Author Archives: grelanmuse

Don’t buy the lie!

Published by:

By Marian Jordan Ellis
Inside The Pew

A few years back, I fell in love with a pair of jeans at a local department store. They were fabulous! The perfect cut, color, and length (and if you’re 5 foot, 11 inches like me, you know that is hard to do.) I adored everything about them … except one thing, the price tag.

Since I was on a budget, I would often go try them on and try to justify the price tag.  I told a friend about my dilemma, and she recommended I look online. Back then I hadn’t shopped much online (this was before my UPS guy knew me on a first-name basis) so I asked my friend where to search, and she recommended eBay.

A few hours of searching later, and I found them – the same exact jeans. Brand new! With tags! And get this, only a fraction of the price! Fast forward, a few days later, to when the little brown package arrived at my doorstep. I ripped open that package like a kid on Christmas morning.

Holding them up like Simba from The Lion King, I welcomed them to my little closet tribe. But as my hands wrapped around the denim, an alarm bell went off in my head.

“Something’s not right here?!”

The fabric was stiff… not soft and luxurious like the jeans at the store.

The color was off…and rubbed off on my hands.

“What in the world?”

The too-good-to-be-true deal was just that, too good to be true. I’d bought a lie. I was the sucker!

Don’t feel too badly for me, because this taught me a valuable lesson about how we can recognize the difference between a lie and the truth. The way I recognized that the jeans were fake was because I knew the real thing. I’d held in my hands the real deal. I knew what the true cut, color, and fabric was and when confronted with a fake, I could easily recognize it.

Jesus called our enemy the “Father of Lies.” His mode of operation from the very beginning has been deception, and he is still at work today – aiming sex-and-the-city-undercovered to deceive us about our identity, destinies, power and worthy. I pray this lesson brings freedom to many reading this today. So often we are duped by the enemy to buy lies about ourselves but we don’t know that we’ve been deceived.

When we buy into these lies, it affects everything about us, our self-worth, relationships, callings and experience of the Christian life. And since we behave how we believe, we end up in all kinds of messes, simply because at some point, we bought a lie.

I know this one from experience. I was once the girl who severely struggled with insecurity and feelings of rejection. I believed the lie that my value was based on people’s opinions or my own performance. If I was pretty enough, smart enough or successful enough, then I would earn love. This lie kept me in a prison of fear, people pleasing and self-hatred.  This pattern of thinking was so ingrained in me that I had no idea that I believed it. This was just my normal, relationship drama, roller coaster emotions, and disappointment.  I had no idea that everything I was feeling and experiencing was based on the lies I was believing.

Then, something powerful happened, I discovered the truth!

After living the “Sex and the City” life for most of my college years and young 20s, I was redeemed by the grace of Jesus Christ. When I fell in love with Jesus, the next thing that happened was I fell in love with His word, the Bible. I would sit for hours and read the scripture. I discovered that these are not just words on a page, this is the living, breathing word of God. As I dove into God’s word, I found a surprising result – I began to change from the inside out. After all, it was Jesus who said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

As I immersed myself in God’s word, I began to experience real freedom. The reason? I finally knew the truth. And by knowing the truth, I could recognize the lies of the enemy when they landed on my doorstep.

As we renew our minds with the truth, we begin to see the world and ourselves differently. It is my prayer that you will dive deep into God’s word. Allow the truth to expose any deeply held lies you may believe about yourself with God’s truth and experience the freedom and abundance that is yours in Jesus.

Photos: Top, Marian Jordan Ellis. Bottom: Ellis’ Sex and the City Uncovered.

Marian Jordan Ellis is the author of “Sex and the City Uncovered” and her new book, “Stand,” releases August 2017. She is the founder of Redeemed Girl Ministries. You can follow her on social media @marianjordan.

160 Christians arrested during Eritrea’s fresh crackdown on Christianity

Published by:

marian-orthodox-cathedral-asmara-eritrea

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service

ASMARA, ERITREA – Human rights groups have reported that the number of Christians arrested in the Eastern African nation of Eritrea since the government began its most recent crackdown against Christians in May has reached at least 160.

