Monthly Archives: March 2012

Donald Trump or God? America votes on who has better advice

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Special to Inside The Pew

In a down economy, many Americans are searching for advice on how to manage their finances. But whose advice do they trust? A new study shows more Americans are willing to take advice from Donald Trump (50 percent), a man whose companies have filed for bankruptcy at least four times, than from the Bible (32 percent), the best-selling book of all time. Yet the Bible has more than 2,000 verses that relate to money and possessions.

The online survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of American Bible Society to coincide with the release of The

Donald Trump

Financial Stewardship Bible among 2,262 U. S. adults ages 18 and older, also found that:

• 1 in 10 Americans age 18-34 would be most inclined to take financial advice from Kim Kardashian
• 86 percent of Americans do not follow what the Bible says about money management
• 1 in 4 Americans (24 percent) who do not follow what the Bible says about money think they would have more money if they followed its advice
• 94 percent of Americans are unable attribute a verse from Proverbs1 about the rewards of work to the Bible

“God’s wisdom isn’t just for life and death or life’s moral conundrums,” said Lamar Vest, president of American Bible Society. “The Bible offers sound advice about managing money, avoiding debt and prospering in difficult times.”

The Bible’s counsel about personal finance is certainly timely.

“When it comes to finances, the past few years have been challenging for many Americans,” said Howard Dayton, founder and CEO of Compass–Finances God’s Way. “The Financial Stewardship Bible is designed to provide practical tips for managing money using the age-old wisdom found in its pages.”

The Financial Stewardship Bible is a collaboration between American Bible Society and Compass—Finances God’s Way. Not a new translation, The Financial Stewardship Bible is the first to highlight more than 2,000 verses about God’s perspective on money. The integrated study guide focuses on topics including earning, spending, investing, debt, bankruptcy, cosigning, inheritance, and saving for retirement.

Headquartered in Manhattan, the 195-year-old American Bible Society exists to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford so all people may experience its life-changing message. For more information, visit AmericanBible.org.

Compass—Finances God’s Way is a worldwide organization that teaches people of all ages how to handle money based on the principles of the Bible. Founded by Howard Dayton host of the nationally syndicated radio program MoneyWise and author of several books including “Your Money: Frustration or Freedom, Your Money Counts and Your Money Map,” Compass aims to equip people to improve their finances primarily through small group studies. Learn more by visiting Compass1.org

Tim Tebow as the seed planter

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

We knew it would not last long.

With all the uproar about New Jersey Knicks star Jeremy Lin and his public profession of his belief in God, Tebow took a back seat – at least for now.

But, with talk of Tebow going on a date with singer Taylor Swift and being hounded by ABC to appear on “The Bachelor,” he is back in

Tim Tebow

the spotlight. On March 3, the Denver Broncos quarterback was the featured speaker at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nev. Tebow’s visit attracted an audience of at least 20,000 at the church and more than 1,000 people logged in to the church’s website for a live feed of the Saturday service.

It is amazing how God uses people to build his Kingdom. Regardless of one’s attitude toward Tebow, the Almighty used this man to show how the Holy Spirit reigns forever. For years, God has used Timothy Richard Tebow as a vessel to carry His word to the masses. He didn’t even need the blessing or permission of a bishop or apostle to do his work. When God has something to say, He beckons even the common man.

The beauty of Tebow’s planting is he faced critics without anger, just prayer. He respected even those who proclaim the same God and had choice words for him. Tebow heard the disapproval, but it didn’t stop him. God uses ordinary common people to get his message across. The quarterback is a vessel and he accepted the call from God. He should be applauded for his willingness to let God use him. You might recall during his days at the University of Florida, Tebow placed “John 3:16” on his eye black. The move lead to an onslaught of scripture searches on Google – 94 million to be exact.  The platform to spread the message was provided to Tebow by God, and he took full advantage.

