Monthly Archives: December 2012

Count 2012’s blessings, look forward to abundance in 2013

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By Terry McGee
Inside The Pew

As 2012 hastens to a close, I reflect back on the marvelous things God has done this year. This writing is to encourage those who are pursuing their passion or dream that was given by God. I know we all experienced some entrepreneurial pains in 2012, but that was to toughen us up for the reward he has for us in 2013.

God wants all of his children to experience success in something. And “something” is not always tied to a dollar sign. We sometimes get caught up in that numbers game and lose sight that our life is not our own! If we let God do this thing, he will set everything up for us, including the people we need around us. It seems that when we try to set it up the way we want to do it, disappointment in the people we pick happens. That is why God will send us the right people when we let “His” will be done. He comes to us most of the time at night, while we are sleeping. He will drop that “something” off in our dream, and sometimes, later, wakes us up to give us directions. Over the past few years, I know that so many of us have been out there trying to make things happen. For those, let me tell you God always delivers! As in everything in life we do, let’s remember Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (ESV).

Believe it’s your season, claim it’s your season! But by all means, give God His due! God is already there waiting, he sometimes holds off because we are not there, or we decided to take the wheel and make Him the “shotgun” rider, and at that point, he will patiently wait! So if you are driving, pull over and swap seats with “Him” and see how much faster you get to where you want to go! As the old saying goes…Let go and Let God!! As I close this out, please be mindful that the enemy does not want anybody to succeed if it lifts up the Lord, so take with you:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17 ESV).

Now get ready for the reward of your faithfulness in 2013!! Blessings!

Terry McGee is host of Simply Inspiring Radio on Pew Talk Radio. His show runs from 5 to 7 p.m. CST Tuesday through Friday. Visit www.pewtalkradio.com to listen to his show and learn more about McGee.

Book review: Peace making as a way of life for pastors

Published by:

By Michael Ireland
Special Reporter, ASSIST News Service

Editor’s note: This review was first published on Michael Ireland’s blog, “Devotional Moments with Mike.”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (ANS) – In the introduction to ‘The Peace Making Pastor’ by Alfred Poirier (Baker Books, 2006), the author states that to be a pastor is to be a peacemaker (p.13).

Poirier says that too often pastors view peacemaking as only a tool of ministry, rather than a habit of being. “Instead of being ministers or reconciliation (2 Cor.5:19-20), we confine peacemaking to special crisis situations within the church.”

Poirier actually goes further than to say that just pastors are peacemakers or in the ‘ministry of reconciliation.’

Poirier says: “Since God reconciled all things in heaven and on earth to himself through the death of his Son on the cross (Col.1:19-20), then we who are children of God are redeemed to be reconcilers.”

Poirier develops this theme in Chapter 5, ‘Peacemaking in the Family of God,’ specifically on p.92, under the heading ‘Theology of Sonship.’ Here he says that Jesus’ connection between “peacemakers” and being called “sons of God” is not an arbitrary one. “Peacemaking is the defining characteristic of sonship. And of all Christian virtues and actions, peacemaking reflects most the meaning of being a son or daughter of God.”

This is my favorite chapter in the book because here the author lays out the biblical basis and foundation for our role as 24/7/365 Christians to be peacemakers and reconcilers in a broken and hurting world.

Poirier goes on to say that if this claim is true (that Scripture proclaims and endorses this view of us as believers), “we must not relegate our individual identity as sons and daughters and our corporate identity as family to a minor place in our theology, as if our sonship were one image among many that Scripture uses to describe God’s relationship with the church.”

Poirier states three reasons why this ‘sonship reconciliation theology’ is true.

First, he says that the significance of sonship is proved by its dominant presence in several key ‘programmatic’ passages of Scripture (Rom.8:15-32; Gal.3:15-4:7; Eph.1:3-6; Heb.2:1-18;12:1-14;1 John 3:1-3). [By programmatic he means those texts that give the sweep and order of God’s redemptive purposes].