Sources who spoke with the international religious persecution advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide have put the number of Christians detained in raids in the capital of Asmara and seven other towns at about 170, according to a press release shared with The Christian Post.

Meanwhile, Release International, an organization that monitors and reports on Christian persecution in numerous nations across the globe, reported on Wednesday that around 160 Christians have been arrested, according to Christian Post reporter Samuel Smith.

The Christian Post says that in May, it was reported that nearly 100 Christians were detained, including 49 evangelicals who were arrested at a wedding party on May 21.

The outlet says the authoritarian government’s recent crackdown on Christians comes 15 years after the government closed many non-sanctionedmap-of-eritrea churches and banned religious practices not affiliated with state-recognized denominations such as the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox Christian churches and Sunni Islam.

“Worryingly, this latest phase has been described to Christian Solidarity Worldwide as ‘unprecedented in its intensity and rough treatment,'” CSW said.

CSW, which recently earned accreditation with the United Nations, notes that among the 160-plus Christians arrested are 33 women who are being held a Nakura, “a notoriously harsh prison island in the Dahlak Archipelago that was created by Italian colonialists in the late 19th Century to crush political dissent.”

Most of the 33 women being held at Nakura are reported to be young mothers who have left approximately 50 children without parents to care for them.

A local source told Release International that 12 children are actually in prison with their parents, with the youngest child believed to be about 2 months old.

“Unbelievably more than 30 children have been left without parents or guardians and the security police are monitoring them to make sure they do not get support from the Christian community,” the Release International report states.

CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement that the increase in Christian arrests is a “clear illustration that the persecution of unrecognized faith groups in Eritrea is continuing.”

“Moreover, the detention of these women, many of whom are young mothers, in a notoriously harsh facility simply on account of their religion or belief, is unwarranted, deplorable and in violation of Eritrea’s obligations under international law,” Thomas said.

According to Release International’s website, whole families are being arrested during this most recent crackdown on faith. The organization states that in the past, most arrested Christians were detained at Bible studies or Christian events. But now, “believers are being arrested at their homes.”

“Security officials accompanied by an Orthodox priest are turning up at homes and questioning people over their religious affiliation,” Release International explained. “All except Muslims, Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran are liable for arrest.”

Eritrea ranks as the 10th worst nation in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List.

An Open Doors fact sheet states: “The government’s attempt to control all religious institutions was particularly evident in the deposing and replacing of the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC) [Abune Antonios] in 2007, and he has remained under house arrest ever since. The EOC itself persecutes those who leave the EOC and become Evangelical or Pentecostal believers.”

CSW’s Thomas praised the United Nations Human Rights Council for passing a resolution earlier this month that extended the mandate of the special rapporteur on Eritrea for one year.

“Obviously, there has been no improvement in Eritrea’s human rights situation, and CSW warmly welcomes the renewal of the special rapporteur’s mandate, which will ensure continued human rights monitoring and follow up of Eritrea’s implementation of recommendations from the special rapporteur’s reports and those of the COIE,” he said in a statement.

“It is time to prioritize accountability for human rights violations; thus we reiterate our call for the international community to facilitate justice for victims of atrocity crimes, and to maintain pressure on the Eritrean regime until every prisoner of conscience is freed without precondition.”

 

Photos: Featured image: Sunset Over Enda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral, Asmara, Eritrea (Eric Lafforgue Photography); Eritrean Christians worship in prison (courtesy of Barnabas Fund); Map of Eritrea

A Matter of Faith: Understanding the paradox of freedom

Published by:

american-flag-and-christ

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” – Galatians 5:1 (NIV).

To most Americans, the word freedom connotes images of the American flag. We associate July 4 with the freedoms we’ve been granted by the U.S. american-flag-and-christConstitution. We celebrate our country’s independence with fireworks and parades.

According to dictionary.com, freedom means “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.”

Physical freedom is denied those locked behind prison walls. But those who have discovered a relationship with Jesus while in prison will tell you they are; indeed, now free, in spite of the iron bars they peer through each day.

