Monthly Archives: April 2013

Book review: Former NFL quarterback encourages others to be their best

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

For 14 seasons, Randall Cunningham was the versatile NFL quarterbackLay_It_Down_Randall_Cunningham whom teams depended on to make miracles happen on the gridiron.

Now, Cunningham, 50, is a pastor, a mentor, and an author. His second book, “Lay It Down: How Letting Go Brings Out Your Best,” (Worthy Publishing, $19.99) was recently released. The book takes readers through several episodes in his professional and private life that brought him to rely on God for support and clarification. The most pressing situation – the accidental drowning death of his 2-year-old son, Christian, in 2010. Cunningham fittingly alludes to the death of his son in the title of chapter 2, “The Biggest Hit I Ever Took.”

Instead of showing frustration for his son’s death, Cunningham immediately praised Him. “I got in my car, backed out of the driveway, and began to scream, ‘Hallelujah! Praise God! Thank you! I love you, God.”

“The goal of the book is to allow people to think about life solutions,” said Cunningham, who spent his career playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Baltimore Ravens. “There is no way we could have got through this (the death of Christian) on our own.”

Fittingly, Cunningham uses football-related phrases to frame his story. Nice touch. For further study of the chapter, the book includes reflection questions and epigraphs from the Bible, C.S. Lewis, Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy, Tony Dorsett, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.

Mentorship takes on a circular meaning in “Lay It Down.” Cunningham said mentors have been “divinely planted” in his life.

“I’ve always had mentors, I just didn’t realize it,” he told Inside The Pew. “When I was in Pop Warner as a boy, there were men who volunteered their time to coach me. When I attended church, I had pastors who would pray for me. There were teachers who took a vested interest in me because if they didn’t I would not have become the man I am today.”

Cunningham credits Troy Johnson and Robert Johnson for introducing him and his wife, Felicity, into discipleship.

In the book, he also mentions how he is mentored by the nearly 12,000 members of his Las Vegas, Nev., church – Remnant Ministries.

As an NFL player, Cunningham considered the late Reggie White as his mentor, among others. Near the end of chapter 4, he speaks highly of hall of fame defensive end. But, before the “minister” began to connect with him, Tom Cameron introduced him how to stand with God and become a born-again believer. The prose here was engaging.

“It was Reggie White who got in my face and told me you better straighten your life up,” he said.

Just as some of the same ways teachers and pastors mentored to him, Cunningham serves the same role to teens who participate in the high school track and field and club track and field teams he coaches. As a coach, he said is able to mentor to athletes, especially those who are fatherless.

Cunningham wrote, “The building block of our culture begins with strong families, and the father is vital to that equation. Children need a father who is there. … Mentoring begins as a father.”

The book can fit into the classifications of a biography and inspirational non-fiction (well-organized story telling in several chapters). Cunningham’s message is clear as the reader closes its covers: set goals, stay focused, and never hesitate to rest on others for support. These attributes have taken Cunningham pretty far.

“Lay It Down: How Letting Go Brings Out Your Best” is available at Amazon and Borders. To learn more about Remnant Ministries, visit http://www.remnantministries.net/.

How to make money? Learn from the right sources

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Ahmad Davis

By Ahmad Davis
Special to Inside The Pew

Everyone’s journey to true personal financial freedom is different, but the path is similar. My journey started in 2000 when I was homeless and going through a divorce.

I learned some simple systems for taking control over my finances that have helped me to stop being overwhelmed, pay off debt, strengthen my marriage, and coach a multitude of professionals, couples, and businesses.

Step 1: Learn from the right sources

My oldest daughter is a stereotypical teenager in some respects. She loves to listen to music, her fashion sense is affected by the fads of the day, and she sometimes believes in the wisdom of her peers over the wisdom of us older people. So I decided to take a different approach when challenging some of that wisdom, I would ask for proof. This proof would be need to be in writing from another reliable source, and sometimes more proof is needed. I found that her friends were usually exaggerating about their knowledge or were just plain wrong.

