Monthly Archives: December 2017

Commit to seek your reward in 2018

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Weeks ago, I began my search for a new home. In the midst of the dreadful task came a message worthy of personal reflection.

I found a home on Zillow that fit my family’s needs – close to work, quiet neighborhood, and in a good school committ-in-2018-proverbsdistrict. I scheduled a tour with the real estate agent who is handling the rental process. After the tour was complete, the agent and I talked a bit more about the owner’s and my desired date for rental.

As we closed our conversation, she asked about my current career. I volunteered that although I currently work as a technical writer, my ultimate goal is to teach English composition at the college or university level. After all, I told her, this was the only reason why, in 2013, I began my pursuit toward a graduate degree in English (I graduated in May 2015).

The agent told me I was a smart woman, but I needed to stay dedicated to my original goal. I thought to myself, “Well, I have been dedicated. I’ve applied for several positions but have been passed up.” I assessed my situation: I diverged from my intended path, allowing setbacks to take control of my centeredness.

She said, “God rewards those who stay committed. “ Furthermore, she noted that the road may not be simple, but, in the end, He knows your heart and desires.

Since our meeting weeks ago, I have replayed her comment over and over again in my head: “God rewards those who stay committed to theirtonya-andris-whitaker-2017 desires.”

Instead of commitment, I had become a wayward soldier. I now shamefully admitted that I have become discouraged because I didn’t immediately secure a lectureship. And, although it is not the blessing God has for me, technical writing provides financial safety. Commitment with God’s assurance, not comfort, will drive away the doubt and mismanagement in my life. Goodness, the first sentence of my master’s thesis acknowledgments was a thank you to Him. How has it become that my reliance on Him during the writing process is no longer needed as I press forward?

As we prepare to enter 2018, what goals have you set for yourself? If it includes work and education goals, remember to keep in prayer, stay focused, and count it all joy. As God used this real estate agent to deliver His message, dedication and commitment are essential. Know that God has our best interests at heart; He promised this to us (Psalm 37:5, KJV). In the end, the victory will be ours, as solemnly presented in 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV): “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Food for thought: Remember your words. Stand stronger behind His.

Photos: Main: “Proverbs 16:3” courtesy of Womanista Wellness, formerly known as Skinny Mom. Secondary: Tonya Whitaker

Tonya Whitaker is managing editor of Inside The Pew.

© 2017 Inside The Pew


Merry Christmas to our readers

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By Grelan A. Muse Sr.
Inside the Pew

President Donald Trump has declared that, “We are saying Merry Christmas again.”

Sadly, some people are afraid to say Merry Christmas. In a move not to offend anyone, believers opt for the generic “Seasons Greetings” or “Happymerry-christmas-manger Holidays.” Those two greetings lack individuality. But, there is no subjectivity when it comes to Merry Christmas. When the greeting is spoken, we know exactly what it means. Do Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1: 30-33, and Matthew 1:18-25 sound familiar?

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, appeared on FOX News’ “The Story With Martha MacCallum” on Dec. 21 to explain that Trump’s stance on Merry Christmas is a “breath of fresh air.”

“So the president coming to the forefront and saying, ‘Look, we’re going to say Merry Christmas again,’ it is a signal to say, You know what, it’s OK to express yourself on religious issues in our culture,’” Perkins said.

Society may or may not say it isn’t acceptable to say Merry Christmas, but Christians have to stand confident in their beliefs. Say Merry Christmas with joy in your heart!

Americans Overwhelmingly Prefer Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays, According to New Marist Poll

By more than 20 percentage points (59 to 36 percent) a majority of Americans prefer the greeting “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays,” according

*Results do not add up to 100 due to rounding (PRNewsfoto/Knights of Columbus)

to a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll.

The nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) who prefer Merry Christmas is slightly higher than last year’s 57 percent.

This survey of 1,074 adults was conducted Nov. 6-Nov. 9, 2017 by The Marist Poll. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. The results were balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region.  Results are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.