Found throughout the Bible, the word, “freedom,” is familiar to those who’ve read God’s Holy Word. John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In an article by Roger Olson, he writes, “Unfortunately, two very different ideas of freedom get confused in many people’s minds. The biblical idea of freedom is different from, but easily confused with, the cultural value of the same name. And neither one is the same as “free will.” It can be confusing to the average Christian who wants to know what “real freedom” is. Is it having choices? Is it lack of coercion and constraint? Is it being able to do whatever you want? In what sense does Christ set us free, and how is that different from what Madison Avenue and Hollywood promise?

“At the very heart of the Christian gospel is the strange truth,” he continues, “that real freedom is found only in giving up everything secular culture touts as freedom. The gospel, it turns out, requires a distinction between the enjoyment of true freedom and the mere possession of ‘free will.’ Not that free will or independence from tyranny is a bad thing; they’re just not true freedom. True freedom, the gospel tells us, is trusting obedience, the obedience of faith. That’s not exactly the image one finds portrayed in popular culture.”

So, what does true freedom mean for those who choose to follow Christ? According to St. Augustine, true freedom is not choice or lack of constraint, but being what you are meant to be.

For too many years of my adult life, I was a slave—a slave to other’s opinions, a slave to the false image I portrayed as someone who had her life together, a slave to the identities I slipped into because of cultural demands. I wasn’t experiencing true freedom. I wasn’t completely free until I embraced the woman God has created me to be.

“Humans were created in the image of God. True freedom, then,” writes Olson, “is not found in moving away from that image but only in living it out. The closer we conform to the true image of God, Jesus Christ, the freer we become. The farther we drift from it, the more our freedom shrinks.”

Only Christ can set us free.

Photos courtesy of Carol Round and Anglican Pastor

Need a speaker or workshop leader? Carol Round is an author, a columnist, and a speaker. To learn more about Carol and her ministry, visit  her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

Christian History Institute details the Catholic Reformation

Published by:

catholic-reformation-christian-history

Special to Inside The Pew

Worcester, Penn. – Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine, announces its latestcatholic-reformation-christian-history issue, titled: The Catholic Reformation – Art, piety and the fight for renewal.  The issue is the fourth and final in a series of four, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation period, beginning in October of 1517.

This issue, #122, contains ten in-depth articles that explore responses to the Reformation within the Catholic Church and two related Protestant movements (the Arminius challenge to Calvin’s reform movement and the Puritan’s movement in America). The issue brings to a conclusion the editor’s four-issue series commemorating the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation period, generally considered to have begun with the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, in protest.

The issue’s contributing authors (see content link below) examine responses by both Catholic Church insiders and evangelicals. While Catholic piety and discipline reactions spawned numerous formal orders, including the 1540 formation of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), they also encouraged underground “justification by faith” movements which have remarkably experienced revival in modern times. Both responses, in spite of papal reluctance, lead to the Council of Trent, started in 1545 and lasting until the end of 1563.

In addition to exploring Europe’s Thirty Years’ War and its stamp on the relationship between the church and state, contributing authors explore how Protestant rejection of church statuary and images resulted in an art explosion as an expression of Catholic Church doctrine. Set upon a stage of Protestant reforms, the Council of Trent did more to clarify and affirm Catholic Church doctrines rather than to be a move toward actual reform.

“As I immersed myself in the Catholic Reformation, I encountered a cast of characters and events seeking an answer to the same question that troubled Protestants: Something has gone wrong here—how can we fix it?,” said CH managing editor, Jennifer Woodruff Tait. In service of that question, [Catholic] religious leaders dialogued with Protestants, rooted out heretics, and eventually convened the Council of Trent, which forged a uniquely Catholic way of reform. If you are a Protestant, reading this issue will require you to think differently about what reform looked like in the sixteenth century, where it happened, how, and why.”

CH issue 122, contains 10 feature articles; a special bonus time-line chronology pull-out; an archive of rare and beautiful art-work & photos; a ‘letters to the editor’ section and an extensive reading list compiled by the CH editorial staff. The magazine is available on-line and can be conveniently read, on screen at: www.christianhistoryinstitute.org.

