Author Archives: grelanmuse

To make a difference you have to be different

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By Shirley Weber
Special to Inside The Pew

Do you know your identity? To me this question was one I could not really answer without confusing myself even more. As I became a teenager up into my early adulthood, I went through an identity crisis.

An identity crisis is a period of uncertainty and confusion in which your sense of identity becomes insecure.

I spent a lot of time trying to fit in. I would wake up in the morning feeling miserable before I would even get out of bed. One day as I was walking home a neighbor’s daughter invited me to church. I really did not want to attend but she would not give up.  The pastor played a film about Jesus dying for me. He died so I could have life and life more abundantly; that night changed my life. I was so curious that I started searching for answers by reading the word. In reading and studying, there are three topics that gave me confidence in knowing my identity.

  • The Lord made me special. “Then God said let us make man in our image in our likeness and let them rule.” (Genesis 1:27, NIV)
  • The Lord chose and loves me. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6, NIV)
  • The Lord has placed me in his royal family: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV)

When knowing your true identity, your faith will grow stronger and develop; you focus on your identity in Christ. Knowing who you are will restore your joy, bring contentment, and change your life.

I discovered the tools to overcome obstacles in my life such as not knowing my true identity, being fearful all the time, and waking up depressed day to day. The tools that I used were the word of God that renewed my mind each day as I applied the scriptures to my situations. I transformed from insecurity to confidence, from depression to vibrant living.

Shirley Weber is author of “To Make A Difference, You Have To Be Different.” She and her husband, Pastor Larkin Weber Sr., are founders of Couples Night. For bookings, call Shirley Weber at 225-933-5816.

Do you have a Christmas heart?

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” –Isaiah 9:6 (NIV).

Are you ready for Christmas? I’ve been asked this question by friends, as well as those I meet at the grocery check-out, in the post office line and other public places where I’m waiting.

Children are also waiting. Waiting to see what’s underneath the Christmas tree, wondering if they will receive the desires of their hearts. Time seems to stand still as they count down the days until Christmas.

Others I’ve observed while shopping reveal faces void of hope, a knowing that there won’t be much to unwrap. The desires of their hearts, as well as many of their needs, will go unmet.

In a devotion excerpt by author Ann Voskamp, she wrote, “What we’re really getting ready for is love. Preparing for the holidays is primarily a preparing of the heart. Because what comes down is love, and the way to receive love isn’t to wrap anything up –but to unwrap your heart.”

With the approach of Christmas Day, the season of Advent is almost over. It’s a time to prepare our lives for Christ to enter in. Voskamp says, “Is that the ultimate purpose of this life—the preparing for the next life?

“Is this why Christmas, Advent, unlike any other time of year, glimmers with a glimpse of heaven—because it’s the time of year we’re fulfilling our purpose, preparing for Christ and His coming again? The Christmas tree’s been lit for weeks, a beacon, a preparing, an anticipation,” she adds. “Then, why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ?”

Why is it so difficult for us to reject the lure of commercialism and turn to the heart of the One who came down for one purpose? Why do we find it hard to simplify our physical preparations, instead of preparing our hearts for His coming?

American newspaper columnist George Mathew Adams said, “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide-open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.”

What does a Christmas heart look like? In “Our Advent Journey,” Mark Zimmerman wrote, “This Advent we look to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention. We set our sights on things above, where God is. We draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.”

Let Him fulfill your heart’s desire this Christmas.

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

 

His instructions are clear: watch and pray

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

President-elect Donald Trump is moving on past his victory on Election Day. Yet, based on the Trump reactions I’ve read on socialphilippians 4 19 the message media and seen on news shows, there are still Americans who are not satisfied with the Nov. 8 results. It is OK to hold a bit of dismay because your candidate didn’t win, but how long will you wallow in despair? It is time to let it go. While this column is not intended to endorse Trump, it is to tell Christians to never forget what God has assured believers.