Personal finance is much the same. There are a lot of “experts” giving different opinions about the same information.

Step 2: Do they work from a proven system?
Proven systems can typically be easily explained and have a step by step process involved. If your source can not walk you through the process from A to Z, walk away. This person or business either is not performing these steps in their own lives, have not walked other people through the system successfully, and/or have not taken the time to structure the information so that is easy to understand and simple to implement.

Key Point: Some systems are proven by personal example, some are proven by success of others, but all can be taught in a step by step format.

Step 3: Can you find it in Scripture?
If you look, the Scripture will give you guidance on what to do and what not to do with every part of personal finance from debt, saving, budgeting, investing, making money with a business, etc. One of my favorite Scriptures on this is Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything,but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

When you are receiving financial advice, simply walk them through this process and you will quickly weed out advice that is not in your long term best interest.

Ahmad Davis is a Coach with Victory By Design, a firm based in Beaumont, Texas, serving clients locally, nationally and internationally. Ahmad provides solutions for individuals, couples, and businesses who are overwhelmed and stressed financially. Ahmad’s typical clients’ are pastors, single parents, lawyers, couples, doctors, business executives, newlyweds, business owners, and others who want a simple solution with remarkable measurable results. For more information, visit http://www.thebiblicalblueprint.com. To get your questions answered on the Inside The Pew Forum, email Ahmad at coach@thebiblicalblueprint.com.

Cunningham to NFL Draft hopefuls: ‘Pray for favor’

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Back in 1985, Randall Cunningham was a quarterback from theRandall Cunningham University of Nevada at Las Vegas with hopes of becoming a professional football player in the NFL.

It didn’t immediately happen.

During the NFL Draft, he had to wait until the second round for his dream to come to pass, when the Philadelphia Eagles took Cunningham with the 37th pick, the first quarterback selected in the second round.

Cunningham said he got impatient when he wasn’t chosen in the first round. He said he went to the store. He said when he got home, Cunningham recalled he had a message from the Philadelphia Eagles that the team had chosen him.

His first year, he was back-up to the aging veteran, Ron Jaworski. During rookie season, the Santa Barbara, Calif., native completed 34 percent of his passes, with one touchdown and eight interceptions.

With the 2013 NFL Draft set to start April 25, Cunningham said it is essential for NFL hopefuls to keep the faith and to be patient.

“At this point, there is nothing else they can do but pray and ask that God give them favor with these teams,” he told Inside The Pew during an interview about his new book, “Lay It Down.” “Being drafted is only the beginning.”

Unlike last year’s draft where Robert Griffith III and Andrew Luck were the known to be the top two draft picks, there is speculation about this year’s top picks at quarterback. According to The Sporting News, quarterback Geno Smith (West Virginia) could go first and while The Orlando Sentinel suggests quarterback EJ Manuel (Florida State) could go high in the second round.

Three-day coverage of the 2013 NFL Draft, held in New York City, will be broadcast live on ESPN and the NFL Network beginning at 7 p.m. CST.

Northrop: Can you be content in the midst of a storm?

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By Cynthia Northrop
Special to Inside The Pew

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that the things that happened to meCynthia Northrop have rather furthered the advancement of the gospel, so that my imprisonment has become known in the whole palace guard and to everyone else, and most of the brothers, having put their trust in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have even more courage to speak the word fearlessly” (Philippians 1:12-14).

These words in the Book of Philippians, penned by Paul while he was in prison, always struck me with such force. There is something powerful occurring when one can see beyond a particular set of circumstances they find themselves in. I suppose that is one of the reasons his words, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am,” (Philippians 4:11) resonate with me and is one of my favorite bible verses.

We all face challenging times and difficult circumstances. More often than not, these times that challenge the soul happen throughout our lives and are not limited to just one or two isolated instances. Many of us have read inspirational quotes like, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” or something to the effect of trials will come but it’s how we choose to respond to them that makes the difference.

