, James Varghese, founder of the Indian Rescue Mission, and also an ANS correspondent, said, “We are deeply disturbed by this incident and we feel that we who help the people of the society should be given protection. We condemn this act and we request the police to act swiftly and bring the attackers to book.”

For more details on IRM’s work visit them at:www.indianrescuemission.org

Pew devotional: You are valuable

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By Nick Perez
Inside The Pew

When we read the word of God we lose grasp of the idea that the Lord is speaking directly to us. The word of God is the will of God and it’s

Nick Perez

God’s heart poured out to us. The word shows us we are valuable to God. Our value to God goes beyond human understanding, for example; Psalm 8:5 says, “For you have made him a little lower than the angels, And you have crowned him with glory and honor.” The word “angels” in Hebrew is Elohim, meaning God. This alone shows how valuable we are to God. Another prime example is 2nd Samuel 14:14, “… yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.” Here God shows us that our lives are so valuable to Him that even when we’ve departed from the Way, he devises a plan to bring us back. I’m sure that many of us remember that person who invited us to church or to some kind of fellowship event. So a word of encouragement is this: When somebody puts you down, or when you start feeling down about any situation life comes with; remember that your life is valuable to God, and nothing could ever

Massachusetts resident Nick Perez, 19, is on fire for Jesus and looking to spread His truth, the gospel. He is a product of grace, a servant and son, for His glory. Visit Perez’s blog at http://therootsministry.blogspot.com/.

Two churches targeted in bomb attack in Nigeria

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Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

ULEJA, NIGERIA (ANS) — Suspected Islamic extremists detonated a bomb outside a church building here on Sunday (Feb. 19), two months after Boko Haram Islamists killed 44 Christians and blinded seven in a church bombing in nearby Madalla.

One of seven victims blinded by blast at Catholic church in Madalla on Christmas Day, 2011.

Compass Direct News says Sunday’s blast in Suleja, in front of Christ Embassy church during morning worship, injured five people, one seriously, according to sources.

Compass reports the bomb, planted in a parked car, was left by suspected members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, and authorities arrested some members of the sect the same day.

Compass explained that Triumphant Ministries International Church is also near the site of the explosion.

Peter Osema, a search-and-rescue worker with Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, told Compass that the bomb was likely meant to affect both churches, and indeed Compass learned that at least one of those injured belongs to the Triumph Ministries church.

Compass also reported that at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, where the casualty figure has varied the past few months as victims were sought and identified at various hospitals, the Rev. Isaac Achi said Monday (Feb. 20) that 44 church members were killed in the Christmas Day blast.

“Of the 127 victims, we lost 44, and of the injured seven lost their sight,” Achi said.

 

Cowgirls end season with loss to Louisiana College

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Special to Inside The Pew

PINEVILLE, La. — Hardin-Simmons’ women’s basketball team gave a valiant effort but came up just short in a 59-53 loss to No. 22 Louisiana College in the first round of the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament on Feb. 24 at the H.O. West Fieldhouse in Pineville, La.

The Cowgirls led most of the first half and still led 20-16 with 8:29 to play in the first half. HSU then went 8:13 without a field goal until Angela Newcombe’s jumper at the end of the half gave the Wildcats a 27-23 halftime lead. LC had an 11-0 run during the scoring drought.

The game featured six ties and six lead changes and it was tied for the final time at 36-36 with 13:19 to play. LC then used another spurt to take the lead for good. This time it was an 8-0 run. LC eventually led by 12 at 57-45 with 2:27 to play.

The Cowgirls had one last rally in them and cut the deficit to 57-53 with :46 to play after back-to-back 3-pointers by Coco Cartwright and Alexis Popelar.

The game ended the careers of three Cowgirl seniors – Jasmine Lewis, Kara Looten and Newcombe. Newcombe finished the game with 15 points and 17 rebounds for her 19th double-double of the season. Looten also had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Popelar led the way for the Cowgirls with 21 points. Roslyn Wilmer led a balanced LC attack with 16 points.