Your way of spreading the gospel is probably not by placing scriptures on eye black, but all believers are called to spread the message just the same. The word must go out to all nations.  Remember, the workers are few and the harvest is plenty (Matthew 9:37). No matter the process, do what you can to plant these much-needed seeds.

Grelan Muse is founder of Inside The Pew. Follow in on Twitter @gremuse or email him at pewnews@aol.com

Related story

Tebow’s early acknowledgement of Christ draws interest in theory 1/6/2012

Christian converts arrested in raid on Iranian house church

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By Michael Ireland
ASSIST News Service

Thirteen Christian converts have been arrested following an attack by security authorities on a house church in Iran. Three of them are being held in custody at an unknown location, according to Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com).

According to the news agency, on Feb. 21, at 7 in the evening, security authorities raided a home dedicated to be used a house church and seized all 13 gathered there for worship. To date, no precise news is available regarding some of these detainees.

Mohabat News says that during this incident, security authorities who were wearing plain clothes transferred these Christians to an unknown location while insulting and abusing them.

The authorities also invaded and thoroughly searched the detainees’ homes and confiscated some of their personal belongings.

Numerous Christian converts have already been arrested in various cities in their house church gatherings, homes or workplaces by order of judicial and security authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a result of the continued anti-Christian wave in Iran during past months.

Now, in addition to Ahwaz, Shiraz, Esfahan and Tehran, this ongoing wave has reached the city Kermanshah, 526 KMs west of Tehran, in the western part of Iran.

A knowledgeable source told Mohabat News that the Christian detainees may have been transferred to a building in Hafezieh Junction in Kermanshah or 22-Bahman Street which is known as the location of security and intelligence forces.

The source said that nine of these detainees were released the next day after their photos were taken, their details and fingerprints recorded and they signed a disclaimer stating they would not attend any Christian gatherings.

Mohabat News also received word that Ms. Azadeh Sharifi was released on February 28 after enduring 8 days in custody. As yet, no detailed information has been received regarding the way she was released.

Three other detainees, Mehdi Chaghakaboudi, Mojtaba Baba-Karami and Shirin Ghanbari, however, are still being held. Some of the named Christians had also been arrested by security authorities before.

Prior to this, on Jan. 2, 2010, the official Pentecostal church of Assyrians in Kermanshah was also closed by the order of the judicial and security authorities for spreading Christianity among Farsi-speaking Muslims and for preaching the gospel. Security authorities also arrested the pastor of the church, Wilson Isavi on Feb. 2, 2010. He was temporarily released on bail after 54 days in Dastgerd prison in Esfahan.

Mohabat News states: “With the growth in the number of Iranian converts to Christianity in recent years, and the increased pressure by the Islamic government on Christians, especially Christian converts, the Islamic Republic is seeking to stop the growth of house churches in Iran by any means.

“The Islamic Republic considers the growth of Christianity as a religious threat against its national security and is greatly concerned about the spread of the truth of the gospel among the people.”

 

I forgive because He forgave me

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Over the past 13 years of my walk with Christ, I have heard several sermons pertaining to forgiveness. As a young Christian, I had to learn about true forgiveness. I was never in situations where I had to forgive someone for a terrible act against me – until I reached my late 20s. The act included a close family member, and it had harmful ramifications to several members of my family. I was puzzled by something – the people in my family who professed believers are the ones who are holding to the past wrong at this very moment.

It puzzles me. Do they not understand what Christ said in Matthew 6: 14-16, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV). Just imagine what life would be like if Christ never forgave us for our wrongdoings? No person is perfect; we all make mistakes. There is no need to question why someone hurts you. As a Christian, it is our duty to pray to God to bring solace and to pray for the person who hurt you. The Lord told Moses in Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (NIV).

To make matters worse, some of them question why I talk positively about this individual. I explain to them it is not about taking sides, the issue is letting go of the past and moving on. I am joyful for life and blessed, while there is a part of their souls that protrudes disdain. I can tell in the way they talk and the way they treat others that there is blockage. These are hurt people. But, luckily for them, I pray for their soul to heal like mine did. Holding on to past transgressions is not good for mental, physical, and spiritual health. Our God is more than willing to take those burdens off us. Why hold on to negative energy? As T.D. Jakes said, “Let it go.” These lukewarm feelings toward a family member should not become a generational curse.