The madness revealed after the election at the hands of the enemy has led people to become misguided. You know what the Bible has outlined for us; he will supply all your needs (Philippians 4-19). The people who are upset are the ones who are situational Christians. If you completely believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket because of Trump, put the brakes on refer and back to God’s instructions (I Peter 5:7). To rise above anything, you have to believe in Him.

When you understand His instructions, He clearly tells us to watch and pray. Matthew 26:41 tell us to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” There is a reason that God tells us to watch and understand who your enemy is, comprehend His tactics, prepare by knowing His word, and to pray without ceasing to win the battle.

When the Almighty tells us to watch, it is the Christian’s duty to know what the enemy is doing to destroy His people and His church.

Due to fear and lack of recognizing what the enemy’s capabilities, people begin to believe the prophecy of those whoGrelan Muse Sr. don’t understand God’s intent. Fear is a feeling derived from people who have not faith in the words of God; He tells us not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).

Christians truly understand that it time to heal from the presidential election. In this process, we all must become humble and accept what God has allowed with a clean heart and renewed spirit.

Grelan A. Muse Sr., a Baton Rouge resident, is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio.

© 2016 Inside The Pew

 

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank receives $1.4M from FEMA

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Special to Inside The Pew

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has been able to continue its feeding mission with the help of a nearly $1.4 million FEMA grant.

The grant reimburses expenses to dispose of debris, clean and disinfect property and equipment and restoregreater baton rouge food bank refrigeration and freezing at the Choctaw Drive distribution facility damaged in the August flooding event. It also provides the food bank with a temporary facility to support its essential community service.

The nonprofit stores food at the distribution facility that faith-based and community groups then distribute to pantries, meal sites, homes, shelters and soup kitchens in the Baton Rouge area.

The funds were made available through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program. The program reimburses expenses to eligible local and state government and certain private nonprofit entities in 26 designated parishes to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure.

The 26 designated parishes eligible for PA funding are Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible PA expenses. However, applicants will be reimbursed 90 percent of eligible PA expenses given the magnitude of the August floods. The federal portion is paid directly to the state, which then disburses the funds to the applicants.

Bestseller or not, we all have a story to tell

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By Deanna Nowadnick
Special to Inside The Pew

I never expected to write a book. Mom had asked me to write a book, but at the time my boys were little and I couldn’t get a grocery list put together. Later when the boys were in high school, Mom asked again, but I deferred, deanna nowadnick“Writers write books.” After Mom’s death, Dad reminded me that Mom had wanted me to write a book. With no more excuses and time to reflect, I wrote a book. Then I wrote a second book.

When I wrote Fruit of My Spirit, I’d just wanted my boys to know how I met their father. My adult sons knew there was more to the story; they knew I hadn’t been studying in the library that fateful night. Before our discussion digressed into tee-hee moments, I began writing, making our family’s story part of a bigger story, a story shaped by God’s love and faithfulness, not the misplaced priorities of a young 18-year-old.

One story on love became two stories, a second one about joy. Then came one on peace. Soon a fruitful theme developed and I was exclaiming to everyone, “I wrote a book!” Then I wrote another book, Signs in Life, this time sharing driving antics, again connecting stories to a bigger, more important message of God’s love and faithfulness.

At an early book signing, a friend approached me and with a shy smile, her eye sparkling, said, “I have a story to tell…” She went on to talk about her family who emigrated from Norway, first to Canada and then to the United States. Her father died just after their arrival. With five children in tow, the youngest only a year old, her mother embraced a new life in the land of promised opportunity. Irene said her own father had been their Moses, leading them from the old country to the new. She added that her mother had been their Joshua. Then she looked away and said, “I could never write a book.”