The entire CH archive collection of 122 issues can be searched, along with books and study-guides, using the website’s robust search engine feature. The website, combined with a magazine subscription is offered at no-cost as a study resource for the home & homeschoolers, church libraries, middle/high schools, as well as to colleges & universities. It is the mission of CHI donors and staff to make this resource as widely and freely available as possible (donations gratefully accepted).

The following articles can be accessed on-line at: What’s Inside?

Articles in issue #122, titled: The Catholic Reformation – Art, piety and the fight for renewal, include:

Helping Souls –  How religious orders of the sixteenth century pursued reform and holiness
author:  Katie M. Benjamin, a Th.D. candidate at Duke University working in Reformation history and theology.

The Road Not Taken – Evangelical Catholics worked for reform without leaving their mother church
author: Edwin Woodruff Tait, managing editor, Christian History

Picturing Saints – What Catholic piety in the Sixteenth century looked and felt like
Virginia C. Raguin, Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the College of the Holy Cross and author of Stained Glass: Radiant Art and Art, Piety, and Destruction in the Christian West, 1500–1700.

The Persistent Council – Catholic reform came to a head at the Council of Trent
Martin J. Lohrmann, assistant professor of Lutheran confessions and heritage at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa; author of Book of Harmony; and coeditor of a volume in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series.

A Renewed and Global Faith – After Trent, changes were in the air
Thomas Worcester, S.J., professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, the author of Seventeenth-Century Cultural Discourse, and the editor of the Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits.

Reasons of State – The Thirty Years’ War: Europe’s last religious war
Roger G. Robins, associate professor in the Center for Global Communication Strategies at the University of Tokyo.

Defender of God’s Justice – Arminius questioned some aspects of Reformed faith, but he never meant to launch a movement
William den Boer, postdoctoral researcher in church history at the Theological University of Kampen and the author of God’s Twofold Love: The Theology of Jacob Arminius (1559–1609).

Coming to America – The Puritans left us a profound, ambiguous legacy
Malcolm Foley, Ph.D. student in the history of Christianity at Baylor University.

Remaking the World – Five men with very different ideas on the reform of Sixteenth-century Catholicism
Edwin and Jennifer Woodruff Tait – Edwin Woodruff Tait is contributing editor at Christian History. Jennifer Woodruff Tait is managing editor at Christian History.

The Ecumenical Dilemma – Protestants and Catholics share their experiences from the Reformation until the present day – with John W. O’Malley, S.J., Paul Rorem, Ernest Freeman, John Armstrong, and Thomas A. Baima.

Ilatov: ‘Let’s launch the Jerusalem prayer breakfast movement’

Published by:

Robert Ilatov Story and pictures by Annabel Foery
Special to ASSIST News Service

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – At the main event of the first National Prayer Breakfast held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem on June 7, Chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC) Robert Ilatov said that he is launching the Jerusalem prayer breakfast movement.

“Our time has come,” he said, “to stand in the gap, just as it is written in scripture” (Ezekiel 22-30).

Now that Israel has reached the milestone of 50 years of having a united Capital, he asked everyone to stand together and undertake praying for Jerusalem.

The KCAC has the mission to build direct lines of communication cooperation and coordination between the Knesset and Christian leaders around the world in both the political and the faith communities. Goals are to recognize the contributions that Christians in America, Europe and around the World, are making to the security of the State of Israel and to the welfare of the Jewish people; to bring to the attention of the population of Israel the unqualified support Christians have given, and continue to give to, Jewish aspirations in the holy land.

Event MC, Albert Veksler, speaking to the more than 550 attendees from 56 nations, pointed out that scripture doesn’t just say that there is blessing for those that “know Jerusalem” but “those that love Jerusalem.” He went on to say, “We want to make Jerusalem a house of prayer for all nations. How big must this house be? Well, we are ‘building’ this house of prayer – will you join with us to make this city a house of prayer – a House of Prayer for All Nations?”

Distinguished politicians from many nations read potions of scripture and prayers were given by pastors from around the world, amongst whom, Pastor Tom Hess, spoke of praying for reconciliation with the Arab people – Jerusalem is the heart of the “Isaiah 19 Highway” (see Isa.19:22-24).

