Author Archives: grelanmuse

How to deal with loneliness at Christmas

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By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service

MOUNT HERMON, CA – ‘Tis the season to be … gloomy?

Feeling low this Christmas season? You’re not alone. Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many

loneliness-and-christmas

lonely people are crying or dying on the inside. Maybe you’re one of them. I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of twenty years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare. As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio. Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing. No fun.

Blue Christmas

Romantic estrangement, family strife, and bereavement can make your holidays dismal. One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Blue Christmas.” A lonely crooner mourns heartbreaking lost love. Performers from The Beach Boys to Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, and Jon Bon Jovi have recorded it.

Does even thinking about that song make you depressed? The spoofed “Porky Pig” version could get you laughing. Google will take you there. But please … wait until finishing this short article to search, OK?!

Several factors can produce Christmas blues. Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress. Overspending can produce financial pressure. Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.

McGill University psychologist Michael Spevack notes, “Over eating and over drinking combined with a decreased amount of sleep is also a formula for extreme emotional swings.” Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide, especially among the socially isolated, he says.

The ‘Empty Chair’

Is your family apart this season by necessity or choice? Maybe an “empty chair” reminds you of your pain. Does Christmas “Ho, Ho, Ho” contrast with your deep anguish?

One widow recalled how she felt during the Christmas after her husband’s death: “Little mattered to me. I didn’t want to hear carols. I didn’t want to be cheered up. I didn’t want to look at perky Christmas cards. I wanted the same thing I’d wanted every day for eight months: the strength to force myself out of bed in the morning, to brush my teeth and to eat.”

One possible influence, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression the medical community doesn’t completely understand. The Mayo Clinic says genetics, age and body chemistry could be the culprits. Mayo recommends seeing your doctor if you feel down for days and have motivation problems. Symptoms can include changing sleep patterns and appetite, feeling hopeless, contemplating suicide, or seeking comfort in alcohol.

Coping

How can you cope with Christmas loneliness? Some suggestions:

Spend time with people, especially positive ones who lift your spirits. Perhaps you’ll be grateful for their cheer.

Exercise regularly.  Blood pumping can help clear your mind.

Eat right. Chocaholics beware. Overindulgence can mean temporary highs followed by disappointing flab.

Lights on! Enjoy sunlight, outdoors if possible. Brighten up your home and workplace. Light therapy sometimes helps SAD.

Budget your gift spending and stick with your budget. Prevent January bill shock.

Talk about your feelings. Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, ulcers, sour disposition, and/or explosion. Need a trusted, listening friend? Try a local church.

Give to others. Volunteer. Medical professor Stephen Post, PhD, is convinced that giving is essential for optimum physical and mental health in our fragmented society. He says some California physicians give volunteerism “prescriptions” to their Medicare patients.

Seek counsel. I used to be embarrassed to obtain professional counsel. Now I recommend it. We all can use good advice navigating life’s storms.

Develop spiritual roots. I’m glad that before my dark days began, I had a friendship with God.

Now, I realize you may not agree with me about spiritual matters. But – with sincere respect for you – may I politely mention a few thoughts that have made sense to me, and which you might wish to consider?

Tired of friends who betray, manipulate, disrespect, or desert you? God won’t. He cares for you, values you, will listen to you and comfort you. You can trust Him. He always wants your best.

One early believer put it this way: “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?” His point: God loved us enough to send Jesus, his only Son, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong, our sins. What a demonstration of love! I can trust a God like that. Then Jesus rose from the dead so he could live inside us and become our friend.

Your Choice

Would you like to meet Jesus, the best friend you could ever have? Wouldn’t Christmas season be a great time to place your faith in him? You can tell him something like this:

Jesus, I need you. Thanks for dying and rising again for me. Please forgive me, enter my life, and give me eternal life. Help me to become good friends with you and learn to follow your lead.

Did you just trust Jesus to forgive you and enter your life? If so, ask the person or group that gave you this article how you can get to know him better. Even if you’re skeptical or undecided, ask them your questions. I have a hunch they’d love to talk with you.

About the writer: Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He Rusty Wrightholds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

This article first appeared in Answermagazine 15:6, November/December 2008.  Copyright © 2008 by Rusty Wright. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Holy Christian Orthodox Church announces the sainthood of MLK

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Saint MLK, glorification of Saint Martin Luther King, holy christian orthodox church springfield massachusetts

Special to Inside The Pew

Archbishop Timothy Paul, president of the World Bishops Council and Patriarch of the Holy Christian Orthodoxsaint martin luther king, the holy christian orthodox church, sainthood Church (HCOC) and Christian leaders from across the globe, along with local and national civic leaders will gathered together last month for the glorification of Saint Martin Luther King.