The most powerful testimonies of forgiveness I have witnessed are those of the family members of a murdered loved one. On Feb. 27 in Chardon, Ohio, 17-year-old T.J. Lane opened fire on a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table at Chardon High School. He killed Demetrius Hewlin, Russell King Jr., and Daniel Parmentor and wounded two others.

In an ABC News interview, Hewlin’s mother, Phyllis Ferguson, said she forgave Lane. “I would tell him I forgive him because, a lot of times, they don’t know what they’re doing. That’s all I’d say. … You have to forgive everything. God’s grace is new each and every day,” she said.

I am sure it was difficult, but the family can rest assured Christ has taken care of the situation. As commanded, I don’t forget what happened because it is a part of my history but I surely forgive.

Tonya Whitaker of Plano, Texas, is a former newspaper journalist and copy editor. She is managing editor of Inside The Pew. Follow Tonya on Twitter @twhitaker1974 and @pewtalk.

Christian groups among deregistered under new Kazakh religious laws

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By Jeremy Reynalds
ASSIST News Service

Hundreds of small religious groups have been stripped of their registration in Kazakhstan as a senior religious affairs official says that their activity is “now banned” under new rules.

According to news release from Barnabas Aid, a group that helps the persecuted church, a number of churches from a range of

The Kazakh Parliament building

Christian denominations, including Baptist, Presbyterian and Seventh-day Adventist, are among the 579 groups deregistered.

Barnabas Aid said Kairat Lama Sharif, chair of the Agency of Religious Affairs, described the 13 percent fall in the number of officially-recognized religious groups as “a positive dynamic in the systematization of the total number of religious associations.” He said that the number would probably decrease further as the new Religion Law is enforced.

According to Barnabas Aid, a religious group must now have at least 50 adult members to be registered. Leaders of small churches have received official warnings to stop their activity and return their registration certificates.

Barnabas Aid reported that Saule Ibrayeva, chair of Akmola Region’s Agency of Religious Affairs, said “The activity of small religious groups in the territory of Kazakhstan is now banned since there is no such form of religious association of citizens.”

He added, “We have a new law and as it does not allow for the existence of religious associations which have fewer than 50 members, then they should either re-register with 50 members or stop their activity as a religious association.”

Barnabas Aid said that small churches are still meeting for services, but they face harassment from the state. Kulyan Seydahmetova, head of the Bulandy District Internal Policy Department, said that officials “regularly visit these communities and check up on their activity.”

According to Barnabas Aid, a representative of one church said, “Now our believers are afraid each time they gather for worship. We are worried about possible punishments from the authorities.”

Although the new Religion Law came into force in October 2011, no regulations have yet been drawn up for the re-registration process.

Barnabas Aid said that deregistered groups, which must make any necessary amendments to their charters and re-register with the authorities by Oct. 25, 2012, have complained that they cannot do so until the regulations are in place. They fear that there will be only a short time to do so once these have been adopted.

And for many, Barnabas Aid said, it will not be possible to collect the 50 signatures required, because they do not have sufficient members or at least not enough willing to give their personal information to the authorities.

For more information about Barnabas Aid go to www.barnabasfund.org

 

Orality: Changing face of missions around world

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By Jerry Wiles
Special to Assist News Service

Living Water International continues to see the Lord do amazing works as our orality strategies are implemented around the world. The following is an example of the transformational stories we hear from those who have been through our orality training.

During a testimony time at the end of an Orality Training Workshop in Southern Ethiopia, an evangelist and church planter shared his experiences. He had used the orality methods and told stories he had learned when he attended a training workshop the year before. He told some of the stories in a Muslim community where the chief elder, who was also a Muslim Imam, was present.

