Author Archives: grelanmuse

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

 

Raiders QB Derek Carr grew up in church, but rebelled until God’s love drew him back

Published by:

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr

By Mark Ellis
Special to Inside The Pew

At only 11-years-old he was throwing 50-yard passes with his older brother David Carr, then a rookie NFLOakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr quarterback. Raised in a godly Christian home, younger brother Derek sowed his share of wild oats until the love of Jesus expressed through a woman drew his heart back to God.

“I grew up in this church and I knew who Christ was and I knew who God was and I loved him,” Derek shared in his home church in Fresno, Calif., in 2015.

But even though Derek prayed to God and knew who He was, he didn’t fully give his life to Christ and follow Him until later.

“I grew up loving football, basketball, and baseball,” he recounted. “My dad went to all my games and if he couldn’t be at a game, he would call me on the phone and pray for me. He was always there for me. My mom was always there to pray for me and talk to me. My family life was awesome. I had parents who loved me.”

His father taught him about discipline and order by using a ball box in the garage. “He wanted everything put back in that box a certain exact way. It was his house and that was how he wanted it done and I respected him,” Carr said.

The family lived in Bakersfield, Calif., before they moved to Texas in 2002 when David became the first draft pick of the Houston Texans. Derek and his family moved back to Bakersfield for his senior year, where he attended Bakersfield Christian High School.

Derek admits he made some bad choices in high school. “I was smoking weed, having sex.

I wish I didn’t do those things. I was out partying, staying out late.”

Still, he maintained a façade around his parents. “I was a different kid on Sunday than I was on Friday and Saturday night.

“I would still tell people about Jesus because I believed in Him and knew it was the truth, but I would go do these things and say, ‘Father, forgive me.’ That’s a scary way to live.”

Derek Carr’s Testimony

In three years playing as a high school quarterback in Texas and California, he passed for nearly 7,000 yards. The recruitment letters began to flow in from USC, Cal, Notre Dame, and Miami. “Stanford recruited me until they got my transcripts,” he joked.

Before Derek’s grandfather passed away he went to visit him at the hospital. While his grandfather was too weak to speak to him, the dying man wrote Jeremiah 29:11 on a board:

“’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.’”

Deeply touched by the encounter, Derek later got the verse tattooed on his wrist.

After he enrolled at Fresno State, he competed for the starting job as a freshman. “God knew I wasn’t ready to handle that. If He was to give me all those things when my life wasn’t right yet, oh my goodness, I wouldn’t be here, you would be praying for me,” he confessed.

He was still deeply enmeshed in the party lifestyle. “There are things I don’t want to remember. I was so selfish and hurt other people. My heart wasn’t right. I wanted what I wanted. I wanted to please myself. I was thinking I was living the life.

“The life I was living was leading me down a road to destruction and death. That’s where I was headed,” he said.

But one day God used a beautiful young woman, Heather Neel, to get his attention. They met at BJ’s Brewhouse, where she worked as a server. “I hit on her. I talked to her. I used a corny pickup line and it worked. She told me I needed to come to church with her.”

Derek knew he should be going to church but never found the time.

Heather began to pray for Derek to come back to the Lord. “One day we got in an argument over something. I won the argument and then she grabbed my hand and started praying for me.”

She followed up the prayer with a 10-page letter. One line in the letter stuck in his gut: “you’re not the person I thought you were.”

As Derek pondered the implications of her letter, the Holy Spirit began to pierce his heart and he began weeping. “I was this mean, tough, football player and I was bawling his eyes out, alone, in my bedroom, in the house I shared with my buddies,” he recounted.

He knew the time had come for him to get right with Jesus. Derek recognized that nothing could fill the void in his heart except the love of Christ. He dropped to his knees in surrender and began to pray.

“My life is yours. Forgive me of my sins; forgive me of the sins I don’t even know I committed. My heart is yours. Take it and do what you want with it. No matter what you tell me to do the answer is yes. I’ve been sitting on the fence long enough. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

“That is the day my life changed and I said no to sin.” He married Heather in 2012 and they have two sons.

During his three years as a starter at Fresno State, Derek threw for 12,843 passing yards and 113 touchdowns. InDerek Carr stretches before NFL game in 2015. 2013, Carr won the Sammy Baugh Trophy, which is awarded annually to the country’s top college QB. He finished in 8th place in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Drafted by the Oakland Raiders, Carr had 53 career touchdown passes, the second most by a quarterback in his first two seasons. He replaced Aaron Rodgers in the 2016 Pro Bowl.

He gives glory to God for transforming his life. “Don’t make the stupid choices I did and search for the things this world tells you is right,” he said.

“Give Jesus true Lordship and control over your life. Say you are God and I’m going to live for you. The greatest decision I ever made is to give him Lordship over my life.”

Photo cutlines:

Top: Derek Carr

Center: Derek Carr, right, with his wife, Heather, with one of their two sons.

Lower: Derek Carr stretches during pre-game warm-up.

Prayer room at Texas high school causes concerns

Published by:

Special to Inside The Pew

AUSTIN – In a letter sent March 17 to the superintendent of the Frisco (Texas) Independent School District, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office outlines legal concerns over Liberty High School’s prayer room, which may violate the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty.

Recent news reports have indicated that the high school’s prayer room is dedicated to students who practice Islam, while apparently excluding students of other faiths.

Muslim students at Liberty High School in Frisco have been allowed since 2009 to pray in a classroom that’s vacant for part of the afternoon.

“Liberty High School’s policy should be neutral toward religion,” reads the letter from Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie to Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon. “However, it appears that students are being treated different based on their religious beliefs. Such a practice, of course, is irreconcilable with our nation’s enduring commitment to religious liberty.”