What really makes the difference is the power of the Holy Spirit residing in believers because when the going gets tough we need something bigger than ourselves. We can rely on the fact that Jesus in us is greater than any circumstance or obstacle we may face.

God’s faithfulness may not look or feel like what we think it should look and feel like. He may ask us to learn to be content in the midst of the storm or the fire. He may ask us:

  • Can you be content in me in a job where you have been marginalized, persecuted, demoralized and humiliated?
  • Can you be content in me with your less than perfect health?
  • Can you be content in me with your loneliness?
  • Can you be content in me when you lose a loved one?
  • Can you be content in me with failure?

The secret is resting, trusting and believing that just as God ministered grace, mercy and peace to Paul while he was imprisoned, He will be faithful to do the same to us in our particular set of circumstances.

Trust and know that In the midst of any hardship or challenge that He has a plan and a purpose, and like King David, command your soul to hope in the Lord. Believe that He loves you and that He has you in the palm of His hand. Believe that He is your provider, protector, defender, and even your best friend.

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” John 15:15.

Cynthia Northrop considers herself a community activist desirous of being salt and light in the world as called by God. She has been active in local government serving in the capacity of elected official and has served on numerous boards and committees including The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of North Central Texas. She is a musician singer/songwriter with 5 self-produced CD’s of mostly original work and has served on her church praise and worship team for over 20 years. Cynthia’s writing endeavors include stints reporting for a Christian tabloid released in the DFW metroplex, articles for local newspapers, technical writing and blogs. She is currently writing her first book. Cynthia is a long-time certified health and fitness professional with over 20 years of group exercise and personal training under her belt.

Congregations to observe Blue Sunday on April 28, pray for victims of child abuse

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Each year, hundreds of churches around the country partner with Shepherding the Next Generation to bring awareness to the thousands of children who are victims of abuseBlueSunday and neglect.

This year, on April 28, congregations will do the same. Shepherding the Next Generation, a network of 250 evangelical pastors and ministry leaders, is working with churches to promote awareness and action. According to the organization, an estimated 611,000 children who were victims of abuse and neglect in 2011, and the 1,570 children who died as a result.

“Children hold a special place in the Savior’s heart (Matthew 19) so doesn’t it stand to reason we should care deeply about them also?” said Steve Mays, pastor of Calvary Chapel Southbay in Los Angeles, and member of Shepherding the Next Generation.

On the last Sunday in April, churches commit to pray for the victims and their rescuers. Participating congregations may also hold toy drives, host community forums, or commit to volunteer in ways that support at-risk children and families.

“Pastors have unique insights about their congregations, and a strong sense of the challenges young parents and families are facing,” said Tom Pearce, the national director of Shepherding the Next Generation. “As members of Shepherding the Next Generation, they know that preventing child abuse and neglect is essential for healthy families.”

Pearce said that proven strategies to prevent abuse and neglect include parent coaching, and encouraging mentoring and discipleship relationships within the church.

Jay Dennis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., said, “When God’s people are shown a need, the only appropriate response is to fill that need just as He would.”

To learn more about Blue Sunday, visit www.joinbluesunday.org.

 

Track and field ministry reacts to bombings at Boston Marathon

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

The April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon has caused great concern within the track and field community.

Steve McConkey, president of 4WINDS, a track and field ministry that works with athletes worldwide, said the attack will change how road races will be conducted in the United States.

“You will see Olympic type security at all events, including more track and field meets. Sad day for the running community in the USA.

“We need to pray for those injured and for the families of those who died at Boston. Pray the authorities would find who is responsible.”

On Tuesday, federal agents continued their investigation for possible clues to the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured 170. Authorities have asked the public to help by submitting video clips or other evidence that could lead to answers. Two bombs exploded within seconds of one another at the finish line of the storied race.

McConkey said he was 100 meters from where the bomb went off during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Steve was with his wife, Liz, their son, and a family friend.

After the Atlanta bomb, McConkey said members of his family were interviewed by the FBI because they saw a person with a large Army bag going in the direction of where the bomb eventually went off in Atlanta. In Atlanta, they saw people being pushed back or more people would have died. They were close enough to feel the wind from the bomb.