The chief elder was very distraught over the fact that his 10-year-old daughter had been missing for several days. After hearing

In India, all ages learn and retell stories.

the stories of how Jesus performs miracles, he asked if Jesus could still perform miracles today. The evangelist said, “yes.” The chief asked the evangelist if he would pray that he could find his daughter. He said that if he could find his daughter, he would become a follower of Jesus.

The evangelist agreed to pray that they would find the daughter. They found her the very next day. The chief elder followed through with his promise to become a follower of Jesus. Not only did he embrace the Good News of Jesus, his family became followers of Jesus and the entire village as well.

Two of the stories that are part of LWI’s basic orality training are The Samaritan Woman at the Well, from John 4, and the story of The Demon-Possessed Gadarene, from Mark 5. When the appropriate questions are asked after trainees have learned the stories, amazing insights and lessons come alive. People really come to understand how Jesus can transform lives and how entire communities and geographical regions can be impacted by one person.

In our training, we emphasize that you don’t have to be a great story teller, because we have great stories to tell. And, that it is the work of the Holy Spirit that touches hearts and changes lives as we simply tell the stories and share the Work of God.

We often hear testimonies of how people, who have never personally led anyone to Christ, are telling the stories and asking the questions and seeing people come to the Lord. One man reported how he used to go into villages and pass out tracts and share his testimony, and the people wanted to argue with him. He said, “Now we go in to the communities, make friends, tell stories and ask questions, and the people want to receive Jesus and follow Him.

A leader in Asia reported that in the regions where the orality training had taken place the year before, the churches are thriving and new churches are being planted. Orality-based evangelism and disciple making efforts are removing barriers and also minimizing opposition and persecution.

Improved research in recent years shows us that more than 4.35 billion people in the world today are oral learners, by necessity or by preference. Yet, an estimated 90 percent of the world’s Christian workers present the gospel and do discipleship using highly literate communication styles. Thankfully things are changing and increasing numbers of churches and mission organizations are discovering the power and impact of telling stories, asking questions and using other oral methods in evangelism, disciple making and church planting.

Jerry Wiles serves as president emeritus of Living Water International (www.water.cc), a Houston based water solutions organization with operations in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. He is the paradigm pioneer in the orality movement and serves on the advisory council of the International Orality Network. Contact him at JerryWiles@water.cc.

Churches can extend their reach through mobile apps

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By Jeremy Reynalds
ASSIST News Service

When mobile apps first became a “must have,” only the largest churches and nonprofits could afford the hefty price tag required to hire a firm to build a custom mobile app.

Because the majority of nonprofits can’t afford that kind of money, ROAR is now releasing its own app-building CMS to help nonprofits and churches afford their own iPhone and Android apps for a fraction of the cost.

Launched in January 2010, ROAR has become a major app development firm for churches, schools, and ministries.

“Our goal is to enable each nonprofit and church we work with to reach into the community and into the pocket of every person to encourage, connect, and retain them as a customer and participant,” said Matt McKee, president of ROAR, speaking in a news release.

McKee added, “With our new software, building a custom-looking mobile app for any organization is an affordable reality.”

ROAR’s CMS is built on WordPress. McKee said, “We customized the Admin, Plugins, and WordPress sections to meet our needs, so now, every customer we work with gets their own custom WordPress build that powers their own app.”

McKee added, “A nonprofit mobile app can help organizations of all kinds communicate with their volunteers and increase donations. A church mobile app can connect members to their churches through sermon podcasts, event updates, and social media all in one place – their phones.”

McKee said, “We encourage churches and nonprofits to give away their apps for free as a way to establish loyalty and goodwill.”

The news release said as organizations update content, graphics, and audio files in their custom ROAR CMS, the app is automatically updated in real time. This ensures the app always contains the most relevant information and media.

Visit www.RoarApp.com for more information.

 

Addison, Barnes named ASC division MVP’s

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

University of Hardin-Simmons guard Matt Addison and University of Texas at Dallas forward Chris Barnes were named American Southwest Conference MVP’s for the West and East divisions, respectively, on March 1.

