Monthly Archives: May 2014

The American Bible Challenge returns for another season on GSN

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The American Bible Challenge

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

Starting Thursday, May 22, the game show platform will once again be implanted with a dose of the good word. On this day, The American Bible Challenge returns to GSN (Game Show Network) at 8 p.m. EST with host Jeff Foxworthy and newly added co-host The American Bible ChallengeKirk Franklin for another season of  quality family entertainment.

The studio-based game features contestants competing against each other by answering questions drawn from the Bible. In addition, the contestants share back-stories about their lives, which is often very interesting and inspiring, and each team plays for their charity of choice.

“I think it’s the only game show ever that’s done that. I think that’s what makes it unique, and to me that’s a big part of the show,” Foxworthy said. “It’s one thing to talk about faith, but when you can see it, when we go in and show what these people are doing in their communities, to me that’s when faith gets interesting, when you can see it in action.”

The American Bible Challenge celebrates the Bible, its teachings, relevance, and place in American culture.

Foxworthy said the success of the show has caught him off guard. At the onset of the game show’s creation, he held the belief that it would have critics from the secular and faith community. In fact, there was no outcry over the show.

“It was such a pleasant surprise, here you’ve got a faith-based show, you’ve got a show about the Bible on a network that’s not a faith-based network and it’s the number one show in the 18-year history of the network. Who saw that coming?” he said.

The comedian lauded the addition of Franklin to the ensemble.

“I think in Season 2, bringing Kirk in was just such a great move. It added so much fun and modern-day relevance to what we were doing.”

Franklin told Inside The Pew at the beginning he didn’t know exactly what he would bring to the show. After learning more about The Challenge, he eventually found his place.

“So I got the call and started finding out more about it. I thought, ‘Okay, well maybe it’ll be cool to work with Jeff and see if there’s a space to try to create something new and try to be a part of something different, Franklin said.

“They allowed me to bring some ideas to the table, and they were really open to those ideas. They thought they were pretty fun. And so I hope I add something that’s kind of fun and entertaining and maybe just try to add a little part that just kind of makes it a little more fun, make it pop a little. I really hope I’m doing that.

Franklin said the show serves many purposes. The American Bible Challenge brings the Bible to life and it crosses racial and generational lines. The show garnered GSN’s highest delivery in its 17 year history; it ranked among the Top 5 cable networks in total viewers, women 25-54 and viewers 25-54 in its time period.

The Christian hip hop of Franklin and Foxworthy’s country influenced humor are solid in this medium.

“It is a great privilege to work with him,” Franklin told Inside The Pew of Foxworthy. “He does things to help other people, like feeding the homeless in Atlanta.”

“I love to watch Kirk. It’s fun for me to have somebody to bounce things off of, because when I ask him something it’s usually going to be a pretty funny answer that I did not see coming. He just brings a whole element of fun to the thing,” Foxworthy said.

The most important aspect Franklin and Foxworthy want to bring to the viewers is to show infiltrate the Word into the minds of the lost and encourage believers to re-connect with Bible.

“I had somebody say to me, “Well, we thought of the Bible as a book of rules and then I’m watching the show and I’m like, ‘well, maybe that’s not right,’” Foxworthy points out. And I said, “No, you know what it actually is? It’s the coolest love story ever written.

“That would be kind of my desire, to take people that maybe had never been exposed to it or had a preconceived notion of what it was about and to go, “You know what? It’s not that at all. It’s very personal. It’s the most personal relationship you ever have.”

Steiner: Rescue your ‘hopeless’ marriage

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By Karleia Steiner
Special to Inside The Pew

As Christians, we believe that marriage is a lifetime plan, not a convenience that can be disposed of in a lawyer’s office.  The loveMarriage karleia steiner of a husband and a wife is in all reality a hint of the deeper love between a human being and God. Proverbs 5:15-19 states, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure and receives favor from the LORD.”

Marriage if of course not always easy, but with hard work and commitment come immeasurable rewards. Below are some simple yet powerful strategies for sustaining a long and successful marriage.

Identify the issues
If you can’t pinpoint specifically why you’re having difficulties in your marriage, you’re probably not thinking hard enough. Sit your spouse down and address the troubles you’ve been experiencing. Be 100 percent honest. Identifying your problems is the first step in getting on the path to fixing them. Perhaps you don’t spend enough time together. Perhaps you disagree about factors related to money. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement regarding your troubles, you can work together as a team to determine whether they can be salvaged.