The McConkeys have been involved in world-class track and field ministries since 1981, spanning eight Olympics. Their ministry is based in Madison, Wis.

Read more about this ministry and keep up with the latest news from in track and field at http://www.trackandfieldreport.com.

Snyder: Facing our fears with faith

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By John Snyder
Special to Inside The Pew

The horrifying bombing in Boston on April 15 brings to our minds the tragedy of September 11. None of us have forgotten that day. Nor have those who lost their loved onebostonwebs and friends. These hideous acts are designed to strike fear in our hearts and cripple our strength.

As Christians, we’re just as likely to become fearful as the next person. We can permit this use of violence and intimidation to completely overwhelm us, or we can say with the Psalmist:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
-Psalm 46:1-3

God has called us to be his people of strength and courage. Our lives are in his hands. When these situations fill us with fear, let’s remember that God is by our side—we have nothing to be afraid of. Let this thought empower us to walk boldly and encourage our families, neighbors, and friends. Read through the Scriptures, sing songs of God’s power and deliverance. Praise him for his might and mercy. Let us be the pillars that people lean on during these, and other, fear-filled times.

John I. Snyder, a pastor and speaker, is the author of “Your 100 Day Prayer.” Connect with Snyder at at http://your100dayprayer.com or

 

Maggio: Sex and the single mom

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By Jennifer Maggio
Special to Inside The Pew

Yep, I’m going there. There’s no sense in pretending the subject does not exist, so… buckle up.

I recently came across a website that INFURIATED me. In fact, that is probably a serious understatement. Since my life’s passion is singledsc_0062 moms, I am always researching single parents’ topics. I happened upon an article regarding sex and singles. I would not dare give you the name of the site, because I will not give them the satisfaction of multiple hits. But here is what the meat of the article said, loosely translated:

“My name is Sally. I am single. I have been for some time. I am also a Christian. I have been for some time. And I am sexually active. I have been for some time. God created sex. Sex is good. And since no normal human being would be able to abstain for any length of time anyway (and God really does not expect us to), I know God will forgive me. I’m going for it and you should do the same.”

The lengthy article sparked quite the controversy. I almost chimed in with the hundreds of other comments and voiced my outrage, but quickly knew that it would fall on deaf ears and she wrote that article (and many like it) for that exact reason.

Eighty percent of the country identifies themselves as Christian, so why is it that none of us talk about this subject? Christians follow God’s written word as their life’s instruction book – The Bible. The Bible is more than clear on its principles regarding sex.

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does…” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT).

There are dozens and dozens of Scriptures that outline God’s word for how sex is supposed to happen. Sex is good. It IS right. But only within God’s plan for our lives.

This is not new news for most of us. We’ve heard it before. But have you ever wondered why God puts such a difficult “don’t” on our list? Have you ever thought, like the woman above, that this was a ridiculous measure for which no one could ever live up to? That ain’t right how God won’t let us have any fun, huh?

Well let me tell you what “ain’t right”…

– Suicides among teen girls

– Sexually transmitted diseases affect millions

– AIDS in still an incurable disease

– Millions of babies have been killed through abortion, because moms cannot afford to or do not see how they could care for them.

– Fifty percent of babies are born outside marriage today, which leads to single parenting. Single parenting among those under 25 is most often associated with lower income rates, higher high school dropout rates, suicide, depression, and abuse.

Those are the facts. (The Church and the Single Mom, Carepoint 2011). That does not even broach the subject of giving oneself over sexually to another and how the emotions tie in or the broken hearts that follow

Let me challenge you with this idea. As a parent, when we tell our 7-year-old not to play in the street, is it because we do not want him to have any fun playing kickball with his friends? Are we just plain ol’ mean parents? No, of course not. It is because we understand the potential danger that our precious 7-year-old could experience and we want to protect him — EVEN IF HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHY. The exact same is true for Christians. Our Heavenly Father does not want to hinder joy in our lives, but He does want to protect us from potential harm.