Billy Wilson, President of Oral Roberts University, called for a “wave of intercession” for the country and the city of Jerusalem.Menora at the Knesset

Coordinator of the Allies Caucus, Josh Reinstein, said that “a united city of Jerusalem is not a political issue, it is a biblical issue. There is not a West Jerusalem and an East Jerusalem – there is only one City of Jerusalem. This is the most important issue of our time.”

The concluding speaker, former United States Representative, Michele Bachmann, instead of speaking her own thoughts passionately prayed scripture after scripture, which brought many to tears throughout the room.  Afterwards, she said she didn’t know what she was going to say until she stood at the podium where she just let herself be led by God.

Photo captions: 1) MK Robert Ilatov. 2) Full Ballroom at the Breakfast. 3) Menora at the Knesset, where attendees were able to visit during their time in Jerusalem.

Annabel Foery, an English transplant to the USA, has been a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, (Yeshua Ha-Mashiach) learning to know the heart of God and encouraging others to do likewise.  She lives in Alexandria Virginia and helps volunteer with hosting overseas guests at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, and can be contacted by e-mail at: foery@icloud.com.

5 foundational leader traits grounded in religion

Published by:

By Major General Michael J. Diamond, US Army (retired)
Special to Inside The Pew

In order to be a complete leader, those in charge must possess certain character traits. Workers need leaders whom they can admire and respect. It should be no surprise that many of these foundational traits can be developed through religious teachings.

We will look at my five most important character traits; integrity, work ethic, discipline, courage, and decisiveness. Imichael-diamond-the-diamond-process have found in client organizations that subordinates crave a leader that has at a minimum these five elements. They are also very dismissive if their positional leader does not have and exhibit all these traits. Without them they tend to not be as supportive and go that extra mile when crunch time comes into play, e.g. putting in overtime, weekends, working late to meet a deadline. Character does matter to subordinates while their positional leaders tend to discount it because they are in fact the boss.

With each of these character traits, we will look at a biblical connection and how that carries over to today’s leaders.

  1. Integrity – “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3). “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22). “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the lord but also in the eyes of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21).
  2. Decisiveness – “The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that,the-diamond-process purpose must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6– 8). “Part of decisiveness is a) praying for knowledge and wisdom (Ephesians 5: 15– 17), b) seeking counsel from others (Proverbs 15:22); and c) submitting to the Llord’s will (Proverbs 19:21).
  3. Work ethic – Colossians 3:23, “whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart.” Matthew 5:16 “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works”.
  4. Discipline –  Titus 1:7– 9 “For an overseer, as God’s steward must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine, and also rebuke those who contradict it.”
  5. Courage –  Joshua is a great example of leadership as Moses instructed him to courageously lead his people into the Promised Land.

Although it did not make the top 5, there is one overarching theme to all these and that is the concept of humility. Humility supplants all and enables people to lead others much more effectively. It is this potential to build longer, lasting relationships that causes subordinates to want to follow others who are humble yet very gifted leaders of people. These 5 traits have served me well in my leadership experiences as well as the many that I have served with and mentored throughout my career. It will pay huge dividends for all of us in this day and time if we learn and continue to strive to live up to these to our subordinates.

Photos: Top, Major General Michael J. Diamond; middle, book cover, “The Diamond Process: How to Fix  Your Organization and Lead People More Effectively.”

Major General Michael J. Diamond, US Army (retired) is author of The Diamond Process: How to Fix Your Organization and Lead People More Effectively. Diamond served a combined 35 years on active duty and in the Reserves. He brings this wealth of experience in military, manufacturing, retail, consulting, IT and many other sectors to help improve performance in organizations. His new book is co–authored by his son, Capt. Christopher R. Harding, presents the Diamond Process Model referenced above. The book is available on DiamondStrategyGroup.comAmazon and other fine booksellers.

Trump draws ‘deeper path for friendship with Israel’

Published by:

zion-yossi-zamir

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

President Donald Trump’s trip to Israel is a promise that goes beyond words. Trump, the only sitting U.Strump-visits-western-wall. president to visit to holy sites in Jerusalem, said the visit to the Western Wall was a “great honor,” one that could build “a deeper path to friendship with Israel.”