Communicate openly
Communication is the key to any successful relationship, marriage or otherwise. Many relationships fail due to poor communication. When you talk to your spouse, do so with clarity and care. Make sure you always say the things that you truly mean. Never say anything just because you believe you’re taking the “safe” or “easy” route. If you speak from within, your spouse will pick up on the effort and hopefully return the favor.

Spend quality time together
Many relationships and marriages collapse because couples drift apart, plain and simple. Stop that unfortunate fate from occurring by making a point to regularly spend quality time with your spouse. While you both might lead busy and chaotic lives, it’s absolutely essential that you prioritize each other. Setting up official romantic “date nights” each week can go a long way in saving a previously hopeless marriage.

Admit your own faults
When it comes to marriage, pride is the enemy. Never be too proud to acknowledge where you’ve been wrong. If you haven’t exactly been the most attentive spouse, say so. If you’ve been a lousy partner due to work stress, admit that. Realize that it takes two to tango in a marriage. Your spouse isn’t perfect, but you aren’t either. The goal in any healthy marriage is to always focus on improvement — on both sides.

Marriages feel terrific when they’re working, and awful when they’re not, understandably. Having said that, you don’t want to give up on your commitment at the first sign of a rainy day. Put love, care and effort into your deserving marriage. Great marriages call for dedication and lots of patience.

What is an annulment, anyway?
Prior to considering annulment or divorce, focus on strengthening your existing ties with your spouse. Instead of declaring your union invalid through an annulment or legally dissolving it through divorce, concentrate on saving it. Remember what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place.

Karleia Steiner is a freelance writer. To respond to her column, contact her at pewnews@aol.com. We will gladly forward your comments to her.

 

Ellis: Important mothers in my life

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By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, W.V. (ANS) — Recently, I read this startling statement, “37%” of parents who went to church as children doHappy Mother's Day not take their own children to church.” They added this question, “Think every American child knows the words to ‘Jesus Loves Me?’ Think again.”

It is hard to imagine a mother or father who was ever active in a Sunday School or church not leading their own children into such life-changing experiences. If the parents do not, who will?

Grandmother Ellis, with whom my parents lived with when I was born, always lived close to us and was cared for in our home during her last few years. Special memories include spending nights at her house, her large biscuits and delicious fried-apple pies and being taught by her to read the Bible.

Grandmother Perry always had things I liked when I would spend the night with her and grandpa. My favorites were molasses cookies, crisp baked pork rinds and milk, direct from the cow, that grandpa and I would enjoy with cornbread before going to bed.

I relished the times when my mother would read to me. She read each night from a Bible story book what I thought were the most exciting stories I ever heard. She took care of her house. Clothes were sometimes washed in a tub with a washboard. It was a happy day when she got a new electric washing machine. The clothes were hung out to dry. Once dried, she would carefully iron out the wrinkles.

Mom was a superb cook. She made excellent cornbread and the most delicious hot rolls I have ever eaten. She often mailed tastyBill Ellis chocolate chip cookies to me when I was in college.

Before Kitty and I were married, her mother, Sara, wife of businessman Luke Harshbarger, caught my attention. She was a musician, excellent seamstress, knowledgeable, terrific cook and the mother of four daughters and one son.

Kitty is a lot like her mother. She is the most beautiful, talented, versatile and intelligent woman I have ever met. I do not know of anything she cannot do. All that her mother and mother-in-law ever did for their children, she has done for her children and husband.

These important women in my life are the embodiment of the message St. Paul sent to young Timothy: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV).

Mothers are honored because of their great love and the tremendous difference they make in the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles, and contributions to books.

Jenkins: Don’t allow pain to distract you from your purpose

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By Dave Jenkins
Special to Inside The Pew

It is almost incredible how professional athletes can play even when they are in tremendous pain from an injury. In most New York Knicks forward Willis Reedsituations, only extreme pain or injuries can stop a professional athlete from their true purpose, which is to win a championship.

The spiritual point to this is, there are some Christians who have obvious pains in their lives and there are some who have undisclosed pain in their lives. There is the pain of a life-threatening disease such as cancer. There is the pain of a marriage that is not going well. Or there is the pain of a business that is failing. There are the more secret pains such as depression, an unreported rape, a child that is rebellious, or the poor grade in a class.