Perhaps not. Last fall I met with a book club who’d been using Signs in Life for a devotional.  They’d just finished Maya Angelou’s memoir. At the time a reality star had just published her own memoir. I asked the group about their own stories, wondering aloud where our stories fit in. And then we talked about being part of God’s story, wondering where our own stories fit in. I walked with Moses in my second book, but I’m certainly no Moses. I’ve had struggles in life, but I’m certainly no Maya. But surrounding the cross are all our stories, stories that don’t have to be found somewhere between Genesis and Revelation to matter. They don’t have to appear on Amazon’s best-seller list to count. Our stories are more important than that, because they’re chapters in God’s great story. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, said, “The genius of the biblical story is that, instead of simply giving us ‘seven habits for highly effective people,’ it gives us permission and even direction to take conscious ownership of our own story at every level, every part of life and experience. God will use all of this material, even the negative parts, to bring life and love.”

You and I may be traveling different roads, but we’re traveling with God’s divine direction, leading us where we’ve chose to go and also where we haven’t. Now that’s a story to tell!

Deanna Nowadnick is the author of two books, Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace and Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God. Both are inspirational memoirs. When not writing, Deanna serves as a registered investment advisor with The Planner’s Edge, an investment advisory firm in Washington State. She’s active in her church, playing the violin Sunday mornings and serving on the leadership team. She loves Bible study and delights in meetings with various women’s groups. Deanna’s a Pacific Northwest native who’s been blessed with a wonderful marriage to Kurt. Deanna is also on Facebook at Deanna Nowadnick—Author, Speaker, Mentor and Twitter @DeannaNowadnick.

 

Perez: ‘Good teacher’ points us toward eternal life

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By Nick Perez
Special to Inside The Pew

“And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments:Nick Perez “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal. do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.” And he (the rich ruler) said to him, “All of these I have kept from my youth.”

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he (the rich ruler) heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich” (Luke 18:18-23).

Each and every time I come upon this text, or it is brought to mind, I am floored. But as I think, and ponder, I come to the realization that we aren’t any different than this man. The man came to the Lord and called him a “Good Teacher” he recognized the goodness of the Messiah. Furthermore, Jesus himself was able to discern that he had followed commandments 4-8 (see Exodus 20). However, he still lacked one thing. Jesus commanded him to sell all of his possessions, distribute it among the poor, and follow him. At this, scripture tells us he became “very sad.” How many times has the Lord asked us to rid ourselves of something for his namesake? How many times has the Lord asked us to give something up, for his glory and renown? And how many times has it made us very sad? This man asked the age-old question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him, and he passed. His possessions, his wealth, his status, they were all too important for him to relinquish at the feet of our Master. What about us? What are we holding on to that God so desperately wants us to hand over to him, all so that we can be true followers of Jesus.

Jesus says in Matthew 6, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19-21) And in another place he says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose (or forfeit) his soul?”

Brothers and sisters, what is the Lord asking of us? In times like today, what is the Lord asking us to hand over for the advancement of the gospel?

Lastly, think about how beautiful the story of the first disciples is. How he called, and they left everything to follow. Think about their journey with Jesus pre-crucifixion and post resurrection. Such a beautiful story of the Lord at work in the lives of people willing to leave it all behind for the work of the Lord.

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Main: Courtesy of LikeSuccess.com

Middle: Nick Perez

Nick Perez is the host of The Anchored Podcast. He, alongside his brother Dorian, have been called to
produce gospel centered content with a heart for gospel centered resources. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickAnchored.

The wonder of creation: Christian History magazine announces latest issue

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By Michael Austin
Special to Inside The Pew

Worcester, Pa.– Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine (CHM), announces its latest issue, titled: The Wonder of Creation: How Christians have responded to God’s ‘book of nature”.  The issue is a long-awaited homage to the grandeur of planet earth through the eyes theologians, church leaders, believers and a growing number of scientists.

CHM issue 119, contains 10 feature articles; a 2,000-year timeline chronology, an archive of rare artwork, photos, a “letters to the editor” section, and an extensive reading list compiled by the CHM editorial staff. The entire magazine is available online and can be read at: www.christianhistoryinstitute.org. The CHM archive collection of 119 issues can be searched, along with books and study-guides, using the website’s search engine feature. The CHM site, including a no-cost magazine subscription, is a study resource offered primarily for the home and homeschoolers, church libraries, middle/high schools, as well as to colleges & universities at no-cost. It is the mission of CHI donors and staff to make this resource as widely and freely available as possible – donations gratefully accepted.