Grelan A. Muse is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio. Contact him at

© 2017 Inside The Pew


Retired educator feeds her community with books

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak, being a champion of early literacy initiatives and tackling hunger in the community in which one lives is a trueauthor-mubarak-carver-city blueprint for happier, safer, and more vibrant communities.

To place her vision in reality, the retired special education teacher, facilitator, and U.S. Army veteran has formed an alliance with Community Food Bank in Fort Worth.

“This alliance was forged in an effort to end hunger in the North Texas region,” Jones-Mubarak said.

As a longtime supporter of the food bank and other community based organizations, Mubarak saw fit to donate 15 percent of all proceeds from her newly published children’s book, titled Carver Park  to the Community Food Bank.

Mubarak said Carver Park is an area that was designated for African-Americans when segregation prevailed as law and as a dominant force in social life in Waco, Texas.

In the book, Mubarak recounts her times in Carver Park and gives readers a perspective of one child who found the vibrancy of life through the harshness of society’s circumstances during that time. The storyline affirms that choice people in our lives provide us with the knowledge and support needed to learn, survive, and progress during a time of great social unrest and historical change, similar to what many marginalized communities may be facing today.

Community Food Bank’s mission serves to fight hunger by providing food, education, and resources to hungry families in a dignified, personal and timely manner. They operate as a food pantry and as a food bank; without ZIP code restrictions.

The educator said the collaboration between Mubarak and the Community Food Bank is the subtle reminder that one person can make a difference, even in the most modest of ways.

Carver Park is available for purchase at

Feature photo: Carver Park by Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak. Inset photo: Dr. Jones-Mubarak.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

UT Austin professors discover copy of Jesus’ secret revelations to his brother

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Special to Inside The Pew

AUSTIN, Texas — The first-known original Greek copy of a heretical Christian writing describing Jesus’ secret teachings to his brother James has been discovered at Oxford University by biblical scholars at The University of Texas at Austin.

To date, only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library — a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in 1945 in Upper Egypt — ut-autin-biblical-scholars-find-jesus-teachingshave been found in Greek, their original language of composition. But earlier this year, UT Austin religious studies scholars Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau added to the list with their discovery of several fifth- or sixth-century Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, which was thought to have been preserved only in its Coptic translations until now.

“To say that we were excited once we realized what we’d found is an understatement,” said Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies. “We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us.”

The ancient narrative describes the secret teachings of Jesus to his brother James, in which Jesus reveals information about the heavenly realm and future events, including James’ inevitable death.

“The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry by allowing us access to conversations that purportedly took place between Jesus and his brother, James — secret teachings that allowed James to be a good teacher after Jesus’ death,” Smith said.

Such apocryphal writings, Smith said, would have fallen outside the canonical boundaries set by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, in his “Easter letter of 367” that defined the 27-book New Testament: “No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them.”jesus-manuscript-smith-landau

With its neat, uniform handwriting and words separated into syllables, the original manuscript was probably a teacher’s model used to help students learn to read and write, Smith and Landau said.

“The scribe has divided most of the text into syllables by using mid-dots. Such divisions are very uncommon in ancient manuscripts, but they do show up frequently in manuscripts that were used in educational contexts,” said Landau, a lecturer in the UT Austin Department of Religious Studies.

The teacher who produced this manuscript must have “had a particular affinity for the text,” Landau said. It does not appear to be a brief excerpt from the text, as was common in school exercises, but rather a complete copy of this forbidden ancient writing.

Smith and Landau announced the discovery at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Boston in November and are working to publish their preliminary findings in the Greco Roman Memoirs series of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Featured photo: A piece of the Coptic translation of the First Apocalypse of James preserved in the Nag Hammadi Library. Rights to published images of the original Greek fragments are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society and currently unavailable for circulation. (Nag Hammed Library, Oxford University).

Inset: Geoffrey Smith, left, and Brent Landau take a closer look at the Greek fragment identified as the First Apocalypse of James. (Courtesy of Geoffrey Smith, UT Austin).