Our challenge then is will we allow the pain, no matter what type it is, to distract us from our God-given purpose? Will we give in to the injury of failure or poor self-esteem or will we move forward in faith? If we don’t give into the pain, we may have an iconic moment such as Willis Reed had in game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals on May 8. Reed played in the NBA championship game for the New York Knicks despite a severe leg injury. He went on to win most valuable player in 1970.

So the question is how was the future Hall of Famer able to move past his pain and stay focused on his purpose? What are the leadership lessons that we can learn from Reed about not allowing our pain to distract you from your purpose.

Leadership Principle 1: He thought more of the team did he did of himself.

When pain hits us it does not impact us only, but it also impacts those around us. We may have been the direct target of the pain that has been inflected on us, but our family and co-workers, church members are targeted as “collateral damage.”

But how could he play basketball when he could barely walk? He could run the risk of damaging his leg and prematurely ending his career by playing. Reed had to make the choice between following his pain or focusing on his purpose. His decision was to focus on his purpose, which was to help his team win.

We have a choice, let the pain tell us to run and hide or we can face the situation and help not only ourselves but our team (family, co-workers, business partner). Fathers, mothers, pastors and teachers; there are people whose lives are impacted by how we deal with our personal pain.  Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Leadership Principle 2: He had prepared for this moment and did not want to let it get past him.

“I wanted to play,” Reed said in 2010 of his decision. “That was for the championship, the one great moment you play for all your life. I didn’t want to have to look at myself in the mirror 20 years later and say I wished I had tried to play.”

In Esther 4:14, Mordecai, the adviser/uncle to Esther reminds her that she was the possible solution to the pain that the Jewish nation was suffering. Her accent to the position of queen at the time was not a matter of chance, but God’s timing for her. Mordecai said. “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

You were made a leader for such a time as this. You were married for such a time as this. You were made strong by God for such a time as this. You were pushed from your comfort zone by the pain to move you to a greater call.

Leadership Principle 3: He did not give up hope.

Reed had to miss game 6 of the championship series because of his leg pain. His team lost game 6 during his absence. It would have been easy for him to give up and say, “We lost game 6, and I am not sure if I can play in game 7.” Instead, he kept searching for a way to play; he kept hope alive that he would be there for the final and deciding game.  Many times the pain that we go through is simply the transportation to get us to our destination. In Isaiah 40:31, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, They will walk and not be faint” (NIV).

Leadership Principle 4: He knew the importance of showing the opposing team he had no fear. 

Because of his leg injury, no one knew for sure if Reed would play in the game. The rest of his team had gone out to warm up whileDave Jenkins Jr. Reed remained in the locker room. Just moments before the game started, Reed left the locker room and headed to the basketball court. When his team and fans saw his unexpected entrance, everyone went wild with excitement; that is everyone with the exception of the opposing team, the Lakers. When Reed came to the court, the entire Lakers team stopped what they were doing and watched in unbelief as Reed went to the table to check-in for the game.

The Lakers may have thought that Reed would not show up for this game given the pain he was in. There are people who doubt you and the enemy who hates you that needs to know you have no fear of dealing with the pain. The haters need to know that you will not allow the pain or the fear of pain keep you for your purpose. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” When the other team sees that you have no fear, it will put fear in their hearts.

Leadership Principle 5: He remembered previous times that he had to overcome obstacles to get the victory.

Too often when things don’t go well or when we encounter pain, some believers want to give up. Reed knew that pain was a part of the game. We have to remember that pain is a part of life just as it is a part of sports.

Overcomers deal with the pain and the setbacks that this world gives them because they stand on the promise of Jesus. We don’t give up on the hope that is within us.

However, we have a word of encouragement from Jesus in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Dave Jenkins is an ordained minister and leadership and relationship teacher. Jenkins, a former chaplain for the Allen (Texas) Police Department, is a graduate of Grambling State University in Grambling, La., and earned a master’s of Christian leadership from Criswell College in Dallas. He also received advanced counseling training from Amberton University. Jenkins and his wife, Phyllis, are hosts of their own weekly family relationships show, “Marriage Monday,” on KGGR 1040 at 5 p.m. CST. Follow him on Twitter at @IamDaveJenkins and “like” him on Facebook (IamDaveJenkinsJr). Learn more about his ministry at www.davejenkinsjr.com.