Addison, a Killeen native, averaged 28.6 points per game and led the Cowboys to an ASC-era school record for wins as HSU went 21-7

Matt Addison

and lost in overtime to McMurry University in the ASC Final. In that game, Addison had a career-best 41 points and he was named to the all-tournament team. Addison averaged 4.7 assists and also led the league with 2.5 steals per game. He scored a league record 744 points this season.

Barnes has earned the accolade for the second consecutive season. The San Antonio native averaged 15.6 points and six rebounds per game. Barnes also knocked down 54 three-point shots and recorded 21 blocks in leading the Comets to their fourth consecutive division title.

Addison and Barnes join Marlon Miller (Belton) of Mary Hardin-Baylor; Jeremy LaGarde (New Orleans) of East Texas Baptist; and Kyle Schleigh (Houston) of Texas-Dallas on the all-ASC team. Addison, Miller, Brandon Irwin (Thorndale) of Howard Payne, Steven Jones (Compton, Calif.) of McMurry and Travis Pflughaupt (El Campo) of Schreiner on the all-ASC West first team.

In other all-conference accolade Brian Todd (Pfluegerville) of UMHB was the defensive player of the year in the ASC West, while Greg Chiasson (Austin) of Texas-Dallas was named defensive player for the East. Mary-Hardin Baylor’s Ken DeWeese and Terry Butterfield were named coach of the year for the east and west, respectively.

The most valuable player award is as voted on by the league’s coaches.

Knowing the difference

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By Pastor Grelan A. Muse
Inside The Pew

When I was a boy growing up in Amite, La., my siblings and I had friends that would come over and play. We would always like to play games, especially with the ones we hadn’t seen in a long time. Calling myself funny, I would love to trick the younger kids. The older buds would not fall for it, but the less experienced children would. The question was, “If you had to believe in someone would it be

Grelan Muse

Satan or the devil?”  My brothers and sisters would stand around that kid looking and waiting for the answer so we all can laugh and talk about it to others.

Not comprehending the difference, the kid would stand there thinking, and he would say “Satan.” We would laugh at the answer provided and every time we seen that kid, we would make fun of him until it was not funny anymore. I believe some of us are just like that kid – confused. They don’t know the difference between loving the things of the world and the love of the Father.

At first, I didn’t understand why we allow our kids to walk around with their pants below their waist, let the youth get tattoos on their body and just about every youth that you see wants to rap. This is the ways of the world. Christian parents are working hard to buy the pants and shirts for the youth to wear, giving them money to buy music and all other things of the world. So this is why one kid kills another for the shoes that is on his feet. Parents cry and tell the youth that they work hard to give them the things they want and they repay them by disrespecting them by talking back and not going to church and getting involved in drugs and alcohol. But there is one thing the Bible says about worldly love. In 1 John 2:15-16, the author says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

When it comes to the Scripture, it is a clear-cut line. Some Christian parents try to keep their children up with the Joneses when God doesn’t want this for anyone. Instill in your children that things of the world are not the true treasures to strive for. Make the Almighty the ultimate gift. Lust of the flesh and eyes divides homes and families. Pride of life drives corporations into the ground. All these misfortunes are not an imagination of one’s mind. These things are not of the Father, and we need to avoid them at all costs.

I go back to the young child back in Amite, La., who was fooled mainly because he didn’t know better. My fellow Christians, don’t be blinded by Satan. Ignorance is not bliss. Stand behind the truth. What might look good isn’t always what it seems. I heard a sermon one time that being a God-fearing person is one of the hardest things. We are bombarded with images and news that takes away from God’s law. What are we to believe? Remember, culture changes. God’s word doesn’t. Amen.

Grelan A. Muse Sr. is founder of Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries Inc.. and Inside The Pew, a nonprofit organization based in Baton Rouge, La. Follow him on Twitter @gremuse.