Trump’s visit to Israel was historic and welcoming. Billboards and signs proclaiming, “Trump Is A Friend of Zion” and “Trump Make Israel Great” have lined the streets of Jerusalem in a very public welcome to the president. The initiative, launched by Michael Evans, founder and chair of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center and a member of the Founding Trump Faith Board.

“Donald Trump won the election because of a historic evangelical voter turnout – the largest in American history. Evangelicals tend not to be monolithic except on two issues – the Supreme Court and Israel.

Evans, among others, point to Trump’s campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. By moving the embassy, Trump would signify that the United States recognizes Jerusalem at the capital of Israel.

“President Trump promised us he would recognize Jerusalem and move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.  We wholeheartedly believe that this promise is non-negotiable and will happen while he is president.”

Don Horwitz, executive director of Christians Care International, told Inside The Pew the bond between the U.S. and Israel is based on the shared Judeo-Christian values of our two nations. He said both nations cherish personal liberty, religious freedom, and human dignity.

“When the President of the United States visits Israel, he sends the world a powerful message that this bond will Don Horowitznever be broken and that our two nations will forever be united in friendship and mutual support.

Horwitz added that Trump’s visit also puts Israel and the Jewish people into the world’s focus, and reminds us that many thousands of Jews remain subject to virulent anti-Semitism and persecution.

“Christians have also become increasingly subject to persecution and religious violence – Jews and Christians must stand together in the face of this violence.

“As the Bible tells us, Israel is a light unto the nations. It is time for the world to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.”

Trump’s next stop in this tour is a meeting at the Vatican with Pope Francis on May 24.

Photos (top to bottom):

President Donald Trump prays before the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (AP)

A banner hangs on a building in Jerusalem. (Yossi Zamir)

Don Horwitz, executive director of Christians Care International (http://www.christianscare.org/)

Tonya Whitaker contributed to this story.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

Project executive director describes life as ‘JESUS’ Film missionary

Published by:

gabon-central-africa-jesus-film

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

Recounts from Christian missionaries show the transforming power of God’s word. This is exactly what Dr. Erickgabon-central-africa-jesus-film Schenkel conveys in his upcoming release, Everyone, Everywhere.

Schenkel, executive director of Jesus Film Project®, shares his personal journey in ministry since graduating from Harvard College in 1974 and the subsequent global impact of the film “JESUS” since its release in 1979.

The “JESUS” film, envisioned by Bill Bright, co-founder of Cru, and was produced in cooperation with The Genesis Project. “JESUS” is the most watched film according to Guinness Book of World Records and, as of this year, is available in 1,500 languages with the latest translation in Daasanach. Jesus Film Project continues to carry out Bright’s vision of showing this film to people in every country of the world.

The missionary has witnessed numerous miraculous occurrences as a result of both his and others’ commitments to sharing the Gospel around the world and working toward fulfilling the Great Commission through various mediums throughout the years including “JESUS” film screenings and the latest tools and films available through the Jesus Film Project app.

“This book is an invitation to join the most exciting, the most compassionate, the most significant movement in theerick-schenkel-everyone-everywhere world,” Schenkel said. “It is written primarily for people who are presently followers of Jesus Christ, but I dare to hope that some who are not His followers will be drawn to the beauty and the importance of the realities it presents.”

Through Everyone, Everywhere, which is set for release on May 23, Schenkel sheds light on the history of evangelism throughout the centuries and the varying branches of the Christian faith. He points out that though each of these sects might have had different beliefs on certain aspects, fundamentally everyone who has professed a belief in Christ has been tasked with the same thing – to spread the Gospel.

“We followers of Jesus Christ share one history,” Schenkel said. “We are involved in one mission. We must also remember that simply taking to oneself the name of Jesus Christ — regardless of what one’s devotional practice may be — is in itself a radical step.  In much of the world, there is nothing to be gained in this life by claiming to be a Christian. In fact, confessing Christ can be dangerous, regardless of the church one attends — or fails to attend.  …  Just taking the name of Jesus can get you killed.”