 

Texas governor rebaptized in creek where Sam Houston was immersed

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Rick Perry and his wife, Anita (AP Photo/Star-Telegram, Joyce Marshall)

By Melissa Nordell and Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

Surrounded by a small group of family and friends, Gov. Rick Perry was publicly re-baptized in Little Rocky Creek near Rick Perry and his wife, Anita (AP Photo/Star-Telegram, Joyce Marshall)Independence, Texas, the same place Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas, was also immersed.

The prolonged Texas drought left the creek choked with algae, so the local volunteer fire department had to clear a decent place for the governor’s baptism, according to The Texas Tribune.

Mac Richard, pastor of Lake Hills Church in Austin, conducted the baptism in March, the governor’s office reported.

Perry visited nearby Independence Baptist Church after the baptism, played the organ and soaked up the colorful local history. Since 1839, Little Rocky Creek has served as the natural baptistery for the church, which is the oldest continuously operating Baptist church in Texas, according to The Tribune.

Perry hunkered down at the circa-1874 pump organ and belted out a soulful gospel hymn. “It’s not easy to play a pump organ. You’ve got to move your feet while you play,” Phil Hassell, pastor of Independence Baptist Church, told The Tribune. “I thought he played well.”

Hassell showed the governor around the tiny historic church where he was able to see the actual pew where Sam Houston had carved his initials and those of his wife nearly 158 years ago.

“Gov. Perry has a deep and abiding faith in God. Like many people of faith, the governor wished to reaffirm his commitment in a way that holds great personal meaning,” said Felix Browne, a spokesperson for the governor.

Former Perry aide and speechwriter Eric Bearse said he wasn’t surprised that Perry renewed his faith in a private, intimate ceremony. “Baptism is a very personal expression of faith,” Bearse told The Tribune. “He has a deep and abiding faith, and it influences his view of the world and how he lives his life.”

When Sam Houston emerged from having his ‘sins washed away” at the same creek in 1854, he was said to proclaim, “I pity the fish downstream.”

Houston served as governor of Tennessee in the late 1820s and then became the first elected president of the Republic of Texas in 1836, after helping lead settlers to victory in their war of independence from Mexico. Houston was christened in the Catholic Church, a necessity in order to own land when it was Mexican territory.

Later, his wife, Margaret Lea Houston, prayed for him to become a Baptist and God granted her wish after 14 years of persistent prayer. When Texas became a State, Houston represented it in the U.S. Senate and later became its governor.

Bradshaw: Wisdom is supreme

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By Sherry Bradshaw
Special to Inside The Pew

Eating salads was something I added to my life in college. It was one of those discoveries that I am so glad I made. I love and enjoySherry Bradshaw, author of The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life a good salad and find great comfort in knowing I am eating healthy. At least that is what I thought for a while until I decided to become a lifelong learner and read more. It was then that I realized choosing the salad bar for a meal didn’t exactly mean I was eating healthy. It was pretty embarrassing when I learned I was intaking as many calories at a salad bar as Thomas was taking in with a burger and fries! I realized I was absolutely deceiving myself on what I thought was a good choice. I love cheese, croutons, among other things, and a salad “drowned” in blue cheese dressing.

I had good intentions and thought I was making the wisest choice. There are many places in life we deceive ourselves. This is just one simple way I was patting myself on the back for nothing! I wasn’t really getting the benefit from my intentions. Proverbs 14:8 states, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” I was deceived and realized a healthy salad looks more like loads of vegetables on top of very green lettuce with low-fat dressing. Yuk! It is not nearly as good as my former salads, but for sure more beneficial.

Wise choices aren’t always fun nor do they always taste good. Seriously, being wise doesn’t always bring quick satisfaction. Refraining from gossip could exclude you from a popular conversation. Or, if you are really bold and gently call it for what it is, you may not only be excluded, you may lose a friend or draw ridicule. How about choosing to stay in and study when all your friends are going out? How about playing a game on your computer at work when you should be working? Or justifying paying your personal bills online when you are at work? I vividly remember our kids talking about a golfer calling a penalty on himself when his ball moved; no one saw but him. He chose to call the penalty and it inevitably cost him his PGA tour card!