The Cowgirls outrebounded Louisiana College 59-39 in the game, but turned the ball over 30 times and that led to taking 10 less shots than the Wildcats. LC shot just 27.5 percent in the game and the Cowgirls shot 34 percent.

HSU finished the year with a record of 13-13. LC is now 23-3 on the year and will face McMurry in the ASC Semifinals on Saturday.

Jerusalem church defaced with hateful graffiti

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By Michael Ireland
ASSIST News Service

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (ANS) — Unknown assailants spray painted blasphemous graffiti on a church building that’s home to several Christian congregations in downtown Jerusalem, according to Julie Stahl, CBN News Mideast Correspondent.

Stahl says the vandalism, which could be part of an ongoing campaign against non-Jewish religious sites, led to a show of goodwill by neighbors and others. Stahl reports that vandals sprayed messages of hate — slurs against Jesus including, “We’ll crucify you” and “Death to Christianity” — in Hebrew on the walls of the Baptist House.

“It’s not just defacing, there’s a message there,” Dr. Al Nucciarone, senior pastor of the Jerusalem Baptist Church, told CBN News.

“Obviously people don’t like Christians being here and don’t like Jesus or don’t respect Jesus for sure,” he said.

Stahl reports that it’s not the first time the Baptist House has been attacked. In 2007, vandals broke into the sanctuary and torched chairs and hymnals. In 1982, arsonists burned the original wooden building to the ground.

But, she says, the latest incident brought out the best in the neighborhood.

“We’re sad there are extremists who would take things into their own hands like this, but we’re also heartened by the outpouring of sympathy from neighbors and people of goodwill, whom I believe are the majority,” Charles Kopp, senior pastor of the Narkis Street Congregation, told CBN News.

“People are very sympathetic when something like this happens,” Pastor Nucciarone said.

“We’ll get a lot of support. Even my friend Barry, [he’s] Jewish, came with his rabbi from the conservative synagogue in Arnona because they heard about it and they were quite disgusted about what happened and even wanted to call the mayor’s religious affairs person,” he said.

Stahl reports that police are investigating whether the vandalism is connected to earlier attacks this month on a Jerusalem monastery and mosque.

In her report, Stahl says Dr. Mordechai Zaken, head of the Ministry of Public Security’s Desk of Minority Affairs, paid a solidarity visit.

“I’m here to show my support, my solidarity, my friendship, not only me. I think I represent the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens,” Zaken said.

He also pointed out that this kind of incident wouldn’t have garnered such press coverage 10 years ago.

Destined to sin or destined to glorify?

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Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside The Pew staff.

By Jane Reed
Special to Inside The Pew

Eve’s original sin defined the way we sin today. There is a sequence to her sin that has resonated through the ages and continues to this day in each of us.  Notice how Eve sinned: SIGHT: Eve saw that the tree was good. She saw the fruit and it looked good. PLEASUREABLE: She gazed at the tree.  She really wanted that fruit.  She began to lust over the fruit. TAKE: It was not enough to

Jane Reed

look at the tree; she had to have the fruit on that tree, so she took it. COVER: Eve and Adam attempted to cover their guilt and shame form the Lord with fig leaves. This sequence is set in motion each time we give into sin.  We see it, it looks good, and whether right or wrong we take it and then we attempt to cover our guilt to ease our conscience.

Amazing isn’t it?  Every sin we commit follows along these guidelines. Knowing this sequence of events can increase our awareness when facing sin. When we accepted Christ we became filled with His Holy Spirit and with that filling came discernment and strength. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can become aware of temptation and recognize the sin sequence of events when it begins to take place. We can then pull on the strength of the Lord to stop the sequence before it continues any further.