Throughout the book, Schenkel shares stories of missionaries, pastors and others in ministry work around the world who passionately share the message of Christ, despite the risks. From nations where sharing the Gospel of Jesus is illegal such as China and Middle Eastern countries to areas where Christianity is exploding including Korea, Vietnam and parts of Africa and Latin America, Schenkel explores how the message of Christ is indeed reaching the nations. He also talks about the fact that though the United States and other westernized countries still play a role in spreading the Gospel, the saving grace of Jesus is now being spread “from everyone, to everywhere.”

“Never has there been the possibility of inter-related global movements of Jesus followers like we see beginning to happen today,” he said. “I am convinced that we live at the most exciting moment in the history of the church.”

Learn more about Everyone, Everywhere, visit the  Jesus Film website.

Photos (top to bottom)

Residents of the central African country of Gabon view a showing of the JESUS Film.

Dr. Erick Schenkel, author of Everyone, Everywhere

Images courtesy of the Jesus Film Project®

© 2017 Inside The Pew

Missing your mom on Mother’s Day

Published by:

mother's-day-sorrow

By Alexis Marie Chute
Special to Inside The Pew

Many moms relish Mother’s Day as a chance to have breakfast made for them – for a change. Or to have an uninterrupted bubble bath, minus the toys. Or to simply be thanked. Mother’s Day is advertised well, with cards, flowers, and gifts of any imaginable product, all geared towards the hard-working, over-tired, and much deserving mom.

But what about the mother of a mom?

When women have children of their own, they enter this wonderful club of motherhood. Still, the bond with one’sauthor-alexis-marie-chute own mother remains, like an invisible umbilicord, connecting heart to heart. It is without doubt that mothers and daughters share a sacred bond. It is this bond that makes Mother’s Day all the more heartbreaking when your own mother is unwell or has died.

Many young children believe their parents know all the answers and have this “life-thing” figured out. When you grow up, you realize that your parents are mere mortals, just fellow people figuring things out as they go. This is a startling realization in and of itself. Then, when your parents get sick, you realize they will not live forever. When your mother or father dies, the ache can be felt with each heartbeat, leaving you with a sense of loneliness, as if your foundational protection has been lifted.

Coping through Mother’s Day when you are caring for your ailing mother, or missing her larger-than-life presence, is challenging. Sometimes there are no words of comfort that make even a dent on the sadness you feel. Here are a few ways to redeem Mother’s Day for you:

Shut off the social and be present.

We spend much of our lives distracted by things that do not matter. Social media is a perfect example of this. Instead of updating your Facebook status or Instagram-ming the card your kids made for you – be with your kids! If you mom is still alive and within driving distance: Visit her. And lock your phone in your car if it’s too much of a temptation.

You know social media will be abuzz with Mother’s Day posts anyway and these in-your-face messages prompt the agony you feel for your mom and her pain. Shut them all off. Avoid the social media comparison game. Avoid seeing the pictures of your peers with their healthy mothers. When you logout, and wake-up to the present moment, you will see it for the gift that it is. You will feel alive and free, appreciating every minute of the life you have the privilege of living as a daughter to your mother and as a mom yourself.

Create and re-live memories.

If your mom has passed, take intentional time to be still and think about her. Get in a meditative state where you breathe deeply and do not wiggle around. Close your eyes and picture your mother. Remember her smell. Remember the way she said things to you: was she firm or tender? A jokster or a straight-shooter? Think back to trips you may have taken together or your weekly lunch dates or family holidays. Think about the lessons she taught you and the physical features of your body that came from her. Remember and celebrate your mother in spirit, her warts and all.

If your mother is alive, it is not too late to create new memories. The weekly lunch dates can take place at her home or hospital room. Surprise her with flowers and her favorite book, which you can read to her; or her favorite board game if she is still able to play. Give her a massage, the gift of touch. Take her for a walk in her wheelchair and start up a round of eye spy. Tell each other stories about your lives. And whatever you do, take as many photos and video as you can. These will become cherished keepsakes later on.

Let the feelings come.