Making wise and right choices aren’t always comfortable and could cost us in the short-term, but almost always, wise choices bring benefits; those benefits can be years in coming. Sometimes the benefits are peace of mind, comfort, and satisfaction that you personally know you did the right thing even if no other human knows it, ever. I have found in life – confronting wrong, making a wise choice, or simply standing for right – can do many things, but it can bring short-term or long time hurt, devastation, or loss. That is where trust comes in. I have found I can’t trust myself nor others as much as I can depend on and trust a Holy God. It promises in Proverbs 4:11, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”

I love all of scripture but the most encouraging scripture that I read often and draw from to encourage myself to pick Godly wisdom over human desires or daily whims and temptations is the following found in Proverbs 4:20-27. In my Bible, it is under the subtitle “Wisdom is supreme.”

“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words, Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk from your lips; Let your eyes look straight ahead fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

I would like to, but will refrain from writing the whole book of Proverbs from the Bible. If you have never read that book, read it; I believe it is the best book in the Bible on how to live a “wise” life. I have found the more I strive with intention to live the instruction found in the book of Proverbs, the easier it is to run and run with a pace that is challenging, testing, convicting, but most of all, rewarding, and, I do much less stumbling!

Sherry Bradshaw, is author of “The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life” and founder of Back 9 Ministries. Bradshaw, a native of Columbia, S.C., is a former first runner-up in the Miss America pageant. She speaks at corporate events, schools, churches, and community organization events.

Jenkins: Clippers owner’s comments are more than just racist

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Donald Sterling

By Dave Jenkins
Special to Inside The Pew

When you look at the comments that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made concerning his team and minorities, IDonald Sterling think that you have to look at them as more than a racist comment.

Mr. Sterling in one voice recording managed to insult, demean, and marginalize three groups of people.

One group of people he disrespected where the players on the team. Not just the ones that are currently on the team, but any future players, Black or non-Black. When Mr. Sterling states that he gives them food and money for cars, he is negating the fact that these players were not given anything, but earn it on the basketball court. They earned it from the long hours of practice and sacrifice to develop themselves into top level athletes who can easily do what most of us, including Mr. Sterling, can only dream that we can do.  Maybe we should look at how much money the U.S. government gave Mr. Sterling in the form of tax abatements and write-offs that allow him to have a net worth of over $10 billion. The Bible says that a man’s gift will make room for him. These athletes have worked hard so that their gifts can get them into the NBA and earn commercial endorsements.

The other group of people Mr. Sterling impacted was NBA fans everywhere and Los Angeles Clippers fans in particular. For Clippers fans, the experience of a playoff run was overs-shadowed and tainted by the words of Mr. Sterling. This year, the ClippersDavid Jenkins Jr. have a legitimate shot at going deep into the playoffs. However, Mr. Sterling comments have removed the spotlight from the hardwood court and placed the attention in the public court of opinion. It was to the point that the opposing team, Golden State Warriors, seriously considered not playing Game 5 of the series. Can you image the aftershocks in the sporting world if the Warriors had boycotted the game? If the boycott had occurred you can truly say that the Warriors understood Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Mr. Sterling’s comments have also insulted women. I am not going to address the motives of why his girlfriend recorded the conversation, but it is evident that Mr. Sterling has control issues when it comes to women. A man has to be very insecure to want to control who a woman communicates with and at what level, even to the point of trying to determine who she can be seen with and where. Women are not objects to be controlled, but people with their own thoughts and goals. As a man, you have to be comfortable with your relationship with a woman, in order for both of you to enjoy what you have. If a man has to control every aspect of a relationship, then affection has been replaced by contractual agreement, Song of Solomon 1:16: “My beloved is mine, and I am his …”

Dave Jenkins is an ordained minister and leadership and relationship teacher. Jenkins, a former chaplain for the Allen (Texas) Police Department, is a graduate of Grambling State University in Grambling, La., and earned a master’s of Christian leadership from Criswell College in Dallas. He also received advanced counseling training from Amberton University. Jenkins and his wife, Phyllis, are hosts of their own weekly family relationships show, “Marriage Monday,” on KGGR 1040 at 5 p.m. CST. Follow him on Twitter at @IamDaveJenkins and “like” him on Facebook (IamDaveJenkinsJr). Learn more about his ministry at www.davejenkinsjr.com.