Second, Poirier says sonship is the distinctive mark of the new covenant. He says that in Galatians 3:26-4:7, Paul likens the radical shift in the status of God’s people in redemptive history to the transition from being slaves to being sons.

The third line of evidence showing the significance of sonship in God’s redemptive purposes is that sonship is a key characteristic of our sanctification, most overtly seen in Hebrews 12.

Poirier says (p.95) that to be “Like father, like son,” is not only a common proverb, but is inherently biblical in nature. “In Scripture, sonship is about likeness.”

Elsewhere in Scripture, Paul says that we are ‘heirs and joint heirs (co-heirs) with Christ’ and that one day we shall be like Him. But there is a very real sense in that we are called to be like Him NOW. Jesus said ‘the Kingdom is within you, and NOW is’ – the Kingdom of God has come near, is with us, and within us NOW by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Therefore, if we are heirs, and joint heirs with Christ NOW, we are to be like Him NOW, and to exercise the role of peacemakers and reconcilers NOW.

From reading Poirier, I conclude that not only pastors, but all Bible-believing Christians, are to be “reconciling peacemakers,” as Paul says, “as if God were making His appeal to you though us.”

This being the case, I believe it is incumbent upon us as Christ followers, in the words of Paul, to “as much as it is within your power, live at peace with all men,” and “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

For me, this means to live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed life, seeking to bring the message of ‘the peace with God’ and ‘the peace of God’ to all men, everywhere.

Media is not alone in need to learn more about mental health

Published by:

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

When the news that Newtown, Conn., school massacre shooter Adam Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome, the media immediately began to spew false information about autism. Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder, not a mental illness. Since the Dec. 14 attack that left 20 children and six adults dead, professionals who work in mental health and parents of children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome have taken a stand to educate the public.

“They (the media) are trying to connect some dots, because that is what they do,” said Aimee Colbert, a pastoral counselor in Fort Worth. “Without knowing the truth is irresponsible, it is bad on their part. This type of reaction is especially trying on the people who have to deal with it.”

The media is not the only institution that needs help understanding mental health and developmental disorders; the church does too.

For years, the mental health community has felt the church needs to step beyond reading scripture and prayer to help parents and children of their congregations.

In 2011, author Edward Rogers, and psychologist Matthew Stanford and social worker Diana Garland of Baylor University, found in their study, “The Effects of Mental Illness On Families With Faith Communities,” that “mental illness of a family member can destroy the family’s connection with the religious community, leading many affected families to leave the church and their faith behind.”

The study, which appeared in the online journal “Mental Health, Religion, and Culture,” interviewed 6,000 participants from 24 churches representing four Protestant denominations. Researchers examined the impact of mental illness in a family on church involvement and spiritual practices. Stanford told Dr. Steve Grcevich in a February 2012 interview that approximately a quarter of the families in the survey are struggling with caring for a loved one with mental illness and it has disrupted their connect with God.

“Sadly, these families appear virtually invisible to the congregation as a whole,” said Stanford, who is a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical studies at Baylor University.

Colbert’s thoughts echo of the article. She said churches should do more to address the mental and behavioral needs of their congregants, especially in the African American church.

“It is one of the things that has become a cancer, a virus. Now people are doing off-the-wall things. The church is about meeting needs, if your church has people with mental illness, it must be addressed. There are a lot of things outside of the Bible people need to know. The Bible is not against these things because the Bible doesn’t say it, Colbert said.

“I know of people who feel ashamed. They either feel isolated even stop going to church.”

Ready to make a change?

Is your congregation in need of additional sources to help the children and parents who are affected by mental health and behavioral disorders? Church Basement Press, publisher of titles that support the work of faith-based community organizations, recently published “Defying Mental Illness: Finding Recovery with Community Resources and Family Support” ($19.99 paperback and Nook; $7.99 Kindle, USD). The authors – Paul Komarek and Andrea Schroer – provide help on recovery. It is more than a source for support. The book educates readers on several topics, including childhood disorders, mental illness, suicide prevention, and mental illness in layman’s terms. The book is endorsed by a National Alliance on Mental Illness advocate, who said the book “provides what’s needed most.”