Notice the sequence and discernment in this example:

A woman enters a clothing store and begins to admire the clothing. Everything in the store is beautiful, but one piece of clothing catches her eye. She cannot take her eyes off the blouse. She picks it up and admires it. She really wants this blouse but does not have

the money to purchase it.  She becomes tempted to steal the blouse. It would be easy to put it in her purse and walk out as the sales lady is nowhere in sight and there are no cameras. She begins to feel discernment in her heart.  The idea of taking the blouse without paying begins to bother her.  It’s not right and she knows it.

This story can have two different endings. One, she puts the blouse back and leaves the store without it. Two, she steals the blouse.  In the first ending she has successfully listened to the discernment of the Holy Spirit and in the second she has ignored it. What would your ending be?

In the simplest of temptations to the strongest of temptations, the Holy Spirit dwells within us to guide our actions.  We do not have to follow the sequence Eve created; we can break it and make right choices.  When you are faced with temptations, take a moment to listen to the Holy Spirit and make your choices based upon how your actions will show glory to God.

Jane Reed, a Louisiana resident, is the founder of Blessed Life Ministries (http://www.blessedlifeministries.com/) and the Editor-in-Chief of Blessed Life Magazine. Jane founded Blessed Life Ministries for the purpose of spreading the word of God so that others can feel the beauty and blessing of God in their lives. It is her prayer that this ministry will touch each person, whom it comes in contact with, allowing God’s word to penetrate their souls, bringing them to a closer walk with Christ.

 

Wiley shocks Texas Wesleyan in Marshall

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

A five-game winning streak by Texas Wesleyan University’s men’s basketball team meant very little to the Wiley Wildcats. But, home court and the absence of one of the Rams’ targets did matter.

The Wildcats played consistent ball, took advantage of Ram miscues and held on to defeat Texas Wesleyan, 80-67, at Alumni Gym in Marshall on Feb. 16.

Senior guard Ronnie Moss, the nation’s fifth leading scorer, has left a gaping hole in the Rams’ game. For two consecutive home games,

Kenny Laguerre

No. 12 ranked Texas Wesleyan (20-5, 15-4) has struggled to fill the 22.8 points per game Moss contributes to the squad’s success.

Wiley (17-8, 13-7) got away quickly in the first half as the Rams struggled to hold onto the ball.  Wiley outscored Texas Wesleyan 23-5 over an eight-minute period to take a 33-14 lead.  Sixteen Texas Wesleyan turnovers in the period led to a 20-7 Wildcat advantage in points off of turnovers, and Wiley went to the locker room with a healthy 46-25 lead.

Wildcat center Kenny LaGuerre finished the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds.  Richard Simon added 14 points in the win.

Thursday scoreboard

Men

Hardin-Simmons 94, Sul-Ross State 74

Our Lady of the Lake 130, Bacone (Okla.) 75

Women

Our Lady of the Lake 91, Bacone (Okla.) 64

Texas Wesleyan 78, Wiley 71

Hardin-Simmons 81, Sul-Ross State 53

Singer knows Whitney’s story all too well

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By Barry McGuire
Special to ASSIST News Service

Whitney Houston slips away to the other side of life returning to the source from which she came. What a tragedy for us, the ones she’s left behind. I can’t help but think back on my early years as a recording artist – 300 shows a year for three years in a row. Up at 5 a.m., off to the airport, five or six hours in the air, a quick check in, a shower, then off to the venue for a sound check and the show. Then back to my room around midnight for five or six hours of sleep until the next morning when it starts all over again, day after day, week after week, year after year. When we weren’t traveling, we were recording.

If you have talent, and the music business can make money off of that talent, they will literally chew you up, swallow you whole, and

Barry McGuire

when you’re finished, they’ll defecate you into a ditch on the side of the road while all the time looking for their next “meal.”