Long before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophetic words of the Bible honor the Father’s creation as if nature itself were a “second ‘book” of scripture, announcing, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge.’ – Psalm 19:1-2. Throughout history similar reverence has been repeated, as in the words of the monastic Antony (c.251-356) who said, “My book is the nature of created things. In it, when I choose, I can read the words of God.”

The famed American environmentalist and writer, who co-founded America’s Sierra Club, John Muir, said, referring to the simple beauty of a flower, “Now my eyes were opened to their inner beauty, all alike revealing glorious traces of the thoughts of God and leading on and on into the infinite cosmos.”

The impact, beauty and vast unknowns of nature combined with the desire of Christians for knowledge overChristian history magazine the centuries, spawned the disciplines of what we refer to today as formal higher education and learning, expressed through art and the professions.

Christian beliefs combined with the work of influential European believers, such as Johannes Kepler (1571-1630); Francis Bacon (1561-1626); Robert Boyle 1627-1691) and Isaac Newton (1642-1727), to name just a few, helped convert the study of theology and philosophy into an entirely new discipline, eventually called science. For them, this new revolution in thought introduced a new view of nature, a new view of investigation (the scientific method) and a new way to praise God.

Expressing the essence of this issue titled, The Wonder of Creation, managing editor of Christian History, Jennifer Woodruff Tait, said, “Christians have written poetry, prose, hymns and sermons explaining how contemplating God’s wonders led them to a greater love of God. They have created art to capture its beauty; they have worked to farm and tend that which God put into the natural order. And they have reminded us how one of the charges God gave us in the Garden of Eden was to till and keep this world (Gen. 2:15).”

“Christian history has been largely removed from the American public education system that Christian leaders began in the early years of this nation,” said Michael Austin, a Christian commentator. “After years of decline, our public schools no longer teach the Bible’s founding contribution to Western Civilization. Quakers have influenced our culture’s values regarding faith, freedom and mercy. Yet, today, faith in God is being openly questioned and attacked.”

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Federal help comes for Baton Rouge area residents impacted by floods

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – Like many who have seen the flooding in the Baton Rouge area, the images are startling. ForBaton Rouge residents stand in line at for assistance from the American Red Cross. local residents, the disaster is shocking.

“I’ve been here all my life, and I have never seen anything like this before,” said State Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge).

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Aug. 15 that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Louisiana to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding beginning Aug. 11, and continuing.

The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa parishes. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding is available to the state and eligible tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work as a result of the severe storms and flooding in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa parishes. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Smith said the help is available for affected residents, but they must remain patient as FEMA process requests.

“They must follow the application process through. It is a long process, but they must follow it through.”

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Walmart announces $500,000 toward La. flood relief efforts

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have made a commitment to provide support through cash and in-kindWalmart prepares to deliver one million water bottles to affected areas across Louisiana. donations of $500,000 to organizations helping with relief efforts for those affected by the floods in Louisiana. Working closely with the Salvation Army, American Red Cross and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, coordination efforts are being made with elected officials and governmental entities across the region to meet the needs of those affected by the overwhelming flooding in the Louisiana region this week.

With widespread flooding and thousands of people displaced from their homes, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have coordinated efforts as part of the $500,000 donation to send truckloads of water to affected areas of the state, anticipating over one million bottles of water to be delivered in the coming days.

We are deeply saddened by the devastating floods in Louisiana and the catastrophic effect it’s having on our associates and members of the community,” said Mark Cooper, Senior Director of Emergency Management for Walmart. “We are fully committed to the relief efforts and will continue to work closely with local officials to do everything we can.”

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Top: Baton Rouge residents stand in line at for assistance from the American Red Cross. (The Pew/Grelan Muse Sr.)

Bottom: Walmart prepares to deliver one million water bottles to affected areas across Louisiana.