Monthly Archives: March 2014

Wright: Noah movie shows one man’s courage, faith, hope

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Russell Crowe as Noah

By Rusty Wright
ASSIST News Service

Mount Hermon, Calif. (ANS) – OK, how would you feel if you thought you heard God telling you he was going to destroyRussell Crowe as Noah every living thing on earth with a great flood?

Except he wanted you to build a boat to survive the tumult with a few relatives and a slew of creatures.

Would you jump at the challenge? Run and hide? Ask – as Bill Cosby did in his classic comedy routine portraying Noah – “Right! Who is this really?”

Perhaps you’ll sense how the biblical Noah felt. Paramount Pictures and director/co-writer Darren Aronofsky bring Noah to the big screen in North America and worldwide throughout late March and April. The cast includes Russell Crowe in the title role, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins.

With breathtaking cinematography, this film imagines some intense struggles for Noah and his family. We see sorrow for lost masses, interpersonal conflicts, and practical realities of living on a creature-packed craft.

Taking Liberties
Paramount says Noah’s story “inspired” the film, but that “artistic license has been taken.” Too much license, feel some. I’m reminded of TV’s iconic psychiatrist Frasier Crane, concerned that an employee was “taking far too much liberty with the liberty-taking!” Readers of the biblical Noah story won’t find there, for instance, the film’s multi-armed fallen angels, its pronounced environmentalist message, or hordes of people fighting to board the ark.

The biblical account is short – mostly Genesis 6-9 – with little detail about ark life. So, yes, the filmmakers took liberties – many. Aronofsky recently told The Atlantic he views the story “as poetry and myth and legend” that helps us understand the world and ourselves.

But the essential framework of the biblical flood story – human evil, divine judgment, hope and salvation – remains in Noah. Consider these facets of that story and their modern implications.

Human Evil; Divine Judgment
Genesis says humanity was a mess: “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. . . It broke his heart.”

Human corruption prompted him to “destroy every living thing.” But “Noah was a righteous man [who] walked in close fellowship with God.” God told him to build a large boat, specifying precise dimensions and design.

Filmmakers took pains to follow biblical specs for their ark. The production designer had many ideas for the ark’s appearance, but Aronofsky, who is Jewish, insisted, “No, the measurements are right there.” 

Salvation, Hope, Promise

Noah built his ark and took aboard his wife, their three sons with their wives, plus pairs of animals, birds, and crawling creatures. Elaborate computer-generated imagery portrays the animals for film.

Rain poured, underground water erupted, and floodwaters covered the earth. Every human, bird and land animal not in the ark perished. The waters receded, the earth dried, and the ark inhabitants disembarked. God promised never again to destroy the earth by flood, offering the rainbow as a pledge reminder.

Faith; Future

If you attend the film, I suggest reading the biblical account first, then again after the screening. Noah’s story has much for a 21st-century audience, including two nuggets about faith and the future.

The New Testament lauds Noah for his faith. He was not perfect.

“Wickedness is in all of us,” he tells his wife in the film. His own drunkenness – depicted in the film – led to embarrassment and family conflict. But his faith in God mattered. I came to faith as a skeptical university student. It has made all the difference in my life.

Concerning the future, Jesus indicated his second coming would be “like it was in Noah’s day” with people carrying on their Rusty Wrightroutines and unaware of impending peril. “You also must be ready all the time,” he continued, “for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

I want to be ready.

Rated PG-13 (USA) for “violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content”

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. His website is: RustyWright.com.

 

Registration under way for free youth pastor summit in Tulsa, Houston

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Tulsa, Okla., and Houston: Student Leadership University will hold its annual Youth Pastor Summit in Tulsa on April 7 andlogo in Houston on April 8. Registration is free. Visit http://www.slulead.com/ to register.

In Dallas: Paul Quinn College and the 10th District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church will partner together to play host to a job fair on Wednesday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the campus of the college, 3837 Simpson Stuart Road. There is no cost to either employers or future employees. Contact Kelsel Thompson at kthompson@pqc.edu for more additional information.