In June 2013, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was nominated for Sainthood by the HCOC, a convergence communion of churches comprised of over 4 million churches globally. The Holy Christian Orthodox Church, also known as the Communion of Churches embraces the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition of glorification, which differs from the Roman Catholic Church in terms of canonization, which is followed by beautification.

The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition is canonization to glorification. Glorification includes that the person in sainthood will get an icon. However, martyrs require no formal glorification. The self-sacrifice on behalf of their faith and lack of evidence of any un-Christian behavior at the time of death is sufficient.

This icon depicts King, one of the martyrs of the 20th Century. He was an ordained minister of the Baptist Church. From 1955 until his death, he led a campaign of nonviolent resistance in the United States against racial oppression and injustice. The number he wears around his neck is from a “mug shot” taken one of the many times he was arrested by American police for resisting unjust laws. The prison bars behind him represent the occasions he was placed in jail, and also the oppression and slavery of African Americans in the United States. The text on his scroll is from his speech in Albany, Ga., on Dec. 14, 1961. The Greek inscription by his head reads, “Holy Martin.” Since the 18th century, the faith of African American Christians in America has been tied to the struggle for freedom. Martin Luther King renewed the bond between faith and political action like the Old Testament prophets. Although his life was threatened many times, he continued to expose himself to danger. He was shot on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

The glorification ceremony included the unveiling of the Saint Martin Luther King, Jr. icon and the inclusion of the sainted martyr in the All Saints Day observance in Christian calendars around the world.

Bestseller or not, we all have a story to tell

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Deuteronomy 31:8, old testament bible scriptures

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.

Photo cutlines:Alien: Covenant movie download

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.

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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.”

Photo cutlines

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.

Medical doctor’s heart attack led to near-death experience in heaven

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By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

As a staff physician at the University of Texas Health Center he was well acquainted with the symptoms of a heart Landry-Gerry-259x300attack. But this time, the M.D. wasn’t examining someone else – he was grappling with troubling signs of his own.

At home, Dr. Gerry Landry, 55, felt overwhelming fatigue and crushing pain in his chest for more than an hour.

“Denise! This is serious! Please pray!” he called out to his wife.

His wife began to pray after she called an ambulance. She also called Christian friends to pray. “We committed the situation to Almighty God and asked Him to heal me,” he says.

In spite of the excruciating pain, a wave of peace washed over the doctor and his wife after they prayed, a peace that defies understanding (Phil. 4:7).

“All I remember during the ride to the hospital was calling out the name of Jesus, over and over again,” the doctor recalled.

A few years earlier, praying for God’s help would have been last on his to-do list. He was a nominal Christian, devoted to his church, but praying for his patients was not part of his life.

But that changed one day. “I witnessed a young couple praying for a patient of mine, I actually felt God’s presence in the room and was strangely moved. They prayed as though God was their closest friend. I envied them. It started me on a journey, a search for a true, deep, personal relationship with God,” he said.

“Before long, I met Christians who taught and prayed for me to receive the Holy Spirit. After that, Jesus became real to me, and the words of the Bible suddenly came to life.”

Landry entered the same Emergency Room where he had treated hundreds of patients. The doctor in charge showed him his EKG: His inferior coronary artery was completely knocked out.

“The cold clamminess of my hands warned me of collapsing veins,” he noted. “Yet, the sweet presence of Jesus continued to enfold me with His peace.

But as his wife prayed quietly by his side, his heart suddenly stopped beating. “I became acutely aware of my spirit separating from my body and I died – pronounced ‘clinically dead’ at 4:13 p.m.”

Immediately he found himself transported to heaven — a place of dazzling beauty!

“A multitude of radiantly beautiful people surrounded me. In spite of the crowd, I looked around and actually recognized some of my late relatives, as well as some historical figures who had preceded me a long time ago.   We were in the Eternal Now, without past or future and I was perfectly at ease, full of joy.

Read more here.

Photo cutline: Dr. Gerry Landry

 

 

And the community project began…

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Editor’s note: This is the part final of a series on a collaboration that benefits one north Texas city.

By Lisa V. Cone
Special to Inside The Pew

Imagine being a busy business owner or a CEO running a multi-million dollar company. Would you find the time in your busy schedule to help a church? Help a community? Help restore lives and bring light to so many in darkness.