While applauding the superintendent’s efforts to create an environment where students can freely practice their religion, the letter from Attorney General Paxton’s office reminds the Frisco ISD that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, “one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.”

However, according to the CBS affiliate in Dallas, said the room is open to all students, regardless of their religion.

The letter asks that school officials ensure that Liberty High School’s prayer room is accessible to students of all religious denominations, consistent with the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty.

In response to the Attorney General’s letter, Lyon said, “Frisco ISD is greatly concerned that this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, its students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption.”

© 2017 Inside The Pew

Why we need reminders of God’s faithfulness

Published by:

By Carol Round
Special to ASSIST News Service

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’” 1 Samuel 7:12 (NKJV).

GROVE, Okla. – In a recent column, I made a mistake. I’d forgotten the importance of double checking facts, but a reader, who pointed out my error, reminded me I had been careless. In a hurry to finish, I’d accepted what someone else had written – and I had quoted – as correct.

After I thanked him for emailing me, I had to smile. Why? Because the pointing out of my mistake was perfect timing for the topic God had already laid on my heart.

Several months ago, I received a thank you note from a group of women who had heard me speak at a conference in May 2016. While I’d forgotten the event in the midst of life-changing circumstances, the arrival of the card was perfect timing. I needed a reminder of what God had done in my life and what He was doing through me to encourage other women in their walk with the Lord.

God’s timing is always “on time.” However, we often forget His faithfulness in the midst of our struggles. So did the Israelites. In scripture, we see examples of reminders. In Joshua 4, after the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River through God’s supernatural provision, He commanded them to set up 12 stones as “a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

In 1 Samuel 7:12, the prophet Samuel set up a commemorative stone and named it Ebenezer to serve as a reminder that “thus far the Lord has helped us.”

The particular site of Ebenezer as mentioned in 1 Samuel 4:1-11 and 5:1 is about four miles south of Gilgal, where the Israelites were twice defeated by the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant was stolen. However, the site wasn’t named Ebenezer until after the Israelites had finally defeated the Philistines and taken back the Ark.

What does Ebenezer mean? According to “Strong’s Concordance,” the word originates from the Hebrew word for “help” put together with the Hebrew word for “stone” to create the word, Ebenezer. Thus defined by the etymological roots of the word, an Ebenezer is literally a “Stone of Help.” For the Israelites who finally defeated the Philistines, it was a reminder of God’s divine aid.

As a Christian writer and speaker, I love sharing my testimony with others, encouraging my readers and the audience with the wonderful, sometimes supernatural things God has done in and through my 63 years of life. Each time, I am also reminded of His faithfulness. When I receive a thank you card, an email or a verbal reply to the words I write or speak, I am encouraged. Those things become my Ebenezer, my “stone of help,” especially when I need them the most.

Encouraged by friends to put my stories of God’s faithfulness into a book, I have begun writing them down. Lest any of us forget, take time to create a list, an “Ebenezer” of sorts, as a reminder.

Photo cutline: Carol Round

Round is available to speak at women’s events or to lead prayer journaling workshops. Email carolaround@yahoo.com

 

Human trafficking opponent in Houston to launch initiative

Published by:

in-our-backyard-human-trafficking

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For seven Super Bowls, Nita Belles has brought attention to the troubling occurrence of human trafficking that takes in-our-backyard-human-traffickingplace during major sporting events. And this year is no different.

Millions are awaiting the big game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, the host city of Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, February 5, 2017, but as in previous years, human trafficking is a real concern to many, especially Nita Belles.

Belles is the founder of In Our Backyard (IOB) — http://inourbackyard.org/ — and Jan. 28 she officially announced the launch of the “Convenience Stores Against Trafficking” (CSAT) initiative. She did so during her appearance as keynote speaker at “Vulnerable: A Conference on the Issues of Gender, Race, Poverty & Human Trafficking,” held at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main St. in Houston. The free conference kicked off at 1 p.m.

“The Houston Super Bowl was the right time to launch the campaign,” Belles said. “Houston was very accepting and welcoming of the program. Greater Houston Retailers Association put CSAT materials and training out to 1,900 convenience stores.”

IOB will also work with local law enforcement and other groups responding to the anticipated increased sex trade activity in the Houston area. Days before the launch of the initiative, on Jan. 24, KTRK-TV, the ABC-affiliate in Houston, reported a 21-year-old woman — who said she was brought to Houston specifically for sex trafficking at the Super Bowl — was raped in downtown Houston by a pimp. According to the report, a Good Samaritan rescued the woman and took her to Ben Taub Hospital for treatment.

In addition, Belles said her organization have unveiled a major social media drive aiming to boost awareness of human trafficking during the events surrounding the February 5th game. The anti-human trafficking campaigner said she hopes for a quarter of a million shares of the new Thunderclap video, “Link Arms Across America,” during the first quarter. The short awareness message features former victims holding signs of things they were told by their traffickers.

“Thousands of women, children, and even some men across the country are caught up in the horrors of sex trafficking, convinced that there is no way out, and convenience stores can be a first line of help for these victims,” Belles said. “Businesses like these can be heroes in this fight; we’re so glad for their support.”

Since founding IOB in 2006, Belles has become widely recognized as a leading voice in the fight against human trafficking. A frequent speaker to law enforcement, medical, civic and community groups, she has also been an adviser on anti-trafficking legislation to legislators in several states and authored the authoritative book “In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It.”

“Human trafficking happens 24/7, 365 days a year, in every zip code in America,” Belles said. “But working together, we can bring an end to this atrocity.”

Belles said volunteers are being recruited for the event to help canvas convenience stores in the Houston area. Visit the IOB website (http://inourbackyard.org/) to sign up.

© 2017 Inside The Pew