In Baton Rouge, La.: More than 500 faith leaders from across Louisiana will descend on the state Capitol Building on April 1 for a Faith Day at the Capitol rally to demand Governor Bobby Jindal and state legislative leaders to provide leadership to secure passage of legislation that will curb the high mass incarceration rates in the state. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The rally is slated to run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; a press conference will follow. Visit www.piconetwork.org.

In Dallas: Save April 15 at 11:30 a.m. on the calendar! Hope Mansion, a nonprofit organization in Cedar Hill that helps womenTracey Mitchell ages 18-35 who experience crisis pregnancies, has planned its Extraordinary HOPE women’s luncheon with guest speaker Tracey Mitchell (author of Downside Up). The conference to will take place at The Tower Club in Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in Dallas. Tickets are $30 per person; $240 for table of eight. Contact Jennifer Wulff, luncheon chair, at info@hopemansion.org.

In Shreveport, La.: Centenary College of Louisiana’s World House for Environmental Sustainability, in cooperation with community partner Shreveport Green, will host Chad Pregracke, CNN Hero of the Year for 2013, Thursday, April 3. The Living Lands and Waters founder and president will deliver a convocation at 11:10 a.m. and a workshop-styled lecture at 4 p.m. in Kilpatrick Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public. Visit www.centenary.edu.

In Katy, Texas: The Katy Christian Women’s Connection will hold a fashion show luncheon on Thursday, April 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Golf Club at Cinco Ranch, 23030 Cinco Ranch Blvd. Cost is $18 per person. Take a sneak peek at the latest fashions from La Centerra’s. The guest speaker is Oklahoma native Deborah Cerkovnik. Deadline for reservations is noon on Monday, April 14. Email katyCWC@gmail.com for more information.

Christian nonprofit and events roundups are run weekly. To get your event listed, contact Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com.

Innovative swimsuit cover-up: Simple Sarongs on firm foundation

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Kami Darnell poses in one of her swimsuit cover-ups

By Kami Darnell
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: Kami Darnell is owner and creator of Simple Sarongs. Simple Sarongs are a swimsuit cover-up innovation – a one-Kami Darnell poses in one of her swimsuit cover-upssize-fits most buttonable sarong that also doubles as a fashionable beach towel.  Although she does some retailing through her e-commerce website, Darnell’s primary focus is wholesaling to the gift and swimwear retail market.

Why did you create your business?

“As a busy mom going to the pool all summer, I saw a gap in the market for a cover-up that could actually be worn when getting out of the water.  After struggling to keep a beach towel tied around my waist, and seeing other women doing the same thing, the light bulb went on that adding buttons to a beach towel was a great idea.  And having multiple buttonholes to choose from makes it fit nearly everyone.

“I have always had the dream of getting into wholesaling, but never dreamed that I would “invent” a new product and be in the beachwear business.  While researching the product and business idea, I just kept getting green light after green light, and just kept going through one open door after another.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“Even though having that ‘great idea’ as an entrepreneur is the foundation that starts the ball rolling, it’s also about timing.  Is it theSimple Sarongs right time in the market? In your life?  Do you have the right life experiences to bring it all together?  For me, my favorite story from the Bible has always been Esther.  Her patience and wit allowed her to seize her opportunity with her husband the king when her people were being persecuted! ‘And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Esther 4:14b KJV. The entrepreneur’s version might read: ‘Maybe you’ve entered the market at the perfect time!’

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“As important as it is to have the overall business plan driving the business forward, it still comes down to the day-to-day habits that set us up for success.  I like how The Message phrases Matthew 6:34 – Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“God loved to use the most unlikely candidates to carry out His mission. Although I may not be on the mission field, as a beachwear entrepreneur, I’m about as unlikely as they come.  I was raised on a farm in the middle of Kansas – about as far away from a beach as you can get!”