The pressure of my schedule was crushing me, and then one day a friend turned me onto marijuana. What a relief it was to be able to mellow out, sit back, and let reality unfold. Everything was easier, funnier, and the food was tastier. The colors were brighter, and the sex was more sensual. It was a life-changer for me. What started off with one or two joints a day wound up with me smoking a half a dozen or more. By the end of the day, I would be so laid back from the grass, that I started using amphetamines to jack me up for the show. Then after the show, I’d be flying so high I’d use barbiturates to slow me down so I could get to sleep.

Because many of my friends were doing the same thing, I didn’t think my lifestyle was that bizarre, but then over the years, we lost so many – Cass Elliot, Hoyt Axton, Timmy Hardin, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, John Philips, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Lenny Bruce and those are just the famous people we know of. There are dozens more whose names were never known.

So many artists are hard-wired, manic-depressives and they use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate because they don’t want to feel the way they feel.

Mental illness is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. So please my friends, if you know anyone lost in a world of drugs and alcohol, do everything you can to get them help.

For me, help came through a spiritual awakening. I discovered the Christ living within me and around me. I had reached a point where I daily considered suicide, when I heard a small voice whispering within me telling me that it actually wanted me to commit suicide, but not biologically. It wanted me to die, but not physically. It assured me that if I were to totally lay down my life, just as though I had actually died, just let go and let God, that reality, itself, would lift me up, cradle me, guide me and direct me onto a life-sustaining path that was and still is beyond my ability to imagine.

So one night in May of 1971, I did that very thing. Barry McGuire died while lying on the floor of a house filled with friends, all laughing, smoking dope, eating peyote, drinking champagne and organic orange juice. Oh yes, it had to be organic! We certainly didn’t want any of those chemicals in our orange juice.

The next day when I woke up, I asked the little voice within me. “Now what do I do?” And it told me to leave Hollywood and return to Fresno, Calif., where my Uncle lived. He was an Armenian man who knew Christ, and had loved me since I was a little boy. That was my new beginning. That’s when I was truly born again. Just like a caterpillar dying to itself, and being birthed again as a butterfly, just as a tadpole letting go of all that it is, so it can become a new creation, and experience a whole different level of reality.

That gift is waiting there for every man, woman and child on the planet. The tragedy is, so few of them know it. And how will they ever discover this wonderful gift of forgiveness and life, if they only see judgment streaming from Christian eyes and condemnation screaming from Christian lips? Jesus Himself said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Where are your accusers?” And when she looked around, they were all gone.

And her reply to Christ was, “There are none.” And with love-filled eyes, He gazed upon her saying, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and sin no more.” Love never forgives because it doesn’t have to. It never takes offense and keeps no record of wrong doing.

Probably the only Christ that Whitney ever saw was the judgmental, finger-pointing, Bible-bashing, hell and brimstone fundamental Christianity that we’ve all come to think of as “the church.” How could Whitney ever be condemned for rejecting the false image of Christ that she’d been exposed to? But now, in my heart of hearts I know she is having a face to face with Love, Itself and that Love is saying to her, “I don’t accuse you either Whitney, be at peace, come, live with Me forever.”

Anyway, that’s my take on it. I’m sure there are many different opinions, philosophies and doctrines that look at it from a totally different perspective, but we all choose the path we want to walk, and the path I’ve chosen is a path that doesn’t even recognize an offense. My mandate from God is to Love those around me. I’ve come to know that God is the Judge. Christ is the Forgiver, and all I have to do is Love those whom God brings into my life.

This is just something to consider when you think of Whitney.

Barry McGuire, now 76 years old and married to New Zealand-born Mari, is one of the true survivors of the music business. He had a huge hit in the sixties called “Eve of Destruction,” was lead singer for several years with the New Christy Ministries, played the male lead in HAIR on Broadway, opposite Dianne Keaton, and was responsible for the Mamas & the Papas getting their first record deal. After many years of substance abuse, he became a Christian. You can find out more about his career at www.barrymcguire.com or www.trippinthesixties.com.