Learn more about Church Basement Press at www.churchbasement.net.

Alfred Hitchcock never lost his faith

Published by:

By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

A Jesuit priest called to the home of internationally acclaimed film director Alfred Hitchcock at the end of his life maintains he never lost his faith, contrary to the opinion of some historians.

“A biographer said that the director, at the end of his life, shunned religion. Not true. I was there,” says Fr. Mark Henninger, a Jesuit priest and professor of philosophy at Georgetown University, writing in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

In 1980, Henninger was a graduate student in philosophy at UCLA as well as a priest. A fellow priest, Tom Sullivan, knew Hitchcock and invited Henninger to accompany him one Saturday afternoon to “hear Hitchcock’s confession” and “celebrate a Mass,” according to the WSJ article.

“I entered his home in Bel-Air to see him dozing in a chair in a corner of his living room, dressed in jet-black pajamas,” Henninger writes. “Tom gently shook him. Hitchcock awoke, looked up and kissed Tom’s hand.”

Sullivan introduced Hitchcock to Henninger as a “young priest from Cleveland.”

“Cleveland?” he said. “Disgraceful!”

Hitchcock’s wife, Alma, joined the three in Hitchcock’s study, where they celebrated Mass. “Hitchcock had been away from the church for some time, and he answered the responses in Latin the old way,” Henninger notes in the WSJ.

But it was the director’s emotional response that gripped the young priest in an unforgettable way. “The most remarkable sight was that after receiving communion, he silently cried, tears rolling down his huge cheeks.”

Henninger went back several more times to celebrate Mass with the English film director, visits always initiated by Hitchcock. After briefly engaging in small talk in the living room, Hitchcock would say, “Let’s have Mass.”

“He died soon after these visits and his funeral Mass was at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills,” Henninger recounts.

“Why exactly Hitchcock asked Tom Sullivan to visit him is not clear to us and perhaps was not completely clear to him. But something whispered in his heart, and the visits answered a profound human desire, a real human need,” Henninger notes in the WSJ.

Henninger observes that at least one biographer mistakenly thought that Hitchcock rejected any visits by priests to celebrate Mass at the end of his life. “That in the movie director’s final days he deliberately and successfully led outsiders to believe precisely the opposite of what happened is pure Hitchcock.”

 

Donovan has important message in book ‘The Hard Way’

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Special to Inside The Pew

TULSA, Okla. – When his self-destructive nature spiraled out of control and threatened to take his life, Jeremy Donovan found salvation and redemption through God, turning his life around to become healthy and successful.

In his new book, “The Hard Way,” Donovan shares his story and the lessons to be learned from it with his readers, helping to save them from having to learn the hard way, “The hard way is not the way to go. It’s, well, hard. Even when things seem fun and you’re getting away with it, that boulder can come and take you out.”

When Donovan hit rock bottom, he saw no way off of the path that he was on, “I was at rock bottom and saw no way out… but I hadn’t bargained for God’s intervention!” After he attempted to OD on drugs and pills, God clearly spoke to his heart, urging him, “Quit trying and get help.”

Donovan, who now serves as youth pastor of Destiny Life church, a multi-campus church in the Tulsa, Okla., area. urges his readers who are on a similar path to ask God to help them change, “Right this moment, you can stop, pray, and ask God to search your heart. Then ask Him to help you change, and show you how to change. He is faithful and He will answer that prayer.”

He reminds readers that God’s message to each of us is, “‘I love you so much. You are my favorite and I am proud of you. I want what is best for you. Trust in me to give you the desires of your heart.’” It is this message that will ultimately carry Donovan’s readers through their trials and help them to find the grace that they need to see them through the long road back to the right path.