Learn more about Simple Sarasongs at www.simplesarongs.com. Know of a Christian entrepreneur who would make a great guest writer for the Pew Business Spotlight? Email us at pewnews@aol.com.

American youth give Pope Francis unique anniversary gift

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Catholic Extension

Special to Inside The Pew

To celebrate the March 13 anniversary of Pope Francis’ election, the youth of America, with the help of Catholic Extension, areCatholic Extension giving him a unique gift: a close-up look at their efforts to extend beyond themselves and “make some noise.”

After the pope challenged youth to “make some noise” at World Youth Day in July, Catholic Extension asked young people to answer his call by dedicating a day to prayer, service or philanthropy – an “Extension Day.” They then encouraged young people to document their Extension Day on video.

More than 70 videos were received involving thousands of youth from 47 dioceses across the U.S. Top videos were determined by social media support and a panel of judges, including Father Dave Dwyer, director of Busted Halo; Rev. Father Mark Mary, co-host of EWTN-TV’s popular Life on the Rock program; and actor Chris O’Donnell.

This week Cardinal Francis George, chancellor of Catholic Extension, is presenting a selection of the videos in a special report to Pope Francis. Finalists will be chosen and announced later this month. In addition to the chance to have their videos viewed by Pope Francis, recipients will be eligible for grants to benefit their ministry. Based on the response, Catholic Extension hopes to make Extension Day an annual event.

“We were overwhelmed not only by the number of youth participating in Extension Day, but also by the compassion and creativity of their good works,” said Joe Boland, vice president of mission at Catholic Extension. “Young Catholics in America are extending the love of Christ in so many ways, and we believe that sharing this with Pope Francis will be a meaningful gift to him.”

Catholic Extension, which is a national organization that supports people, ministries and churches across America, has a special relationship with young Catholics, providing more than $3 million annually in support of programs that engage youth and nurture future Church leaders. To watch Extension Day videos and learn more about Catholic Extension, visit http://www.extensionday.org.

 

Conn. pastor dies in church after confessing adultery

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Bobby and Christine Davis

By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

Bishop Bobby Davis, pastor of the Miracle Faith World Outreach Church in Bridgeport, Conn., dropped dead March 9 inBobby and Christine Davis church after his wife confronted him publicly about an infidelity in his past.

Bishop Davis, pastor of the church since its founding in 1967, was pronounced dead at Bridgeport Hospital. He and his wife, Christine, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last June. Bobby was a repeat guest on Trinity Broadcasting and also spoke at Promise Keepers seminars.

“After the service on Sunday the bishop’s family asked us to remain in the church and the bishop confessed to us something that happened long ago,” Judy Stovall, an elder of the church, told the Connecticut Post. “He wanted to come clean with all of us. He wanted to ask our forgiveness.”

“We were shouting, ‘We forgive you, we love you.’ But the stress of all of it — he had a heart attack,” Stovall said. “I held his head as he lay on the floor. … Our congregation is hurting now.”

The Christian Post reported a slightly different version of the incident, based on a congregant who wished to remain anonymous.

“He (Bishop Davis) had confessed it (infidelity) personally to his wife prior to the service, and she called a meeting after church with just the members and the members stayed. He wasn’t there at the time; he was somewhere else apparently. Neither of them were in the service that morning. They had one of their pastors do the service,” according to the source.

“From what I was told, she (Christine Davis) told the congregation what he had done. And so, when he comes through the door he had no idea what he was walking into. So it wasn’t even, ‘We’re gonna make an announcement today,’ in a unified way as a couple,” the source noted.

“I’m told that when he walked through the door she basically told him, ‘Tell them what you just told me,’ which is what induced the heart attack, because it’s not like he was walking into it knowing,” the source told the Christian Post.

“She said it and he said, ‘Yes, that’s right.’ She asked him to say who exactly it was. And he said, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter [because] that person has passed. God forgive, let’s get past it.’ Apparently it was his family members who reacted out in anger, from what I understand. It was not the congregation,” the source noted.