This group of business leaders in the McKinney, Texas, area did just that by restoring the Word Church. They areFundraisers at the Word Church members of an organization called the C12 Group — a movement of Christian business executives building great businesses for an even greater purpose.

C12 member, Russell Polk, who owns a construction and remodeling company assisted in many of the assessments and construction activities needed to make the critical improvements to The Word Church building. C12 member Jim Schwalls, who owns tax and real estate companies, introduced Pastor Dyson to a banker who arranged a loan and helped negotiate a purchase price for the house. Schwalls explained, “The Word Church was leasing the building with an option to purchase. We unanimously knew purchasing the building and the home on the adjacent lot was the right option,” Schwalls shared. “This was God at work. Everything fell into place.”

The church closed on the house and building in November of 2015. In January 2016, two families moved into the house. The church remodel and restoration project is currently underway.

The Gift of Giving
“I see this spirit of giving and volunteering now spreading to other sectors of the city to include city leaders,” sharedCommunity Volunteers to Fix Home and Church on property Pastor Dyson.

Many in the community have been led to be part of a blessing that has a tremendous ripple effect. Husbands, wives, families and local residents are all coming together to work on the church and volunteering to clean the building, paint, help maintain the grounds and donate furniture for fundraisers.

“The Holy Spirit is changing our hearts. The church needed thousands of dollars in electrical repairs and improvements, but the Lord provided. A local electrician donated his time and was even able to have the parts sold to the church at a wholesale price. A new roof was required. A roofing company donated shingles. We needed appliances, they were donated. People are opening their hearts and helping in any way they feel called to help,” explained Schwalls.

C12 Group Chairman, Tom Hawes shared, “C12 members are unique in that they are business owners who make it a priority to honor God in all things. Sharing their business skills and talents, C12 members formed an advisory group to The Word Church providing strategic direction, financial insights and business guidance. Truly, their businesses are serving a greater purpose.”

Rising Up to Meet the Community Needs

Pastor Dyson believes that C12 was a God-send and knows that they would not be able to meet the needs of the community and fix the church if it wasn’t for the expertise and business acumen of this group. “They helped us with the details of financing the new building, helped us put a transitional home together for single mothers –all within a budget. In every area of this church, we have been touched by these blessings and partnership,” Dyson said.

The Word Church also helps individuals on the streets or those facing difficult times. Pastor Dyson shared the story about an east McKinney resident who is fighting cancer. She is facing enormous health care bills and since she is sick, can no longer work and pay her rent. Many individuals have donated money, food and clothes on her behalf. A C12 member created a benevolence fund within his company and has offered to donate part of the fund to help this woman pay her bills. Others are working with the insurance companies to help her get the best heath care benefits.

A Source of Light and Inspiration
“As business owners the big question we ask is how can we use our business to do what God wants us to do in our community. How can we get involved and make a difference?” Cuccia explained.

The intangible gifts are what makes this project so unique. Beyond paint, furniture and a new roof, the generosity comes in the form of volunteers creating marketing plans, organizing fundraisers and coat drives, and drafting strategic plans for The Word Church.

“The people in east McKinney do not need a hand out, they need a hand up,” said Pastor Dyson. “They need work, coaching, training, guidance and someone who truly cares.” Providing a hand-up in life and connecting them with Christ is the vision of this church and Pastor Dyson looks forward to being part of this amazing journey.

Hawes shared, “This is such an uplifting story shows how men and women of different backgrounds, vocations and circumstances can unite to serve the community together. We are honored to work with The Word Church and to remember that we all have something to contribute. When members of the community pull together for a united cause, the power and inspiration becomes unstoppable.”

Photo cutlines (photos courtesy of Lisa V. Cone):

Top: Fundraisers at the Word Church

Bottom: Group of community volunteers to fix a home and church on property

Lisa V. Cone is a writer for The C12 Group, America’s leading roundtable for Christian CEOs and owners dedicated to building great business for a greater purpose. She resides in Austin, and provides marketing and communications strategic support for non-profits and growing businesses across the country in various industries. 

SAGU Lions use soccer to spread love throughout Brazil

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By Natalie Tristan
Special to Inside The Pew

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It’s safe to say that Rio will be the most famous city in the world for the next twoBrazilPhoto1 weeks. Hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to Rio for the 2016 game to watch the world’s best athletes compete. Six members of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) men’s soccer team will also be in Rio. However, they will be there to minister to the local communities surrounding the Games.

Juan Herrera, Juan Ramon Cardenas, Mike Havdra, Felipe Melo, Renato Martin and head coach Clem Oancea are helping throughout impoverished areas of Brazil, as well as partnering with Street Child United who is working to bring hope and love to the homeless children of Rio.