Making these choices helps readers to “close the doors to destruction” and rewrite their legacies.

In 2008, he along with friend and ministry-partner, Matt Moore, founded “The SOZO Movement,” a series of testimonies from everyday people sharing the love and power of Jesus Christ.

Donovan’s show airs on Revolution TV (ReVTV), http://RevTV.com, a live streaming network that broadcasts in hi-definition over the Internet, mobile devices, and IPTV.

Learn more about Donovan at http://jeremydonovan.me/

Could Connecticut school shooting wake up the church in New England?

Published by:

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

NEWTOWN, CT (ANS) — Clive Calver, the London-born senior pastor of Walnut Hill Community Church (www.walnuthillcc.org) in Bethel, Conn., and Walnut Hill, a network of five charismatic evangelical churches serving more than 3,500 people in western Connecticut, believes that the shocking shooting at Sandy Hook School, could wake up the Church in the New England state where he is now based.

Calver, who lives in Newtown, where the shooting took place Dec. 14, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza first killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home, and then gunned down 26 people at the elementary school — 20 of which were children — has released comments on the tragedy.

Calver, for former head of the British Evangelical Alliance, and later president of US-based World Relief, writing in Charisma News (www.charismanews.com), explained his involvement in the terrible incident.

“There’s never any indication that a day that starts as mundanely as any other will turn out to be so unfathomably unlike any other. But, this day, it didn’t take too long before we knew it was not going to be business as usual,” he began.

“As soon as I pulled into Walnut Hill’s car park, I was greeted outside by Paul Cathcart, one of our Pastors of Care, who said he’d received a reverse 911 call that there’d been a school shooting in-the town where his 8-year-old son attends school.

“With his wife, Stacy, on the way to pick him up, we then learned that the shooting was at Sandy Hook Elementary, their son’s school. Clearly, letting them drive themselves would have been careless, so I jumped in the car and prayed them through the 10-minute drive up I-84 to Sandy Hook.

“On the way there, Stacy received a text from a friend that their son Alasdair was safe, having been ‘rushed to safety,’ as Paul would later post on Facebook, ‘by a very courageous teacher.’ But, of course, that took only a palpable edge off our drive. What else would we find there?

“When we arrived on scene-the mad chaotic logjam of emergency vehicles, first responders, mini vans and frantic parents-Paul simply jumped from the car, knowing his son was safe, and sprinted into the fray to see how he could be helpful.

“I called in reinforcements, and two of our youth pastors and another of our care pastors came. We soon found ourselves at the fire house, where parents and children were being reunited. We prayed with anxious parents-several who attend our church-as they waited to see a glimpse of their child, unscathed. We prayed for little kids. We just prayed.”

Calver continued by saying that soon, things started to calm down; the enormity of what we’d soon learn had yet to be disclosed.

“I made my way back to Sandy Hook’s downtown, which basically consists of an intersection with a few shops and restaurants and a liquor store. And that was where I saw it, directly outside the liquor store: an A-frame sandwich board, with a hand-written sign that said, simply and poignantly, ‘Say a prayer,’ to remember the God that New England has — for too long — largely forgotten,” he said.

“I have no idea whether that shop owner knows Jesus. I have no idea his denomination, his political bent, his views on anything else. I just know that he knew what we needed to do on this day. We needed, of course, to say a prayer.

“When it began to dawn on everyone that 20 sets of parents would never be reunited with 20 small innocent children, we had four pastors in the room where the parents waited. My wife, Ruth (our Pastor of Women), was one of them. She and the others described the gut-wrenching scene when Gov. Dannel Malloy told them their children were killed as ‘a moment we’ll never forget.’

“They came back to the church wrecked, heartbroken and exhausted. And yet, there was still ministering to do that night. In an emergency meeting of our pastors and directors, we made a decision to cancel a scheduled performance of our Christmas musical, and instead hold a community prayer service so people could come, stand together and pray for one another.