“It got physical. One of the sons attacked him. I was told one of the daughters poured water on him. It was like something out of, not even like the Old Testament, but a bad reality TV show,” said the source. “My heart is so devastated because it could have been handled in a private manner.”

Bishop Davis was known as a very black and white preacher. He also had an affiliation with The Potters House and Bishop T.D. Jakes.

According to a church biography, the couple initially held prayer meetings in the home of Christine’s mother. In 1987, they moved to the Harriet Street building in Bridgeport, and in 1998 they opened a new church facility in suburban Monroe.

Annual art show to benefit New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanities

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

The New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) will host its third art show Thursday, March 20 from 5 to 7 p.m., in the organization’s ReStore, 2900 Elysian Fields Ave. in New Orleans.CD23Bouzasmall

The annual event will showcase work from students at Metairie Park Country Day School and Academy of the Sacred Heart.

“The art the students make is nothing short of impressive,” said Jim Pate, executive director of NOAHH. “We’re proud to host their work and support the arts in New Orleans. It’s an integral part of the city’s culture that NOAHH sees as a vital part of its broader mission.”

As with previous art shows, students from kindergarten to high school created paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works of art portraying the show’s theme, “Home Dat.” All art will be for sale during the event as a fundraiser for NOAHH. Proceeds from the sale will be shared with each individual student.

A giclee print by celebrated New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos will be for sale through a silent auction. Michalopoulos, a regular ReStore customer and supporter, donated his work with all proceeds from the auction going to support NOAHH.

Musical entertainment will be provided by students of Metairie Park Country Day School.

The NOAHH ReStore, according the Habitat for Humanities’ website, is one of several nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price.

Previous arts collaborations have included partnerships between Isidore Newman School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) to share artwork from local students and raise funds as part of the grand opening of the NOAHH ReStore, and between NOAHH and St. Martin’s Episcopal School and Louise S. McGehee School.

 

‘Thin dime and prayer’ takes Tax Tiger founder very far

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By Kathy Hill
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: Kathy Hill is founder of Tax Tiger, a tax resolution business specializing in resolving IRS liabilities for taxpayers; it isKathy Hill based in Sacramento, Calif.

Why did you start your business?

“I started Tax Tiger because I worked previously for a huge, mega tax law firm that specialized in Tax Resolution and was not giving the clients proper service for their money. After working there for 4 years and learning the business, the work environment became so hostile that I left there.  I felt the Lord leading me to start my own business to do it the “right way.” My motto is “making a difference in people’s lives” and money is not my priority.  Helping people out from under the stress and fear of the IRS is my primary objective.  I started on a thin dime and a prayer and because my faith and trust in God is so strong, I knew He would carry me through.  Today, 10 years later, I have clients in almost all 50 states and 5 franchises across the country and we have had an A+ BBB rating for years.  God has blessed in a mighty way because I advertise we are a faith-based business on our website and our ads and give Him all the honor and glory.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“The major scripture I draw from is Jeremiah 29:11 which reads:  ‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.’  This scripture speaks to my heart and lets me know daily that God has great plans in store for my business to prosper and I trust in His word.  He has never failed me.

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“On Aug. 20, 2013, I released ‘Is God’s Hand on Your Business?’ which lists 15 essential principles of success and prosperity.  My main piece of advice is to earnestly seek His will and stay as close to the center of His will as you possibly can, because in that place will you experience peace, and prosperity.  But throughout the years I have learned many principles from His word that has helped keep His hand of favor over my business.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“We routinely settle IRS liability of many thousands of dollars for as little as $20.  They are all listed on my website TaxTiger.com but when the IRS debt falls off their shoulders they call in tears saying, ‘Thank God for you, Kathy’.”

Learn more about Tax Tiger’s services at www.taxtiger.com. Also, visit Hill’s author site at http://kathyhillauthor.com/.