The SAGU team arrived in Brazil on July 26 and they were quick to get down to business.  The first favela (Brazilian shanty town) they visited is called “Vaquemquer,” which means “go if you want to.”

“As you can see from the name it is a very scary place,” explains Coach Oancea, “The locals and young boys have been telling us that it is a dying favela and it has been called ‘go if you want to and leave if you can,’ but the Lord has been reaching souls not only on the soccer fields but also in the street evangelism.”

SAGU’s main objective for Brazil is to spread the love of Jesus through the game of soccer. Early in the mission’s trip, the boys experienced a heartbreaking day that would be a lasting memory. The team visited with a Brazilian girls’ soccer team that had lost one of their teammates in a motorcycle accident earlier in the day. They spent time talking with the girls and gave them soccer balls. Given the circumstances they decided not to play a game. However, after the boys shared their testimonies, the girls changed their minds and challenged the boys to a game.

That small match is just one of the many visits Coach Oancea will never forget, “Our boys have been touched by the
Lord in so many ways. The up and coming players coming from Brazil said to us, ‘coach you came to Brazil to show us a Brazil that we never knew.’ I’m so humbled by the lives changed, and not just the locals but ours as well.”

Captain Juan Herrera is quick to agree with Oancea, “I will not see life the same way ever again.  This experience is incredible and indescribable! We often say we shouldn’t take life for granted, but being here has made us realize that having a pair of shoes is a true blessing.”

In addition to teaching soccer to the street children, SAGU team members are organizing evangelistic meetings at soccer events, holding leadership seminars to help empower the local churches in serving their own communities. They will also visit and serve families through repairing homes and giving food packages, as well as praying with them.

According to UNICEF, estimates suggest that 30 children and adolescents are murdered daily in Brazil.  More than one in three adolescent deaths in the country is a result of murder, compared to one in 20 deaths among the total population. During a major sporting event, children are at an even higher risk of atrocities including murder, sexual abuse and child labour.

While partnering with Street Child United for parts of their trip, SAGU will be committed to making a difference forBrazilPhoto3 the children of Brazil who literally call the streets home. Street Child United uses the power and popularity of sports to provide a global platform for street children to be heard and seen- on a level playing field.

There is no doubt that Brazil will be bustling with people this August. Despite the dignitaries and famous athletes, SAGU’s Juan Ramón Cárdenas is humbled to serve the street children, “There is so much this great country has to offer the rest of the world. I am overwhelmed by the people’s passion to live life to the fullest every day. Their hospitality towards visitors, deep national identity, and their fervent longing to please the one and only true God is undoubtedly contagious. It is my sincere desire to take and share those Brazilian qualities’ with my brothers & sisters back in the USA.”

The SAGU six will arrive back to campus on Aug. 10.  They will immediately jump into preseason training.  The Lions first official game is Aug. 22 against Paul Quinn College.

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Six members of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s soccer team are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 31st Olympiad. (Photos courtesy of Natalie Tristan)

Resource publishes list of 50 most affordable Bible colleges

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Special to Inside The Pew

Leading Christian higher education resource, Christian Universities Online, recently published a ranking of 50 Most Affordable Bible Colleges for 2016

At the top of the list is Hobe Sound Bible College in Hobe Sound, Fla. Clear Creek Bible College in Pineville, Ky., andHobe Logo Bethesda University in Anaheim, Ca., came in second and third, respectively.

Five Texas schools made the list: Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio, Dallas Christian College and Paul Quinn College, both in Dallas, and Messenger College in Euless.

For its methodology, this ranking began with schools that are members of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), or accredited members of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). Theological affiliates of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) were also considered. Christian Universities Online then collected and compared each school’s net price and total cost of attendance. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), average net price is found by subtracting the average amount of federal, state or local government, and institutional grant or scholarship aid from the total cost to attend a given school. The total cost of attendance is the sum of a school’s published tuition and required fees, books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.

Anna-Rebekah Orr, the editor for the ranking, states that the goal of the ranking is to highlight schools that are very open to grant and scholarship funding as well as keeping overall costs as low as possible. Orr adds, “It is good to see schools put the value of their programs (from a student budget perspective) above the school’s potential income.”

Christian Universities Online  is an online resource for students and families researching Christian higher education. The site publishes rankings and reviews of the best Christian colleges and universities, information about Christian scholarships and financial aid, and many other resources for finding, getting into, and paying for a quality Christian education.