“In just a few hours-with the word spread like wildfire through Facebook, on our website and via text messages-we gathered, 500-strong, to pray, to weep, to share and to worship the God we know as Protector, Comforter, Healer and Lord.

“We prayed. We prayed for the families of those who perished-including two mothers who attend our weekday women’s ministry and lost children; we prayed for those who were in that school and saw horrible things; we prayed for the greater Newtown community; we prayed for first responders; we prayed for each other. And we prayed-we prayed powerfully and pointedly-against the evil one, casting him out of our community in the name of Jesus.”

Clive Calver then said, “Earlier in the day, in that fire station, a guy walked past muttering ‘Jesus.’ But he said it in such a way that I knew he wasn’t crying out to the Lord; it was a cry of disbelief, almost an epithet. He knew His name, but it was quite clear he’d lost the meaning of the Name. He, like so many others in this part of New England — where we calculate about 3 percent are evangelical Christian-is living in pretty much a godless state. It’s a place where people have little time for God, and it must perplex Him that — when tragedy of this magnitude strikes — the churches fill up … for a time.

“Our prayer is that this evil, this unspeakable horror, would be the turning point for what God is doing in New England. We’ve spent the last nearly eight years here, breaking up the land and laying seed for a harvest — or revival in New England.

“Maybe, just maybe, this is the wake-up call. Maybe, just maybe, this is when the church springs into action, being the hands and feet of Jesus and shining His light in this darkness. People here need Jesus and it’s our job to introduce Him to them.”

He said that Walnut Hill Community Church is mobilizing. “We’re lining up counselors to minister to the grieving. We’re collecting money, to be spent in a way that will bring long-term benefit to a broken community. We’re linking churches together, so that — together with God — we go forward from this horrible day and come away better.”

South African author reveals social concern with ‘Diamonds In The Dust’

Published by:

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

The concern of HIV/AIDS around the world takes a front seat Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day. In the 20-plus years since the first commemoration, South Africa had made strides to help its men, women, and children. While there is work that still needs to be done, deaths from HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa have declined. In 2011, 1.2 million South Africans died from the disease, down 32 percent from 2010, according to the UNAIDS report. In addition, the reports explain 5.6 million people in South Africa are living with HIV/AIDS.

A social conscience from people within and outside of South Africa is needed to help South Africans through this catastrophe. Shirley Tucker, author of the award-winning novel “Diamonds in the Dust,” uses her storytelling ability and faith in God to present a story of perseverance, hope, amid the storm. The South African author tells the story of Ida Morgan, a woman who experience the unthinkable when her husband is murdered. Ida’s road to healing and wholeness is paved by “diamonds in the dust.” Ida begins to question God and wonder how He could allow the wicked to gain a victory. In the end, Ida sees it is not God’s way of punishing people, it is His way of placing Ida in a role to help defenseless people in society, including children who are afflicted with AIDS.

As a backdrop to the powerful novel is the realism Tucker uses to tell “Diamonds in the Dust.” The novel is the winner of the 2011 inaugural Athanatos Christian Ministries Christian Novel Contest and it is worthy of the award. The author allows the reader to see what life is like in South Africa, such as Ida coming in contact with AIDS sufferers, orphans, and homeless people in her country. Ironically, Tucker and her husband, Mark, are founders of Phakamani Foundation to distribute micro-loans to enterprising, but poor, women in South Africa.

Top reviews for the novel include Kirkus, where a reviewer concludes Tucker’s “Diamonds in the Dust” beholds “an addictive storyline that pulls at the reader’s social conscience and sense of justice, delivered in an honest, humane manner.” Furthermore, the Dove Foundation awarded Tucker’s “must read” novel the highest ranking a piece can receive, five Doves.

On this World AIDS Day 2012 (and everyday), it is important for those who confess His to listen to God’s divine call and help those in society who cannot help themselves. As it is said in Psalm 34:22, “The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” (NIV). Just as Ida found, forsaking our comforts and doing what is best in the name of God benefits everyone.