Don’t get stuck in fretting about the “right things” to do or say for your mother if she’s ailing. Just do your best. Similarly, there is no one right way to grieve, and no singular perfect way to remember your mom’s life. Be graceful and kind with yourself. Everyone knows you are doing the best you can – and what other people think doesn’t matter anyway. What you think and feel is what counts. If you are feeling blue, let your tears flow. If anger is bubbling up in your chest at the fact that your mother passed from a tragic illness: Be mad! Give yourself permission. Go for a run till you’re winded, beat-up your duvet, scream till your throat throbs. Get out the feelings, whatever they are. The sense of release will be tangible afterwards.

“Life is not fair.” Those are the words likely every child everywhere has said to his or her parent at one point or another growing up. We can feel this injustice just the same as adults. There is never enough time with the ones we love, true. While Mother’s Day may feel like a kick-in-the-pants right when you are praying hard for a miracle, choose to see it as an opportunity. A chance to celebrate your mother, at whatever state of health she may be in, or to celebrate her in spirit as you remember her amazing life. If you have children of your own, tell them about their grandmother. We keep memories alive through the stories we share.

Alexis Marie Chute is the author of the award-winning memoir Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss, available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Alexis Marie is a writer, artist, filmmaker, public speaker, and bereavement expert. Learn more about her book and documentary, Expecting Sunshine: The Truth About Pregnancy After Loss, at www.ExpectingSunshine.com. She is a healthy-grief advocate educating others on how to heal in creative and authentic ways.

Connect with Alexis Marie Chute on FacebookLinkedIn TwitterInstagramPinterestTumblrYouTube, and at www.AlexisMarieChute.comwww.ExpectingSunshine.comwww.WantedChosenPlanned.comwww.AlexisMarieArt.com, and www.AlexisMarieWrites.com.

 

 

Bayou City renewal: First Presbyterian Church of Houston announces ‘Project Flourish’

Published by:

project flourish first presbyterian church of houston

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

First Presbyterian Church of Houston has unveiled Project Flourish, a creative invitation to the community to helpproject flourish first presbyterian church of houston bring fresh ideas to the issues that face a major metropolitan city like Houston.

According to the church’s May 2 announcement, it has set aside $250,000 for a social-entrepreneurship contest that seeks to grow new creative ideas from the community and mobilize Houstonians to seek city-wide renewal and transformational change.

“Every neighborhood in Houston is home to people who care deeply about our city—and we believe God has a heart to see Houston continually renewed and flourishing,” said Jim Birchfield, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church. “We want to see our city thrive—by offering $250,000 in seed money for creative proposals to that end, we truly want to work with individuals and teams who are seeking the good of the city.”

Individuals and teams who reside within 50 miles of downtown Houston are encouraged to apply through the Project Flourish website.

Applications are open to both for-profit and non-profit ideas, and will continue to be accepted through September 10th. Applications will be reviewed and semi-finalists will be invited into a six-week “acceleration” process designed to refine their proposal and receive consulting support, mentorship, and expertise from FPC congregants. At the conclusion of the six-week acceleration process, semi-finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, supporters and prospective investors who will have the job of awarding funding from the $250,000 pool.

“We are looking for fresh solutions with truly innovative approaches to go after some of the greatest problems we face as a city,” said Austin Hermann, FPC’s Director of Ministry Empowerment. “We are looking for individuals and teams who have ideas in their earlier conceptual stages of development but have some clear traction and proven attempts at implementation. Judges will want to see evidence of market testing, research, and problem understanding.”

Established in 1839, First Presbyterian Church of Houston was the first church to organize and build in Houston. Today its congregation continues to worship and serve from its location in the heart of the city’s museum district. Committed to providing opportunities to Gather, Grow and Go, the FPC Houston community continues to impact Houston and beyond through multiple worship styles, biblical teaching and strategic opportunities to serve through both local and global mission ministry opportunities. Compelled by the love of Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, FPC Houston is committed to carry the gospel to Houston and to the world.

To apply with your idea, or to learn more visit http://projectflourish.org/.

Project Flourish is a direct result of Vision 2020, the plan by which FPC Houston has committed to fulfill its mission: “Compelled by the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we carry the gospel to Houston and the world.”   

© 2017 Inside The Pew