And before you decide that I am some rigid, unbending, beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-Bible, finger-pointing, judgmental Christian, let me stop you. I WAS some of those statistics. I was sexually active at 13, pregnant four times by 19, and dabbled in sexual promiscuity for years thereafter, living in poverty, depression, abuse, and more. I have lived it and seen first-hand the devastation it causes.

Today, as I work full time with single parents, I have seen hundreds of young teens walk through the most difficult seasons of their lives because they did not wait. I’ve seen thousands of single moms struggle emotionally and financially, because they did not wait. I’ve seen the trickle affect that this one simple concept (or lack thereof) has had on our economy, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth.

And before my inbox is flooded with countless emails, let me be clear. Everyone has their list of issues they are working on. (I know I sure do). No one thing is greater than the other. I am not saying this is just a single parent problem, obviously, but my passion is for helping the single parent live a better life.

Before you embark on one more meaningless sexual relationship that could very well leave you more emotionally broken, more financially broken, and more spiritually broken, think about its effects and know that there is great freedom in simply waiting for the right one.

Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parent issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her riveting story of homelessness, severe abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies. She has appeared on countless radio and television programs, and she is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

 

Rick Warren’s youngest son takes life after struggle with mental illness

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Pastor Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” and senior pastor of Saddleback Valley

Rick Warren and Dan Wooding this year

Rick Warren, left, and Dan Wooding this year

Community Church in Lake Forest, Ca., has announced that his 27-year-old son, Matthew, has taken his own life.

In an anguished message sent to the church staff early on Saturday morning, Warren wrote, “Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.

“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.

“You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.

“But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.

“Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.”

Pastor Warren went on to say, “Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said ‘Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?’ but he kept going for another decade.

“Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back. Pastor Rick.”

On hearing the tragic news, Southern California evangelist and pastor, Greg Laurie, who lost his first-born son Christopher David Laurie, in an auto accident in Riverside County, Calif., in 2008 posted on his blog, “I too have had a son die, so I have a sense of the pain Rick and Kay are facing. But their circumstances are different and my heart goes out to them. At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word.

“There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel. God is with us. I know the Lord will be there for all of the Warren family and Saddleback Church as they grieve together.

He added, “Looking forward to that day when God will ‘Restore all things'” (Acts 3:21).

Founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, Saddleback Church serves the Southern California community with several locations, including in Lake Forest.

Pastor Warren, 59, author of the Purpose Driven Life, which is the best-selling hardback non-fiction book in history and the second most-translated book in the world, after the Bible, has two other adult children, Amy and Josh, and five grandchildren.

Meals on Wheels Abilene recognizes Hardin-Simmons baseball players

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Special to Inside The Pew

ABILENE, Texas – A group of Hardin-Simmons baseball players haveHSU baseball been named Volunteer of the Month for April for Meals on Wheels Plus Inc. in Abilene.

HSU athletics announced April 4 pitcher Tyler Brunnemann (Garden Ridge, Texas), Andrew Bell, infielder Eric Zamora (Garland), third baseman Jordan Dotson (Lewisville) and pitcher Chas Quisenberry (Lubbock) were recognized for the efforts by the Abilene chapter of the national nonprofit organization.

Hardin-Simmons baseball has had a group of players volunteering with the organization since October 2008 and the players started this on their own back then and it has continued to be a tradition for the program.

“This is something they have done on their own,” said HSU head coach Steve Coleman. “We believe that there are a lot more important things to college kids than playing baseball or going to school. We want them to be well rounded. It is always nice to see your kids being recognized for helping others.

According to Meals on Wheels, the athletes delivered two routes a week and one player volunteers in the pantry twice a week bagging groceries for their clients. The teammates made deliveries every Monday and Wednesday on non-game days.

Meals on Wheels provides meals to homes of seniors whose mobility is limited. Learn more about the Abilene initiative at http://mealsonwheelsplus.com and the national organization at www.mealsonwheels.org.